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O-Zone: Same old guy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gus from Tampa, FL

We should be able to run the ball. Robinson will get the tough yards. Etienne can take it to the house and if it is true that Snoop can run in the 4.3 or 4.4, he can be close to our Fred Taylor. Our offensive line is built to run the ball, therefore we should have a good chance to win the division. Am I being realistic?

Your optimism has some merit. The Jaguars indeed could have the personnel to be a very effective running team in 2022. James Robinson is one of the AFC's better running backs when healthy, and Travis Etienne Jr. – the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft – has breakaway potential. What we don't know about those players involves health, and that's a significant question. Robinson is returning from a season-ending Achilles injury sustained last December. Etienne looked healthy in the offseason, but he is returning from a Lisfranc injury that cost him his rookie season. Both of those players could be healthy and productive for the Jaguars in 2022, but there's uncertainty involved. As far as rookie running back Snoop Conner, I can't quite get on board with your level of optimism. He has a chance to be a productive player. I can't in good conscience discuss him as being close to Taylor, who was as talented as any NFL running back in the last few decades. Bottom line: The Jaguars can be a good running team. They have the personnel to do it. I can't say they have "good" chance to win the AFC South because I think they're probably a year from contending. I'd say that's realistic.

Capt Bob from Jax

Should the Jags make a play for OT Orlando Brown of the Chiefs?

Brown, an offensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs, reportedly wants a market-setting contract extension. I also assume he wants to continue playing left tackle and that he will want that market-setting contract wherever he plays. The Jaguars this offseason signed left tackle Cam Robinson to a three-year extension, so – considering the moves made this offseason and considering where the Jaguars stand on the offensive line – they shouldn't pursue Brown. And I can't imagine they will.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

Re: "New England made four postseason appearances from 1994-2000, the seasons before Brady …" 'Zone, you are definitely smarter than you look. Still, I don't think the Patsies would have ever shaken their moniker without Brady.

I'm pretty much as smart as I look, but I'm much better looking than I look.

P Funk from Murray Hill

Do you own any of the originally proposed leaping Jaguar memorabilia?

I have a few pieces, if memory serves. I'm pretty sure my wife as a leaping Jaguar Christmas ornament and I believe I have a Coca-Cola bottle with the logo somewhere in the attic or garage. My mother has a sweatshirt with the original logo. I also used to have a T-Shirt with no sleeves that said, "College," that I inexplicably far too often "back in the day." Sun's out, guns out.

Jay from So-Cal

The Jaguars are an easy team to dislike, pity the fans and hate Sundays for a while. One good thing I see is no arrests or character issues with this team, so far.

Good eye. There are many players on this team who are easy to like. Most Jaguars players seem to have strong work ethic, seen to be good locker-room guys and seem to be team-first players. There have been few – if any – major off-field issues from this group. All that is good stuff. It all gives the Jaguars a chance to set a solid foundation moving forward. None of it guarantees anything, but it does give them a chance.

Bill from Ponte Vedra

I would add one thing to the skills required of a punt returner – catching the ball! Tracking and catching punts is harder than kickoffs. Punts can go anywhere while kickoffs generally go within a few yards of the goal line. Punters also have to make the fair catch decision.

This references a recent O-Zone question and answer discussing the difference in skillset between a punt returner and kickoff returner. I emphasized punt returners' need for short-area quickness/ability to make people miss and kick returners' need for speed. But yes … ability to track and catch matters, too. Those skills are more learnable than quickness and miss-ability, but they absolutely matter.

John from Jacksonville

I know Nero's and the Ranch House were good but who can forget Angelo's? I saw the owner eating his dinner there one night. It was takeout from Beach Road Chicken Dinners.

I can't forget Angelo's. It was my father's favorite restaurant until Nero's came along. Me? I loved Victoria Station on the Arlington Expressway until I got old enough to love CJs a few blocks away. I was never a big Beach Road Chicken Dinners guy. I'm not a big fan of chicken on the bone. It's one of my few flaws.

Thrill from The 'Ville

I would much rather you didn't answer my question then post it with a response of just "OK."


Scott from Palm Valley, but stuck in MN

I once was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I turned myself around.

I laughed at this. This says more about my maturity level than the quality of the joke, but I did laugh.

Andy from St Augustine, FL

St. Augustine > Springfield. Just saying

Springfield is a mile and change from TIAA Bank Field. St. Augustine is an hour from there. I drive less than five minutes to work. Springfield > pretty much anywhere else. Just saying.

Jay from So Cal

Did I miss the open tryouts for the Jaguars' kicker position?! I hope we don't have to kick another kicker this year. Just sayin' I'm worried. Hit me up at S'barro later, I will wear the greasy white shirt.

There have been no open tryouts for the Jaguars' kicker position. Ryan Santoso and Andrew Mevis will compete for the position in training camp. Santoso has converted four of five career field-goal attempts and Mevis signed as an undrafted rookie following this past April's 2022 NFL Draft. Both have strong legs and coaches spoke highly of both in offseason. It's not all that unusual for a team to have young kickers compete in training camp in this fashion. It's also still a major area to watch in training camp. I wouldn't worry, but I would also keep watching it closely.

Abe from Catonsville, MD

Hello! Any thoughts on the name change of the Steelers stadium?

The Steelers' stadium, long known as Heinz Field, will be known as Acrisure Stadium. The change indeed is noteworthy, because few stadium names these days seem as "right" as Heinz Field. I get the idea fans and observer may call it Heinz Field for a long time, but this sort of change is just part of the football landscape. Money matters. Tradition? Often not so much.

Marc from Oceanway

John, I need to hit this horse one more time to make sure it's dead. Can you recall when your life as a football "fan" ended? It sounds like you forced the detachment in order to be a more objective professional writer? Is this approach fairly standard in the sports writing industry or only amongst the kings of funk?

There was no particular year, day or month this happened. I was a huge fan of the Washington Commanders growing up in the 1970s and 1980s – and remained a fan into the early 1990s. They were a bond my late father and I shared. The team declined a bit following the 1992 season when Head Coach Joe Gibbs departed – and while covering the University of Florida in 1993 and 1994, I discovered I didn't care as much if I got in front a television to see Washington play. When I started covering the Jaguars in 1995, I soon realized I wasn't looking for – or caring about – Washington scores anymore. This detachment probably was speeded by the team's decline. I also realized that the players and coaches for whom I had rooted so hard – and idolized, to a degree – were just normal human beings. For me, that took away a little of the childhood feeling of being a fan. I found I just couldn't get emotional or angry when "my team" won or lost. I didn't rue this feeling. I didn't try to get it back. It just "was," and it was OK. Most writers I know aren't "fans" of teams in the sport they cover. There are exceptions, but they are few. It's not that writers don't like the sport. Or their jobs. They just like it a different way than fans do.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, saw there were a bunch of great promotions around the 'Bank. I sure hope they took care of you. So tell us, are you now a Very Senior Writer?

What's a "promotion?"