O-Zone: Relax already

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from Jacksonville

After reading your take on the safety position, it seems to me the Jags need a savvy veteran in that position room that can still provide quality minutes on the field. Opposing offensive coordinators will probably notice the lack of experience and attack it. We’ve seen the result of poor safety play here before. Yikes. Inexperience fades, and the Jags obviously feel good about potential at the position. But do you feel the Jags will actively pursue an experienced safety as camps progress and rosters evolve?

The Jaguars are unquestionably inexperienced at safety, with projected starters Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson having 10 starts between them entering the 2019 season. That’s a sharp contrast to last season, when Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church entered the season with a combined 163 starts. And experience is particularly valuable at safety. I expect the Jaguars will go through organized team activities and minicamp with their current roster at safety, and I expect they will begin training camp with the same roster. I expect them to monitor and evaluate the position closely. If it needs to be addressed, I would expect that to happen late in the preseason, possibly after the final preseason game during the cutdown to 53 players. I don’t know whether to expect that to happen because we haven’t yet seen Harrison and Wilson in starting roles. I do know the team isn’t expecting that to happen or it would have addressed the position differently already.

Clay from Jax

Is it still possible to change the team name to the Jacksonville Cypriens? Or do we have to wait a certain number of years first since we just changed our uniforms?

Checking on this …

Braddock from Jacksonville

I'm going round and round with these guys – or specifically, one guy at another unlicensed website –about Jalen. Is he a good player? Yes. Is he a leader? Nope. If he were, he would be there with the team … you know, kinda like the rest of them. He is a good player but if another team offers two first rounders for him, it's an afterthought. Guess why that hasn't happened? Because he isn't a leader. Campbell is a leader.

You’re a little all over the place with your question and points. Allow me to assist (you’re welcome). I agree that Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey isn’t necessarily a leader – and you’re right that if that mattered to him, he probably would be in Jacksonville for the voluntary offseason program. But know  this: It’s OK for him to not be a leader. You don’t need every player to lead. But referencing your email … Ramsey isn’t just a good player; he’s a great player. And that’s all he needs to be to be valuable to the Jaguars. As for the “two first-rounder” thing … you lost me there. But the Jaguars aren’t trading Ramsey. “Leader or not,” he’s elite – and that makes him very valuable.

Neil from Cheltenham, UK

Hi, Mr O. This one is a “out there” but could you see anyway that Johnathan Cyprien could fit in as a backup safety? Madness, I know, but just an idea. Thank you.

No. That wouldn’t work.

George from Harrisburg, PA

John, you stated that you believed that back in the late 90s, Jimmy Smith was the second-best receiver in the NFL, only behind Jerry Rice. Do you believe Smith should be in the Hall of Fame?

I absolutely believe former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith was the second-best receiver in the NFL behind Rice in the late 1990s, but I don’t just write it and I don’t just “believe” it. Defensive backs from that era said at the time that was the case, and his performance on the field bears it out. He was a remarkable combination of size, strength and speed that made him difficult to press at the line of scrimmage and nearly impossible to defend on the deep fade or on out patterns. The Jaguars’ offenses of the late 1990s were among the NFL’s best, and Smith’s ability to draw double teams and to be a reliable option all over the field was critical to their approach. And yes, I believe he should be in the Hall of Fame.

Roger from Greenbush, ME

So, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue shows up for OTAs on the last year of his rookie deal with no extension in sight. No guarantee there will be one, but the man still shows up. Definition of an unselfish team player. Unlike some. My question is; if Yannick gets hurt being a team player is he pretty much out of luck when it comes to his big pay day?

Pretty much.

Ran from Fremont, OH

If I'm in the front office, it makes it easier for me to pay Ngakoue for showing up and proving he's committed to football and the Jags than someone who holds out for a contract. One fer Yannick! #paytheman

Fair.

Yoav from St. Johns, FL

Is there a consensus on why the Jaguars experienced such injury woes in 2018 where so many players went out for the season? Is it just bad luck or attributable to something flawed with conditioning, training and preparation?

There’s rarely a consensus on why injuries hit a team as they hit the Jaguars last season. And while fans/observers are usually quick to want to assess blame, the harsh reality is the NFL is a violent game. It’s big men moving at high speeds that people weren’t designed to tolerate, and they hit one another at levels of impact that the human body wasn’t designed to absorb. Injuries are going to happen and sometimes they’re going to happen at a rate that wrecks seasons.

Jason from North Pole, AK

You said before the draft that you probably would still take a quarterback at No. 7 overall because there was enough risk involved with Nick Foles. I absolutely agreed with that. Knowing now that Josh Allen would be available, would you still have taken a quarterback?

I don’t know my reasoning for saying I would take a quarterback was about risk involved with new quarterback Nick Foles, but if you say I wrote that at some point … well, maybe I wrote it at some point. I do know that my reasoning was more about elite quarterbacks most often being found in the Top 10 – and that because the Jaguars might not be in the Top 10 for a while, they perhaps should take one there when they had the chance. Because that was my reasoning, I probably would have taken a quarterback at No. 7 overall with one important caveat – that I don’t scout these quarterbacks as extensively (read: I don’t scout them at all) as personnel people do. If the Jaguars after scouting the quarterback class didn’t consider any of this year’s quarterbacks worthy of the Top 10, then they shouldn’t have taken one there. There’s no point in forcing a selection just because some old writer spouts off about it before the draft.

Matt from Bartow, FL

Correct me if I’m wrong here John, but it seems as though a vet or two skips VOLUNTARY workouts every year. Fans always fan over it, and then the player shows up and plays ball. This is nothing new, and not an unusual occurrence. Have you ever known a player to sit out VOLUNTARY workouts and have it become a problem where a problem didn’t already exist? (I’m using all caps to show that the VOLUNTARY nature of the workouts is important.)

Skipping voluntary workouts typically isn’t a problem; it’s when a player starts skipping mandatory workouts that unsolvable issues sometimes arise. On something of a side note, I don’t honestly know how effective skipping voluntary workouts is toward a player’s goal of getting a contract done. It’s not as if teams are unaware of players’ desire to be paid more. It really just seems to be an excuse to train somewhere else and not attend OTAs. Which, considering my feelings on OTAS – and for that matter, my feelings on work – I’m fine with.

Ian from Leeds, UK

On the Duval chant thing. I like it, but it seems a bit strange to have it at Wembley, where 99 percent of people don't even know what Duval is. But it's a bit of fun. Anyone who gets offended is trying too hard.

As I’ve often said, “Duval” isn’t so much a place as a state of mind – and a way for fans to identify and show pride in this very unique Northeast Florida area. But your overriding point indeed is what gets missed too often in this sometimes-ridiculous “Duuuvall” debate. It’s fun. Enjoy it. If you want to say it, say it. If you want to chant it, chant it. If you want to yell it at the top of your lungs after a Circle Up, then do that. Why be bothered by it? Life’s too short.

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