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O-Zone: Stay silent and smile

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jaguardian from New York, NY

Big O, the ball is in your court. You're the arbitrator to determine how many preseason games will be played. How do you vote?

Zero … this year. I usually favor four preseason games. I know fans and my media brethren want the preseason reduced, but I believe there is merit to four games to allow personnel officials to evaluate rosters – and to allow young players a chance to get performances on video for other teams to evaluate. That doesn't mean I like covering preseason games or that fans should like watching them, but I do typically see merit in four. But this year? Considering the concerns over COVID-19? The priority is keeping players and coaches distanced and safe as long as possible, so this year I would cut the preseason to zero games.

Doug from Jacksonville

Imagine how good Hall-of-Fame quarterback Joe Montana would have been if he had six games a year against the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.

I get your point, and it's true that quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots benefitted from a comparably weak AFC East during much of his time with the team. It's also true that the Patriots being good contributed to those teams struggling – at least somewhat.

SP from Nocatee, FL

Big "O:" If a 2020 draftee does not sign his contract and the NFL cancels the season, would they get paid?


Gary from Centerville

Teams with the lowest local revenue should be impacted the least. Teams with the most local revenue would be the ones hurt the most since they would lose the most.

Yes, except that teams with the most local revenue are already well off financially whereas teams with low local revenue are already "struggling" financially – in comparison to the rest of the league, anyway. Therefore, teams with low local revenue would be impacted the most.

Tim from Jacksonville

Awful, no. But 62.5 yards a game doesn't get it done unless they are in a true running-back-by-committee. The standard was and still is 100 yards in a game for both running back and wide receivers – even poor ones.

Averaging 100 yards a game either receiving or rushing over a season is elite company. It's absolutely a standard for special seasons for either a running back or a receiver.

Garrett from Jesup

I don't know the situation with Alex Smith (Is he healthy? Is he still on Redskins roster?), but I think he would make an interesting and much more competent backup to Minshew than what's currently on the roster. It has been reported that Smith helped Patrick Mahomes out a lot when the two were with the Kansas City Chiefs, so maybe he could help guide Minshew as well. What are your thoughts? Should we trade for him if he's still on the Redskins' roster? Do we have the cap to make it happen?

Smith is currently still on the Redskins' roster, and Redskins Head Coach Ron Rivera as of earlier this offseason hadn't ruled out Smith competing at the position – if he can return from what was a career-threatening injury. I don't anticipate the Jaguars trading for Smith or any other veteran quarterback this offseason.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

They may have put Deion Sanders on the No. 2 receiver and doubled the opposing No. 1 receiver, but when the opposing receivers were Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin, I remember Deion being matched up with those guys. Jerry and Mike had the ability to beat double teams if those were "regular" cornerbacks defending them. I remember gamedays where Deion was going to play against Irvin and Rice as something to look forward to; those were some great battles. No. 1, No. 2 receiver... doesn't matter, I've never seen a cornerback make a quarterback just give up a side of the field. He covered players like Cris Carter and Tim Brown, too. We can debate overall corner and talk about Rod Woodson and Mel Blount but nobody else has covered receivers as well as Deion Sanders since the Mel Blount rule.


unhipcat from carlsbad, ca

Hi, John. Regarding Minshew and throwing over the middle, what is the disconnect? Everyone says that's an area where he needs to improve to "take the next step." But what's the reason for the lack of production? Arm strength? Lack of confidence? Time? No receivers in the area? Defenses "taking that away?" He hits long balls at a better than acceptable rate and – from what I read – confidence isn't an issue. And it seems to me, "over the middle" would be quicker than a lot of other routes. That leads me to believe the main issue would be their guys are there and ours aren't. In my mind, that comes down to the Jags receivers are not getting open over the middle. Final thought: height? Can the size and concentration of players directly in his face be a major issue? What's your perspective?

Regarding Minshew throwing over the middle, all the factors you list – arm strength, lack of confidence, time, receivers, defenses taking it away – can be a factor. Arm strength perhaps gets mentioned most with Minshew in this area because throwing 15-to-20 yards and further downfield requires velocity and you're often throwing into high-traffic areas. And yes: former quarterbacks will tell you size can be an issue at the position. It can be overcome, but it's absolutely easier for a 6-feet-4 quarterback to see and read coverages than for a 6-feet-1 quarterback.

Marcus from Jacksonville

There are obviously a lot of question marks for the entire league right now, but for Jacksonville specifically, the biggest has to be related to defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Will he sign his tender and show up? Will he sit out the year? Will the team trade him? I was wondering about another possibility … is it possible that he signs his tender, but then opts to not play due to COVID? It seems like teams can't really fight a player who makes that decision to protect their own health, so would that be something you could see Yannick doing? Even if he didn't get paid, he would be saving face by signing the tag, appearing to put the team first, but then making the reluctant decision to sit out for health reasons. He would be accomplishing the same thing as not signing and sitting out, but doing it in a way that would appear to be less selfish. What do you think?

Not much would surprise me with the Yannick Ngakoue situation at this point. My sense is that he doesn't care all that much about "saving face" or putting the team first – and I believe he will eventually play because it will make sense financially to do so. But would it surprise me if he doesn't? No.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

With baseball and basketball contracts being so high, I never thought I'd see an NFL player taking home the biggest contract in sports history. Good for Chiefs fans, for sure. I hope to one day have that position shored up like they just did with Mahomes.


Jim from Jagsonville

Really enjoying the podcasts! The John Jurkovic episode brought back fond memories, like the time back in the 1990s he pushed me out of the way at a food line at TPC! Gave me this look daring me to say something, then we both laughed! His humor always showed in public, but man I wouldn't want to face off against him on the field! I've run into a few former Jaguars over the years, quarterback Mark Brunell and defensive end Jeff Lageman for example, but I've never had the nerve to introduce myself or thank them for being a part of our community. What's the best approach in those rare circumstances in your opinion? These weren't sponsored events, just random spots around town so I figured they wouldn't want to be bothered...

The best way to approach any public figure is to do so silently from behind, with an odd – and preferably, forced – smile. Stay out of the public figure's range of vision for as long as possible. If you have a cape – preferably purple or black – wear it. Do not giggle. Turn your cell phone to silent or vibrate. Then creep to within a few inches of their physical space while remaining silent. Continue smiling a forced smile – like one you've held too long while sitting for an Olan Mills portrait, long enough that your cheeks hurt and you wonder if you can keep holding it – and do not under any circumstances blink. If the public figure notices your presence and asks what the @#$% you are doing, say nothing. Just continue to smile. The public figure may act annoyed. I assure you this annoyance is an act. Public figures in fact like being approached like this. Actually, they love it.