O-Zone: Sights straight ahead

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Will from Jacksonville

What’s the predicted status on cornerback depth? Do the free agents have a shot?

Some of this will play out in training camp in July and August, but the Jaguars’ top five defensive backs are Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and D.J. Hayden at cornerback and Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison at safety. I expect second-year veterans Quenton Meeks and Tre Herndon to be the fourth and fifth corners, and I expect veteran Cody Davis to be one of the safeties. Second-year veteran C.J. Reavis figures to have the edge to be the fourth safety, with free-agent rookie safeties Andrew Wingard and Zedrick Woods players to watch in camp. The latter two players were projected by many as possible mid-to-late round selections in the 2019 NFL Draft. They’re the sorts of players who can make rosters, particularly at the safety position.

Sean from Jacksonville

I am really bored. I finally picked up a book after eight months removed from my open-heart surgery. Being bored, I figure we should be the Jacksonville Moose just so we could get Marty Moose as our mascot. Clark would be ecstatic.

Who’s the moosiest moose we know?

Chris from Mandarin, FL

How are the Jaguars going to stop opposing quarterbacks from running for first downs on third-and-medium and third-and-short this season? This to me is one of the most embarrassing shortcomings of the team over the last three years.

Mobile quarterbacks pose a threat on second- and third-and-manageable, and this threat is hardly excusive to the Jaguars. It’s the nature of the beast in a league that increasingly features quarterbacks who can run. Still, the Jaguars have seemed particularly vulnerable to this at times in recent seasons. How do you stop it? Better awareness and better rush discipline, but you’re not going to completely shut down mobile quarterbacks from running for first downs. They get paid, too.

John from Jacksonville

I'm bewildered ... because being bewildered can be bewildering. Some fans complain about failing on draft picks. Then, when we hit a grand slam on a draft pick (Ramsey), we talk about trading him? Is the goal to weaken the team and to get more draft picks so that we can wait for another grand slam pick in the next decade? Call me bewildered, but holding onto Pro Bowl players would be a good strategy I would think.

Yes.

Joey from Jacksonville

I really dislike the phrase “outperformed his contract.” I have never seen a contract or been part of one that says .... “We will pay you and put you on the team and you should perform at an average or slightly above average level.” The truth is he has played great, which is what upon being given a contract each and every player should strive to do. Now that he has done so better than most ... and honored the first years of his contract exceedingly well – he will be rewarded, and hopefully by the Jags!

You’re referring to Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, and I would wholeheartedly agree – if we were talking about his second contract. NFL players can negotiate a second contract, which means they have at least some amount of control over what they’re being paid. That’s a lot less true of young players still playing on rookie contracts, which are largely determined by the rookie wage scale. But remember: There’s nothing wrong with a player trying to get a larger contract, and there’s nothing wrong with a player holding out toward that end. Players have every right to do that, just as teams have every right to not “tear up” old contracts and refuse to bow to player’s demands.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, how long after our current round of stars get signed before everyone starts complaining about not being able to sign our latest draftees?

Soon enough.

Donald from You’reFiredVIlle

Why haven't the Jaguars fired that doofus yet?

I never know what’s going on.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John: It’s 68 degrees here. (Psst, just don’t start typing until you left California or New York airspace? That’d show ‘em.)

I’m serious. I never know what’s going on.

Chris from Space City, TX

O, you covered both Reggie Wayne and Jimmy Smith during their glory days.....Which one do you let in the HOF if you can only take one? Why?

This is actually an easy answer. I did cover Smith from 1995-2000 with the Jaguars and Wayne from 2001-2010 with the Colts. While I believe both receivers merit being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I absolutely would take Smith over Wayne. Smith for an extended period in the late 1990s was the second-best receiver in the NFL behind only Jerry Rice, who is the unquestioned all-time measure at the position. Wayne for a long time was a Pro Bowl wide receiver, but he wasn’t impossible to defend on the level of Smith.

Phil from Belleville, NJ

Glad to see we are talking about my home state New Jersey. Living in New Jersey is the reason I became a Jags fan as the New York Jets and Giants play here but refuse to change their name to New Jersey. Nobody shows any respect to Jersey except the Devils (hockey). Jersey is a great place to live and play sports. Just give it a chance! You can make so much more in Jersey than most other states that offset the higher taxes.

So, one fer Jersey, I guess.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Might 'O' / King of Funk, having looked back at the last ten years of first-round draft picks for the Jags, it is not a great success story. Ramsey is pretty much the only surefire superstar we managed to get from the often stated “crapshoot” that is the NFL Draft. Basically, it's your best guess and our best guesses haven't been that good. Hence, I am surprised that many fans are suggesting we trade the only once-in-a-generation player we have for a bunch of draft picks where we have a one-in-ten chance of getting a star player. We have one in Ramsey. Yes, it will be expensive to keep him, but you don't want to be playing against him do you?

You don’t re-sign Ramsey just because he’s the only generational talent you have selected in nearly two decades. You don’t re-sign him because you’re scared of missing on the selections you receive in a trade. You re-sign Ramsey because he’s an elite player whose presence makes you significantly better – and because you’re unlikely to get better with what you receive for him.

Tommy from Fernandina Beach, FL

No question today ... In honor of you being the king of all funk the Jags should play “Overpowered by Funk” by the Clash at all games!

Yes.

Doug from Jacksonville

The 25 games for 25 years is fun. It’s fun to look back and hear some of the behind-the-scenes commentary. Why's also a bit eye-opening are the stats. Time has a way of changing perceptions. No one worth their weight in popcorn is going to argue the success of those teams but some of the numbers are interesting. Passing numbers especially. Pride of the Jaguars, yes, but these fans today screaming about quarterback numbers should look at some of the numbers from days and quarterbacks they "remember" as dominating. I wonder if when we’re looking looking at 50 games in 50 years, former Jaguars quarterback Bortles will be remembered more fondly and appreciated a bit more. Drafted during a full-fledged rebuild and ending at an AFC Championship game that was arguably taken from them.

Statistics are best analyzed within the context of the era in which players produce them. In that respect, the statistics of Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell are pretty much in line with other players of his era – not at the top of the list, but certainly not embarrassing. He is and should be remembered fondly by  most Jaguars fans. As for Bortles, his statistics in many cases are decent for a quarterback in this era. He put up a lot of yards and touchdowns – and yes, a lot of interceptions. Where Bortles often fell short was in the biggest of moments – and in the area of raising the play of players around him. I suspect Bortles over time to be remembered pretty much as he is now – as a player who was easy to like and who many people hoped would be great, but who in the end had more disappointing moments in Jacksonville than memorable ones.

Jess from Glen Carbon, IL

After much reflection, I submit to you for consideration as the new Jaguars' theme song, the one and only hit song by Molly Hatchet: "Flirtin' With Disaster." I believe it is best aimed at opposing teams coming to Jacksonville to take on our team. Let the voting begin!

When we gamble with our time, we choose our destiny.

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