O-Zone: Serious question

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Dave from Dallas, TX

Hey, Mr. O. Get this: We have the third-toughest schedule next year; the New England Patriots are tied second easiest. The NFL calls this parity? Could you please explain how this process works, and how the NFL thinks it fair?

The Patriots’ schedule next season is “easier” than the Jaguars’ schedule because the Patriots play in an AFC East division that is easier than the Jaguars’ AFC South division. The NFL scheduling system is remarkably fair and takes favoritism out of the equation. The system is laid out years in advance, with all teams playing essentially the same schedule as the other three teams in their division – except for two games. Here’s how it works: All teams play three teams from their own division twice each season; all four division teams play four teams from another division in their conference and four teams from a division in the other conference; the other two games are against teams from the team’s conference that finished in the same spot in the standings the previous season. The Jaguars and all other AFC South teams this past season played four teams against the AFC East, six games against the AFC South and four games against the NFC East; the Jaguars because they won the South in 2017 played the 2017 NFC North Champion Pittsburgh Steelers and 2017 AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs. The system rotates so that teams play all teams from their own conference at least once every three years and every team from the opposing conference at least once every four years. It’s an imperfect system, but it’s hard to argue that a system based so much on the standings from the previous season is unfair.

Jim from Jacksonville

Do you believe Jawaan Taylor, the offensive tackle from Florida, is worthy of a No. 7 overall selection?

Sure.

Al from Orange Park, FL

Except for quarterback Nick Foles, I'm more excited about the Shatley signing that any of the others. After the way 2018 played out, can you see where I'm coming from? Or, am I just nuts?

You’re excited because you understand a good offensive line needs depth, and that’s what re-signing center/guard Tyler Shatley gives the Jaguars’ line. And considering how many Jaguars offensive linemen missed games last season, it’s understandable that people would be concerned about depth there. I still consider right guard A.J. Cann, wide receiver Chris Conley and linebacker Jake Ryan more important because they likely will be starting or rotating heavily at their positions, but Shatley has been the team’s swing interior lineman for three seasons. He is important.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

O, dang! Marqise Lee is possibly this team’s best receiver?! Is Lee even the 32nd best receiver in the league? Or do the Jaguars actually have a lower-ranked receiving corps than there are teams in the NFL? This is a serious question. Not meant to be snarky as much as it may sound so.

I don’t know where the Jaguars’ wide receivers are “ranked” in the NFL, though I imagine most observers probably would rank the group ranked low considering their production and inexperience. But there’s no doubt that Lee when healthy is in the conversation for the Jaguars’ best receiver. The two other possibilities would be Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley – because Keelan Cole wasn’t good enough last season and because DJ Chark still must develop to be in the conversation. I expect Westbrook could be the best by the end of the 2019 season but it’s close entering the season.

Logan from Wichita, KS

We absolutely need wide receiver help. However, D.K. Metcalf of Ole Miss is way overhyped; his cone drill and game tape shows he is a horrible route runner and he drops a lot of passes. Besides that, any wide receiver we draft in Round 1 is going to be a complete disaster anyway so why risk it? (R.J. Soward, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Justin Blackmon)

Logan was showing logic and reason for the first couple of sentences. I was flummoxed, but I had hope – for Logan and for all of mankind. Then, he wrote a third sentence. Baby steps, I suppose.

Bruce from Beyond O-Zoney

In reference to taking on Geno: Indeed, beware. The pen is mightier than the sword, the bullfight cape, or the unseen left hook. And Geno BTW wrote that first too! Move over Billy Shakes P.

When competing against longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette in any endeavor, the first factor for which opponents must plan is scrappiness. Gene never quits. Ever. He will fight to the death.

Johnny from Syracuse, NY

Quick question, Mr. O: With all the speculation as to what our first pick would be, do you think there would be any chance that Jags brass would consider asking NF7 what his thoughts are? If he's the man now, wouldn't his insight be valued?

I suppose Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell or Senior Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin might discuss the draft with Foles briefly, but the conversation likely would be just that: brief. I doubt they would take Foles’ thoughts much into consideration and I doubt Foles would expect his thoughts to be considered. He’s a quarterback. He’s not a college scout.

Unhip Cat from Carlsbad, CA

You've written it a couple times now, so I'm inquisitive. What could possibly be weirder than you being wrong?

You’re right. Not much.

Bob from Sumter, SC

Is Dom Capers known for incorporating certain defensive schemes you might expect to see the Jaguars adding on defensively?

Recently-hired Jaguars senior defensive assistant Dom Capers through his NFL coaching career has been known for blitzing, having first risen through the coaching ranks in the early 90s as one of the coaching pioneers of the zone blitz. I would expect the Jaguars to blitz more next season, partly because of Capers’ presence and mostly because Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone has discussed wanting to do more defensively moving forward.

Michael from Phoenix, AZ

O-Zone, I spent about an hour recently watching highlights of Fred Taylor even after seeing him all through college and as an early Jaguars season ticket holder. What a world beater. Clearly, we were attempting to strike it again with Leonard Fournette. But we didn't. And won't. Ever.

The Jaguars certainly were hoping Fournette would be elite, but I don’t think there was a conscious decision to try to get a comparable back to Taylor. If they were, they were setting themselves up for failure. Taylor is one of the most talented running backs of the last few decades. You’re right that the Jaguars won’t see his likes for a while. Maybe ever.

Emiel from Texas

Isn't it rare for a player to hit free agency, visit with other teams, and then re-sign with their original team? Why do you think right guard A.J. Cann, tight end James O'Shaughnessy, and guard/center Tyler Shatley all decided to come back?

It’s rare for front-line free agents to return to their former teams, because those players usually sign deals in price ranges their former teams already made clear they don’t plan to pay. In the case of second-tier free agents – solid starters or backups – it’s more common to re-sign with former teams. That’s because those players often find that the money isn’t better – or as good – elsewhere and that the comfort level of playing with familiar teammates and coaches is appealing enough for them to re-sign.

Jason from North Pole, AK

If or when the Jaguars pick a running back in the draft, what type of the player would you target? A traditional, between-the-tackles, every-down bruiser to replace Fournette in case of an injury? Or a pass-catching, small-but-speedy, third-down back like an Alvin Kamara to complement Fournette? I am curious if they are looking for a change of pace or a potential replacement. Which do you think would be most helpful for our offense?

The Jaguars need both. I wouldn’t be surprised if they select both.

Sam from Winter Park, FL

I was watching the 1998 Summer Blockbuster "Armageddon" recently and couldn't help but wonder if they just sent Eugene "Black Mamba" Frenette to that rock if we could have done without the entire movie in general. I'm certain he could have driven his Prius to the Comet in about 45 minutes, maybe a quick oil change for reentry. But you get the point. He's the savior of this planet.

Hey, one fer longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and longtime Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette.

Etheric from Ether

So, is Foles better than Haskins, Lock, Tua, Fromm, Herbert, etc., or do the Jaguars not feel confident in choosing the right franchise quarterback for once?

You’re asking if the Jaguars signed Nick Foles because they didn’t feel confident in their ability to draft? Seriously? Did you read this question before sending?

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