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O-Zone: Might as well jump

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from Nashville, TN

Does the new kickoff rule put additional stress on the gameday roster (48 players). I will assume the personnel on kickoff coverage and punt coverage might be now significantly different than last year? Do you think most teams will now carry a second kicker on their practice squad for the regular season with a potential increase of injury risk to the rostered kicker?

The NFL's kickoff rules that will take effect in the 2024 season are expected to turn kickoff returns into more of a "scrimmage" run play as opposed to the high-speed, collision play it has been in the past. This is because most of the return and coverage units will line up within five yards of one another rather than 40 or 50 yards apart, thus eliminating sprinting and full-speed contact from most kickoff returns. I expect this will change the roles of players on return and coverage, and it could result in teams having a different position or two active on game day. I don't know that it will stress the roster all that much more for teams. Coaches already had to consider coverage and return in their gameday decision-making. I don't expect teams to carry two kickers because of injury risk. Remember: Kickers long have been a part of kickoff coverage. I do expect the changes will place more focus early in the 2024 season on special teams coaches and head coaches. The first special teams coach whose team returns a kickoff under the new rules will be widely hailed as a genius while the coach whose team allows a return touchdown will be the Worst Coach in NFL History. This is because it's always coaching in the NFL. It's even always special teams coaching.

Jason from North Pole, AK

The Jaguars owe quarterback Trevor Lawrence $78 million and $74 million in 2029 and 2030 on his new contract. Am I correct in assuming we can expect a re-structure and extension before the 2029 season? No way they are taking a $70 million dollar cap hit in back-to-back years.

There are few definites in NFL contracts, particularly in quarterback mega-contracts. This is in part because the hyperinflation that defines the NFL salary cap – and NFL salaries – can make what seems like an outlandish salary and salary cap number one year seem less outlandish and even manageable a few years later. Five years can be a lifetime in this environment. That said, it seems likely at this stage that the Jaguars would restructure or move money around in Lawrence's deal during 2029 or 2030. It could even happen before. Few mega-contracts last six or seven years without some sort of adjustment. Too much changes in too short a time to expect a team to never have to approach a player taking up so large a percentage of the cap about adjusting. It's pretty much the way of NFL contracts these days.

Ed from Jacksonville

Regarding keeping team loyalties, I think there can always be unique circumstances to this issue. I grew up in Ohio and was an avid Cleveland Browns fan. In 1985, I moved to Jax and still would go the local bar every Sunday to follow my Browns. However, from the second it was announced Jax had been awarded a franchise, I was all in! At that point, I knew Jax was home and seeing the utter excitement when we got the team, and also seeing what it meant for the city, how could I not be a part of this. Of course, was easier once Browns left Cleveland. Now, all these years later I despise the Browns. Doesn't make me too popular with family back in Ohio … yeah, that's the reason. Hmmm. Go Jags!!

Let's go Jaguars.

Richard from St. Augustine, FL

I see what you're doing. Shhhh. I won't tell, but on days you post late it is really because they changed security code and didn't tell you. Then you delay posting purposely causing increased clicks onto website for anxious O-Zone readers. As the numbers rise to a certain number you send email requesting code after mentioning click numbers for O-Zone! Brilliant strategy. Code grudgingly sent once again. You are the KING of all funk and wiley-ness! One fer the O king! Hope your code is never-ending! Hope you have a relaxing dead zone. DTWD Go Jags.

Most days the O-Zone posts late I forget to send when I'm supposed to send. This inconveniences others, and I am not a good enough person to always remember.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Remember when we were Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and others? We're better everywhere.

Defensive lineman Red Bryant played for the Jaguars in 2014, with defensive end Chris Clemons playing for them in 2014-2015. They were both late in their careers at the time and at least a bit on the decline. The Jaguars were 3-13 in 2014 and 5-11 in 2015. The Jaguars indeed are better everywhere than they were in 2014-2015.

Don from Marshall, NC

Part of Trevor's quick release is his ability to stay relaxed with no tension. When you squeeze your hands, it constricts the arms and doesn't allow the speed of a relaxed muscle. In my opinion, he is always going to have some problem with this. He will get better with awareness, though. If you give Trevor a great line to play behind, he is going to win a Super Bowl! Go Jaguars.

When it comes to Lawrence and something to do with constriction and relaxation and release, Don – while perhaps somewhat down a rabbit hole – remains characteristically "all in."

James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

Florida Times-Union sports columnist, Northeast Florida cultural icon and force of nature Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette … Oh never mind., I forgot what i was going to say.

I think I speak for all residents of Northeast Florida and all long-time Florida Times-Union readers when I say you said all that needs to be said.

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

O, as a kid growing up in 1960s Jacksonville, I was a Baltimore Colts fan because of Johnny Unitas. By the time No. 19 was done and sadly ending his career as a member of the San Diego Chargers, Miami became part of the NFL. Now, I was a diehard Dolphins fan – that is, until 1993, when my allegiance changed once again. I've lived north of Atlanta for the past 28 years. I wish the Falcons well, but they're not my team. Go Jaguars!

Let's be clear here: While I said in recent days that I couldn't imagine changing allegiance from a childhood team, it's just as true that there's no right or wrong way to be a fan. It's an emotional, irrational thing because … well, because fans fan. It's what they do.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

You will agree once we get past the quarter pole (Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans - a .632 strength of schedule), we will have a good idea of what this team is about for the 2024 season? Our strength of schedule falls to .475 for the remaining games - theoretically making the rest of the schedule "easier?"

Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know I'm not a big believer in Strength of Schedule as a gauge for upcoming seasons. While it makes for interesting offseason discussions, and while many fans worry if their team has a "difficult schedule," the reality is we rarely know for sure the strength or weakness of teams until about Week 5 or 6 of a season. For that reason, my answer to your question is we will have an idea about the strength or weakness of this Jaguars team by about Week 5 or 6 because that's when you know about teams – not necessarily because they're playing the Texans or the Browns.

John from Merritt Island, FL

All this talk about "franchise quarterbacks." Here's a question for you. Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson both won Super Bowls, Dilfer winning with the Baltimore Ravens following the 2001 season and Johnson winning with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the 2002 season. I am by no means demeaning either. I don't, however, think most people would call them "franchise quarterbacks." Could a decent-at-best quarterback win a Super Bowl in today's world with a great defense?

Absolutely. "Non-franchise" quarterbacks always have been able to win Super Bowls and championships, and that always will be the case. Whether a team can have long-term, sustained success with that equation is a different story. That scenario has been much rarer. I expect that always will be the case.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

It's a shame you're stuck in the press box at the beginning of home games. You could show Jaxson de Ville and all Jag fans how a bungee jump from the top of the stadium should be done.

This never will happen. While I am the king of all funk, I also fear anything remotely involving risk or even expanding my horizons. Let the "Hall of Famer" handle that one.