O-Zone: Spitting in the wind

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from Atlanta, GA

How much of an impact can we expect from rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.? I like his acceleration and speed to go with his running back body, and I think a lot of cornerbacks will have a hard time bringing him down. However, I keep remembering that wide receiver is the position most likely to take time to develop. It's just not common for rookie wide receivers to be good right away. Are they going to rely on new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to use pre-snap motion to create mismatches for him? Will they rely on the Top 3 receivers to do most of the work while they slowly increase his snaps?

I expect it to take time for any rookie to make a significant contribution; I expect that to be even more the case in a 2020 season in which rookies are taking their first NFL snaps during training-camp practices. And while Shenault is an exciting physical prospect as a wide receiver, he does need NFL polish in terms of technique and route running. Still, I believe Shenault will make an impact this season, particularly as the season continues into October and November – mainly because the Jaguars know they need his athleticism and playmaking to add a needed element to the offense. Getting him involved – somehow, some way – will be a priority. But early on – as he learns the offense and learns how to run precise routes at the NFL level – he indeed likely will get a lot of his production from Gruden creating mismatches for him. That's fine. It's something at which Shenault should excel.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I just got around to watching this Michael Jordan documentary and found out he wasn't the first pick. The teams that picked ahead of Chicago clearly made the biggest mistakes ever by not picking him. How long do you think before Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes could be seen in the same light?

Sorry, but I can't go with you on the idea that the teams selecting ahead of the Chicago Bulls in the 1984 NBA Draft made the "biggest mistakes" ever by not selecting Michael Jordan. The Houston Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwan No. 1 overall that season. Would the Rockets rather have had Jordan? Most likely. But was it the biggest mistake ever selecting an all-time great who led them to two NBA titles and was a phenomenal inside scorer, shot-blocking presence and rebounder? Of course not. As for the Portland Trailblazers selecting Sam Bowie No. 2 overall one spot ahead of Jordan … yes, that was a mistake and the Trailblazers certainly regretted it. But I still think it will be a while before Mahomes is seen in the same light as Jordan. Maybe a long while. When will that happen? When he wins five more Super Bowls and when he enters the conversation as the greatest player in the history of the sport, I suppose. He's not there yet.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Still the dead zone, huh?

Not for long, Gary. Not for long.

Edward from Orlando, FL

I like the defense. I like the pass rush. I think the run defense will be better. I think the corners have a chance. I'm concerned about the safeties. Talk me out of this.

I'm with you, Edward. The Jaguars' run defense looks as if it will be better in 2020; they certainly have allocated the resources there. The addition of rookie CJ Henderson should help the cornerback position, and the addition of middle linebacker Joe Schobert can't help but improve the linebackers. Safeties Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson must be better than they were last season. Harrison must be more consistent, and Wilson must be more of a playmaker. It's a key area to watch.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Hypothetical: Jaguars go two games deep into the AFC playoffs - 50 percent we scrape by close call games and 50 percent solid COVID adaptability. Does that give us momentum, or does it make NFL analysts hate us MORE because they have "the hot scoop" that the season shouldn't be counted anyways.

NFL analysts don't hate the Jaguars. The Jaguars have been bad for most of the last decade, and that has understandably caused analysts and fans to assume they will remain bad. It has caused many analysts to overlook the team. And you know what? The Jaguars have been easy to overlook lately. When they win consistently, analysts will praise them. As for your question, if the Jaguars go two games deep in the playoffs this season, I wouldn't worry about what the analysts say if I were a Jaguars fan. I would just enjoy it. They would be winning. Isn't that what everyone wants?

Nicholas from Rockville

As far as football movies go it is Remember the Titans and everybody else. If Doug Marrone doesn't work out is Denzel Washington available?

Your first sentence couldn't be truer. As for your question, I'll take Denzel – and I would take Coach Yost. He's a Hall of Famer in my book.

Chris from Section 437

I would add "Heaven Can Wait" to the list. I watched it again recently with my 19-year-old son and he loved it. It's held up pretty well for a 42-year-old film!

Agreed. If you don't get a little choked up when Jack Warden's character is holding Warren Beatty's saxophone after the Super Bowl, then I don't want to know you.

Bill from Dansville, NY

All this talk of football movies and I don't recall ever seeing anyone mention "Leatherheads." I mean George Clooney, nuff said!

Meh.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

Brian DeMarco was a nice guy. I was seven-years old during that inaugural season of 1995, and he happened to live in the same apartment building as I did that year. I remember one time he played football in the yard with all us kids, and that was probably one of the earliest things that made me a Jaguars fan. I always remember that story fondly when someone mentions his name.

We're recalling a story I told in Thursday's O-Zone about former Jaguars guard Brian DeMarco being angry with me following a late-1995 Jaguars loss in Detroit. I related in the story that I briefly worried that DeMarco might smite me with a helmet he held in his hand following the loss. I had written something for the Florida Times-Union the week before the game that he didn't like. It was a reference to him having allowed a couple of sacks against the Lions in a preseason game that year. I don't remember exactly what I wrote. I do remember that after DeMarco confronted me – and after I thought about what I'd written – I kind of agreed with DeMarco's point. We talked the next day and I recall no other confrontation. It happens. It's part of covering a team.

unhipcat from Carslbad, ca

Oh: Hi, John. The DeMarco story shocked me, but only in the sense that there's been only one player who wanted to smack you in the head with his helmet.

Fair.

Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX

KOAF: Why would Brian DeMarco be so angry at you in 1995? Was it your hard-hitting journalism and asking the tough questions that rattled him or was it the fact the team lost 44-0 at Detroit to fall to 3-12 on the season? I have two working ideas of what prevented him from clobbering you in the head with the helmet. The first idea is that you already established your "street cred" with your ongoing feud with Boselli and you had his Brian's respect. My other idea and the one that I lean on most is that longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette was standing there behind unbeknownst to you staring down Brian Demarco just daring him to make a move against you. It's the unsung heroes like Gene that keep the wolves away from the sheep.

The 44-0 loss bothered everyone on the Jaguars. The game, in fact, was the low point of the difficult 1995 expansion season. How bad was the loss? Bad enough my colleague at the Florida Times-Union, Pete Prisco, got a lot of grief from our editors at the paper because his post-game report card wasn't all "Fs." But no … DeMarco was mad for legitimate reasons and tempers often flare following games. This was a no-harm, no-foul situation. As for your final thought … Gene wasn't at the Lions game that year. Neither he nor then-columnist Mike Bianchi traveled to the game because the Times-Union was curtailing expenses near the end of the year. Had Gene been there, however, I have no doubt that DeMarco would have backed down. You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. You don't pull the mask of that old Lone Ranger. And you darned sure don't mess around with Gene.

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