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O-Zone: No more riches

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

David from Orlando, FL

Zone – All these rules about what kind of contact players and coaches can and cannot have is a bunch of hooey! You know darn well people will cheat when they know they won't get caught. There is no way to police this stuff, and the honor system doesn't work. As most of the NFL is in a holding pattern with player/coach interaction, there are teams bending and breaking the rules just to get that competitive advantage. If you don't believe me, you could ask Bill Belichick – after he gets off the zoom call, coaching his players.

Your passion, though admirable and very evident, is perhaps … misplaced. First, there is a way to police the NFL's offseason rules: players can report violations to the NFL Players Association – and history indicates that's exactly what would/does happen if/when teams try to violate them. Remember, too: The NFL's offseason rules about players and coaches not being able to talk about football applies only to the early part of the offseason – the period between the end of the season and the mid-April start of the team's offseason programs. Coaches and players can talk football from April through June – and they have been doing just that in recent weeks, albeit on videoconference calls rather than face-to-face as would be the case in a non-COVID-19 offseason. Will coaches bend and even break rules to gain a competitive advantage? Sure. Sometimes. But there's little incentive to do so right now. As such, I'm not sure there's as much subterfuge going on currently as you (passionately) assert. Remember, David: Not everything's a conspiracy. They're not all out to get you. Not this time, anyway.

Jason from North Pole, AK

Chris Conley seems to be the forgotten man in this column when it comes to the Jaguars' receivers. Do you think he will lose his starting position to Laviska Shenault Jr.? You said earlier this week that 'Viska would be the second-leading receiver in the group. I think people forget that Conley has the all-time combine record for highest vertical leap at 45 inches. Could we potentially see him take a big step forward this year?

I do think Shenault could push to start sometime this season if he develops as the Jaguars hope. Conley set career-highs in touchdowns, receptions and yards last season. Will he take a step forward? It's more likely that he will maintains his level of play, which means he would again contribute significantly to the receiving corps.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Myles Jack is as athletic as Telvin Smith was – and Jack is significantly bigger and can tackle better. Myles Jack also has a knack for making big plays. Jack is good on blitzes, too. Myles Jack really is the ideal weak-side linebacker. What's difficult to understand about this?

Not a lot, really. What people struggle to understand is why the Jaguars didn't play Jack on the weak side before – instead of waiting to move him this offseason. The heart of that struggle seems to be people forgetting that Smith was playing the position.

Pat from Duval

Gardner Minshew II and Michael Walker have been training together. Any chance Walker makes the roster?

Is there a chance? Sure. But the Jaguars selected Shenault and Collin Johnson in the 2020 NFL Draft. And Marqise Lee was the only significant offseason loss at receiver. There's more competition at the position than last season. That makes Walker more of a long shot.

Darren from Fort Worth, TX

Sometimes you do little edits to the questions people send in. You're a journalist, and based on your strong opinion of the Oxford comma and other punctuation, do you think you could start correcting the phrase "could care less" to "couldn't care less" since that's actually what people mean? Like, they care so little that they couldn't care any less.


Pete from Jacksonville

What are your thoughts regarding NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem? Will it be leaguewide and will players be allowed to kneel?

My personal thought is I never had a problem with players kneeling during the National Anthem because I never thought players were kneeling with the intention of disrespecting the flag or the military. I don't pretend to have remotely understood the issue from the perspective of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick or other black Americans, but I always believed people in this country had a right to free speech and to protest if they so desired. So, no: It didn't bother me when Kaepernick knelt and it won't bother me in the future if players kneel during the National Anthem. As far as whether I expect players leaguewide will do so, I haven't heard enough specific discussion on that to answer intelligently. But it's certainly possible some or many players will kneel. If it happens, I expect many people still won't like it; not everyone is going to be educated to a point of understanding the issue by the fall. But I do expect many people to be far more understanding than was the case four years ago. And I wouldn't expect any ramifications from the league if/when they do.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

Since we have had numerous tennis conversations over the years and nothing was brought up last week, I figured it was time to get your thoughts. Roger Federer is 38 years old, back end of his career and just became the first tennis player to top Forbes' highest earners for the year at over $100 million. Is there anything he can't do? Can he hold off and get a few more slams before he hangs up the racquet? Or is it inevitable that Novak passes him on the career GS list?

There's one thing Federer or any other athlete can't do – and that's hold off time and aging forever. I would love nothing more than to see Federer win a few more Grand Slams. I doubt it will happen. And I think there's a good chance Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will reach and/or pass him. The reality is the three players together defined the sport over the last 10-to-15 years, and the era will rightfully be remembered for the rivalry and debate between the three. All will retire with fans and observers fervently arguing that one or the other deserves the mantle of Best Ever, and all will have a legitimate claim. I expect the debate will last decades. Such is the beauty of sports.

Trevor from Jacksonville

Do you think the Jaguars will go 0-16 this season?

I do not. Not even remotely close, actually.

Josh from Yulee, FL

I will have to respectfully disagree with you on whether the unusual offseason will be an advantage for young teams. And I feel like the Jaguars in particular will benefit the most from it. I just feel like young people are better equipped to learn from and deal with a situation that makes everything via internet and social media. Even though I like the traditional approach better and I myself do not even use social media, I think that the younger teams have probably made more progress this offseason than teams with older players. I believe we will see this the very first week when the Jags host the Colts. We will see Colts quarterback Philip Rivers come out and look like a quarterback that should've retired and we will see Minshew look like a seasoned vet. Tell me I'm wrong after Week 1 and the Jags aren't 1-0 coming off a dominant home opener win.

I certainly think the Jaguars have a chance to win in Week 1. Whether that will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Jaguars benefitted more from an offseason of videoconferencing is a different question. Even if a young team makes more progress than a veteran team in the offseason, my point is that a veteran team with veteran coaches and a veteran quarterback probably will be better- prepared early next season than a team with new coaches and new players who are still trying to learn one another. That's not saying the younger team can't win, but to think that a team of people just trying to learn one another isn't going to need to overcome that obstacle … well, agree to disagree, I guess.

Chris from Jacksonville

Gee, thanks a lot Zone. You reminded me about your book I never got around to reading. I hopped on Amazon to buy it, but physical copies ... well ... let's just say I'm not a front-row season ticket holder. The good news is I got the Kindle version and am loving it. Thanks for helping bring back those glorious memories. (Hopefully, we can make some new ones soon).

I laughed when I saw the price one Amazon seller had for Jags to Riches. Suffice to say the authors' days of seeing revenue from the project have long since passed.