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O-Zone: Necessary measure

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from Nashville, TN

Does the new NFL rule on fair-caught kickoffs lessen the importance of your kicker being able to drill it through the end zone for a touchback, and does it increase the value of a squib kick where no fair catch is possible? I believe this is just a step to eliminating kickoffs all together down the road and just putting the ball on the 25-yard line. Eliminating kickoffs will also eliminate at least five or six commercial breaks each game, so that may keep it alive.

The NFL owners this week passed a rule for the 2023 season under which all fair catches on kickoffs will result in the receiving team beginning the ensuing possession on its 25-yard line. While the rule currently is just for 2023, I expect it will be made permanent following the season. The rule does lessen the importance of kicking off through the end zone because the result of a fair-caught kickoff and through-the-end-zone kickoff will be the same. And I do expect we'll see more "squib" kickoffs in 2023.  Either way, there appears little question that elimination of the kickoff is approaching. Kickoffs and onside kicks long have been the NFL's most dangerous plays. Eliminating will make the game safer – or at the least, owners will have made an effort in that direction.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

So, John. Will kickoff guys now practice bouncing, skimming line drive kickoffs that eliminate the opportunity for a fair catch?

Probably – until the NFL eliminates kickoffs, anyway.

Ed from Danvers, MA

What becomes the "most dangerous play in football" now? Will they make the coin toss electronic to avoid the risk of the coin hitting someone in the foot?

I sense your sarcasm and distaste here, and your point has merit. The NFL is in danger of legislating too much of the game away in the name of player safety. But if the league doesn't address its safety concerns, the long-term popularity – and future – of the game is in jeopardy. What we're going through now with these rule changes is the process of trying to find a proper balance. The most dangerous play now? Well, this new trend of players pushing quarterbacks from behind on quarterback sneaks seems to have potential to be dangerous. Stay tuned.

Richard from Orange Park, FL

I don't understand trading Riley Patterson to the Detroit Lions for a seventh-round pick. Brandon McManus isn't an upgrade to me over him, either. What is your take on the trade and what is your suspicion as to why we made it all mighty O?

The Jaguars traded kicker Riley Patterson to the Detroit Lions Thursday and signed former Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus. Patterson made some clutch kicks in 2023. He also was shaky at times. Teams change kickers because they don't trust the old kickers as much as they trust the new kickers.

Rob from Jacksonville

Riley made the game winner in the AFC Wild Card victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, which is really what matters, but it wasn't exactly "automatic."


Abel from the Westside

Howzit KOAF. The Green Bay Packers have been using Lambeau Field for 66 years, we don't need a new stadium! But if we do build a new stadium, why don't they find a big piece of property somewhere in Duval to build a stadium with parking for everyone?

Lambeau Field is an iconic, historical stadium that underwent a 32-month, $295 million renovation in 2003 and is currently undergoing video board and concourse renovations. The Jaguars and the city aren't seeking a big piece of property somewhere in Duval because the idea is to have a stadium in downtown Jacksonville as the centerpiece of a revitalization for that area.

Greg from Saint Johns, FL

Hi, O. As I understand it, the state of Florida does not contribute funding for stadium projects. My Q is: Of all the stadiums that have been renovated or newly constructed up to current "standards", which ones received funding from their home states?

I don't profess to know the deep financial details of all 32 stadiums, nor do I have the energy – or the remote inclination – to find all those details. State funding was a part of the funding for NFL stadiums in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Green Bay, New England, Houston, Seattle and Pittsburgh. All those projects were completed more than a decade and a half ago. The Tennessee Titans' stadium project reportedly is receiving $500 million in state bonds.

Richard from Jacksonville

Do 65,000 people show up and countless more watch Walmart and McDonald's work each Sunday on TV? Often local governments give Walmart tax subsidies to get them to move into their neighborhood. Major television networks don't bid hundreds of millions of dollars for the right to show McDonald's and Walmart on television each week. It was a weak point and a bad analogy. It's half a cent that really costs the individual nothing in the big picture. It's your own opinion. We are one of 32. Better to be 1 than not.

Applying "normal-business" approaches to the NFL or any professional sports team doesn't work. Sports indeed is a business, but it's a different business in that it also is an identifying point of the city. The feeling in the city in January? When the Jaguars were making the postseason run to the playoffs? That's not "normal." And it's hard to define. Some people don't consider it important and whether it's "worth it" is a matter of opinion. But if a small market is going to have that feeling, some funds have to come from public sources.

Captain Bob from Jacksonville

The O-Zone now has been discussing the financing of a new/renovated stadium. I think it's time again to mention all the things that an NFL presence in Jacksonville brings. Both the NFL and the Jags have charitable foundations. The players have clinics and foundations. They also volunteer at charities and take kids on buying events. So even if you don't like football or public funds being used you can still appreciate what they bring to the community at large. Lastly, in today's situation where everything is a controversy, at the stadium on gameday, we are all crazed Jaguars fans and friends...


Sean from Oakleaf, FL

After the stadium renovations are complete would Jacksonville be back in the discussion to host another Super Bowl down the road, or has that shipped sailed (along with all the attendee's rooms on that boat)?

I rarely say "never" and I won't say it here. But Jacksonville would still need much more hotel infrastructure to host a Super Bowl.

Jim from Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda

John, I hear so much talk about "mismatches " with our awesome receiving corps. Can you explain to me how that will work? To my simple mind, you have four or five defensive backs and it shouldn't make much difference if the wideouts are the Calvin Ridleys, the Evan Engrams or the running backs. They are still covered by defensive backs.

Mismatches work in many ways. Ridley, for example, could simply be better or faster than the best opposing cornerback. That would cause defenses to either try to cover him one-on-one, or to move a safety over to help. Moving the safety would mean other wide receivers such as Christian Kirk or Zay Jones to receive single coverage. Both players are often capable of beating that, which would mean another mismatch. Offensive coordinators also often create mismatches with unusual pre-snap formations or motion to get a fast wide receiver on a slower defensive back. Engram as a tight end also can be a mismatch if he gets matched up on a linebacker. The addition of Ridley dramatically increases the chances of this receiving corps having matchup advantages. This should be an intriguing season for this offense on that front.

JR from The Squatchlands

So what you're saying is, nothing has been decided on the future of the stadium and all options are currently on the table?

Pretty much.

Rob from The duuuuu

Twenty-to-thirty thousand fans in a limited stadium? When we sucked this would be totally fine, but we are going to be "awesome " and might even be hosting an AFC Championship game in the next few years. To finally host a championship game in our home stadium in front of a limited stadium with only 30 thousand fans? That would be sad and would be a disappointment for the fans who have waited their whole lives to watch that game. Those would be too expensive of tickets for most of us and the team would not get the home crowd they deserve. You have to admit that the timing is unfortunate as we plan on hosting some playoff games over the next few years and no one would have cared three or 10 years ago…

Of course the timing's unfortunate. There's no ideal time to build a new stadium, and remember: The Jaguars don't want to build a new stadium. They have to.