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O-Zone: Sort of winning

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Fred from Highland Park, NJ

I feel like there isn't much discussion about Mark Brunell when talking about top players of the franchise. What is your opinion of his rank among Jags all-time and among QBs in general? I always thought of him as very underrated much like Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith.

Brunell was one of the greatest all-time Jaguars players and is therefore very deserving of his place in the Pride of the Jaguars. As I wrote recently, he's certainly in my Top 10 all-time Jaguars – if perhaps not quiiiiite in the Top 5. I wouldn't say he is as underrated in NFL circles as former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor or former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith. Those players were generational talents and strong arguments can be made that they should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brunell was very good for a few seasons. He is the best quarterback in franchise history. He's not a Hall of Famer.

Chris from Stuart, FL

I always get upset when an opposing team throws on fourth down, especially a deep ball, and the defensive back makes the interception with little or no chance of returning the pick for even a few yards. It seems to me that situational awareness would dictate just knocking the ball down. While they get a personal stat boost, they've done the other team a favor. It's almost often as good as a punt. I'll never forget MJD could have waltzed into the end zone for a touchdown but chose to lay down inside the five-yard line, giving the Jags more time to possess the ball and run out the clock. That was a selfless play, choosing what was best for the team in that situation. Thoughts?

There are indeed many plays in the NFL in which players lack situational awareness. It's sometimes understandable; it is, for instance, sometimes difficult to criticize a player for intercepting a deep pass when his every instinct – and every coaching instruction he ever has received – is telling him to attack and secure the ball. But those situations do make the times when players are aware stand out. The play your referencing involving former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew absolutely was such a play. In what became a victory over the New York Jets, Jones took a knee at the 1 when the Jets were trying to let him score a late touchdown. The Jaguars kicked a field goal on the drive to take the lead in a 24-22 victory. Had Jones scored, the Jaguars might have won anyway. But kneeling increased their chances. It was a savvy, heads-up play.

Dave from Canton, GA

Can players use the facilities to train during this time between organized team activities and training camp? Also, could outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker get together during this time with a an offensive lineman and work on pass rush moves if they wanted to?

Yes. And yes.

Paul from Fruit Cove

Rondette baseball in the 1970s. What years? Man, I played my eight-to-10 year-old butt off from 1976-1980. Remember the Orioles?

Forty-six-ish years tends to dim the memory. I played on the Sluggers in 1976 and the Larks in 1977 at Rondette. I was OK on the Sluggers. I made All-Stars, an honor more to do with more deserving candidates being out of town with family than "merit." I was not good for the Larks, which led to my emotional retirement from baseball following the '77 season.

Sandlots of Mandarin

Michael indeed should tread lightly which is, incidentally (if memory serves correctly), what the bartender at Pete's in Neptune Beach told the poor soul who insulted Eugene P. Frenette's integrity after losing a bet. If I remember correctly, the story goes that Frenette gave the man the "100-mile stare" and the man had to be carried out of the bar on a stretcher.

Yep. Same guy.

Kevin from Floresville, TX

Michael from Middleburg may be a bold man, but I sure wouldn't want to be in his shoes. Gene may be a giant teddy bear to the weak and helpless, but questioning the veracity of the tales of his strength and heroism? Gene knows where to find you.

Good eye.

Howard from Homestead, FL

I saw that Hugh McElhenny just passed away. Got any stories about him?

McElhenny, a Pro Football Hall of Fame running back who played in the NFL from 1952-1964 – most notably with the San Francisco 49ers from '52-60 – indeed passed away last week. He retired before I was born, so my knowledge is limited to YouTube highlights and books read growing up. He was a legend and part of what was known as the 49ers' "Million Dollar Backfield" of McElhenny, quarterback Y.A. Tittle, fullback Joe Perry and halfback John Henry Johnson. They were the focal point of some good teams that never were quite great. All are in the Hall of Fame. May he rest in peace.

Don from Marshall, NC

It took a Hurricane for the Saints to win a Super Bowl. Do you think there is a chance that Urban was the Jaguars hurricane? What a turnaround. This team no longer going to be an easy out. Go Jaguars!

Hurricane Katrina was in 2005 and the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl victory followed the 2009 season, and there definitely was an emotional connection between that team and that community in the long-term aftermath of the hurricane. Considering the loss of life and the life-altering devastation of Katrina, I can't compare anything involving former Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer to that. But could there be some level of rallying in the aftermath of last season? Could that be a theme in 2022? I would be surprised if there's not.

Steve from Nashville, TN

You have answered a few questions about future renovations to TIAA Bank Field, that will improve the fan experience from a climate point of view. I notice there are only two home games this year in September and early October that could be difficult for fans to deal with the heat. Will the solution be some kind of ultralite-but-durable material that stretches across the top of the whole stadium or at least the East side seats? Is this material and technology available now or has yet to be invented or perfected and when can fans expect the renovations to be completed by?

When the Jaguars know, I'm sure I'll know. When I know, you'll know.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Will the dysfunction of the Washington Commanders' front office and ownership and Congress investigation be a storyline will cover prior to kickoff of the first game of the 2022 season or will you be asked to leave that up to the independent media because it is too far off the field? The Jaguars had their own distractions from last year's coaching debacle. In your experience, have you seen correlation with significant team distractions that impacted on the field results?

I don't anticipate being "asked" (or told) anything about's coverage that week. I'm sure the Commanders' off-field and ownership issues will be mentioned on our shows – and perhaps by O-Zone readers – and we'll acknowledge the topic. I don't anticipate we'll go very deep on the topic because why would we? We cover the Jaguars. We know the Jaguars. At least some of us do. Or pretend to. We discuss opponents through the lens of games against the Jaguars, and the Commanders' off-field stuff – while important and interesting – doesn't have much to do with the on-field results. As for how much off-field distractions typically impact on-field results, that's always hard to quantify. I usually consider distractions an overblown, lazy storyline because usually players play through them and coaches coach through them. But last season around the Jaguars made me rethink that a bit.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

Would you agree that Trevor Lawrence should lead the field of the five 2021 first-round quarterbacks in 2022 QBR in order to show year over year improvement commensurate with his No. 1 draft status? This list would include Mac Jones/ Patriots, Trey Lance/49ers, Zach Wilson/Jets and Justin Fields/Bears.

I want to see Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence improve in his second season next season and look like he's moving toward being a franchise quarterback for the long-term. How he compares to the other four first-round quarterbacks in any particular statistic is secondary to that. Insider tip: There will be plenty of "experts" breathlessly comparing those five quarterbacks and using all sorts of statistics – and pretty much every metric. They won't be hard to find.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

"I made up for it by being awkward and excluded socially. So, high school was cool on that front." How many of those excluders got to listen to loudspeakers during practice last year?? How many are SENIOR WRITERS of an NFL team?? Take that O-Zone high school meanies.

Boy, did I show them.