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O-Zone: Sheer perfection

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

When you first started your career, did you ever think you'd see the day a reporter documented a training camp fight on his phone, a player involved responded back using his phone, and both the video and players comments were available to the entire world immediately?

You're referring to the incident Sunday afternoon in which Florida Times-Union Jaguars beat writer Phillip Heilman tweeted video of a post-practice skirmish involving Jaguars defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue. The video also included cornerback Jalen Ramsey animatedly admonishing the media for recording the incident. The details of all of this by now have been well-documented, with the major news being that Ramsey and Fowler were suspended for what reportedly will be a week of training camp. There are many aspects of this story – and there are enough questions that it again dominates today's O-Zone – but you're right this story is reflective of the times. When I first started my "career," newspaper reporters spent the day working on a story and often hurried to see it in the paper … the next morning. There was more time to write a story and report a story. There was more time for a reporter to consider how something might be perceived and there were no cameras and smartphones around to document actions players did not want made public. The world is a more immediate-reaction place now. I try not to be someone who believes "the old days" were better by default, and I honestly don't know if media is better or worse now. I also try not to be the crotchety old man yelling at kids from his front porch. Still, Sunday was a story that probably doesn't happen a couple of decades back. It darned sure doesn't happen as quickly, or with the same impact. Nor does it likely have the same fallout. Oh, well. Times change. It's the way of the world. Now, get off my lawn.

Tim from Jacksonville

Not sure if you are aware of recent comments by South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp in response to the DJ Durkin situation at Maryland, but he said that there is no credibility in anonymous sources and that it's a lack of journalistic integrity to print stories using anonymous sources.

Journalists are free to criticize coaches without having any earthly idea what they're talking about. I suppose coaches should have freedom to do the same.

Andy from Roswell, GA

If there was ever a doubt about who is in charge ... I love this team. I love the fiery attitude and I love that the leadership also doesn't put up with "stuff." From Jaguars Owner Shad Khan to the practice squad, this is a team that's easy to stand behind and enjoy.

This indeed is a likeable team – and part of what makes it likeable is a collective alpha-dog, us-versus-the-world, on-the-edge persona. That persona enabled this team to rapidly improve last season from a decade of losing to a Super Bowl contender. This group collectively believes in itself and rides an emotional pitch at all times. There is a lot of good about that energy, but it must be managed and harnessed. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone along with General Manager David Caldwell and Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin have masterfully managed and harnessed this group for the last year and a half. On Sunday, they decided some more managing and harnessing was needed. The organization as a whole has found the right balance under this leadership regime. Here's guessing it will find that again. The overall inertia and drive feels too strong for this to derail it.

Sunil from Jacksonville

Her O! Attending the game, I was not able to watch the television coverage of the Jags' preseason opener. But I watched the NFL network rebroadcast and I was very surprised to hear Brian Sexton refer to "time outs" as "times out." He said this every time he mentioned the "time out" situation. I have never heard it referred to as times out. Is Brian doing OK? Should we be worried about him?

Brian's not fine, but it has nothing to do with saying "times out" rather than "time outs." He's not alone in this. I've heard it both ways, though "time outs" is more common. I've actually seen and heard extended debate from some people over which is correct. The conversation, sadly, was about as interesting as it sounds.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

There were some reports that the team had practiced sluggishly coming back after the first preseason game. Is it possible that the incident Sunday could be a good thing in the end? It seems like teams improve when they have to overcome adversity. Sometimes adversity needs to be created, right?

This team handles "noise" well – in large part because Marrone does a good job deftly managing large personalities. But it's hard to portray what happened as a good thing. Manageable? Yes. But not a good thing.

Scott from Jacksonville

Heat-of-the-battle stuff happens all the time in training camps. Two guys who play the same position getting into it seems a lot more personal. Hopefully, there isn't any lingering animosity between Ngakoue and Fowler.

Here's what else happens all the time: NFL players in the same locker room not particularly liking each other. I don't know the details of the relationship between Ngakoue and Fowler. I know they appeared to be angry with one another Sunday. It frankly matters little if two players like one another, or if they become angry with one other. It does matter if they respect one another and if they can co-exist. Being angry with someone in no way means you can't co-exist them.

John from Jagsonville

So a week ago on NFL Network (I think) Blake Bortles was asked if the defense was respecting his red jersey and he said yes but Fowler hasn't been out there yet. Obviously, there is an awareness of Dante's on-field actions.

Yes. This is not news.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

Isn't the most important part of preseason staying healthy? They're less likely to get hurt if they're suspended and not practicing or playing. Could this be a good thing? Should we suspend a few other key players while we're at it???

This isn't a good thing and you don't want other players suspended, but would I mind if I don't see Ramsey, or cornerback A.J. Bouye, or running back Leonard Fournette, or defensive end Calais Campbell or a slew of other players again this preseason? Nah, if I'm a Jaguars supporter I wouldn't mind that at all.

Jonathan from Daytona Beach, FL

With the latest suspension of Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler Jr., what is your prediction for the first game of the regular season?

I don't have a prediction for the first game of the regular season, but seeing as how Fowler already was suspended for the game – and seeing how reports are that the suspensions announced Sunday are for a week in training camp – I don't know that the regular-season opener against the New York Giants will be affected.

Mike from Detroit, MI

Why does Fowler keep finding himself on one end of these outbursts? Young man has to grow up fast.

Fair point.

Stephen from Jacksonville

In Thursday's game, I thought that Fournette did appear to hit the hole faster than he did last season, especially during the second half of the year. Whether this is from his weight loss, improved decision making, health, or overall freshness from not having to make the college to NFL year-long rookie transition is anybody's guess. Regardless, he does look like a very improved and quicker running back to me. I think he is capable of being a 1,500-yard back this year. Does Fournette's decision-making or acceleration seem much improved to you?

Fournette has looked quick to the hole and fast during training camp practices. He also looked very good on his one drive in the preseason opener. Perhaps the most notable thing about this is Fournette said he feels much faster and quicker – and if he feels it, it's probably going to show up in his play. My guess is he will benefit as much from a year experience, better knowledge of the offense and better ability to maintain his health/conditioning throughout the course of the season more than from his weight loss, but we'll see. I think Fournette will have a bigger season this season if he remains healthy and sure … he could push for 1,500 yards.

Emile from Tallahassee, FL

John, Oh John. I know fans gonna fan, but do they have to fan so hard? I sincerely hope that everyone passing judgment on Dante Fowler Jr. has spotless records at work from their early 20s on. I'd hate to think anyone a hypocrite. This feels like a little more than "fanning," this feels ... Mean spirited.

There are a lot of perfect people in this world. I receive emails from some, and I read comments on the internet from others. I seem to come across fewer perfect people in the "real world" than I do online. I'm not sure why that is.

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