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O-Zone: More or less

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … CD from Fleming Island, FL:
Hey John, what are your thoughts on the new lowering-your-head rule? I see a lot of comments about it "legislating football out of football," but I just don't see it. The first thing I remember being taught in Pee Wee football is to keep your head up and look at what you're tackling (and this was in the 80s). Back then, it wasn't about concussions as much as neck injuries and stingers, but to say this is "not football" I just don't think is correct. I'd argue the opposite is true. Somewhere along the line football transitioned from tackling to hitting. I switched to rugby in college and the differences in tackling without helmets was pretty notable. I think we need to accept that these opposite-direction collisions will not be part of the game moving forward. A defensive back's value now is in preventing the catch, not jarring it loose once made.
John: The NFL this week indeed passed a rule under which a player will be penalized – and possibly ejected – for lowering his head to initiate contact. This obviously has the potential to dramatically change the game – or, as you say, to legislate the football out of football." What we don't yet know is precisely how the league will enforce the rule; the league this week indeed said some of the details of the rule remain to be determined. The reality is while you're never going to legislate injuries and danger from the game, the league is understandably/necessarily casting a wide net to reduce concussions. It's difficult to project the end game here, or how the game eventually will look. It does appear we're currently trending to a game with fewer "opposite-direction" collisions and fewer "whoa-close-your-eyes" hits. If trending that way is what it takes to reduce life-altering injuries – and possibly to save the game – I imagine the league and its officials would accept that.
David from Broward County, FL:
OK, so Cody Kessler. Now we have two quarterbacks on the roster. Do you think the Jags will keep three quarterbacks on the 53 to start the season – i.e., will they also draft a mid-round or undrafted free agent developmental quarterback?
John: The Jaguars acquired Kessler from the Cleveland Browns Wednesday for a conditional seventh-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. That means the Jaguars give up nothing if Kessler doesn't make the team. I think the Jaguars indeed will draft or sign an undrafted free agent at quarterback. I doubt they will keep three quarterbacks, though, so I expect Kessler to compete with someone for the backup position.
Ryan from Fremont, OH:
Kudos to Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell for acquiring a third-round quarterback who is still on a cheap contract, who also has starting experience, and only costs a possible seventh round pick. #trusttheprocess
John: Hey, one fer the process!
Irving from Inwood, New York City:
Now that the Mayor of London publicly stated he wants an NFL team, what are your thoughts on Shad Khan possibly considering the move for the Jaguars? I hope not but just wondering.
John: It's nice for the London Mayor to want things. It doesn't change my thoughts on Khan moving the Jaguars to London. It's not happening. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has shown far too much commitment to the city of Jacksonville for me to think otherwise.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA:
Finally, we hear from Coughlin. Any chance we can get a weekly sit-down interview for this season? More TC, please.
John: Very doubtful. While I agree that Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin – as evidenced by his media availability at the 2018 NFL Annual Meeting this week – is informative and compelling when he speaks, he preferred in his first season in his current role to keep a relatively low profile and allow Head Coach Doug Marrone to speak for the team. I don't expect Coughlin to change that approach.
Jim from Middleburg, FL:
Shad Khan, David Caldwell, Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone all in one place working toward the same thing as the fans: a Super Bowl berth. Looking at the other 31 teams I think we have the best-suited front office in the NFL.
John: OK.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, now that the NFL has passed a rule that anytime a player causes contact with his helmet it's a 15-yard penalty and possible ejection, how will the Jaguars survive? It seems to me that hard-nosed defensive line play will now be illegal. It seems that there will be a risk of a penalty on every play by an offensive lineman trying to clear a hole. It especially seems that anytime a running back like Leonard Fournette puts his head down to barrel through for a touchdown at the goal line, the play will just be erased for illegal contact. I'm all for safety, but what now? Seems like only elite passing offenses have any shot now.
John: I agree that the rule the way it has been reported has the potential to create a lot of the scenarios that concern you. The league specified Tuesday when announcing the rule that there were a lot of details yet to be determined. I'm assuming the details will alleviate some of the issues you raised. We'll see.
Dennis from Port St. Lucie, FL:
O-Man: The Jaguars will release the new uniforms next month and it seems to me they lost a great opportunity to involve the fans in process. Maybe next time they can provide a number of options and let the fans vote on the winner. This would include fans and ensure the selection was supported by the largest number of the fan base. What do you think, O man of wisdom?
John: Meh.
Rob from Jacksonville:
Have you seen the new uniforms? Do you like them?
John: The Jaguars' new uniforms are absolutely, positively
Cason from Jacksonville:
I truly feel like Johnny Manziel would be great fit for the Jaguars. Am I right, going crazy or is this still my fear of Blake Bortles throwing weak out patterns for pick sixes?
John: I can neither control your feelings nor explain them. I don't think you should hold your breath about Manziel joining the Jaguars, particularly not after the team acquired Kessler.
Stribker from Dothan, AL:
John: "Generally speaking, you promote coaches and other people in football for the same reason you promote people in any field – because they desire career advancement and earn it with their performance." From the book of the same name in 1969, this process is "The Peter Principle." The Peter Principle is an observation that the tendency in most organizational hierarchies, such as that of a corporation, is for every employee to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach the levels of their respective incompetence.
John: I know.
Charley from The Candy Van:
I really hope that Dave and Co. realize that the only way to get a worthwhile quarterback is to trade up. The only legit NFL quarterbacks will be gone by the time we pick at 29.
John: I feel a responsibility to tell you your hopes almost certainly will be dashed on draft day. The chances of the Jaguars taking a quarterback at No. 29 are small enough to be insignificant. The chances of them trading up to do so are … well, what's less than insignificant?
Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL:
How scary is it to ask Tom Coughlin a question during his press times? He seems so intimidating. Like Popovich and Belichick, I would be very afraid to ask that man a question.
John: Tom Coughlin knows where to find me.
Ien from Erie/Jacksonville:
I want to speak more about what we have and not so much speculation: three players I think that can really help this team. Can you help me understand a lot more about them? 1. Josh Walker, a big guy – can he start at that right guard spot? Two, running back Tim Cook, big back – is he good enough to back up Leonard Fournette or is he a full back? Three, wide receiver WR Tevaun Smith – I like his size and speed; do you have any insight on him? Any thoughts?
John: Josh Walker was on the Jaguars' active roster last season, Can he develop into a starter? That's probably a long shot, but stranger things have happened than a little-used lineman becoming a starter. Cook and Smith are long shots to make an impact. I wouldn't expect them to be significant factors next season, though there are surprises on every team every season.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Common sense is usually a matter of logic. Fanning is pure emotion. Of course they don't go well together ... and yet, sometimes they combine to make something more - hence, the O-Zone. (No, I'm not going to define what I mean by "more.")
John: Sometimes more is less. And sometimes less is more.

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