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O-Zone: Real loyalty

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Let's get to it …

Rob from the duuuuuu

I can't get behind former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin in the Pride of the Jaguars. There are only three players in, so it is obviously very exclusive and I believe Mojo (running back Maurice Jones-Drew) and [wide receiver] Keenan [McCardell] are more deserving as well as a few others before coach. I believe if Coughlin had had more success and a better ending with his second coming, it could be the case. But with the way it ended, it just doesn't make sense. We need to keep spots for [quarterback] Trevor [Lawrence] and [Head Coach] Doug [Pederson] – and hopefully a few more – and it should be pretty much exclusively for players in my opinion. We are retiring jerseys with numbers, not suits and ties. Cough is a legend, but I don't think he meets the current standard of the pride. On that note maybe neither does [quarterback] Mark Brunell. Was he better than Mojo? Keenan? [Defensive end] Tony Brackens, etc? It's close but you would think they would let someone else in by now, what gives?

Coughlin absolutely should be in the Pride of the Jaguars – and anyone who was around the franchise in the 1990s would have difficulty believing otherwise. He was the face and voice of the franchise from 1993-2002, defining the franchise in pretty much every way, with his fingerprints essentially on all aspects of the organization. He built an expansion team into a four-time playoff team that won two AFC Central titles and made two AFC Championship Games, and the team's four-year run from 1996-1999 stands as the glory years of the franchise until something takes its place. I agree that Jones-Drew and McCardell are very deserving. I would put Brackens in the conversation, too. But the Pride of the Jaguars should be about people who helped defined eras, and Coughlin absolutely did that in the 1990s. His stint as Executive Vice President of Football Operations ended poorly, but that doesn't change what he is to the franchise.

John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF. It kind of sucks to be a football player other than a quarterback if you want MVP status. The big contracts go to quarterback; 13 of the last 20 Super Bowl MVPs went to quarterbacks (with five going to wide receivers). Often the MVP for the season goes to a quarterback. Do other position players just accept it as the normal course of things now? No jealousy? No resentment?

Of course other players are jealous of quarterbacks sometimes. And there is resentment at times. Players are people, not robots. At the same time, the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Yes, they get the longest – and largest – contracts. They also have the longest careers with the most fame and credit when a team wins. They also have the toughest jobs with the most pressure and get the most blame when a team fails. Life's a tradeoff. Even in the NFL.

Bill from Palm Beach, FL

What were you thinking? Seriously? What. Were. You. Thinking?

I wasn't. And I'm sorry. I'll do better.

Luke from Brisbane, Aust

O, how does free agency work with contract negotiations? Is it a "blind auction" of sorts, or do teams know what other offers have been made to a player they're targeting? Thanks!

The NFL is a tight community. Teams and agents talk constantly, so even if there aren't "official" talks happening before unrestricted free agency, it's unrealistic to think teams and agents don't normally have a general idea of market value. Teams then usually begin negotiations on a low end of that general idea, whereas agents began on the high end. It has a blind auction feel at that point. Once free agency begins and multiple teams get officially involved, then it becomes a weirder auction in which agents field calls and offers until a deal is reached. In a high-demand, pressurized time of year, contracts can escalate and get ridiculous in a hurry. And often do. Of course.

William from Orange Park, FL

I don't see how the Jaguars don't address corner in Round 1. Isn't that their area of greatest need?

I expect the Jaguars to address corner early in the 2023 NFL Draft, and I would expect an early-drafted corner to play a key role next season. Why wouldn't that be in Round 1? Multiple reasons. One is you don't know for sure if value will make sense when the Jaguars select. The team also could be swayed to select an offensive tackle or tight end at No. 24 overall. Offensive line is particularly intriguing there because of the need for a swing tackle after right tackle Jawaan Taylor signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs. One other reason: Cornerback is considered a deep position in the draft. Could the Jaguars get a corner capable of playing well as a rookie in Round 2?

Michael from Middleburg, FL

Why do you continue to submit one-sided videos? The answers to questions mean almost nothing if one cannot hear the question!

I suppose the "one-sided" video to which you refer was the media breakfast with Head Coach Doug Pederson Monday from the 2023 NFL Annual Meetings at the Biltmore in Phoenix, Ariz. This was a general media availability in a group setting, and availabilities in such settings aren't always solely mini-television shows for viewers. They're sometimes press conferences for writers and other media types to talk with coaches and gather quotes and "sound" for use in various stories and various programs. As has been the case in other such situations, the team streamed Monday's event free on this free website as a service for Jaguars fans/followers. It was done in part so fans could watch it directly. It was done in part so media that did not travel across country to the event could use the comments to provide insight for fans and followers. I will write multiple stories based on Pederson's comments in the coming days, and we'll discuss his comments on multiple Jaguars media shows this week.

David from Maplewood, NJ

The draft hats are truly hideous. That is all. But hey on the upside that's pretty much all I can complain about so, bonus!

It's only March. There's time.

Kathy from Ponte Vedra, FL

We know how important it is for our key rookies to improve in their second year of play. Using Travon Walker as an example, is it likely he was asked to do certain things during the offseason in order to improve his skills? If so, do you have some thoughts on what he might have been asked to do?

NFL players indeed usually have their biggest jump from Year 1 to Year 2. The coaches will certainly have plans for a player such as Walker when he returns for the offseason program, which begins April 17. And considering Walker's work ethic and drive, he certainly is using this time to focus on conditioning, strength, etc. But as much as anything, second-year jumps come from having gained experience as a rookie. As Pederson noted when discussing this on Monday, they come from a player learning how to be professional during his rookie season. That means details such as learning how to study tape and learning what techniques to use against various types of players. Pederson, too, on Monday noted that second-year improvement often stems from the player having an entire NFL offseason as opposed to having to go through the pre-draft process that often drains rookies before a season even starts. Walker and other rookies will work on specifics, but improvement often comes just as much from those elements.

Keith from Saint Augustine, FL



Tom from Cairo, Egypt

I watched some Calvin Ridley highlights recently. It struck me how many intermediate catches he made over the middle in that sweet spot between the linebackers and safeties. It also struck me that this is one of Trevor's best throws. Call it blind offseason optimism, but I can see that being an absolutely huge factor this season.

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley, acquired in a late November trade with the Atlanta Falcons, indeed appears to consistently get open on a number of routes – including intermediate ones. That's understandable; Ridley at his best is one of the NFL's better and more precise route-runners. That should help Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence on third downs and key situations. Lawrence depended heavily on wide receiver Christian Kirk in those situations throughout the 2022 season and appeared to have more chemistry with tight end Evan Engram and wide receiver Zay Jones in those situations as the season continued. But I wouldn't call it blind optimism. That element is a huge reason Ridley has been a No. 1-level receiver in the past and a huge reason he could help the offensive significantly next season.

Paul from Lake City, FL

I thought I was the loyal reader, but now I'm overcome with self doubt.

There's no reason to doubt yourself. Wait … Paul from Lake City? That Paul from Lake City? Yeah, never mind.