JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Twenty-five cent giraffes
This may be a dumb question but what in free agency guarantees the Jags re-sign players such as defensive end Yannick Ngakoue or cornerback Jalen Ramsey? Say, for instance they preferred a larger market such as New York or Los Angeles. They theoretically could opt not to re-sign here in pursuit of somewhere else. I'm just curious if there are incentives or benefits from a player's perspective in staying with the team that drafted them rather than test free agency.
This are no dumb questions; only dumb senior writers. But this isn't a dumb question at all – and there certainly are cases of high-profile players who play out their contracts and sign with new teams. That's pretty much the definition of free agency – that players at some point become "free" to play where they choose. So, what would entice a player to stay with his original team? Money is the first thing – and there's no doubt that the Jaguars will have to pay a premium price to retain Ngakoue and Ramsey. A player also can realize that he fits better with his original team, though that rarely trumps money as a factor in a decision. The team also can use the NFL's franchise tag for at least a year and sometimes two on a player. That can delay the process of a player signing with another team – and protect a team from losing a valued asset. In the Jaguars' case, there also is the sometimes-overlooked fact of there being no state income tax in Florida, which considering the size of the contracts in question often is a major factor. The bottom line: there's absolutely no guarantee elite players re-sign with their original teams. It's why those original teams often pay huge multimillion-dollar contracts to retain elite players. It's professional football. It's about the money. A lot of it.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
John, I think it's more than a coincidence that four senior referees are retiring. The new rule where you can or cannot hit an opposing player is very confusing. Maybe the thought was this would be a good year to go. For the first time in years I am looking forward to watching preseason football. The games have all the potential of watching a runaway beer truck with flags flying on every play. I really feel Jaguars special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis will earn every penny of his salary getting each special teams player to understand the do and don'ts of these rules.
I wouldn't attach too much to the retirement of a few senior officials to the new lowering-your-helmet rule, though interpretation of the rule does have all the earmarks of a major early-season NFL storyline. And I do think there's potential for many penalties in preseason and early in September, if only because it's likely that the officials will call the new rules – both the lower-the-head rules and the special-teams changes – tighter than usual early to get coaches and players used to the new landscape. As far as DeCamillis … yeah, he has been focused this offseason studying the new special teams rules. There are a lot of details of the new kickoff rules that are going to take time and repetition to incorporate into the game. I expect it will decide games early. And I expect DeCamillis' experience to be an advantage for the Jaguars during that time.
Rob from Jacksonville
Why, when the greatest rookie seasons are mentioned, is Randy Moss always considered No. 1 or No. 2, but Fred Taylor's rookie season in the same season of 1998 – when he had more total yards and the same amount of touchdowns – not even mentioned as a top 10?
This is a fair point, and I remember saying often at the time that it was a bit of an injustice that Taylor didn't receive more consideration for rookie of the year that season. Taylor scored 17 touchdowns for the Jaguars, including a 77-yard touchdown run and 78-yard touchdown reception. He also had 1,644 total yards, including 1,223 yards rushing. Moss' 69 receptions for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings made for an impressive season, but better than Taylor's? Debatable. Very debatable.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, why do the veterans report a day early for training camp? Seems like it should be the other way around.
Rookies and first-year players report for Jaguars 2018 Training Camp on July 18, with quarterbacks reporting on July 20. The rest of the veterans report on July 25 with practice scheduled to begin July 26. That's the full schedule; for brevity's sake, the first day of practice and veteran report date are often the only dates mentioned. Apologies for the confusion.
Stephen from Jacksonville
So, it's not enough that the league determines every team's website format and the minimum number of advertisements shown, but also gets to determine what articles get published and when they should be printed? To put it nicely, that's some grade 'A' cow manure. Stay in your lane, league offices. This is the O-Zone and it belongs to us. #DTWD #FreeJohnOehser #JaguarsIndependenceNow
Yeah, it's not exactly like that, but still … Freedom!!!!!
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL
A recent article in the Sports Business Journal (Daniel Kaplan, April 13) discussed the NFL's revamping of all 32 team websites and included the following: "Teams will retain control over editorial and commerce decisions, though the NFL will offer editorial advice tied to its own data analysis." The more paranoid among us might interpret this as the beginning of censorship. Silly? Or is your journalistic independence truly at risk?
The league can "advise" all it wants. And the league does administer the "back end" of team websites in terms of format, etc. But the decisions on editorial tone of content and transparency on jaguars.com will be made by the Jaguars. (Editors note: John's rarely right; on this topic, he is dead on.)
Sid from Sidsonville
In the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game the Jags only had three yards on four carries. Was that because of something the Jags did wrong or did the Patriots figure out how to shut down the run? Is it coaching or players?
Probably a little bit of both on both counts, but the main takeaway from the second half of the AFC Championship Game is that it revealed what the Jaguars were offensively last season. They were a team that ran well often but they were often not a great running offense. The Jaguars led the NFL in rushing last season, but they weren't consistently a dominant running offense. Their effectiveness dipped dramatically in the second half of the season, and far too often they couldn't run when they needed to run. This was on vivid display in the AFC Championship Game, but it was a season-long issue. They therefore knew they wanted to get better on the offensive line and signed All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell toward that end. They also want to get the tight end more involved in the passing game to get defenders away from the line of scrimmage. Bottom line: you need a dominant offensive line to play as the Jaguars tried to play late last season; the unit was good, but not that dominant.
Mike from Beaufort, SC
Looked at the schedule and noticed that we don't have division games to start or end the season. We start division play Week 3 and we're done in Week 15. Is that normal?
The Jaguars play the Houston Texans in the 2018 regular-season finale. The Texans and Jaguars have been members of the AFC South since 2002.
Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX
So scared zone that your derogatory remarks about the many advertisements had caused you to be shut down in the O-Zone. All throughout Friday morning, afternoon and day I was refreshing. Hoping, begging and finally crying when I saw no O-Zone posted at 8 p.m. It was midnight and I gave you one more chance to post before going to bed. Don't let the NFL intimate you. Fight back and be heard.
Brian from Greenwood, IN
The dog park is genius. Think about national television broadcasts where they show the dogs. Are you kidding me? Sunday Night football. Dogs having fun. Complete genius. Pay that intern.
I imagine national-television broadcasts will show the dogs at Pet Paradise Park at TIAA Bank Field next season. If the Jaguars win, I imagine fans will be happy and people will remember that the Jaguars won. If the Jaguars lose, I imagine I will get a lot of emails from angry fans. If the intern got a commission on the sponsorship deal, I imagine he or she will be happier than me that day either way …
Brian from Greenwood, IN
Genius, pure genius …
… and If the intern got a really big commission, I imagine he or she will be a lot happier than me either way.