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O-Zone: Same as it ever was

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Ed from Jacksonville

Did the Jets really offer a first-round round pick for Dante Fowler Jr. and the Jaguars turned it down? If that's true, why wouldn't the Jaguars take the deal? Not questioning the decision. Just trying to learn. Go Jags!

There are reports the New York Jets reached out this week to gauge whether the Jaguars would be interested in making defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. available. This makes sense for the Jets, who need a pass rusher. Other factors that make a trade seem logical: the Jaguars’ defensive-line depth, Fowler’s contract expiring after this season and Fowler’s off-field issues that led to him being suspended by the league for the 2018 regular-season opener. I haven’t seen or heard anything that makes me believe the Jets offered a first-round selection for Fowler. Had they done so, I think the Jaguars would have been very tempted to take the offer. As for why a very impressive offer would be necessary? Because Fowler is a good player. He hasn’t lived up to his status as the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he had eight sacks last season. He is the reason the Jaguars have good depth at the edge-rusher position; without him, the position suddenly is not so deep. Remember: this defense’s depth and ability to roll talented player after talented player onto the field is a reason this team is a Super Bowl contender. Taking Fowler’s impact and playmaking ability away would eat into that. Such a sacrifice might make sense for a first-round selection. For something a lot less than that? Perhaps not so much.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, what kind of year do you think Fowler would need to have to stop all the talk about him going somewhere else and instead include him in discussions that include our lineup beyond 2018?

Mind-blowing.

Bill from Jacksonville

You can’t hit the quarterback low. You can’t hit him high. You can’t touch his helmet or facemask. And now you can’t fall on him when attempting to tackle him. How, exactly, are defensive players supposed to sack the quarterback with these types of restrictions, John? Now that I think of it, maybe they’re not. Starting to get the feeling the NFL doesn’t want to see the QB sacked … ever.

A game without sacks is not what the league wants – and while I agree that the restrictions on hitting a quarterback in the head feel silly sometimes when called, I don’t think this new restriction of landing on the quarterback with full body weight will feel as silly once it plays out. The rule is designed to prevent defenders from intentionally trying to injure a defenseless player. Take a look at how Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was injured last season. It’s not hard to see that Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr could have avoided landing on him with full weight. That’s the sort of play the rule is designed to take away – and over time, I think the calling of the rule will line up with its intent.

Greg from St. Johns, FL

O, I understand that rule changes are implemented keep a player’s body intact. I also understand that officials making judgment calls at high speed will make mistakes. However, is there a reason why an offsite official, with the benefit of having watched the same slo-mo replay televised before the start of the next play, could not overturn an incorrect on-field call in order to keep the integrity of the game intact?

This goes back to the concept of what’s reviewable and what is not. Remember, the core of the NFL’s replay system always has been to use it to overturn obvious and irrefutable mistakes rather than judgement mistakes. That’s why it’s used on scoring plays, out-of-bounds plays, receptions and even spot-of-the ball plays. It’s not used on interference or holding, for example, because those are considered judgment calls. The lowering-the-helmet rule falls into the same gray area as interference or holding. The league doesn’t want to get into a situation in which replay results are as unclear and controversial as calls on the field. That was one of the reasons the catch rule got so maddening – that many reversed calls didn’t seem more correct than calls made on the field. I’m not saying there wouldn’t be a benefit to having an official with the benefit of slow motion review the lowering-the-helmet rule, but that’s a primary reason it won’t happen.

Damon from America’s Finest City

It's funny O. The talking heads over at NFL.com are already clamoring for the Jags to trade for Teddy Bridgewater, but those so-called experts failed to notice a couple things about Bortles' game against the Vikes. 1)That defense is very good and one of the best in the NFL. 2) Bortles’ pick came because he had to get rid of the ball early due to what seemed to be a turnstile wearing No. 74 that game. 3)They then failed to mention the subsequent march down the field and score on the very next series. If there is one thing I've learned about the NFL, it's to take what other people say who don't know much about this team with a grain of salt. They aren't really experts after all. You are more of an expert on this team then those talking heads.

Well, I would hope so.

Craig from Auburn, IN

I hope you are well, O-man! Two questions for you, sir. First, is about Niles Paul. He seemed to make quite a few mistakes against Minnesota. Seems like he isn't very good. I didn't get to watch the game, just saw the play-by-play. Did he block well or do something that made sense that he is on this team? Secondly, you are always defending the Dawuane Smoot pick, but here he is, hurt, not playing and yet we have some issues on the offensive line that Dan Feeney could have filled. Why not admit that there were better players available instead of trying to convince everyone that Smoot was a good pick? Feeney was available...

Paul was signed primarily as a special teams player. He is a good enough special teams player to have played in the NFL seven seasons, so it’s unfair to say “he isn’t very good.” He seemed to struggle on offense Saturday, though. As for Smoot, I don’t really have much interest in “defending” the selection. This team believes in having a deep, strong defensive line. Were there better players available? Perhaps. Most selections in NFL history can be second-guessed if you want to play that game. But to say the selection was bad because a player is injured in his second training camp? C’mon, Craig.

Nick from Epsom, England

I neither like nor dislike the white uniforms.

Wait … what?

Rob from Orange Park, FL

Obviously, you are a dog hater. Serious character flaw. I don't trust you now, not that I ever did.

I love dogs. I currently have a dog that I love. I also have the ability and courtesy to realize others might not love what I love.

Dre from Atlanta, GA

Hey, O! Just wanted to compliment you on the great job you do getting us diehard fans through the doldrums of the offseason. Question: if a player who sits on the bench is on a Super Bowl-winning team, does that take away from his credibility as a champion? I believe Coach McCardell has a ring from his rookie season with the Redskins.

I don’t know what “credibility as a champion” means. I do know players typically value a ring from a Super Bowl victory to which they contributed by playing more than one in which they didn’t play. Jaguars wide receiver coach Keenan McCardell is fortunate to have both experiences, having won a Super Bowl while on injured reserve with the Washington Redskins in 1991 and another while scoring two touchdowns in the Super Bowl for the 2002 champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Big on Blake from Philly

Mighty Funk Meister O Flex, I’d have to disagree with you answer about Leonard Fournette versus Corey Grant. Maybe Grant wins a 40-yard dash, but extend it to 60 or more and my money’s on the big man all day. It’s no coincidence he clocked the fastest times in the league last year. In fact, it’s just not fair how athletic No. 27 is. The best part of all is Fournette, Grant and T.J. Yeldon are all good backs and despite big-name recognition the Jags possess a top-tier unit capable of surpassing last year’s league-leading efforts. #LFFP2032

Grant ran the 100 meters in 10.51 seconds in high school. Fournette ran it in 10.68.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436

The Jags stunk so long, I had forgotten that people complain about the same things when their team is at or near the top than when it is beneath the dungeon. It's nice to find that out.

So you say.

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