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O-Zone: More whine, please

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from Johnston, IA

I agreed with your breakdown recently that the Jags' struggles last season were due primarily to poor offensive line run-blocking and injuries that mounted over the course of the season. Are you satisfied with the efforts made on fixing the O line thus far? I'm not yet ...

I suppose I'm neither all that satisfied nor unsatisfied. The Jaguars this offseason made two major offensive-line transactions – re-signing right guard Ezra Cleveland, having acquired him in a trade-deadline deal with the Minnesota Vikings late last season, and signing center Mitch Morse as a free agent from the Buffalo Bills. The Jaguars' thought is the addition of those two players, along with the return of left tackle Cam Robinson, right tackle Anton Harrison and right guard Brandon Scherff – will give the group continuity and an improved interior. I was surprised they retained Scherff, mostly because of his high salary cap figure. Beyond that, the moves weren't all that unexpected. I expect that group can be fine if it remains healthy. Can a group that includes three players with eight seasons or more experience – Scherff (10th season), Morse (10th season) and Robinson (eighth) – remain healthy? That's a legitimate question.

Dawson from Jones

Who is the best player in our offense from the new free-agent acquisitions?

The Jaguars have acquired four offensive players as free agents this offseason – wide receiver Gabe Davis (Bills), Morse (Bills), wide receiver/returner Devin Duvernay (Baltimore Ravens) and tight end Josiah Deguara (Green Bay Packers). Who is the best of the bunch? Let's go with Davis and Morse as the ones with potential for the most impact.

Josh from Lakewood

I've heard variations of "may as well play flag football" going back as long as I can remember and yet the NFL today is more popular than ever. Seems like those complaining are either just a vocal minority or I'm missing something. It seems to me the NFL has made a more-than-reasonable effort to balance safety and entertainment.

One fer balance …

Jon from Jax Beach

More of a statement than question. With today's rules, I would have been ejected from every game I ever played in – which was a lot – and by no stretch of the imagination was I a dirty player. I imagine Ronnie Lott and many others can't even watch football anymore. It's a tough sport and not for everyone. Stop trying to make it powder puff. The weak need not apply.

… and one not fer.

Kevin from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Hi, John. So, the coverage team cannot move until the returner catches the ball. Doesn't that make the play inherently more dangerous? It gives the returner time to gain speed before making contact with any of the defenders. How is this making it safer? The game should be as safe as possible, but the league is taking this too far.

The NFL's new kickoff rule essentially mandates that the coverage team and the blockers on the returning team line up five yards from one another – and that the players can not move until the returner receives the kickoff. It makes the play safer by eliminating the high-speed collisions between blockers and the coverage team. And by placing the coverage team/blockers at the receiving team's 40- and 35-yard lines, it reduces the chance of tacklers making contact with returners at full speed. It's probably not ideal, but it's an effort to bring back kickoffs.

Cliff from Everywhere with helicopter

I can just see Micah Parsons and T.J. Watt standing at the line of scrimmage in shorts and T-shirts, counting "Mississippis."

I'd click on that.

Jimjim from Eugene, OR

Greetings Great and Powerful Zone! I have a question that I've tried to investigate on my own without success. Regarding dead cap money … is the money paid directly to a player or is it just part of the formula to calculate a team's cap space? I turn to you after checking several sites that didn't specify what happens to the money.

Dead money is a salary-cap term. It's the money allocated to the cap to account for a player no longer on the roster. Specifically, it's the player's bonus proration for years the player is not on a team's roster. It is not paid directly to the player in the year it goes in the cap because it was paid out in the form of bonus upon signing the contract. It works like this: If a player signs a five-year deal with a $50 million signing bonus, that signing bonus initially is usually assigned to the cap as $10 million "cap hits" in each of the contract's years. If the player is released by the team after two seasons, the final three seasons "roll up" into the first year following the player's release for $30 million of "dead money" on the cap. If a player is designated as a post-June 1 release, the cap calculation can be spread over the first two years following the player's release.

Ray from Jax

John: I assume most of your readers - and I know who I am - are longtime fans. They are probably more likely to oppose the new rules favoring offense than would the newer fans who spend much of a game taking selfies rather than having any interest in the game. That is the audience that allows the league to grow even more popular.


John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF - Cheers to Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke for investing in the future with an elite player that doesn't get mentioned as much as he should, due to all of the attention on a select few. In my opinion, Foye Oluokun has Jaguars Pride potential someday if he continues his excellence.

The Jaguars indeed on Friday reportedly extended the contract of linebacker Foye Oluokun for four more years with $22.5 million guaranteed. He has led the Jaguars in tackles the past two seasons. I don't know that the Jaguars initially thought Oluokun would be a long-term fixture when they signed him as an unrestricted free agent in the 2022 offseason. Free-agent contracts are often stop-gaps until younger players develop. Credit to Oluokun. He played well enough to be a long-term fixture.

John from Jacksonville

The NFL has been working to make the game safer for a long time. If you use the implementation of the concussion protocol as the starting point for this "trend," that means the trend began in 2011. I have no sense that the NFL is less popular now than 13 years ago. Maybe you're correct. Maybe not. Either way, I would be stunned if the NFL reverses the trend of trying to make the game safer." First time I didn't watch the Super Bowl since before it was the Super Bowl ...

The Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl LVIII victory over the San Francisco 49ers drew 123.7 million viewers – 120.3 on CBS – making it the largest audience for a single-network telecast to date.

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

"It's better to have good players who fit a scheme than OK players who are familiar with a coach." Here's one for "O."

I am the king of all funk.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Most NFL teams have 25 or more scouts and personnel people who have spent their lifetimes immersed in the world of high-level football spending countless hours working on the draft and yet any idiot like me would have a decent shot of out-drafting them. My point is that the draft is about 80 percent luck. The stakes are high so the teams spend the time and money on the 20 percent that is skill even if it comes down to the general manager's "gut feeling " much of the time. The Jags really need a great draft this time so I wish Baalke and staff good luck.

You're probably not an idiot. Would I bet my house on this? Probably not. I agree that there is a lot of luck involved in the draft. That doesn't mean scouts, general managers and personnel people don't matter. Theirs is a percentage craft with projection, luck and a whole lot of factors beyond their control mattering in the process. They're going to have hits and misses, and the best path to success is to hit on the best quarterback possible and hope you hit a few more than you miss after that.

Chance from Tecumseh

Going back to 2022, what would have possessed Trent to pick Chad Muma over Christian Harris?

I understand fans and observers love to analyze past drafts and play the game of hits and misses. No general manager who ever has general managed has a perfect record on this front.

Eddie from Jacksonville

Have you ever noticed how people whine about athletes making $20 million to play a sport but no one says anything about actors making $20 million to pretend that they are someone else?

I have noticed this.