O-Zone: Optimistic old man

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Stephen from Belfast, UK

O, it has not been easy following this franchise from afar for over 20 years, with so many downs and only a few ups. When people ask me what NFL team I like, I usually reply with a sheepish whisper and hope to move on. However, I will be wearing my Jags T-Shirt with extra pride Saturday after watching the clips of the march Friday. Some things are much bigger than a game, and the entire organization has shown what it's about. #BLM

Jaguars players, coaches and front-office staff on Friday morning marched peacefully through downtown Jacksonville from TIAA Bank Field to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office – and back again – to promote racial equality. Running backs coach Terry Robiskie, Head Coach Doug Marrone and wide receiver Chris Conley were among those who spoke eloquently on the issue. Coverage of the event can be found on the home page and video sections of jaguars.com. That coverage, the coverage on other sites and the presence of the event on social media speaks to the historic and memorable nature of the morning. It was a moment few present or observing will soon forget.

Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington

So, I'm getting the impression you believe this is a six-to-eight-win win team? Let's get down to brass tacks here, Mr. O, how many division games are included in that assumptive calculation? :)

Congratulations on your deductive skills. They're improving since you had them fixed. As far as how many division games are included in my six-to-eight-victory projection for the Jaguars next season … two or three feels about right. Give or take two or three either way.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I think the front office, whomever it is, will just look at the most recent disaster which is the Los Angeles Rams when deciding what to do with Leonard Fournette after the 2020 season. Todd Gurley was a fan favorite and the Rams put themselves in a terrible position with the money they committed to a running back. Yes, he has reported arthritic issues, but the point remains the same. I absolutely love Fournette and wish he would be here a few more years, but the nature of the position dictates we cannot give him what he will likely get on the market. Because, you know, free agency.

I think you're probably right.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Chris Thompson will mean a lot to the offense next season. Isn't this a silly bet to hedge for the Jags, given his injury history and lack of being able to stay on the field? Then again, you don't get to be this bad for two-and-a-half decades by doing things correctly.

I do think Thompson will mean a lot to the Jaguars' offense this season, but you're right: the concern is that he has missed six games each of the last two seasons. The positive in his favor is he really knows new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's offense – and his skillset is exactly what the Jaguars need at the position. That makes him an imperfect solution. It's difficult to acquire perfect solutions in free agency, particularly when you're tight against the salary cap. Could the Jaguars have acquired a running back in the middle rounds of the draft? I thought they would. They decided Thompson was the better option. Stay tuned.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

Hi, John. Regarding the topic of coaches and players returning to the facility – and nothing is really gained until the players can return – what's your best judgment about when they will be allowed to return? I'm quite sure you have your ear to the ground quite a bit. Also, I think Tom Coughlin was obviously the best general manager in Jags history. Simply look at the results on the field.

Coughlin had positives and negatives as general manager, but his stint as head coach/general manager from 1995-2002 unquestionably qualifies him as the best in franchise history at both roles. For whatever else it brought, and for whatever mistakes were made to end the era, the era brought two AFC Central titles and two AFC Championship Game appearances. You don't do that without some decent personnel decisions. As far as when players will return to the facility, I'm guessing it will be late July for the scheduled beginning of training camp. That's only a guess, but it's my best one.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

In your opinion, could the worst NFL team today could easily beat the 1965 Green Bay Packers? I have $1 riding on your answer.

The eras are different enough that they're practically different sports. But if the players of past eras trained year-round with today's methods, teams from that era could compete with and beat modern teams. If not, then almost certainly not.

Joseph from Fleming Island

Sir, from your observation, what caused Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook to slide back from his previous year? I assume he didn't get significantly slower in one year. Was it route running, dropped balls, scheme? Going into last year I thought he had a chance to be the Jags' leading receiver (yards/catches), although he is not a prototypical No. 1. Thoughts?

Westbrook played much of the last three months of last season with neck and shoulder issues. He said around the time of the injury he expected to keep playing but that he expected to be dealing with the issues the rest of the season. I have little doubt that they kept him from being as productive as he and others expected entering the season.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Thanks for keeping the football questions going. Football is just a game and there are more important things in life but for those of us doing serious stuff all day every day it's good to have something else to go to relax and take our minds off the other stuff.

Word.

Sprinkle from DUUUVAL

Hey, O. Great job on the podcasts. Also, incredibly thoughtful words from Jaguars Owner Shad Khan. He's a great example for the NFL. I know you don't need it, but we still appreciate the work you do. Are there any more active Jags players you're going to interview for the podcast in the near future, or is that stuff a surprise? Also, do you have any clue as to what a partial capacity stadium would do to tickets prices? I try to attend as many games as I can, but would a half capacity stadium boost the prices much? And thanks for your tolerance for the trash-talkers. To quote a wise man "People are idiots" – RS.

A few answers/thoughts for your questions/thoughts. First, the plan for the O-Zone Podcast is to interview players, coaches, media – pretty much anyone associated with the team or anyone whose thoughts about the NFL or the team might interest those who frequent jaguars.com. Second, while such issues are well above my appropriately low pay scale, I don't expect whatever attendance issues COVID-19 might cause to lead to increased ticket prices for the 2020 season. Third, tolerating the trash-talkers really isn't a big deal. I've been in this business more than three decades; I've been in this job for essentially a third of that time. Not everybody's going to be positive. I don't want everybody to be positive. That would be boring. Furthermore, not everyone's going to praise me or even like me all that much. Hell, I spend more time around me than anyone. There are times I don't like me all that much, either.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: Thank you for including questions Thursday somewhat expressing the concerns of both sides on the Minnesota tragedy. I think it is important to note that we don't need additional laws to prohibit discrimination and the unfair and brutal treatment of blacks in this country. The laws exist. What we need is enforcement and leaders such as Mr. Khan to lead people toward a solution to a problem that clearly exists in this country. However, I heard Tony Boselli say today that Mr. Khan "puts his money where his mouth is." Actually, he needs to put his mouth -- and actions -- where his money did not go. He gave $1 million to a part of the problem. The onus is on him to move society -- not legislatures -- toward a solution. To repeat, we have sufficient constitutional provisions and legislation to end discrimination. What we need is social acceptance and enforcement of such laws. Mr. Khan can help in this regard. it is a long, difficult trek. Time will tell if he is truly up to the task or whether he is content to issue statements. If he is serious, I pledge to lock arms with him to effect change.

OK.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

Who is your best guess to be the Jags' second-leading receiver this year after DJ Chark Jr.? Does the answer change if you're measuring by receptions versus yards?

Let's go with rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. – and let's hope that's not just wide-eyed optimism by an old man who always sees life through a hopeful, rosy lens.

Advertising