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O-Zone: Slow uptake

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Seriously, Zone. Shoot it to me straight. I've gotten excited about this team every offseason for a decade only to set myself up for heartache and disappointment year after year. I'm excited again. Is this year going to be different? For real this time?

This question is more than fair. Loyal, engaged Jaguars fans have had hopes dashes and anticipations shattered far too often over the last decade or so. So, it's entirely understandable that many are hesitant to get too excited about what's going on at TIAA Bank Field these days – lest they suffer again. I can't promise success in professional sports; no one can. I can tell you this feels different. One reason it feels different is the presence of Head Coach Urban Meyer, who – while he never has coached in the NFL – has succeeded wildly at every collegiate stop. He knows what winning looks like. Meyer also has shown strong signs during his first offseason of adapting well to the NFL, particularly in his hiring of experienced NFL coordinators and his willingness to learn what he doesn't know about the professional game. But the biggest reason it feels "for real this time" around the Jaguars is the presence of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The importance of a potential franchise quarterback simply can't be overstated. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean a deep playoff run in 2021. The franchise may not be there yet. But the team will improve this season. Building will begin. And when you start building around a franchise quarterback, you're building around a solid foundation that can improve and become more stable as time moves forward. That's the element that has been missing around this franchise for far too long. That's why the different feeling feels more real.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

The offensive line still worries me, Zone. We've heard this song and dance before, you know?

I assume by "song and dance" you mean the positive statements made this offseason by Jaguars decision-makers about the offensive line. But I don't know that the statements qualify as a song and dance, and what team officials and coaches have said about the unit has a lot of merit. The belief within the team is that it's a solid unit that must play better moving forward, and that it has the potential to do so. The interior of the line – center Brandon Linder, left guard Andrew Norwell and right guard A.J. Cann – played well last season. The two tackles – Jawaan Taylor on the right side and Cam Robinson on the left – played well at times, particularly in the run game. The tackles were inconsistent in pass protection, which offensive line coach George Warhop recently said was a focus in the offseason and would remain a focus moving forward. This is not a perfect offensive line. It is one that should benefit from continuity, experience and cohesion. That's a lot better than the alternative when you have a rookie quarterback who was selected No. 1 overall in the draft.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, have you ever thought about challenging future Hall-of-Fame left tackle Tony Boselli to a 50-yard dash?

Boselli knows where to find me. If we faced off in a 50-yard dash, you could find both of us exhausted and limping toward the nearest water hose. Crying.

Duh from Jacksonville

Who is this Culligan girl?

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Dave from Jacksonville

KOAGF, watched a recent broadcast with you and Bucky Brooks where you discussed Trevor Lawrence in his last minicamp. The point of the conversation was Trevor had some throws that were eye-popping confirmation of a legit talent. I can remember my dad attending one of John Elway's first camps and him calling me in Vail that same day Elway was throwing 75-yard ropes. The whole city exploded. Was this that kind of impressive? Also, not sure if this counts, because it was between high school and college back in 1981. My most memorable concert was in the LA Memorial Coliseum: 101,000-plus people packed to see The Rolling Stones, Jay Giles, George Thorogood and this new band, Prince. Southern Cal was not ready for Prince that day. Booed him off the stage. The rest is history.

Lawrence was impressive on the final day of minicamp. I don't know that the performance caused explosions; I didn't hear any. It was also in June and not in padded work, so let's call it a cool precursor and a good sign. As far as Prince getting booed off the stage in '81 … I remember seeing Prince's "Little Red Corvette" video the first time and not quite getting it. I had the same reaction when I saw "When Doves Cry" a few years later. I would up buying the "Little Red Corvette" 45 a few weeks after seeing that video and I bought "Purple Rain" on cassette soon after seeing "When Doves Cry." He was an innovator who didn't do what everyone else was doing. It took a while to get it. That's genius, which he was.

David from Oviedo, FL

KOAF - Did you ever find out what's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

Working on it.

Dujuane from New Jersey

Big O, can players such as Trev Lawrence still meet with coaches during dead period to go over the playbook or is there no communication between coaches and players?

No football activity – either voluntary or involuntary – is permitted from the end of the offseason program until the beginning of training camp under the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, have you thought about doing an offseason Late O-Zone to take it up a notch and surprise the fans? Or are you sleeping?

Why on earth would anyone want to "take it up a notch?"

Scott from Jacksonville

You could have just mentioned that Adam Sandler's remake was one of the worst remakes in the history of remakes. Sandler just did not fit in the role, and it was just awful to watch. I do agree with your take though. I mean, geez, it's Burt Reynolds!

Fair.

Gavin from Halifax

Hey Mr KOAF, not to beat a dead horse, but to beat a dead horse, I find hockey players to be very willing to speak to the media after a game. After watching the Habs beat the Knights, the player that had the game winner was exceptionally excited and able to answer the questions succinctly. Though hockey has a player interview during each intermission. As a hockey fan, I guess I'm just used to more access to the team, and they've always seemed more accessible.

I've never covered the NHL. Everyone I know who has been around the NHL says it's one of the best sports to cover for exactly the reasons you cite. Those around the sport understand the benefits of media coverage and accessibility. They understand fan interest is not a given. They understand that discussing a game and answering a few questions about a sport does not have to be a crisis. Many, many people in many sports also understand this – and many people in the NFL understand this, too. It's enjoyable when it's that way. Get off my lawn.

Wade from Westside

Oxford comma is old news. I recently learned that the APA format no longer requires two spaces after a period. It goes against all that is good and holy!

It's about time APA catches up. Good riddance.

Bill from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Regarding Cole Beasley: No one is saying that he has a right not to get vaccinated or speak his mind. But he also has a duty to his team and his teammates to stay fit and healthy. You would not be defending him if he smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and then bragged about it in social media (which he also has a right to do. A lot of NFL players do good things for the community and deserve praise--for visiting sick kids in the hospital, working in soup kitchens, etc.--and they deserve credit and praise for what they do. Cole Beasley is doing a very bad thing by negative comments on vaccines. The vaccines are highly effective and very safe. Just as good deeds deserve praise, his anti-health comments deserve condemnation.

We evidently have different definitions of defending. I wrote that Beasley has a right to not get vaccinated and a right to voice his opinion. That's it.

Marlin from Newberry, Fl

Hi Zone, I second the nomination for "Duke of Duuuval" for Trevor Lawrence's official nickname. The Duke is memorable, relatable, and most important, when he rips off a 30-yard touchdown run against the Titans we can all shout DUUUUUUUUUUUKE like we did with Maurice Jones-DREEEEEEEW and Joel Smeeeeeeeengeeeee! I am looking forward to it.

I like Duke of Duuuval. Then again, I didn't get "Little Red Corvette" at first, so I'm perhaps not the best judge of these things.

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