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O-Zone: Pure hate

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

Speaking of trying to keep defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. next year and beyond, what do you think are the chances some of the other older/higher paid defensive linemen take pay cuts moving forward? Defensive linemen Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus would all be candidates. Campbell and Jackson especially have made tons of money already in their careers and seem to love playing with this group of players. Staying here also gives them as good of a chance at a Super Bowl as going anywhere else. Seems like a lot of factors that could lead to them taking significant pay cuts to stay with the Jags. My, how things have changed since they signed here.

The NFL is professional football, so it’s never safe to assume high-level players will take less money to play somewhere. While the Super Bowl is a goal, this is real life. The Jaguars’ coming offseason will be complicated in terms of the salary cap with many moving parts. Some well-known players – and some important players – almost certainly will move on. If the team has drafted well, it should be able to withstand several of those losses. I do anticipate the team will try to restructure the contracts of several elite-level veterans who have joined the team in recent seasons with Campbell, Jackson and Dareus certainly on that list. How that shakes out is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t anticipate – or expect – any of those players to play for dramatically less than market value. These are their lives and their families’ financial futures we’re discussing. What would you do in that situation?

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I must admit, seeing the Jaguars at No. 1 in the ever-so-important, inspirational and awe-inspiring weekly power rankings is different than I was expecting: it's weird. Do you think this is a something we could get used to?

Yes. Being good is cool. Fans like it.

Rob from Jagsonville

Tell me more about this "big nickel" and what it means for Leon Jacobs’ and Ronnie Harrison's playing time. Does Jacobs remain our starting strong-side linebacker? How is it we have a starter as a healthy scratch on game day?

The big nickel is a package in which the Jaguars play rookie safety Ronnie Harrison as the fifth defensive back as opposed to playing nickel corner D.J. Hayden or Jacobs at strong-side linebacker. It’s a package that makes sense when you’re playing teams that emphasize passing and running from three-receiver sets – such as the New England Patriots. It certainly cuts into Jacobs’ playing time, but the positive is it gets Harrison on the field more – and the Jaguars definitely want to get Harrison on the field more. As for how a “starter” is a healthy scratch on game day … it may help to realize that teams these days actually have 13 or 14 starters depending on the defensive or offensive package. Jacobs is the starter when the Jaguars start a game in a base defense. Yes, it’s entirely possible Jacobs will be inactive at times if the Jaguars believe a team isn’t going to run out of a lot of two-back or tight-end oriented sets. If a team is going to be heavy with three-receiver sets, it’s probably going to make sense to play Harrison and Hayden as opposed to Jacobs.

Paul from Ipswich, UK

I'm finding it difficult to understand the negativity on this site and others where I expect to find happy excited Jags fans. We all know everything isn't perfect but it's the same in every NFL team. On Sunday I was jumping round the house like a kid as we beat the Patriots and Tom Brady. Surely we should be happy to be 2-0 and leave the worrying to the coaches.

Fans fan. In good times and bad. It’s what they do.

Nathan from Fort Belvoir, VA

Has Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin specifically asked not to be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame? He has coached three Super Bowl teams, two of which were as head coach. Thoughts?

While there’s no set time limit for former NFL head coaches to be voted into the Hall of Fame, it sometimes takes a few years for them to be considered. This is because voters wish to be certain they are indeed permanently retired from coaching before induction. Coughlin won two Super Bowls as head coach of the New York Giants. He coached an expansion Jaguars franchise to two AFC Championship Games. I have little doubt Coughlin will make the Hall of Fame in due time.

Sam from Orlando, FL

I think the injury-prone moniker fits Leonard Fournette more than Fragile Fred fit Fred Taylor. Fournette hasn't been completely healthy since high school. His ankles (both of them) were a problem at LSU. They were still a problem last year and now he has a soft-tissue injury. It's valid.

You mad, bro?

Nick from Palatka, FL

Mr. Zone, we keep hearing about players maturing into the schemes of the different coordinators and coaches but what about the coaches adapting their systems to the players? Seems like we're seeing the coaches realizing the talent level they have and adjusting accordingly. Such as, linebacker Myles Jack playing a little safety while safety Tashaun Gipson patrols the linebacker's area. Also, making Jacobs a healthy scratch and playing more heavy nickel was a big surprise. Are we going to see this level of creativity going forward or was that just for the GOAT? And thank you for your razor-sharp perspicacity.

Todd Wash is in his third season as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator and Nathaniel Hackett is in his second season as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator. Many of the players are now moving into their third and second seasons with them, respectively. It makes sense that the comfort level would be rising all around.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Mr. Zone, sir. I can't wait to see what happens when offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett unleashes quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Leonard Fournette in the same game!!

If you DVR’d the AFC Divisional Playoff, rewatch it. Hackett did it then.

Bill from Jacksonville

John, why does a 6-feet-5 245-pound quarterback need to be protected from a 5-feet-11, 180-pound cornerback accidentally falling on top of him? Thanks! Go Jags!

Because you can’t implement a rule based on a player’s weight. The rule is designed to prevent a defensive player from taking advantage of having a quarterback in the grasp and falling on him with full body weight. Such a play wouldn’t always technically be roughing the passer because a player could have the quarterback in the grasp with the quarterback possessing the ball, then fall on him once the ball is released. There have been plenty of cases of quarterbacks being injured unnecessarily on these plays, most notably and recently Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers last season. The hit Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr delivered to injure Rodgers was unnecessary. The rule is designed to prevent it.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

If we don't beat the Titans, it will be all in the coaching and a poor game plan. And then I will not read the O-Zone for two weeks to avoid getting depressed. Kidding, I'll still read.

I understand. It’s always coaching in the NFL.

Kevin from Charlotte, NC

Hey O, I was arguing with a Giants fan the other day that Bortles isn't much different than Eli was when he started. He said, “Don't be ridiculous,” so I thought we should look at the statistics. For the first four years in the league Manning was 55 percent with 77 touchdowns and 64 interceptions. Bortles is 59 percent with 90 touchdowns and 64 interceptions not including this year. Obviously, the big difference is that Manning won a Super Bowl at the end of his fourth season. If Bortles wins the Super Bowl at the end of his fifth year, will he finally get some respect? I know he doesn't seem to care but the national media seems to be saying it was a blip for him instead of him truly taking a step forward.

If the Jaguars win the Super Bowl, Bortles will get a Super Bowl ring. Super Bowl rings are cooler than respect – and yeah, they do tend to bring respect along with them, too.

Ian from Leeds, UK

Sometimes I feel like one of one, O. Then I remember you and I … we’re not so different. We make awesome look like an impossible dream.

So you say.

David from Orlando, FL

Zone - Last year, a player referred to our quarterback as “trash.” Could you refresh my memory who that was?

Jadeveon Clowney. He plays for the Houston Texans. He’s better at rushing the passer than he is at assessing quarterback play.

Biff from Jacksonville

Hello John. My name is Biff, and I loathe the Titans.

You are not alone.

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