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O-Zone: Still legal

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Let's get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Wow. I have to say I'm surprised at the Linder news. That's hurts, Zone.

Jaguars center Brandon Linder indeed announced his retirement Monday after NFL seasons with the team that selected him in Round 3 of the 2014 NFL Draft. It's notable news; Linder was an eight-year starter and the team's most-tenured player. It's notable, too, because Linder had served as captain the past five seasons. I don't know that it was shocking; Linder had been reported in recent weeks to be considering retirement and General Manager Trent Baalke when discussing the 2022 free-agency class recently had said no decision had been made regarding Linder's future with the team. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson on a couple of occasions had discussed the offensive line without mentioning Linder, indicating Linder's future with the team was at least somewhat uncertain. How much does the loss hurt? At least somewhat; Linder when healthy was very good and you never want to lose good players. But he played nine games each of the past two seasons and played fewer than 10 games four times in eight seasons. The Jaguars will miss the healthy version of Linder very much. But they hadn't that often enough lately, which should make this a navigable loss.

Jonathan from Jax

A few weeks ago, I stated how re-signing veteran center Tyler Shatley was a great decision for quality depth and now Linder retires. I'm sure we considered that possibility while negotiating with Tyler. Let the questions begin about the Iowa guard projected to play center, but I remain happy to have Shatley and hope he takes advantage of the opportunity. I think he is a good, undervalued player by most fans. Let's go Tyler, time to shine.

This will be one to watch. The Jaguars signed Shatley to a two-year extension earlier this offseason – and the team certainly had plans in place if Linder was no longer with the organization. Re-signing Shatley gives them flexibility and security. Shatley, an eight-year veteran, has filled in well for Linder often in the past few seasons – and Shatley is capable of starting. The Jaguars also have the option of selecting a center in the upcoming draft, with Shatley having proven in recent years a capable swing/interior player should a drafted player start at center next season.

Daniel from Jersey City

O-man, how do you think Linder's retirement will impact our draft?

I think it will make the idea of selecting a player such as Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum more enticing. I also think Shatley's presence means the Jaguars won't feel a need to reach for a player such as Linderbaum.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

At the start of an NFL overtime the ref says: "We have a brand new game, gentleman." That is exactly what we don't have, gentleman. We have the continuation of a game not decided in regulation. Basketball and hockey add extra time, baseball adds extra innings, golf adds extra holes, tennis adds extra games. Most every sport just keeps playing the same game a little longer. Soccer is generally fine with a tie, but when they must have a winner, they have the best decider in sports: the shootout. Every other sport gets it right. The countdown of the clock is the most exciting thing about football. Just add 10 minutes, each team gets one timeout and the two-minute warning, team that wins coin toss at beginning of game decides to kick or receive carries over into overtime which also would make it risky to defer. Problem solved. You're welcome.

I agree in part. Baseball and basketball overtimes seem about perfect, and the NHL playoffs feature the best overtime in sports; nothing beats the building drama/tension of knowing the next goal will decide an NHL Game 7. I'm not theoretically against just adding 10 minutes to an NFL game, with the winner of those entire 10 minutes being declared the winner. But that never will happen. The NFL and the NFL Players Association generally want shorter overtimes because of player-safety issues. Your scenario would probably mean longer games, and there won't likely be sentiment for that.

Sal from AUSTIN

You mean Josh "Hold My Beer" Scobee?

I answered a question Monday in the O-Zone involving former Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee in which I answered "Who's Josh Scobee?" This was a joke. I do know who Scobee is. Regrettably. Oh so regrettably.

Chris from Mandarin

No zone, you're not getting away that easy. Nobody can forget Josh Scobee's picture of you running on Baymeadows Road. You lost that round and he's still in your head. Hilarious.

Whoever Scobee is, he knows where to find me.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: Given the defensive free-agent signings – a nickel corner, a thumper middle linebacker and a huge body at nose – what type of base defense do you see the Jags playing?

The Jaguars will primarily play a 3-4 base defense, though Pederson when discussing this Monday at the 2022 League Meeting emphasized they will run both 3-4 and 4-3 looks up front. Pederson on Monday emphasized the most important point to remember when discussing this topic. That's that with so many NFL offenses running 11 personnel – three wide receivers – what defenses run when in "base" isn't the man issue. Defenses typically are in nickel with multiple defensive backs more than they are in their "regular" – base – defenses.

Stephen from ChrisRockgotJackedsonville

Brandon Linder's status has got me wondering how NFL players are paid: Year-round, weekly or however often over the course of 12 months? Additionally, if a player announces his retirement, does his pay stop as of the day of the announcement?

NFL players generally are paid in one of two ways – signing bonus and salary. Bonuses are paid upon signing with an organization, then paid moving forward based on reaching incentives or for reporting or for participating in workouts. How much a player is paid in this way and whether he indeed is paid in this way is based on his negotiation with the team. A player's salary is paid equally over seventeen games. If a player retires or is released, he no longer collects the salary. He keeps the bonus if he is released. He often must repay a prorated portion of the bonus if he retires.

JR from The Squatchlands

Does defense still win championships?

This is a fair question – and a good enough one I thought longer than usual about the answer. My thought following those few seconds was that the NFL in fact is getting perilously close to it not being the case that defense wins championships. That's because it's getting perilously close to being so offense-quarterback-centric that a defense – no matter how good – might not be able to impact some games. If that statement is a bit extreme, it's at least true that the league has veered far enough in favor of offense that you're surprised when defense is a post-game storyline. Think of it: When the Rams took the lead with 1:25 remaining in the Super Bowl, many observers – including this one – thought there was more than enough time for the Bengals to score a go-ahead touchdown. Hell, in the Kansas City Chiefs-Buffalo Bills playoff game, that would have been enough time for three or four scores. Offense exciting, but it shouldn't it at least sort of feel special when a team scores quickly when trailing late in a game? From a more philosophical point of view, I increasingly have thought in recent offseasons that I would hesitate to draft a cornerback early in an NFL Draft; rules are so favored toward offense that a wide receiver is more valuable than a corner because the idea of a "shutdown" corner simply isn't realistic. There are valid arguments against the point of that previous sentence, but it sure feels like the rules are stacked against getting the most out of elite defensive players. So, does defense win championships? The Rams did clinch the Super Bowl with great defensive effort on that final series. So, you darned sure need defenses to come up big in critical times. But if I'm trying to build a roster for the long-term these days, I would have a tough time not skewing toward offense. The league certainly rewards that approach.

Chris from Mandarin

This year's Super Bowl did not go to overtime, but the end of the game makes the case for why the overtime rules are fine the way they are. The Los Angeles Rams' defense sealed the game by stopping Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow on fourth down. Whether it happened in overtime or not, it still goes to show you that there's more than one way to win. I think the proposed rule changes for overtime are pretty bush league personally. It cheapens the game a little bit.

I agree. If we've reached the point that it's unreasonable to think a defense could possibly stop an offense from driving the ball for a touchdown after a kickoff, then we've reached a ridiculous point. Defense is legal, too.

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