O-Zone: Oddly angry

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

The difference between David Garrard and Mark Brunell is we drafted Byron Leftwich and started him for like four years in front of Garrard in the year that he was thought to take over the starting role. I’ve often wondered what could have been if we drafted another position there and rolled with Garrard.

I don’t know that that’s the main difference between Brunell and Garrard, but no question Jaguars history would look different had they not drafted Leftwich No. 7 overall in the 2003 NFL Draft; any Top 10 quarterback shapes a franchise’s history for the foreseeable future. Still, while I wasn’t covering the Jaguars when they drafted Leftwich, I don’t recall a serious thought while Brunell was here that Garrard was destined to take over the starting role. What would have happened had the Jaguars passed on Leftwich and gone with Garrard? Perhaps they would have selected defensive end Terrell Suggs, drafted three spots later by the Baltimore Ravens. Or safety Troy Polamalu, who went to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 16 overall. Or perhaps they would have selected defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy or defense end Ty Warren – who went to the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots at Nos. 12 and 13, respectively. The draft is something of a crapshoot. While it’s interesting and fun to wonder what might have been, it’s a fool’s game – and no team is without its share of big-time what ifs.

Mark from Ponte Vedra, FL

Thanks for the 25 seasons, 25 games series. I’m enjoying reading the players commentary. Boselli peeing on the sidelines in the Denver game?! Definitely one fer the equipment manager!

The NFL, contrary to popular belief, is not always glamorous.

Bill from Hawthorne Wood, IL

Some revelation from Del Rio about Gabbert, huh?

Former Head Coach Jack Del Rio in a radio interview this week indeed said he didn’t know the Jaguars were going to draft quarterback Blaine Gabbert when they selected him in the 2011 NFL Draft. This caused a bit of a stir among media and Jaguars fans, but I don’t know that it’s all that surprising. The Jaguars, remember, traded up to get Gabbert. And Gabbert slid unexpectedly enough in that draft that it was surprising that he was available at No. 10 overall. Former Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith perhaps saw an opportunity for a franchise quarterback and had to decide quickly whether to go after it. Some fans are looking at the move as symbolic of Smith’s disappointing tenure as general manager, and I suppose that’s true in a way. But Smith was hardly alone in thinking Gabbert was a first-round worthy quarterback, and he would have been selected very soon had the Jaguars not taken him. This is not to defend Smith’s tenure; he indeed made a lot of decisions that turned out badly. But it’s not as if drafting Gabbert No. 10 overall was a ridiculous move – no matter what Del Rio did or didn’t know at the time.

Matt from Murray Hill

Would all of the people complaining about Sweet Home Alabama rather hear Fred Durst tell us to “Take it to the Mathews Bridge?”

I never know what’s going on.

John from Jacksonville

Reading debates about how much Yann and Jalen should get paid ($20 million a year, $50 million a year, $200 million a year) and feeling sorry for them not getting a new contract a year or two earlier than it is due? This while I need to decide if I should take my lunch to work tomorrow because I'll save a few bucks from eating lunch out? Fans blindly and carelessly saying "pay the man" and making the front office the villain? Contracts take time to negotiate because of details the two sides need to work out. They will make life-changing money regardless of the amount. It's all about pride in getting the most across the league. Wait ... I'm rambling and I sound a little bitter. That's not like me. Don't tell me that I entered the dead zone.

You’re right; we’re deep in the dead zone, though I have a sneaky feeling that we would be going around and around on the contracts of Ramsey, Ngakoue – and yes, linebacker Myles Jack – whatever the calendar may say. Contracts tend to draw fierce debate. Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know you can’t compare the decisions we normal folks make about day-to-day issues such as mid-week lunching to the multi-million dollar “dilemmas” facing these players; it’s a different world, and if the discrepancy bothers you … well, it ain’t getting less discrepant any time soon.

Scott from Jacksonville

How about "Mother" by Danzig? Then everyone could sing along because nobody knows what the heck he's saying anyway.

OK.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King of Funk: What is the weirdest place you have seen a gig? Mine would have to being seeing a band play on a flatbed truck outside the Odeon Leicester Square (the big cinema where all London premiers tend to be shown). Lasted all of three songs before the police shut it down.

I haven’t seen that many shows in weird venues. I did see R.E.M. and the Ramones a few months apart at the Bandshell in Gainesville in 1984. Both shows were free. It was a good year.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Your answer on Earl Campbell got me on the highlight reels. Sweet mother was he unbelievable. Have you ever seen someone run with such power combined with speed so effectively?

No.

Marty from Jacksonville

Hey, John, I'm enjoying your series covering 25 notable games in Jaguars history, but I want to put in a word for one of my favorites that may not be on your list: the 1996 game between the Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers. Both teams had come into the league at the same time, so everyone was comparing us to them. We were getting the short end of the comparison, because they seemed to be so much farther along than we were. Then they came into Alltel Stadium and we just beat them up physically. I remember in the fourth quarter, there was a constant low growl coming from the stands. We were sick of being compared to them. We wanted blood (figuratively speaking of course) and we got it.

That game isn’t featured in the ongoing jaguars.com series, “25 seasons, 25 games,” but it absolutely could have – and maybe even should have – been mentioned. You’re right about the game’s tone; it absolutely was seen locally and nationally as a game that would measure the progress made by the NFL’s two 1995 expansion franchises. Then-Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin never said it was a hugely meaningful game, but it was evident leading to the game that it was big for both he and the franchise. The visiting Panthers to that point had been the far more successful franchise, and they entered the game as 2.5-point favorites. Your memory serves you well because the Jaguars indeed beat up Carolina that day, taking leads of 17-0 and 24-6 on the way to a 24-14 victory. The Jaguars outrushed Carolina, 179-57, and had a time-of-possession advantage of nearly 10 minutes. But more than statistics, what I remember from the game is Coughlin’s postgame demeanor. He was as emotional as I remember seeing him in the first couple of years of the franchise. It clearly mattered to him to beat the Panthers. The Jaguars didn’t truly hit their stride during that 1996 season until mid-November, but that late September game against the Panthers did foreshadow a team that had big potential.

Scott from Jacksonville

"No, it’s magic. I’m magical. I’m so magical I ought to be illegal." That's the argyle meth talking.

Just spittin’ truth, Scott.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

Does the lack of a state income tax affect contract negotiations? Example: $20 million in Florida is about five percent more here than $20 million in Kansas.

State income tax usually isn’t the overriding issue in contract negotiations, but it absolutely is a factor – or it is for the wise players. To use your example, .05 percent of $20 million is $1 million. In states with high local and states taxes, it’s far higher. Players rarely – if ever – pull on a baseball cap with a team logo in their free-agent press conference, smile widely and say, “I signed with the Jaguars because of no state income tax!” But if they’re wise with money and truly trying to build their financial futures they likely smile widely each spring when their accountants explains how much more they kept the previous year than they would have kept in California or New Jersey.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

NASCAR is an insult to motorsports. Let's watch 40 cars that are too chicken to run races in the rain drive in a circle for three hours.

Mad, bro?

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