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O-Zone: Quick build

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Brian from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Did you really say that you expected ETN to be the Jaguars' breakout player this season? Watcha smokin'? ETN broke out a long time ago.

I assume you're referencing me saying on Jaguars Today Wednesday that Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. could have a breakout season in 2024. This was more a case of me being asked a question and answering best I could than any sort of a "passion project." Still, I did say it, so here was the reasoning. While Etienne indeed has "broken out" with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons the past two seasons – and a 11-rushing touchdown season last season – the thought here is there is more in this vein. While Etienne rushed for 1,008 yards last season, there were long stretches in which every rushing yard felt like a struggle. The interior of the Jaguars' offensive line struggled at times, particularly in short yardage, and many of Etienne's yards in '24 came on breakout runs. If the Jaguars can run block a touch better in big situations and turn Etienne's one-yard gains into three-yarders … then, yes, Etienne absolutely could "break out" in 2024.

John from Jacksonville Beach, FL

I'm thinking the Jaguars' wide receivers have to have at least two 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown receivers this season. You have to have impact players at the skill positions. Which two do you think can do this?

I'm not sure we agree on your premise. While it is tempting – and vogue – in this fantasy-football-centric era to focus solely on statistics when judging teams and players, the thought here is that this Jaguars offense could be more balanced than star-focused. And that might be a positive. It's very possible – even likely – that players such as wide receiver Christian Kirk and tight end Evan Engram turn in eight- or nine-touchdown seasons with a player such as wide receiver Gabe Davis registering six or seven more. If rookie wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. adds five or six with a few somewhere else and one or two from Etienne, that would put quarterback Trevor Lawrence around the low thirties. That would have been Top 5 in the NFL last season. I expect, too, that Kirk – if healthy – can be comfortably in the 1,200-yard range with a couple of other receivers in the 800-to-900-yard range. You can win with that in the real NFL, if not the fantasy one.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Hey, Zone. Less than two weeks from the start of training camp. Are ya psyched?

You have no idea.

P Funk from Murray Hill

The camel rider apparently is a Jacksonville signature sandwich. I saw the Rolling Stones a few years ago at the stadium and hearing Mick Jagger gleefully exclaim "It's great to be back in Jacksonville. I went and got myself a Camel Rider!" was a highlight and a joy. Did you make it to that show? Are you a Stones guy?

I did make to the Rolling Stones concert at what was then TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville in August 2019. It was my second Stones concert, having seen them at Florida Field in Gainesville in 1994. I suppose I'm a "Stones guy" in the sense that I probably know the words to every song on Hot Rocks and Some Girls, though I couldn't go deep tracks on many other albums outside Let it Bleed. This probably means I'm a Stones guy, though hardly an aficionado on the level of true Stones guys.

Bryan from Rip City

Yo, Grizz! Thanks for your interview with the league's best team president, Mark Lamping. Can we go ahead and reserve a spot in the Ring of Honor for him? How lucky are we to have THAT guy??


Tom from Charlottesville, VA

Sbarro's is okay but far from the best in Jacksonville! Try Renna's on San Jose Blvd the original for a truly good pizza!

I've never tried Renna's. I have tried Tony D's on Baymeadows Road – a lot – and the pizza there is outstanding. Even compared to Sbarro's.

Scott from Jacksonville

I kind of agree with Greg's sentiments a bit. Breezeways will be a bit limited in their effectiveness if nothing but hot air is blowing through. However, anything beats sitting directly in the blazing September sun!

I'll side with the designers, engineers and scientists – all of whom fall into the admittedly unexclusive category of People Smarter Than Me – on this one. (Editor's note: This answer is offered with due respect to the renowned scientific team of Greg and Scott.)

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

I'll be the "actually" guy. Ancient civilizations used passive cooling architecture. The Persians used windcatchers to capture a cool breeze and the cool air flows downward displacing warm air upward. And there's variation like bringing a breeze inside where cool water is flowing to cool down the air reducing the temperature. The stadium will sit next to a large river with breezes blowing. If the ancients can do it, we don't have an excuse. I went to chichen itza a couple months ago and the Amazon jungle last year. You'd be surprised what some shade, cool water, and a breeze will do for you.

I'm "all in." Can you text Greg and Scott?

James from Destin, FL

John, I was wondering on the NFL/DirectTV lawsuit why every team has to pay an equal amount of the settlement. Did every team agree to the contract or was this an NFL corporate type decision and every team is getting penalized for some boneheaded decision that Roger dufus Goodell did?

You're referencing a recent jury decision in a class-action lawsuit mandating that the NFL owes "Sunday Ticket" subscribers $4.7 billion. The details of this case can be readily found on the interweb, but I'll offer three thoughts on your email. First: Every team pay an equal amount because the league acts as one in matters such as shared television. When the league benefits, all teams benefit. And vice-versa. Second: The league has appealed this decision, calling the damages "nonsensical," so we'll see where this goes. Third: I smile when people criticize NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who happens to be the same Commissioner who has overseen the sport for nearly two decades as it has solidified and grown as the biggest sport in North America. It strikes me he is perhaps more intelligent than a "dufus," but that's just my theory.

John from Jacksonville

Do you think the new kickoff rule will increase interest in the preseason games? It won't matter if backups are playing. I'm looking forward to what 32 special teams coordinators are going to come up with.

I expect it will increase some interest early in the season, perhaps just marginally. I expect that interest will wane a bit when people watch a few games and get a feel for how the kickoffs will look under the new rule rules. I expect the interest, too, could wane when people remember they're preseason games.

Don from Marshall NC

What happened to Tank Bigsby last year? I know the blocking could have been better, but he was just a guy. They drafted him in the third round? What did they see when they drafted him? Are the going to use him in short yardage or what? What specifically is he going to be providing to the team? Everyone wants to see something special out of him but I think there is a chance someone could snatch his job if he is not improved. Go Jaguars!

When it comes to asking a legitimate question, the answer to which is that the coaching staff perhaps somewhat prematurely though understandably lost a bit of faith in then-rookie running back Tank Bigsby after some early mistakes – which led to him getting fewer opportunities than perhaps should have been the case – Don remains "all in."

Bryan from Tampa, FL

We live in a day and age where professional athletes are trying to build their "brand"; a business persona surrounding their name and image. Do you sense that Josh "now call me Hines-Allen" Allen, felt a marketing-related need to distinguish his brand from a certain quarterback with the same name? I don't mean to suggest that is his only motivation, but am I alone thinking that may have been the trigger point that led to this decision?

Jaguars edge Josh Hines-Allen has shared the name of the Buffalo Bills quarterback for five seasons. I think Hines-Allen changed his name to Hines-Allen for the reason he cited – to honor and represent the maternal side of his family.

Big Dude from Mighty Ribault Colts and Trojans

HEY KOAF!!!! You are TRULY the King of ALL Funk if you're telling me that the Stadium of the Future is opening next month, as in August 2024, as in what you told "David from Chuluota, FL" from yesterday's O-Zone offering. Wooooow, that was fast……..

That would be fast. It actually would be some sort of record.