Advertising

O-Zone: Sitting in limbo

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Mike from Jacksonville

Who among the Jaguars’ newcomers will make the biggest impact? I’m going with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins with defensive end Taven Bryan a close second.

This is a good question, and the reality is this class of newcomers has a long way to go reach the impact of the 2017 newcomers. Not only did defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye have All-Pro seasons as unrestricted free agent signees, running back Leonard Fournette as a rookie helped redefine the Jaguars’ offense. I like your selection of Seferian-Jenkins for this season, and anyone watching organized team activities and minicamp had to realize he has a real chance to have a major impact next season. But with a nod to both Seferian-Jenkins and wide receiver Donte Moncrief, I’ll go with guard Andrew Norwell. It’s not just that he was an Associated Press first-team All-Pro selection with Carolina last season, it’s that the Jaguars’ offensive style will give Norwell every chance to have a major impact. This team wants to run. It will run often. If Norwell is what the Jaguars believe he is, there’s going to be a lot of running over the left side of the line – enough that Norwell’s level of play could define the offense this season.

Rick from Greenville, SC

So, the NFL Network ranked Campbell, linebacker Telvin Smith and cornerback Jalen Ramsey as the league's top defensive triplets. Where would you rank end Yannick Ngakoue, linebacker Myles Jack and Bouye?

I would rank Ngakoue/Jack/Bouye perhaps the slightest, smallest, most-miniscule shred of a thread below Campbell/Smith/Ramsey – and I wouldn’t feel real confident that I had ranked the right group first.

Esko from Finland

I assume that I won't be the first one to suggest this, but shouldn't the Jaguars print circa 70,000 ANSI B or C sized "Myles Jack Wasn't Down" signs and place them on the seats (or however you distribute giveaways in the major leagues) of TIAA Bank Field for the fans to use in the Patriots game?

This is something I don’t think the team will need to push to have be a “thing.” It’s a thing already and it happened organically. That seems the way to go.

Tucker from Nashville, TN

The Jaguars’ gear has to get better. Most of the designs are terrible. I look at other teams’ gear and I can find a shirt or hat I like within a couple of minutes. I don't expect a senior writer to understand, but it has to get better.

OK.

Sean from Jacksonville

Get ready for a few trade questions stemming from a Rich Cimini article on ESPN's site.

Thanks for the warning, but I doubt this concept will have wheels – and I thought Cimini unsurprisingly did a good job outlining why. He writes in his mailbag that the New York Jets need an edge rusher and said there is speculation that the team could pursue Jaguars edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. Cimini correctly notes that it could be difficult for the Jaguars to retain Fowler following the 2018 season. He also mentions the possibility of the Jets trading quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Jaguars for Fowler, but correctly states that the Jaguars likely wouldn’t have much interest in Bridgewater unless something happened to quarterback Blake Bortles. This is an idea that probably will get some legs in the internet world in the offseason, but I’d be stunned if it happens.

 Steve from Denver, CO

JO: Does the front office feel that backup quarterback Cody Kessler is fitting in? Is it unusual that a starting quarterback can avoid a major injury for four-to-five years in the NFL?

Kessler fit in fine during organized team activities and minicamp, though I didn’t spend much time digging around to the front office’s assessment of his first month and a half with the team. The reasons for this were several fold: one was that it was a little early to draw conclusions on his progress, and another was that there’s an obvious ceiling to the expectations for a player acquired in exchange for a conditional draft selection. The bottom line is this: the Jaguars need quarterback Blake Bortles healthy this season, just as the vast majority of NFL teams need their starting quarterbacks healthy. Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl with backup quarterback Nick Foles last season, but that’s an outlier. Is it unusual for a starting quarterback to be healthy for four or five seasons? Not entirely. Quarterbacks can stay healthy for many years in succession if they avoid major hits. Are the Jaguars overly dependent on Bortles’ health? Perhaps, but that doesn’t make them that much different from many NFL teams.

Gary from Centerville

If we're talking about Rocky sequels, it's not II, it's IV. If only for the line, "If he dies ... he dies".

To each his own, but Rocky II is the best Rocky sequel. It feels like a logical continuation of the first – and it is at least halfway realistic. Halfway.

Matt from Cocoa, FL

Zone, watching the Jags Top 10 plays from 2017. I was surprised to remember that Keelan Cole had two. Could he be a diamond in the rough?

The Jaguars certainly think so. Cole had a slew of huge plays last season – a critical touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at home in December chief among them – and the Jaguars believe he only is showing the first signs of what he can become. I believe Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief are the pretty clear starting wide receivers entering camp, but a major storyline to watch is where Cole is going to fit in the rotation. He’s going to factor in heavily and the guess here is he has a real chance to be the team’s leading receiver in 2018.

Perry from St. Augustine, FL

Zone, I’m concerned. There’s waaaaaaaay too much optimism around this team. Are they that good? Can they handle it? Talk me down, Zone.

I can’t ease your concerns for one reason: they’re the offseason concerns of a fan excited about a good team and wondering if it can take advantage of being good. We won’t know that answer until it plays out, but make no mistake: this team has the right mental and physical makeup to win consistently. The first step is to win enough in the regular season to qualify for the postseason. As we saw last season, that’s where the real work begins – and if a team is playing well and is relatively injury free it has a chance in the postseason whatever the regular season record. But yes … this team is good and it can handle the expectations. Whether that will mean matching or exceeding last season’s performance only time will tell.

Bill from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Question on the subject of combining positions on special teams: Why is it so rare for the same player to return kickoffs and punts? Is it because simply catching the ball is much harder on punts?

The actual process of catching the ball has comparatively little to do with it. The reason you don’t see the same player returning punts and kickoffs for a team very often is the jobs require significantly different skill sets. Punt return is about quick reaction – being able to receive the ball, make defenders miss in a tight space and accelerate quickly. Kickoff return is about receiving the ball, choosing a lane quickly and having straight-ahead speed. There are players who can do both very well, but it’s uncommon.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

So, after watching a YouTube clip, I believe I understand your unseemly fascination with the song "Score Tonight." I believe it lies in the line "Hey, Johnny Johnny, go for that strike and I just might be your baby tonight" ...

Let’s bowl, let’s bowl, let’s rock and roll …

Steve from Duval

O: Was watching some of last year’s highlights. Let us know your thoughts overall on last year’s special teams. The fake punts are particularly impressive to me. Can we get away with trying them again next year or will they all be ready for us next year? Thank you for keeping us all entertained with your answers.

I believe the Jaguars’ special teams will be better in 2018 because the team has made a concerted effort in the offseason to be better, adding players such as tight end Niles Paul and safeties Cody Davis and Don Carey. The team also moved boldly to address punter, selecting Logan Cooke in Round 7 of the 2018 NFL Draft and releasing veteran Brad Nortman shortly thereafter. That outlines some reasons the personnel will improve. As for teams being ready for fake punts … sure, teams will expect it. But I doubt that will keep special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis from scheming them – and I can’t imagine Head Coach Doug Marrone not calling them. Bottom line: if the right look is there, the Jaguars will run fake punts – and if schemed correctly, they will work.

Jimbo from Limbo

Johnny Zone,

What! What!??

Advertising