O-Zone: Matter of principle

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it ...

Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL

O, your readers’ analogizing the Telvin Smith situation to the “common workplace setting” seems to conveniently overlook several components of the unique NFL organization/team/player dynamic (inclusive of the fact that the employees are world-class athletes, each with their own persona, getting paid millions of dollars each year to play a sport). On the linebacker topic, who do you project the starting linebackers to be Week 1 – and specifically, which linebacker position will each of your selections play, respectively (with the assumption TS is not on the field)? Thanks, and GO JAGS!!

NFL players, particularly since the era of free agency and collective bargaining, are not and never will be “normal employees” for precisely the reasons you cite. They have a unique skill set that is in high demand – albeit for a relatively short time in most cases. That demand allows them to behave at times in ways that would be far outside the norm in a “common office setting.” It ain’t fair in the same way that life ain’t fair, and it seems destined to always cause many fans to be frustrated with how some players sometimes behave. As far as the Jaguars’ starting linebackers in Week 1, Smith’s announcement via Instagram last week that he doesn’t plan to play next season indeed has made that the Jaguars’ biggest offseason unknown. My guess is that Leon Jacobs will starts at strong-side linebacker, with Myles Jack in the middle and Quincy Williams on the weak side. But that absolutely is a guess. Perhaps rookie edge defender Josh Allen could progress quickly enough to start at strong-side backer in base situations and play end in passing situations. Perhaps the team would want to move Jack to weak-side linebacker. Perhaps Williams won’t be ready to start as a rookie. All are real enough possibilities that this one’s impossible to project.

Bryce from Waterloo

If I’m the Jags’ decision-makers and Telvin Smith indeed sits out the season, I would at least entertain the idea of bringing back Johnathan Cyprien. He would probably cost a quarter of Telvin’s annual price tag. Cyp is a physical player who didn’t leave on bad terms. At the very least he would provide depth and a veteran presence.

Meh, and remember: Cyprien plays safety and Smith plays weak-side linebacker. The two situations have nothing to do with one another.

Dan from Gainesville, FL

Zone, what is the deal with Telvin getting cut? I understand he had a down year, but the guy is one of the best Jaguars I can remember. Also, if the Jags didn’t think so, then WHY DID THEY PAY HIM SO MUCH MONEY? I’m supposed to believe that it was just a smokescreen so that other teams wouldn’t think we were drafting Myles Jack? Give me a break. This front office needs to get its act together and put Telvin back in the game!

Life’s hard. Not everyone’s good at it.

Steve from Duval

If you didn’t answer all the TS questions, would you still be able to fill up your O-Zone news column?

I don’t answer all the questions about Telvin Smith. Not even close. As far as what is mentioned in this space, I’ve been “filling up the O-Zone news column” every day since August 2011. I think I could figure out a way to do it without mentioning Smith.

Neil from Jacksonville

Should we be nervous about having a sixth-round rookie as the apparent backup to Nick Foles? It seems a pretty high risk move if he is injured.

The vast majority of NFL teams should be/are nervous about whoever is behind their starting quarterback. If Gardner Minshew indeed is the backup quarterback next season, the Jaguars will believe he has enough football intellect and ability to process information quickly to handle the situation. If they’re right, Minshew should be able to get the Jaguars through a few games at .500 or so. If they’re wrong, they’re in big trouble. But realistically, this team will probably be in trouble without Foles with pretty much any backup. It’s the way it is.

Paul from Jacksonville

I'm in awe of how much some of our fans know. To see people writing authoritatively about Telvin's motivations, our backup quarterback situation and how Jaguars players feel about Foles' contract leaves me shaking my head at my own ignorance. I only know what I read about this team and apparently I'm not reading enough. Either that, or we're still months away from real football ...

Being a fan is awesome. No doubt about it.

Irving from Bristol, CT

I’m not a fan of the Duuvallll chant, but I love Moodachay! Can we add Moodachay to Jags history/lore, please. I want to tell my grandkids about how I read the original Moodachay post on my lunch break 40 years ago ...

Moodachay is cool. A few fans like it. Duuuvalll is cooler. Why it seems to bother so many people is just beyond me.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

I was browsing the current roster and noticed with excitement there is a quarterback from my alma mater FIU. In your opinion, does he have a chance (above 50 percent) to be on the roster in September?

I’m glad you’re excited. You’re referencing first-year quarterback Alex McGough, who signed with the Jaguars in January after spending his rookie season on the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad. I probably would put McGough’s chances of being on the active roster below 50 percent, particularly after the team drafted Minshew. I would be surprised if the team keeps three quarterbacks and I would be surprised if Minshew isn’t the backup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see McGough on the practice squad, though.

Joe from San Antonio, TX

"I am upset with Nick Foles' contract, and that he makes more than me. The appropriate action is to sit out so I do not get paid at all." Yeah, it makes sense if you don't think about it.

You’re wrong. That wouldn’t make sense.

Concerned reader from Mainstreet

Dear, John: There are some that are convinced that Russia has “something” on Trump, but I’m afraid there’s something more sinister going on closer to home. I believe the more dangerous concern is the extortion and shakedown that is going on between you and Eugene P. Frenette. What dirt does he have on you that he is threatening to release? Perhaps, it’s an old video of you singing Elvis Costello’s “Alison” in the shower at the top of your lungs? Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think and it certainly isn’t worth losing your integrity and self-respect by trying to convince your readers that Eugene P. Frenette is anything more than a washed-up sour-puss.

Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette needs to shake down no one. And anyone who thinks he’s anything less than a visionary is just doing it wrong.

Matt St. Augustine, FL

Dredreck Snelson. Jacquez Jalili. Bunchy. Breon. Tyre. Picasso. Tell me, John – when have the Jaguars EVER had a better collection of names on the roster?

I give up.

David from Chuluota

O- Is it possible that Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor, like linebacker Myles Jack, fell in the draft because many teams expected them to be drafted early in the first round and therefore did not bring them in for a visit? Then, when both players began dropping because of late-breaking medical concerns, some teams might have been in the dark since they couldn’t rely on the medical evaluations of their own doctors. In other words, some teams had to err on the side of caution, and pass on a supreme talent, because their homework was incomplete. Thoughts?

I can’t speak for every team, and perhaps one or two team didn’t do adequate homework on one of those two players. But I honestly doubt this specific scenario played into the fall of either player. The major reason the NFL Scouting Combine exists is it gives every team’s doctors access to combine invitees in a central location. There would be no reason for any team’s doctors not to examine all combine invitees – and normal protocol would be for doctors to examine all prospects for the simple reason that teams must be ready for any draft scenario. It would be more likely that a general manager of a team with the No. 30 selection didn’t study a projected Top 5 player as thoroughly as would be ideal than for a team not to have done the medical work.

Stephen from Glorieta

Hey O-Man: Did you send Gardner Minshew a birthday card? He turns 23 on Thursday the 16th. Man, we were ever that young? I don't remember. Happy Birthday to Gardner!

I absolutely didn’t send Minshew a birthday card, but I didn’t “forget.” I don’t recall getting one from him on my last birthday. Why should I go first?

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