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O-Zone: Nothing easy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Is this the dead zone? It feels like the dead zone?

Goodness no. It's February 20, and the NFL season ended eight days ago. Hell, the Jaguars' season just ended a little more than a month ago. It's true that Jaguars "news" has been slow in recent weeks, but remember: While the NFL has created the league's current phenomenon of seemingly always being Topic A in the news cycle, teams can't be active all the time. There must be time for preparation, planning and decision-making. That has been what the past few weeks have been about for the Jaguars. They have many important decisions to make/announce in the coming weeks. They must decide their approach with multiple pending free agents and salary-cap decisions. They must begin planning that first wave of the 2023 offseason and ramp up preparations for the 2023 NFL Draft. The NFL Scouting Combine will be held in Indianapolis, Ind., next week with the 2023 NFL League Year set to begin March 15. As those dates approach and pass, things will feel a lot less dead in these parts.

Caljaguar from Colusa, CA

Zone, can we get an exact date or rough estimate as to when Drive Time and Happy Hour are coming back. I know there isn't much content to talk about was just checking. Appreciate it.

Drive Time will return Tuesday at 10 a.m. Happy Hour will return Thursday at 4 p.m.

Jason from Wulfekuhle from Suffolk, VA

Since we are on the topic of being mad about calls in previous years, I would like to mention that I am still very much MAD about Myles Jack not being down. I believe we would have beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl that year because quarterback Nick Foles would not have had the success he had against the Jaguars defense that he enjoyed against the Pats defense! One fer Myles Jack wasn't down!

Myles Jack wasn't down. No doubt about it. But the play actually is a good example of what makes the NFL so difficult to officiate. While Jaguars fans correctly bemoan that call in the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 season, it was by no means an easy decision. And had officials allowed the play to continue, and allowed Jack to run for a touchdown, the Jaguars likely would have won. Had that happened, New England Patriots fans would have been convinced that the league and officials were against them because they would have argued that the Patriots' ball-carrier on the play – Dion Lewis – pinned the ball against his leg for long enough at the time of his impact with the ground that the play shouldn't have been a fumble at all. That's not the way I see it. It's not the way Jaguars fans see it. But fans of the Patriots damned sure would have seen it that way. It's a game of judgment calls, and therefore an impossible one to officiate to the satisfaction of the masses.

Tom from Riverside

Has anyone ever told you they're tired of your #*&&##?


Sean from Oakleaf, FL

The Jaguars have not had a compensatory pick for over a decade. Is there a chance they have one in the upcoming 2023 draft?

No. Compensatory selections are awarded based on free agency from the previous offseason. The simplest way to explain it is you gain compensatory draft selections if your free-agent losses outweigh your free agency gains. The players in the equation also must be unrestricted free agents, meaning their contracts have run out. It does not include players released by teams. The Jaguars were active in free agency last offseason, signing players such as wide receiver Christian Kirk, tight end Evan Engram, wide receiver Zay Jones, defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi and right guard Brandon Scherff. As the Jaguars focus more on signing their own players, and as the players they draft sign on occasion sign elsewhere, they will gain compensatory selections.

Marcus from Jacksonville

The issue is not judgment, it is consistency. It's obvious in sports that players adapt to the way officials are calling a game. If an umpire is calling strikes an inch or two off the plate, the pitcher uses that to his advantage. If a basketball referee is letting players get physical, they push and bump a little more than normal. In the NFL, if a defensive back or offensive lineman lineman isn't getting called for little grabs of a jersey all game long, they're going to use that to their advantage, just like a wide receiver is going to push off a little more if he thinks he can get away with it. The from judgment of the officials is a part of the game, but the inconsistency in that judgment is what makes calls like we had in the Super Bowl so troubling.

I think we know from experience in these parts how difficult full consistency is to attain.

Michael           from Fruit Cove, FL

Yes, officiating in real time is really hard. That's exactly the reason we need to change the entire way the game is officiated. Things happen really fast and multiple areas (such as feet in bounds and keeping possession in your recent example) need to be watched at the same time. This is why "Let's just have someone stand there and try his best" is such a ridiculous concept. Sure, that's the way we've done it for 100 years since before video cameras existed. But if we started from scratch, the current system of officiating wouldn't be near the top of the list of best ways to do this. To stick with this system is just so lazy and your defense of it seems so absurd to me.

I have no vested interest in "defending" NFL officiating. What I try to do is look at things logically through a realistic lens. Logic and reality tell me that while video cameras are a great tool, they don't cure everything in officiating. Pass interference and holding – and other penalties – occur all the time. When these penalties are replayed, you get a slower and more detailed look – but you often can make a case for either side of the argument as you are watching and re-watching the play. One side will argue that it was a clear and obvious pass interference penalty while the other will argue that while there was contact it wasn't egregious enough to be called. That's the nature of a physical game. Would increased use of video and replay reverse some calls? Sure. It also would bring more discussion and game delays into the equation – and many calls that were replayed and reviewed would be just as controversial as if there had been no replay. Remember: When replay was implemented, the idea was to overturn clear-and-obvious mistakes. It was never to allow officials to review all borderline – or any judgment – calls. The people implementing the rules knew the pitfalls of allowing replay to officiate the game. They were right then and remain so today.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

I think Travon Walker (Jaguars), Aidan Hutchinson (Detroit Lions) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (New York Giants) will all have solid careers but why is Walker considered more of a project when he is of similar age and went to an elite program for college?

Walker wasn't as developed as a pure pass rusher as the other two players. There's more to playing outside linebacker than sacks, and the Jaguars believe that element of Walker's game will develop and he will become an elite all-around player.

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

O, would the Jags consider trading their first-round pick to bring back Jalen Ramsey?

I sense there will be many O-Zone questions about the Jaguars possibly reacquiring cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Such NFL trades usually aren't something that get discussed much before they occur. Therefore, trade speculation typically is nothing more than that – speculation. Could a trade for Ramsey happen? Sure. Anything is possible. But it would be very surprising, and I doubt seriously it will happen.

Brian from Wheeling

So, the Jags took the NFL by surprise last season and did a lot better than expected. Think they can do the same or better knowing we're not a walk over team anymore? Thanks O

The "take-teams-by-surprise" theme with the Jaguars' 2022 season is a little overrated – and even a bit insulting. The Jaguars won their last five games of the regular season – and they won a postseason game? I got no sense that they won those games because their opponents overlooked them. The Los Angeles Chargers had already lost to the Jaguars once before they lost to them again in an AFC Wild Card game. Why would the Chargers have been overlooking them? The Jaguars figure to have a tougher task next season because they play a first-place schedule. That increases the chances that they will play a few more contenders than they did this past season. That figures to be a bigger factor for the Jaguars than teams not thinking they're a "walkover" team.