JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Aaron from Jacksonville
O, the 2012 Seattle Seahawks – led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell – went 11-5 and won a playoff game. Their leading tight end (Zach Miller) had a whopping 38 catches for 396 yards and the No. 2 tight end had 18 catches. Why is everyone so concerned about tight end? Something tells me that production won't be too hard to replicate/replace.
Observers and fans throughout the 2021 offseason have focused on the Jaguars' need at tight end. Few would argue that the Jaguars are incredibly strong there, and Head Coach Urban Meyer has talked often about needing to improve at receiving tight end. But when Meyer discussed receiving tight end during the offseason program, he spoke more about players such as James O'Shaughnessy and Ben Ellefson having improved and needing to continue improving than he did about acquiring a tight end via free agency or trade – and I never sensed Meyer's urgency with this issue quite matched the worry of observers. Your question illustrates one reason this may be true. Bevell historically has managed to field a productive offense at times without using the tight end extensively. So has passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. You do get the sense the Jaguars believe they can be productive offensively with their current tight ends, and history shows they may be right.
Dave from Jacksonville
_Zone, not that you need any support, but Mr. NFL from Jacksonville needs to get out more. Indianapolis is twice the college town that Jacksonville in, except the passion there is basketball. High school basketball gets as much newspaper coverage in most rural areas surrounding Indy. Football is dominated by other state universities and Notre Dame. Having lived in a number of football regions in my life, I can say Indianapolis is not a great football town. _
Indianapolis is not in any way a bad football/NFL town. It grew as a football town immeasurably during my 10 years there (2001-2010), with quarterback Peyton Manning and a striking run of success deserving perhaps as much credit for this as the presence and pleasant prose of yours truly. The town appears to have remained very much into the Colts in the decade since Manning's departure. But if you ask me is Indianapolis a better football/NFL town than Jacksonville, I would say it is not. The passion for the Jaguars in this town always has been remarkable. It's particularly remarkable considering the team's record over the last decade. Once the team starts winning again – and that will happen – more people nationally will realize that.
Malachi from Bakersfield, CA
John, "Blue Chips" over "Hoosiers" for best basketball movie of all time.
Oh, come on.
Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC
An elite tight end would be great, but is it possible we see somewhat of a breakout year from O'Shaughnessy? When healthy, he seemed to be a reliable target and has almost always been working with subpar quarterback play. Do you think he could realistically be a top 15 or 20 NFL tight end this year in terms of production?
I absolutely believe O'Shaughnessy can be productive in this offense. He appeared on pace for about a 500-yard, five-touchdown season before sustaining a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament five weeks into the 2019 season. Can he be a 700- or 800-yard receiving tight end under the right circumstance? Sure, that's possible.
Sprinkle from Duval
Frozone, in regards to tennis, I like the way the ball is fuzzy and green. I am intrigued by the bounciness of it. I like that it is ping pong, but giant. It is good to watch the tennis.
There's a lot more to it than that, but the fuzzy green ball does bounce cool.
Zac from Austin, Tejas
I think players such as our very own quarterback Gardner Minshew II or guard Ben Bartch add an interesting spin on the college-payment discussion. Both were late draft picks and not top of their position. Yet, both were marketable. People who didn't even watch the NFL were forwarding me videos of "The Smoothie King," and Minshew's marketability doesn't need much explaining. I think college likeness will obviously pay the top-tier players, but I wonder if it will reward middle-tier players who just stand out at all.
It seems relatively likely that the name/likeness approach will reward higher-profile players far more than lower-profile players. That would seem to indicate that the name/likeness approach is unlikely to pause the drumbeat to pay all college players. We'll see.
Steve from Nashville, TN
What does the NFL do with fines they collect from teams, coaches, senior writers and players? I am hoping it goes to charities or some other good cause.
Fines in the NFL indeed go to charities, including those supporting retired NFL players.
Steve from Wallingford, CT
Hey KOAF, I want to let you know that my job is exploiting me as well. I should get both my normal hourly rate and commission for income I manage to bring in.
Fight on, Steve. Let me know how it goes. I'm sure it will go well.
James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville
_O-man, I'm not sure If Urban Meyer will make a great NFL coach or not, but he is a very good salesman. Because it sounds to me like all the Jaguar players have bought in to what he is selling. So if he's as good as a coach as a salesman, the Jaguars are going to be surprisingly successful. _
Meyer is a very good head coach. He has proven that repeatedly on the college level. He also is a good organizer and tone-setter for an organization. He has changed the culture around the Jaguars, and that's a huge part of being an NFL head coach. You're right that we won't know if he will be a great NFL head coach because there are factors in professional football that can sometimes be out of a head coach's control – i.e., injuries, quarterback play, contract issues, etc. But you're right that he's a good salesmen and guess what? That ability to make people believe in what you're doing, to get "buy in?" It's critical. Maintaining that buy in also is key. You do that by winning. Stay tuned.
George from Curious
During the Dead Zone time what Ozone question writer or fan do you miss having in your inbox most?
I love all writers and fans equally. Honestly.
Sam from Winter Park, FL
I hope next year at Wrestlemania we see Gene "Showtime" Frenette put a whoopin on "Mr. NFL."
Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette long has been a dominant force in many feats of physical strength/confrontation. Mr. NFL wants no part of him.
John from Jax
Is it wrong ... or a problem … to have the coolest and most popular backup quarterback in the league?
Don from Marshall, NC
I followed Jimmy Johnson back when he came into the league. He had a rough go when he started only winning one game his first year. He came under criticism for everything he did, especially having replaced Tom Landry. The way to prove your critics wrong is to win a couple Super Bowls.
Your memory serves you well. Not only was Johnson criticized unfairly for a lot of things early in his tenure as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he also was criticized fairly at times because he had some missteps as he learned the NFL game. He learned from a lot of those missteps. And yes … the perception of him changed dramatically when the Cowboys started winning. That's the path to respect in the NFL. It was for Johnson. It will be for Meyer. It's the only way.
Sharon from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
The NIL ruling will only help the top athletes leaving the others in essentially the same situation they are in now. I have always thought a reasonable solution would be to pay them for practice time like students are paid for working in the library, cafeteria, etc. since they are not allowed to hold those other jobs because of the time demands of practice. I understand that schools cannot pay the athletes for playing, but I do not see the problem with treating practice like any other job on campus. What do you think?
I think this makes a striking amount of sense depending on the amount paid.
Scott from Longwood, FL
If the Jags win the Super Bowl will you end the streak during that offseason?
I haven't decided yet. I have done the O-Zone daily since 2011. This won't go on forever. But I don't have an event in mind for ending it. More likely I will just decide one day not to do it. Or the Jaguars will decide. Or I will die. Whichever comes first.
Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA
John, "assume" makes "assumeume" of "ume." It makes "ass" of a "-ume." Math.