O-Zone: Proof positive

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Unhip Cat on the Beach at Camp Pendleton

In 2018, Jaguars played a first-place schedule – the AFC East and NFC East, and six playoff teams. In 2019, the Jaguars will play a fourth-place schedule – the AFC East and NFC West, and five 2018 playoff teams. What’s your view on the relative difficulty and fans’ concerns?

I’m not certain what will concern fans regarding the Jaguars’ 2019 schedule, although I am quite certain they will fret over something. The reality is there’s not as much difference in a “first-place” and “last-place” NFL schedule as many believe. Fourteen of 16 games are the same for every division team, with the difference being the first-place team plays two first-place teams from two conference divisions, the second-place team plays two second-place teams from two conference divisions and so on. So, instead of playing Kansas City and Pittsburgh as they did in 2017, the Jaguars in 2018 instead will play the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets in 2019. Aside from that, the schedule of the first-place Houston Texans and last-place Jaguars essentially is the same. Still, the Jaguars’ 2019 schedule does appear tricky. They play the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers out of division and all three of the other teams from the AFC South finished above .500. But projecting schedule difficulty before the season means little. Who knew entering this season that the Indianapolis Colts would be a playoff team this season? Who knew the Chiefs would be as good as they were when they played the Jaguars? Teams rise and fall quickly in the NFL and you typically only get a real idea about the quality of most teams about five or six games into the season.

Chris from Space City, TX

Tom Coughlin and the other two being retained is a joke. Let me know when it's time to talk draft. This is all the Jags fans have to look forward to under this regime.

Was 2017 the funny part of the joke? Or was that 2018?

Dave from Duuvall

For some “perspective” on the Steelers and their stability, let’s add some reality to their situation. They play in a division with the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The Bengals have not won a playoff game in 27 years and the Browns have not won a playoff game in 20 years. If a team is in a division with a couple of perennial losers, it increases your chances of maintaining a .500 record and greatly increases your chances of winning your division. Mr. Rooney was quoted as he was getting on the elevator after the first Steelers-versus-Jaguars game in 1995 in the AFC Central Division, “I’ll be damned I’d we’re going to come and play down here every year!” And he made sure of that in realignment.

The Bengals have been in the postseason the seven of the past 16 seasons; losing in the postseason does not make you a perennial loser. The Baltimore Ravens – like the Steelers – have been one of the NFL’s most consistent organizations over the past two decades. The AFC North has not been easy. As much as Jaguars fans dislike the Steelers, there’s no denying their status as one of the NFL’s best organizations.

Jason from Riverbottom

So, are good teams good because they are stable or are stable teams stable because they are good?

Yes.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

Doesn’t using a team-imposed suspension to void guarantees and bonuses on a player’s contract violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement? Can’t a team only do that if the suspensions were all levied by the league office? Who’s running the show on that front for the Jaguars? Apparently Fournette and Co. are filing with a grievance with the NFLPA over it. If I am correct in my thinking, then how on Earth did someone working for the Jaguars think that was going to stick?

Whether something violates the CBA depends on the wording of a player’s contract – i.e., what actions do or don’t void the guarantees. The Jaguars’ front office believed voiding Fournette’s guarantees will “stick” because they feel Fournette’s one-game suspension for his involvement in a fight against the Buffalo Bills – a suspension that was indeed levied by the league – merited the void. You’re correct that Fournette and the NFL Players Association are expected to appeal the void. We’ll find out then who was correct.

Chuck from Jacksonville

O, I understand the need to move in a different direction as starting quarterback, but from an overall roster perspective and a salary cap perspective wouldn't it take some sense to bring Blake Bortles back at least as a backup since his dead money is almost equal to his cap hit if he is on the roster? I think it is like $2 million different, so would we realistically get a decent backup for that cap number?

Sometimes, it’s time to move on.

Frankie from the Mean Streets of Ponte Vedra

I don't understand the hate for Fournette? Where was it last year when we were winning? As for last Sunday, what was he supposed to do? Wave teal and black pom poms in street clothes? If they didn't want him there, why bring him at all? It wouldn't even have been an issue if the television cameras didn't pan over to him every five seconds. It's almost like TC is just looking for an excuse to go after Fournette.

The television cameras didn’t make Fournette an issue Sunday, and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin doesn’t need to look for an excuse to “go after Fournette.” Fournette’s behavior has made it an issue.

Steve from Hudson, FL

Please break it slow to the fans: The Jaguars on a Monday Night Football game next season doesn’t look promising. Chiefs, Chargers, and Saints are probably the only games that may have a chance. Just trying to be real.

The Jaguars were on prime time only once this past season after making the AFC Championship Game the season before. The chances of them having more than that one season after going 5-11 are extraordinarily slim.

Tom from Gainesville, FL

I was a big fan when Doug Marrone was named head coach. I also realize that a lot of things happened this year out of his control. However, something is seriously wrong with the overall building of this team. Everyone in the stadium, the regional commentators, the Jaguars commentators observed the behavior of T.J. Yeldon and Fournette Sunday. Marrone must have been the only person there who saw nothing. I would think one of the team coaches (running back coach perhaps) any other coach or team captain (oh wait … never mind) would have addressed the matter. It would appear the players have the control of this team and it's bad.

That is the appearance, and culture was perhaps the reigning buzzword around the Jaguars late in the season. There is a keen awareness at all levels of the organization that the culture must improve. Marrone is responsible for that, but character clearly must be better judged during player acquisition – and players themselves must produce a more positive culture. But as Marrone would tell you, it ultimately will fall on him. It will be a priority. He will figure out a way to approach it differently. How successful he is in this area could go a long way to determining his future here.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

I don’t think you’re big into analytics, but Football Outsiders releases their DVOA rankings this year for offense, defense, special teams and for the team overall. I figure one nice thing about the season is they have us ranked 6th in defense and 4th in special teams. Unfortunately also 30th and offense and 25th overall. DVOA is a complicated metric, but those “rankings” feel about right.

Yes.

Stephen from Wallingford

I for one absolutely love Tom Brady's incentive contract. Why can't this become the norm? Let each player earn their pay with their ability. Elite players would get paid like elite players and there would be no wasted salary cap.

It’s not the norm because most elite players – as well as most players who are in high demand – won’t agree to such a contract. Most players want guarantees. Hell, so do I. Bottom line: if a team wants to sign or retain most elite players, they must offer a lot of guaranteed money. If one team doesn’t, another surely will.

Jaginator (formerly of Section 124)

I really wish our fanbase had never heard of the “one-year prove-it deal”. Everyone thinks that any player, of any caliber, can easily be signed to the mythical prove-it deal. This year, I’m gonna have Beyonce put on a private concert at my house under a one-show, prove-it deal. Then I’ll have Michael Jordan coach my kid’s basketball team on a one-game, prove-it deal. Finally, I’ll have Steven Spielberg write/direct/produce a new movie for my own private screening on a one-film prove-it deal.

I laughed at this.

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