O-Zone: No doubt

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

So, I couldn’t help but notice you did not mention quarterback Blake Bortles in your recent response to roster decision “do overs.” Intentional? We had already taken the option and he could have played out last year anyway. Even if you saw some good signs in 2017, there were still equally as many bad signs and bad games and we are talking about hindsight anyway. You mentioned linebacker Telvin Smith, but we don’t have to PAY Smith; he just isn’t here. I would argue that Smith’s bad year last year was still better than Bortles. I agree on wide receiver Allen Robinson. Jury is still kinda out on guard Andrew Norwell. Go Jags.

You’re referencing a recent O-Zone question asking what recent Jaguars roster decisions I would “do over” given the chance. My answer was that I would have re-signed Robinson and perhaps not have not re-signed Smith. I left Bortles off the answer not because his 2017 contract extension wasn’t a mistake, but because naming him wouldn’t have been interesting – and I guess the topic feels sort of played out. The Jaguars extended Bortles believing they were locking up a serviceable player who had improved in 2017 – and that they were doing so at a reasonable quarterback price. But whatever. As for Smith, I mentioned him as one I wouldn’t extend again not because of his eventual retirement but because paying a weak-side linebacker – even one who made as many splash plays as Smith – is risky; it’s not a premium defensive position on the level of pass rusher, defensive tackle or cornerback. And you’re right that we’ll see about the decision to pay Norwell after letting Robinson leave. It’s an “incomplete” so far. We’ll have something closer to a final grade soon.

Robert from Oneonta

It is truly an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to explain my joke to Mr. John. Yes, it is your circus because you run the place, decide what letters get posted. They are also your monkeys because you decide how to answer the letters that get posted. So yes, you are ringmaster Oshner.

The honorable ringmaster in question spells his last name, “O-E-H-S-E-R.”

Paul from Jacksonville

Regarding fixing the preseason and revenue, rather than increasing the regular season, what if they had two more teams make the playoffs from each conference? That means four more teams playing in a game that matters. That's going to draw national television audiences, advertising dollars, etc. The league gets its revenue, the players get playoff bonus money, the fans get rid of two meaningless scrimmages, everyone wins!

Additional playoffs games indeed would mean more revenue, which would help offset revenue lost from losing preseason games. Not that owners and players still wouldn’t be tempted to add regular-season games in addition to that, but …

Brad from Orange Park, FL

Was blown away to learn after reading the ESPN list of “NFL's Greatest Ever at Each Position” that Jim Brown averaged 6.4 yards a carry in 1963 for the Cleveland Browns. What other single statistic has a player (other than quarterback) ever produced over a full season that could match that overall impact to the offense and its success?

Wide receiver Jerry Rice’s 1987 strike-shortened season in which he caught 22 touchdown passes in 12 games comes to mind. Rice’s San Francisco 49ers team finished 13-2 that season and was the clear Super Bowl favorite before being upset by Minnesota in the postseason. Rice’s 22 touchdowns that season projects to 29 had he played 16 games. The NFL record for touchdown receptions entering that season was 18, making a 29-touchdown season a significant statistical outlier that will be hard to duplicate.

Thomas from Charlottesville, VA

As final cuts approach and with the battle for jobs in the defensive backfield, how much consideration is given to who could be placed on the practice squad and not picked up by another team? With injuries the Jags might need all of them at some point?

That’s a consideration for anyone making the final four or five spots on the roster. It’s ideally not the No. 1 consideration, but if you like a player’s potential and are worried he would be signed by another team you certainly weigh that heavily when deciding whether to release him.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Laughable deals keep getting done around the league while we are being told the Jags are “trying” to re-sign our players. Good for Jaylon Smith. Now, spin it Mr. Spinny man! Spin it!

There’s really nothing to spin. The Jaguars made an offer to defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, and Ngakoue opted not to accept that offer. That, by any definition, means they tried to re-sign Ngakoue. He doesn’t think they offered enough. Some fans are angry they haven’t offered more, but the team isn’t going to simply offer Ngakoue whatever he wants whenever he wants. Perhaps that’s spin. Or perhaps that’s simply explaining the situation.

Mark from Archer, FL

I am confused about Myles Jack. Yes, he is decent, but he is not even probably one of the 10 best middle linebackers in the NFL. Why does it seem like everyone is thinking he is going to get a big contract? Unless he has an amazing year this year, I would think he would be offered a middle-of-the-field salary for his position. Is he better than I think?

This is a fair assessment. Jack, the Jaguars’ starting middle linebacker, is entering his fourth NFL season. While he is better than “decent,” you’re correct that he hasn’t played at the level that ordinarily would merit a top-of-the-market contract. At the same time, he is good enough that some team will pay him. Jack during the offseason program discussed knowing that he needed a good season this season to merit a huge contract and he’s right. My sense is he’s poised for just such a season. He is at a perfect combination of talent and experience while still in his physical prime. Here’s guessing he has a big season and makes what already is a tricky situation for the Jaguars even trickier.

Emerson from Austin, FL

I’m looking forward to watching the majority of our first team offense play Thursday. Do you think we will score a touchdown, field goal, or punt/turnover on our first drive?

Field goal.

Antony from Columbia, SC

O, who you got starting at right guard against Kansas City? A.J. Cann or Will Richardson? My hope is that its Richardson because, to me, that means there's a good chance the staff believes we'll be getting better play out of that position in the future than we've had in the past.

My sense is the right guard competition between Cann and Richardson is close, and that Richardson will be starting at that spot soon. Let’s go with Cann to start the season because of experience with a transition there before Week 8, but that’s just a gut feeling.

John from Jacksonville

Our starters have to be SO READY to finally play this Thursday. I predict a defensive three-and-out and an opening-drive touchdown by our offense. Book it, Cozy O-Z.

Consider it booked.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

For the coaches and players, preseason started two weeks ago. As fans; however, the preseason starts on Thursday in Miami – assuming we get to see our starters for at least a few series. You, John, have given us a pretty good idea of who those starters might be – except at the tight end position. Best guess?

I’m thinking most of the offensive starters will play three series, but that running back Leonard Fournette could be taken out after a series. My guess is the first-team defense plays about two series, particularly if the unit plays well.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

What’s the chances that Yann and Jack are on the team next year? Put a percentage on it. I feel the Jags have developed at least one of them for another team to pay and benefit from in 2020.

I’d put the chances at about 50-50 – and yes, there’s a chance they have developed one of them to play elsewhere.

Mark from Archer, FL

Zone, people need to stop with the whole thing about Nick Foles never having played a full NFL season. How long ago has it been since he was the Week 1 starter? It is very possible he has become more durable since the last time he started for a team. Let’s just wait and see how the season unfolds.

It’s possible Foles has become more durable, or it’s possible that people are jumping to conclusions about his durability based on a small sample size. Foles started six games as a rookie and sustained a broken hand, then started the final 10 games of the 2013 season. He then sustained a season-ending broken collarbone in 2015, but those two seasons – 2012 and 2015 – are the only seasons that injuries have ended his season early.

Braddock from Jacksonville

Why are you so smug? I think I make some great points and ask good questions. I'm just asking.

I don’t doubt for a moment that’s what you think.

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