JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Matt from Gallatin, TN
I get that Myles Jack wasn't down in the AFC Championship Game, but that play didn't upset me as much as the pass-interference penalty at the end of the first half. That led to a touchdown and put the Patriots back in the game. If that didn't happen, the missed call on the fumble recovery in the fourth quarter doesn't matter. That call seemed to have a bigger impact to me and the ball wasn't catchable – and shouldn't have been pass interference in my opinion. What say you?
Far more than one moment led to the Jaguars' loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game – and the Jaguars had plenty of chances well within their control to secure victory. But there also were a couple of … um … "bad breaks" that went against the Jaguars – and the Jack play was only one. I believed at the time that the pass-interference call on Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye late in the first half was incorrect, and I wrote as much several times. While there was contact in the field of play, any "interference-level" contact on Bouye's part in my view occurred out of bounds – and he therefore should not have been penalized. It didn't shock me that it was called, because it was an unusual-looking play that involved contact and those sometimes get called "just because" – particularly against the visiting team when the home team is trailing. I honestly didn't see it as a "Patriots-in-New-England" call as much as a home-team-gets-the-marginal-call call, but it darned sure changed the momentum in a game the Jaguars had been dominating – and yes, it was as big as the Myles Jack play in the fourth quarter.
Bob from Sumter, SC
Ever since we moved to South Carolina 15 years ago, people's reaction to my Jaguars cap has been "What team is that?" Last week in Publix a kid says to his Dad, "Hey Dad, look the Jaguars. I love the Jaguars." Then today in Costco an employee walked past, took a look at it and said "Go Steelers" and kept walking. Good time to be a Jags fan again. #DTWD!
I walked through a Publix last week. A man said, "Do I know you?" I said, "I'm John Oehser. I write for the Jaguars." He turned up his nose and wandered off. And yes, it's a good time to be a Jaguars fan. It's cool. People like it.
Gary from Fort Myers, FL
Who's the MVP of OTAs?
There is of course no such thing in non-padded spring work as a Most Valuable Player, but there are notable storylines. Quarterback Blake Bortles has had easily the best offseason of his career, and he has looked remarkably in sync with tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and wide receiver Donte Moncrief. That doesn't make any member of the trio the OTA MVP, but if that chemistry translates to the regular season it will be a major storyline next season.
Sam from Orlando, FL
Jags go 7-9 next year. Division will be better and the injury bug will hit the defense and the offense won't be able to carry the team. If I'm right, you post a question of mine for a week for six months. If I'm wrong, I'll donate to any charity of your choice. Deal?
InvisibleCrpGuy from Smoky Mountain
Work stinks. I'm gonna quit my pizza job and hang out all summer.
Big on Blake from Philly
King of Funk, I know all teams report amazing things about their veteran players and new draftees in June, but this June has some uncommonly positive themes reaching far across both sides of the ball. I can't tell you how many of the defensive players (Pro Bowl and All-Pro alike) have said they were displeased with last season and want better this year, and changed their approach coming into this offseason. On offense, we have a confident quarterback with a gaggle of skilled receivers all benefitting from a beefed-up offensive line and a second year in the system together. How common is it to see players who were on the brink of a Super Bowl actually turn it up in the offseason and work to be even better the next year? I know a lot of teams want to, but the things I'm hearing out of OTAs, the draft process and voluntary workouts is giving me chills. These guys motivate each other, and they're busting it every day to prove the world wrong. With strong coaching, that's dangerous for the rest of the league. My second question, with the favorable big showdowns all being home games (New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh) how does this team not wrap up the No. 1 seed by Week 12?
While I must assume that the unbridled enthusiasm of your second question contains at least a shred of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, your overall point has more than a shred of merit. There indeed is an encouraging energy around this team that can be seen in what appears to be a real discontent with last season and motivation for 2018. There also are reasons to believe the offense will be improved, reasons that include the apparent improvement of Bortles, the addition of All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell and the expected impact of skill players such as Sefarian-Jenkins and Moncrief. I've written and said multiple times during OTAs that I like this team's mindset. As expected it appears far ahead of where it was this time last offseason, it appears to know what it wants to get out of this voluntary offseason period, and it overall has the feel of a team capable of again making the playoffs and pushing for the Super Bowl. The opportunity is there. What will the Jaguars do with that opportunity – and how it will turn out? Stay tuned.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK
Oh Mighty 'O'! All hail the King of Funk! Guardian of Rhythmic, Danceable Music, Keeper of the Mixture of Soul and Jazz, Protector of Melody and Strong Rhythmic Bass Line Grooves, Lord of all Complex Grooves, Duke of Minor Chords with added Sevenths and Elevenths, Defender of Dominant Seventh Chords with Altered Ninths. Supreme Governor of Signature Groove Downbeats, Keeper of the Most Exalted Syncopated Bass Lines, Drum Patterns and Guitar Riffs. All bow and praise him and avert thine eyes from his magnificence. The King of Funk, that flower of chivalry, that King of Monarchs, that Paragon of Potentates, is going to speak! Observe the wisdom, witness the wit, wonder at the written eloquence and marvel at his meanderings. He will clarify the conundrums and dazzle us with logic! Oh yes, the King of Funk will speak. My Lords, Ladies and gentlemen, and wild ones of all ages, I give you the King of Funk! Sorry forgotten my question now.
Amata from the Marshall Islands
Hey, O-Zone: hope this email reaches you well. With all these excitement about the defensive line and expectations, I have a dilemma as to which is more important: 1) Quarterback hurry or 2) Sacks? Also, who led the team in quarterback hurries. Thanks for your time!
Sacks generally are considered more important because they're one of the biggest momentum-changing plays in the sport. But hurries are close to as important – and sometimes they're equally important. Remember: a quarterback with a quick release or ability to sense pressure can get rid of the ball quickly enough to make getting sacks very difficult. Quarterback hurries are less difficult to prevent – and sometimes can result in interceptions. Calais Campbell led the Jaguars with 30 hurries last season and Yannick Ngakoue was next with 23. That the duo registered 14.5 and 11 sacks, respectively, gives an indication of the impact the duo had both statistically and on the field.
IT from Senselessville
John, did you know that
Yes, I do.
Dave from Dallas, TX
Hey Mr. O: It's good to see that you can mangle the Spanish language as well as you do English. Consistency is what we need. What's next?
Geoff from Jacksonville
Lately I've been wondering what the O-Zone will look like after the Jaguars win the Super Bowl.
I believe that day will come relatively soon – and when it does, there will be many, many happy people. Some will be delirious. Some will be in disbelief. Jerell will wonder about Bortles starting and when the Jaguars will finally get a new quarterback – and Big on Blake from Philly will be convinced his guy was the reason for the victory even if Bortles throws five interceptions. If the game is not a shutout, some will express concern over the Jaguars' defense. If there were no sacks, there will be angst about the pass rush. I will attempt to make a joke that some will like that will inspire an email that there's not enough football in the O-Zone. And, of course, there will be ads. Fear not, my friend: there always will be plenty of ads.