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O-Zone: Same as it ever was

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Clay from Pensacola, FL:
John, what are the next in-game options you think the league may implement from a fan-improvement or marketing perspective? For example, baseball shows the pitch's velocity, the ball velocity leaving the bat, the location of the pitch within the strike zone, etc. Do you see football offering similar information? Speed of a receiver on a fly pattern, speed of the ball leaving the quarterback's hand, the force of a collision, etc.?
John: Such innovations typically come from the networks broadcasting a sport rather than the sport itself … that's my first thought. My second thought: "Good gracious … I hope networks broadcasting football don't follow this path – or at least I hope they don't get overzealous about it." I suppose the technology to do those things might be available, but in-game information is best when it provides perspective on what the fan is seeing rather than just being given for the sake of giving it. Baseball always has been very statistics/numbers-oriented – and because of the pace of the game, analyzing statistics and numbers during the game has been welcome and indeed is part of the fabric of the game. I'm not saying statistics don't have a place in the NFL. They do, and numbers very definitely help analyze the sport of football over the long-term and give us perspective on what we're seeing. But to add speeds, measurements and other numbers to a game broadcast just for the sake of being able to do so? Maybe I'm showing myself as Stodgy Old Guy, but nah.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
After giving up 51 sacks last year, what should fans' expectations be for how many the offensive line allows in 2016?
John: Fewer.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
We know the re-engineered defense has an opportunity to make major improvements. We know the offense did improve last year. But if the defense improves as much as we are hoping; if they are more effective in third-down situations and get off the field quicker, then the time-of-possession stats should improve as well. I hope my question doesn't sound too silly, but while more time on offense feels exciting, is there a point where the offense can get gassed simply by being on the field significantly longer?
John: Fatigue always is an issue, but long drives generally take more of a toll on defensive players than offensive players because it's more difficult to react to something than to perform a play that one knows is happening – and it's also generally considered more taxing to rush the passer and try to stop the run than to run block and pass block.
Willis from Jacksonville:
How soon do you think we see a robotic Shadrick? (Not referring to when his arm's stuck in a vending machine).
John: Why would need a robotic Shadrick when the one we have is so awesome?
Preston from Oakville, CT:
O-Man, love the extension for Allen Hurns. When teams sign players to extensions while they still have a year remaining on their current contract, is it common for them to receive a significantly larger base salary for that season? We obviously don't have that problem because of our cap situation, but is it common for teams to sign a player to an extension that gives him a larger base salary in future seasons, a nice signing bonus, but not much more in that current season?
John: It's common for the first year of many NFL contracts to be smaller than future years. In the case of Hurns, the first year of the new contract would be relatively large because his previous base salaries were that of an undrafted free agent – meaning they were relatively small.
Robert from Richmond, VA:
A YOKO position!!??! O NO!!!
John: And on and on it goes.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I was watching a video of the 90-yard touchdown run by Fred Taylor against the Dolphins in the playoffs in 1999 and had to ask: Was Jimmy Smith faster than Fred? If so, was it by a large margin? Taylor was being chased on the play by a defensive backs and Smith comes from off screen looking like he was in some sort of video-game mode. It seriously looked as if he was in fast forward compared to the other two. Am I crazy? Thanks.
John: Smith indeed was fast, but he was not as fast as Taylor. Taylor had made several moves early on that play and had slowed down a touch near the end zone because he knew he was going score. Smith was faster than a lot of people realized – fast enough that when Taylor slowed down a little he could gain ground on Taylor quickly. Bottom line: both were fast. Really fast.
Bobg from Sumter, SC:
Just a feeling and nothing more - that coach Todd Wash is the right guy at the right time for this team and the D will be much improved and more fun to watch too.
John: That's the feeling you get talking to Jaguars defensive players. We'll see.
Chris from Omaha, NE:
Hey John, why has there been essentially no talk of T.J. Yeldon so far? Last year, he showed flashes of being very good and with the signing of Chris Ivory, it seems everyone has forgotten about him. I would really like to see him get the majority of the carries this year. Your thoughts?
John: My thoughts are it does seem at times that Yeldon is being overlooked by observers this offseason. That's in no way the case around the Jaguars. The Jaguars still see Yeldon as a key part of the offense going forward and believe he has a bright future. Look for Yeldon and Ivory to split carries a lot of the time next season, and that's pretty common in the NFL these days.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
There are rumblings that Tashaun Gipson is showing some flashes in underwear practice. I've been saying that free safety is a critical position in this defense and the Jaguars need someone better than average manning that position. If Gipson can show range and playmaking ability, this defense with all the additions should make some big strides.
John: There indeed have been rumblings about Gipson during OTAs in the sense that players and coaches have been pretty universal in lauding his performance during those OTAs. Free safety indeed is a critical position in this defense, and Gipson has shown good range and ability at the spot so far.
Kathy from Bethlehem:
I think Jason Myers is the best looking player on the team. Can I get an amen?
John: A-me … wait, what!?
Devin from Rockville, MD:
The fact that Allen Hurns is our first homegrown player to be signed to a long-term deal with major money says a lot about where this team was and where it currently is.
John: I don't know that Hurns' signing by itself says too much. The fact that Hurns is likely the first of several recently-drafted/acquired players to sign a long-term deal does indeed bode well for the future. You need to draft well and have drafted players turn into long-term core players. It had been too long since that happened around here.
Al from the Mean Cornfields of Ohio:
So excited for Hurns! I can't think of anybody in the NFL more deserving of a big payday. Between being an undrafted free agent to playing while injured, the guy is just a great story.
John: Yes, he is.
Bill from Miami, FL:
Zone, curious if you still think Mike Brown will beat out Hurns for the fifth receiver spot. All kidding aside, I'm glad to know he will be a Jag for at least four more years!
John: I do not think Mike Brown will make the team over Allen Hurns, though I don't doubt I once may have believed that. If I did, I doubt I was anywhere close to alone.
Brian from Dunwoody:
I think the Patrick Omameh signing is underrated. He was always a developmental player and seemed to have been coming into his own last year on a Bears offensive line that wasn't too strong. I think he has a chance to surprise people and be more than the depth signing a lot of people are viewing him as. I'm pretty excited about his addition.
John: I'd be surprised if Omamah starts, but hey: I evidently had Brown making the team over Hurns, so take my thoughts for what they're worth.
Cliff from Summitt, NJ:
Hey O, do you remember any of the questions from your first ever O-Zone? What a different time it was for the Jaguars.
John: I recall most of the questions from my first O-Zone centering on ridicule of my physical appearance, dislike of my writing style and a general belief that I should cease writing the column immediately and go the heck back to Indiana. So pretty much the same theme as most of today's questions.

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