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O-Zone: Name game

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Sue from Omaha, NE

Hello, John. Is this Calvin Ridley's last year under his current contract? If so, I'm already worried about how we will be able to re-sign him next year!

The 2023 season is the final season of the rookie contract Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018. The Falcons exercised the fifth-year option on Ridley's contract for the 2022 season, then that final season tolled into the 2023 season because Ridley served a one-year NFL suspension in 2022. The Jaguars then obtained Ridley's contract in a trade with the Falcons last November. Here's a way to look at his contract situation: If Ridley is as good as the Jaguars expect, then he will be one of the best receivers in the NFL. If that's the case, they will find a way to sign him to a long-term extension. This won't be easy because they also likely will need to sign quarterback Trevor Lawrence to a long-term extension. But difficult doesn't mean impossible, and there will be a way to get both signed if both merit it. You might worry about the ability to re-sign or retain a few other veterans in that scenario, but that wasn't your question.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Does Calvin look about how you expected him to? I knew he wouldn't look bad, but also didn't expect him to look fast and crisp in an elite way right out the gate. It's underwear, but very early reaction?

Ridley during 2023 Organized Team Activities has looked a bit better than I expected – and he has looked pretty much as a No. 1 receiver should look. He has all the traits of an elite receiver, and I have seen nothing thus far to indicate he won't be just that. It's true that non-padded work isn't always a good indication of how a player will fare, but Ridley already has proven he can play at a high level in the NFL. The only unknown entering this offseason was whether he had lost some of the speed, acceleration, etc., in a near-two-year layoff. That doesn't appear to be the case. At all.

Nathan from Utah, US

ESPN Zone, that's just one thing that comes with a new stadium. Writing to the people of the greater Jacksonville area: An entire new downtown is what we're talking about regarding "keeping up" with the NFL: A new area with hotel, theater, shopping, dining, Mechanical bull riding. A place for entertaining all who will be at the Super Bowl. So, it's not just a new place to play football. Just saying- don't be afraid to pony up and enjoy the ride. From here it looks like it's only getting better for us Jaguars fans. DUUUVAL!!!


DJ from Grass Valley, CA

All mighty O. With respect for your requests to "be nice," I will do my best. I don't understand some of the criticism surrounding the Jaguars' 2022 draft class. "Devin Lloyd is a bust?" There wasn't a Jags fan alive that wasn't excited about his first few games. "Defensive rookie of the month" ring any bells? We are talking about a young man making the transition from college to the NFL without the benefit of training camp. Am I missing something? I concede that he often looked a bit lost in the scheme, but wouldn't you expect that from a rookie with zero practices leading up to opening day? I sure hope all of his naysayers have to eat their fair share of crow this season. He's a beast! Go Jags!

Fans who believe Lloyd is a bust based on the 2022 season don't fully grasp how the NFL works. You can't judge such things based solely on a rookie season. Countless players show us this every year, yet otherwise keen-minded people who exercise sound judgment in many other areas of life ignore this evidence and pass final judgements on players after their rookie seasons. It's quite the phenomenon that I have never quite understood. I think Lloyd has a real chance to be very good. I believe this because he made a lot of big-time athletic plays as a rookie when he was in the proper position, which tells me he has high-end playmaking ability. His issues last season were about recognition, which stemmed largely from not reacting quickly enough or correctly in situations he hadn't experienced before. There's every reason to believe he can improve that aspect of his play. That doesn't guarantee that he will do so. But there's no reason he can't.

Nicholas from Fort Cavazos, Texas

I find it interesting when discussing the Jaguars' kicker situation. For a relatively low-profile position it seems that some of the biggest characters were kickers. Mike Hollis, Josh Scobee and Josh Lambo always come to mind when I think of the best kickers the on the team. I even recall a little bit of a rivalry between you and one of the kickers based on a "leaked video" of you jogging for exercise. With all their success, there is still residual scar tissue from when the Jaguars struggled and it seemed that extra points were far from a sure thing for the Jaguars (maybe because we didn't score many touchdowns and it seemed like we missed many extra points). With that being said, here is hoping that McManus will be closer to "Mr. Automatic." Riley Patterson, you will always have a spot in our heart for finishing off a 27- point comeback in the Wild Card Game against the Chargers.

One fer the kickers.

Jess from Glen Carbon, IL

To Ralph from Fleming Island: St. Louis had an approved new stadium proposal to be built on the Mississippi Riverfront. The Rams' owner, Stan Kroenke, made deals with the other owners to get approval to move to Los Angeles and move into a new stadium that he was building (on land that he owns and now leases for events) and got the Chargers to relocate also. The Rams leaving St. Louis was due to ownership greed, pure and simple.

As someone who grew up in Jacksonville before the NFL was here, and who values the NFL in Jacksonville, and who understands the difference in this town with and without the Jaguars, I am always thankful Shad Khan purchased the Jaguars.

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

O, I think fans are missing the upside of signing a kicker as good or better AND receiving a seventh-round pick.

Fans fan. It's what they do. And many Jaguars fans didn't like the team trading kicker Riley Patterson to the Detroit Lions and signing former Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus. The major upside to McManus is leg strength and experience. Getting a seventh-rounder for Patterson? That's a bonus, but I can't criticize fans too much for caring little about a seventh-round selection.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, I realize only two OTAs have been accessible to media, but am wondering if you've seen Travon do any work with his hand on the ground and Lloyd at outside linebacker in 11-on-11? Have you heard any water-cooler talk of that maybe happening?

One of the rules regarding OTA media access is those who attend can't report specific formations and where players are playing. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jaguars work both those players in multiple areas with 2023 Training Camp begins. It's something they started doing with outside linebacker Travon Walker at times last season, and it's something that would take advantage of his versatility.

Kevin from Jacksonville

When are you going to stop answering these stupid Riley Patterson questions? If these dumb people still don't understand the reasons for the move by now, they never will. You've answered the question a million times already and they keep asking the same dumb question.

There are no stupid questions, only stupid senior writers – and remember: Not everyone reads every day. Why on earth would they?

P Funk from Murray Hill

Seems like the move to a new kicker comes down to feeling more confident about putting points on the board when all that matters is the final score. That being said, was there any strategy involved with the new fair catch rules for the change?

A bit, but only in the sense that McManus as a veteran is a capable directional kicker who also has the leg strength to often force fair catches in the end zone. While it remains to be seen how teams will approach strategy in terms of the fair-catch rules, it stands to reason those skills would be coveted. Still, scoring and leg strength was the primary reason for the move.

_Bradley from Sparks, NV          _

Will you use some of the millions generated from your O-Zone column to procure the naming rights for the new stadium?

I can allot a percentage of revenues. Word is I might be able to procure a stall near the back of the janitor's restroom.