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O-Zone: Ramble on

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tom from Jacksonville

The roster we had last year was weaker than our opponent in every game. The tanking did occur when the two defensive tackles did not play. The owner surely knows as well as other owners throughout the league. It was a masterful subterfuge that General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone pulled off. They weren't going to win, so why not secure the best draft pick? What they did will land them future work whereas winning three games wouldn't.

It seems past time to put this subject aside for a bit, particularly with this weekend's 2021 NFL Draft more than enticing enough to carry the week without digging and re-digging into what by now seems a tired topic. Still, for old time's sake: Going 1-15 last season won't "land" Caldwell or Marrone "future work" – and while I don't know either's NFL future, nothing that happened with the Jaguars last season figures to help their careers any time soon. And while I know from experience that logic and reason mean little to this conversation, I'll say it one more time: The Jaguars didn't lose on purpose last season. Caldwell and Marrone didn't intentionally sabotage the team, as evidenced by their dismissal after the season. Yes, the Jaguars' roster was weak and young – particularly in some key positions. It got weaker when the Jaguars lost defensive lineman Al Woods and Rodney Gunter during the preseason and that was too much for an already weak defensive front. But they didn't tank. They didn't try to go 1-15. They just didn't.

Tom from Jacksonville

How do you grade one player against another if they play different positions? The draft board must be a Ouija board if that is what they are doing. Maybe they really draft by position need.

You grade players who play different positions by … well, grading them. Teams devise systems that allow them to rate players across positions for this very reason. It's perhaps not a perfect system, but every team has one. A running back, for example, may be a 9.7 and a wide receiver may be a 9.2. Once you determine that, then the team might weigh the grades based on positional value – i.e., a team may believe that a 7.8 wide receiver by definition is more important than a 7.8 running back and therefore consider the 7.8 wide receiver a better prospect than the 7.8 running back. Of course, with two 7.8 players, need theoretically would then come into play as the tiebreaker. And so on. And so on.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi John… how about that numbers rule change, huh?

I spent a couple of days channeling the bitter old man in me and disliking the new numbers rule, a rule that will allow linebackers and wide receivers to wear single digits – and a lot of other nonsense. But you know what? If the kids like it, let them do it. Whatever.


I know it's a bit early for this, but what do you think about starting the 2021 season off with a 50/50 ball to Ben Koyack? The idea's been floated around before. Is this when it finally gets realized?

Former Jaguars tight end Ben Koyack no longer plays in the National Football League.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Has the 2021 player roster size and practice squad size and dressed for game day size been set for this year?

Not completely, because the league and players association doesn't yet know what the situation around COVID-19 will be come September. The game-day roster size in a normal situation will be 47 or 48 (the latter is the number if at least eight active players are offensive linemen). Practice squads are expected to be 12 players in a normal situation, though 16 players were allowed on practice squads last season because of COVID-19. Teams were able to "protect" practice-squad players last season, and teams under the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement may activate one or two practice-squad players the day before games. I anticipate more clarity on this for next season as that season moves closer.

Clay from AB, FL

Did you see the interview in Popular Science where Trevor Lawrence said matters other than football exists?!

No. I was watching old Top of the Pops episodes on YouTube.

Al from Orange Park, FL

This is not the forum to discuss vaccination pros and cons, but do you know if there is any truth to the rumor that the NFL is considering letting only vaccinated fans attend games?

The NFL's Chief Medical Officer, Allen Sills, was asked this by Judy Battista of the NFL Network recently. His response was that it's too early to speculate on the matter. I would expect further clarity in the coming months, but I've heard nothing beyond Sills' comments.

MT from Jacksonville

BUBBLES!! I didn't recognize you without your coke bottles. You truly are the KOAF. Aren't you?

Get me some jalapeno chips.

Jason from North Pole, AK

Asking for a draft prediction from the O-Zone that I can take to the bank. In what round or later do you see the Jaguars adding a running back in the draft? In other words, what's the highest pick you think they will spend at the position.

The tricky part of your question is I don't expect the Jaguars to look at the running back position as, "We need to take any running back in a particular round." If there is a back early who can make a huge impact with speed and big-play ability, it wouldn't surprise me if they selected such a player as early as No. 25 overall. I could see them selecting running back in Round 1 if the player is special. Otherwise, I would think third round or later is far more likely.

Jarret from Crosby, ND

I'm still intrigued about your NHL postseason thoughts. What is different about hockey that allows Cinderella stories in a best-of-seven playoff format, when in the NBA (for example) talent pretty much always wins out.

I don't want to portray myself as a hockey expert because I'm absolutely not. I am a casual fan who knows enough to be dangerous. But the answer as I see it is goaltending. Similar to baseball, in which a hot pitcher can trump all other factors, a hot goaltender in the NHL can change the dynamics of a series.

David from Chuluota, FL

KOAF - This is an extremely exciting time to be a Jacksonville Jaguar fan, mostly due to arrival of Urban Meyer – and, in a few days, Trevor Lawrence. Our fortunes changed due to a small miracle that occurred on 12/20/20, when the winless New York Jets defeated the heavily favored Los Angeles Rams 23-20. If the Jets just lost their last 3 games, Trevor Lawrence is a New York Jet and Urban Meyer might still be a color commentator for Fox Sports. Jaguar fans should celebrate and credit the Big Bang that occurred on 12/20/20, as the start of a new era for Jaguars football. A day that will live in infamy!


Alon from Malibu, CA

In the potential 3-4 system, Will Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson be three-down linebackers?

They would have roles on all three downs. Whether both will be in the lineup in every package is another issue and – like all players – could depend on situation.


Have you heard anything about the Jags being Interested in Ertz? A 4th round pick for him seems like a bargain. Any thoughts or rumors?

I guess I don't know what constitutes an NFL rumor in the age of Twitter. I have seen Tweets and comments about the Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. I have gotten many questions from Jaguars fans about this. I have gotten a lot of emails from fans saying the Jaguars should be interested, and some of those emails have a tone that the Jaguars would be stupid not to be interested in Ertz. I have heard nothing substantial indicating the Jaguars have any interest in Ertz, so I don't know if that's a rumor or not. My thoughts on the matter are that it wouldn't surprise me if the Jaguars had some interest, but at what price? A fourth-round selection wouldn't be outlandish, but you also probably would have to deal with his contract after the season. And he is 30 years old coming off a 36-reception, 335-yard season, so this isn't a no-brainer – even with a fourth-round selection involved.

Sean from Jacksonville

I was so very wrong. I thought there couldn't possibly be anymore mock drafts and looking under draft pick's beds for dust bunnies, but I lost hope this year. To make it easier, why not just keep all the same articles but substitute next year's draft hopefuls. Lazy writing? Sure, but no one will notice. Thus endeth my ramble.

That ith probably for the best.