O-Zone: Still early

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Greg from Section 122

Yes, the workout is voluntary. No, Coughlin wasn't wrong. Not showing up is great when the team is winning, and there are no real issues/questions. They have the right not to attend, but if the team starts losing this is one of the first things that will be remembered as some weren’t as committed as others. Voluntary or not, it affects the locker room. At the VERY least Ramsey and Smith should have reached out to TC and had a conversation about not being there and communicated with the boss.

Ah, yes … VoluntaryGate 2019 seems destined to be O-Zone Topic No. 1 for the foreseeable future – or at least until next week’s 2019 NFL Draft. To review: Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith opted against attending the start of the Jaguars’ 2019 offseason program this past week – as is their right because the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement states all offseason workouts except a mandatory mid-June minicamp are voluntary. Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin during his 2019 State of the Franchise speech Thursday said all Jaguars players should attend the offseason program, speaking for several minutes about its importance. The CBA states that no team official “may indicate to a player that the Club’s offseason workout program or classroom instruction is not voluntary.” Because of that, NFL Players Association president Eric Winston issued a statement following Coughlin’s speech that read in part: “Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition of voluntary and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in workouts.” And that’s the crux of this: The NFLPA believes coaches/executives saying things such as Coughlin said Thursday creates an implied pressure on players to attend workouts that by definition are voluntary. The NFLPA believes the natural tendency of coaches/executive is to make everything mandatory and demand full attendance, and the NFLPA is correct on that front. Bottom line: Offseason work is voluntary, and it should be voluntary. It also is dramatically overblown in terms of importance for many players. As for your point: I don’t expect the absences to have real harm on the locker room – and as is typically the case when players miss these workouts, I don’t expect any lasting harm to the team. If the Jaguars lose next season, I suppose some people will look back and point to the absence of Ramsey and Smith as a reason. Those people won’t be correct.

Nate from Fort Duval in York, PA

‘Tis the season for overreactions about players missing VOLUNTARY workouts.

‘Tis a predictable, tired season indeed.

Mike from Section 122 and Port Orange, FL

Why do the players with great talent like Ramsey and Smith think that they can be prima donnas and not attend the “voluntary” workouts with rest of the team? It really is simple: They expect everyone to bow down to them because of their talent. That’s why as great as they are, they cost their teams wins: because of the look-at-me attitudes, which get penalized in crucial moments.

Players believe they can miss voluntary workouts because voluntary means “not mandatory.” And by the way: Tom Brady didn’t attend the voluntary portion of the New England Patriots’ offseason last year. Did he cost his team victories?

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, O. Judging by the reaction to his comments, it seems some people might need to take Coughlin 101.

Fair.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Why is everyone surprised that Coughlin wants everyone here? Of course, he does. Of course, he said that. It doesn’t matter that they are not here, and it doesn’t matter that he said it. That’s true to his character and I love him for it. He definitely talks too little and I think all Jags and fans should get a daily motivational speech from Coughlin every morning about an hour before we plan to wake up. We would all become champions. Moodachay

Tom’s gonna Tom, but if he starts calling me with a speech an hour before I’m planning to wake up we’re going to have some issues.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, do you think that sometimes in fact the team and the fans can agree on something? For example, I want to be sedated.

I did, too – twenty-four hours ago.

David from Maplewood, NJ

Zone, I love me some old school Coach Coughlin as much as anybody, but they are voluntary. With contract negotiations hopefully in the future, I just can't describe his words any other way - pretty stupid. Maybe Coughlin's words won't guarantee that Ramsey leaves, but they certainly don't help.

Ramsey will stay if his representation and the Jaguars can agree on a long-term contract that makes sense for both sides. If that doesn’t happen, he won’t stay. Honestly, I doubt what Coughlin said Thursday will have any effect whatsoever.

Fred from Naples, FL

So, do you think the Jags just get fined or are we going to lose a draft pick next week because of Coughlin's ill-timed comments regarding his displeasure with both Ramsey and Smith not being here for voluntary workouts?

A fine … at the most.

Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL

The NFL setting us against Tennessee only four days after Houston is absolute BS. Thursday Night games are awful in general from a recovery standpoint for the players, but back-to-back division games on four days should be banned entirely. That's unacceptable!

Many, many football people agree wholeheartedly that Thursday Night Football games are bad for players, and bad for quality of play. This pertains not just to division games. But Thursday Night Football means money, so Thursday games are here to stay. And as long as they’re here to stay, you’re going to see division games in the mix.

Paul from Gainesville, FL

Drones holding a sunshade up? How cool is that? How many NFL owners would even suggest such a thing?

As time goes on, more and more.

Art from Drexel Hill, PA

I hope the organization knows that if it comes down to Coughlin or Ramsey leaving, the fans will get Coughlin's bags for him.

Not every disagreeing point of view – in the NFL or in life – is “he leaves or I leave.” Coughlin clearly wants all players here. Coaches do, too. It’s the nature of people who run and coach football organizations to want all players working with the team whenever possible. It’s the rights of players to not attend voluntary offseason workouts if they so choose. That doesn’t mean the teams release players for not being there.

Thomas from Williamsburg, VA

Based on the schedule release, what is your way-too-early season record prediction? Mine is honestly 6-10, maybe 8-8 if a few things break our way. I just don't see very many wins.

My first glance at the Jaguars’ 2019 schedule produced a prediction of 9-7 or 10-6.

Bobby from Doboy Island, GA

After reading Coughlin's full quote, I don't see how that is a big no-no unless players feel threatened by pointed commentary. Players SHOULD go to team workouts even if they aren't required to. You should be nicer to Frenette even though you aren't required to. Boselli SHOULD put down the Daily's donuts but isn't required to. As long as Coughlin and the Jags aren't forcing players to attend or punishing those who don't, there is nothing wrong with him stating his opinion on it.

You’re right: It’s not a big no-no. It’s a small “no-no,” because while Coughlin did merely express his opinion, he did indicate that the players should be there – and the rules make pretty clear that teams aren’t supposed to do that.

Chris from Nashville, TN

Think Tom wrote that speech all by himself?

Unquestionably.

Bryce from Waterloo, IA

According to ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins will be there at No. 7 with the Giants going D-Line. We’re a week from the draft. Do you believe the Jags will take Haskins at 7 if he is there? Something tells me they’ll pass.

I don’t believe the Jaguars will select Haskins because something also tells me they will pass on a quarterback: Logic. The Jaguars didn’t sign Nick Foles to be a short-term solution.

Chris from St. Augie

Based on Jalen’s “response” to Coughlin’s criticism, should we be worried about his dedication to this team in the long term? When invaluable people feel attacked by the organization that they help to carry, they could very easily find greener pastures – especially a player of Ramsey’s caliber. He would have plenty of suitors. It also doesn’t help that Coughlin’s comments could be seen as a breach of the CBA and cost the team. Until Ramsey doesn’t show up for the mandatory part of his job, perhaps saying less is smarter.

It’s April 19. The first mandatory work is in mid-June. It’s more than four months until the regular season. Take a breath. This, too, shall pass.

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