O-Zone: Reason to worry

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Raymond from Orange Park, FL

John: People need to drop the "talking" concerns about the team's best player. Have they forgotten Tony Boselli inviting Jason Taylor to follow him down the field for the PAT? I'll take a team full of talkers. Would anyone not want T.O. in his prime? How about Ray Lewis? Give me Joe Namath at quarterback (stats are deceiving because wide receivers' lives were at risk at the time). Ramsey is the best player on the team. Even cornerbacks don't play for a long time. We should enjoy his effort. No one gets that good without a lot of hard, exhausting work.

Concern over professional athletes talking perhaps ranks among the silliest of life’s concerns. Not only is it something people can’t control, it’s something that is harmless – and meaningless. How much a player does or doesn’t talk has little-to-no bearing on a player’s ability on the field or as a leader. You don’t have to talk to be great. Or to lead. You don’t have to “not talk” to be great. Or to lead. You don’t have to be any certain way to be great or to lead, but it does help to be true to yourself if you’re going to have a chance to achieve greatness. The topic is of great concern to many Jaguars fans because cornerback Jalen Ramsey speaks his mind on and off the field. Again … so what? Ramsey is who he is. He’s not going to change. Nor should he. If a player plays great while talking, what’s the harm? Should he stop? Just because it makes people uncomfortable? Just because it’s unorthodox? Just because some people may not like it? C’mon.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

How much longer, John? Please, how much longer?

A while.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: Most of the preseason criticism of the Jags focuses on the receiving corps. Is it not true that a large part of how good the receiving corps performs is based on the quarterback? Look at Tom Brady. With the exception of Randy Moss, Brady has never thrown to a Hall-of-Fame-caliber receiver, but I think their receivers did pretty well. Nick Foles throws a lot better than Bortles. Just sayin’ …

New Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles during organized team activities and minicamp this offseason seemed more consistent and more accurate than former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. If this holds true in the regular season – and there’s little reason it shouldn’t – it absolutely should help the Jaguars’ wide receivers.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Are there any new faces on the Jags’ radio or TV broadcast teams this year?

Yes. Former Jaguars right tackle Leon Searcy will provide commentary on the Jaguars’ preseason television broadcasts.

Sam from Winter Park, FL

I'm also in the camp that believes "David Garrard was the best quarterback in Jags history." Guy was throwing to wide receivers such as Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt, Joey Porter, Ernest Wilford. Simply put, Garrard had terrible options. Mark Brunell was throwing to Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell for the bulk of his career. We know Garrard's career would look better throwing to them. What would Brunell's career look like throwing to Reggie Williams?

This is a fair point. But while I am admittedly biased having covered Brunell from 1995-2000 and missing all of Garrard’s seasons as a starter in Jacksonville, I have a very difficult time putting Garrard – or anyone – over Brunell as the best quarterback in Jaguars history.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

I recall former Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis being great in coverage and being terrible in run support. Particularly later in his career I would describe him as anything but a willing tackler. I think that’s where Jalen Ramsey is different. Better in coverage but a much better tackled and playmaker. I loved Mathis but his last few years with the Jags left something to be desired in the tackling department.

When you’re debating a cornerback’s willingness to tackle in the modern NFL, you’re a little lost in the weeds; tackling willingness/ability is something of an afterthought at the position. I covered Mathis mostly from afar during his prime – and while I never thought of him as a great tackler, it never occurred to me that he was a liability against the run, either. I thought of him as a guy who was really good in coverage and played the run OK – so pretty much the same as most good NFL cornerbacks.

Mark from Jacksonville

I know lists aren't always accurate or important, but cbssports.com/nfl has been ranking offensive positions. The Jags are without a top 10 player/unit at quarterback, wide receiver, running back, tight end or offensive line. I believe that's all the positions. That's really sad. Why is our offense so devoid of talent? Fans should not be accepting of this collection of trash players, correct? The list is accurate that the jags don't have any top 10 talent on offense, correct? Who is to blame? Why does our offense suck so bad? General Manager David Caldwell? Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin? Head Coach Doug Marrone? The fans? Jackson DeVille? Shadrick? You? Who should I blame for our crappy players on offense? Who do you think might be decent that's on the team currently?

Blame Coughlin and Caldwell, I suppose. They’re the ones responsible for the roster – and yeah, the list you saw is probably pretty accurate in the sense that the Jaguars’ offense doesn’t have players or positions in the Top 10. That’s not surprise. The Jaguars had a bad year offensively last season, and potential star players such as running back Leonard Fournette didn’t fulfill expectations. As for who is decent, there are many players: Fournette, Foles, center Brandon Linder, guard Andrew Norwell, wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Dede Westbrook. All have potential to be good, but no … it’s not a star-studded cast. Not yet.

Mario from Zapata

I heard through the grapevine, and I wanted to know if it's TRUE, that when longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette doesn't actually do pushups, it is said he actually pushes the earth down. Is this true?

Yes.

Steven from Duval

I would just like to point out that Mr. Idzik and Mr. Lamping have done some great work behind the scenes. I’ve done some reading on their respective roles and those two men are as good as it gets at what they do.

Special assistant to the general manager John Idzik and President Mark Lamping have vastly different roles, but you’re right that both have done very good jobs since joining the organization. The job Lamping has done along with Owner Shad Khan in reshaping and stabilizing the Jaguars’ off the field in Jacksonville has been nothing short of remarkable, and I don’t know that people outside Jacksonville fully appreciate it. Idzik’s role is lower-profile, but he has helped form and execute the Jaguars’ salary cap approach – and enabled the Jaguars’ to stay flexible within the cap while improving the roster via free agency.

Ronald from California

I hope you will include in your 25 Game series the famous game where Gene said to Tom and the team, the now legendary phrase, “Win one for the Gipper” as they entered the field.

We didn’t include it. Gene asked that it remain “urban legend” … same as most of his exploits.

Bradley from Oceanside, CA

Brunell was a poor man’s version of Steve Young, which ain’t bad – and by far the best quarterback in Jaguars history. Jimmy Smith is the best player in Jaguars history. Do you see Myles Jack having a breakout year where he vaults into elite status or will this not ever happen?

I can’t argue your first two points too much; while I would go with former left tackle Tony Boselli as the best player in franchise history, wide receiver Jimmy Smith and running back Fred Taylor are both Hall-of-Fame worthy players who belong in the conversation for best players in Jaguars history. As for Jack, I thought he had a chance to become a Pro Bowl-level linebacker last season. Though he didn’t play poorly, he didn’t have the game-changing plays as he did in the previous year’s postseason – and that’s what he needs to be elite. He absolutely has a chance to do that for a couple of reasons. One: he will be in his second full season as the full-time middle linebacker. Two: The Jaguars’ defense should be playing with leads more often, which should mean more opportunities for big plays. Both factors could mean a big year for Jack.

Stu from Wrestlingsworth, UK

O-Zone I need your help. My wife has organized for us to fly over and watch the season opener. I’m worried and confused ... this isn’t normal for her, usually I’m only allowed out of the basement on the weekends to mow the lawn. What do I do????

Trust no one, Stu. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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