JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Maryanne from Jacksonville
I understand that it is recommended that the players don't get together for workouts, but at the same time they will be at a disadvantage since so many of the other teams are openly doing it. What is your thought on this?
This is among many issues arising in a 2020 NFL offseason defined by COVID-19. With team-sanctioned minicamps and organized team activities canceled this offseason, players from many NFL teams gathered in early-to-mid-June to work out on their own. The NFL Players Association on June 20 recommended players not do so because of coronavirus concerns. Many Jaguars skill players, including quarterback Gardner Minshew II, gathered for a few days of workouts in June – before the NFLPA's recommendation. Posts on social media indicate that players from other teams did the same thing. There have been some reports of players from a couple of teams – most notably quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – holding workouts despite the recommendations. How much of a competitive advantage will that give the teams defying the recommendations? My thought on this is the workouts are cool for show and probably won't have that much influence on how the season plays out. As for what can be done about it … not much. Recommendations from the NFLPA or even the NFL about what players can do in the offseason are really just that – recommendations. If they want to get to together to work out, it's tough to stop them.
Greg from Jacksonville
The idea of seniority based on season-ticket length has merit, but it makes me wonder if the NFL could adopt the airline approach. Maybe give incentives for people to volunteer to not come. But only having 10,000 people at the stadium would be weird at the very least. Even the worst preseason games draw crowds larger than that. Being a 20-year season-ticket member, I hope to be sitting in the 'Bank soon and watching Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II shred some defenses. He certainly seems like a man on a mission in his training videos.
This question references a recent O-Zone question and answer about stadium capacity in 2020. The Jaguars on Friday announced here that they initially will limit capacity for games at TIAA Bank Field to 25 percent – and once the season begins, future increases will "depend on developments on the health and safety front." Having so few fans in the stands will be weird. It's not ideal. But the idea right now is not to have an ideal situation in the fall. The idea is to do the best that can be done under difficult and unprecedented circumstances.
Mike from Bill Murray Hill
Hey, Zone ... looking for an opinion here. In terms of fans in the stands, will the same rules or offerings apply this year to fans of visiting teams? Do you think enough Jaguars season-ticket holders will fill the socially distanced stadium, and in turn, limit the availability of tickets to opposing fans?
I anticipate the Jaguars will sell 25 percent of the usual allotment of tickets for every game at TIAA Bank Field and that the majority of these will go to season-ticket members. What will happen with the secondary market after that… I have no idea.
Ben from Jacksonville
Zone, Who would'a thought the Jags could possibly be a hot ticket this year? But, if the league only allows like 15,000 per game, I believe the Jags could sell that out; with at least a couple hundred more wanting to get in.
Cute. And original. Way to bring your best, Ben.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK
Oh Mighty 'O' / King of all Funk, I believe I can help Matt from Fort Worth if he should have the honor – nay, privilege – to see the King of all Funk in all his glory in public. Having had this very opportunity in London whilst stalking, sorry, meeting other Jags staff, I would suggest he approaches, whilst genuflecting, throwing rose petals at your feet and averting his gaze from your magnificence. Then in a loud voice cry "It is him! The King of all Funk! Bow before his magnificence. Bow and praise him! Praise him! Oh mighty King of all Funk, that flower of chivalry, that prince of monarchs, that paragon of potentates! Hark he is going to speak. Hear the wisdom, witness the wit, observe the oratorical eloquence. Lend an ear to the mellow voice, the tender tones, the coruscating consonants. He will clarify conundrums, dazzle us with logic, inspire the young and the old!" At this point, smile and flap your cape.
That will work.
Jim from Daytona Beach, FL
If Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette gets hurt, could former running back Denard Robinson – now a member of the Jaguars' coaching staff – sign and play?
Mike from Frozen Hell, WI
In your approaching celebrity tips, you didn't say whether or not having a cold sixer of Fat Tire would improve one chances of success?
It can't hurt.
Tom from Shanghai, China
What, in your opinion, would be the straw that breaks the camel's back in terms of cancelling or postponing the season? Multiple COVID-19 cases within team bubbles? People in ICUs?
I wish I had a great answer for this. I would imagine the NFL is prepared for the possibility of COVID-19 cases within team bubbles, but I don't have a sense of a number that would be too many. The reality is public reaction likely will play a role here. The NFL certainly realizes that there is risk involved. With COVID-19, people do get sick. How many people getting sick will it take to "pull the plug?" What severity? I don't know, but I do know that people running all sports seem relatively confident that the protocols/plans for returning and competing can work.
Paul from Green Cove Springs, FL
Can it be that training camp is three weeks away? Is this really going to happen, Zone?
That does seem to be the case. The NFL reportedly plans for training camps to open July 28, and I have heard nothing to make me think that won't happen. As for how that will look, and how it will play out … that remains very much to be determined. The league is establishing protocols. Many things that were done in groups – from team meetings to post-practice press conferences – will be virtual. Distance and safety will be the buzzwords. I have confidence it will start. Who knows what will happen after that?
Mark from Jacksonville
Regarding Matt from Fort Worth's question about approaching the king of all funk … a few years ago I was with my daughter in the parking lot of my Walmart when I saw a tall, handsome gentleman – with whom I assumed was his wife – that I thought looked a lot like John Oehser. I did this trick I do when I'm not sure someone is who I think they are where I just kinda shout their name very fast and forcefully. If the person is who I thought, it's not possible for them not to glance my way; it's human nature to look when your name is called. Anyway, John looked and I said, "I thought that was you! Sorry to bug you but I just wanted to say I read you every day and enjoy your writing." John opened his mouth to say something and the woman, probably his wife, simply said "Don't encourage him. He's really not that good." I still tell that story to people.
Yep. That was her.
Reggie from Orlando, FL
You seem confident the Jaguars will be better on defense this season. I don't see it. We lost defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye. And defensive Marcell Dareus. How could these losses not hurt?
I do think the Jaguars will be better defensively this season, primarily because I believe they will be better against the run – and run defensive played a mammoth role in the Jaguars' second-half slide last season. While the run defense the past two-and-a half seasons was typically better with Dareus than without, the reality was he played just six games last season – and he was dealing with a severe core injury during part of that time. The addition of middle linebacker Joe Schobert, defensive tackle Al Woods, defensive lineman Rodney Gunter and rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton absolutely should make the interior more formidable. As for losing Campbell and Bouye … the Jaguars in no way wanted to lose those players. But neither played last season to the level he had played in 2017-2018. Their leadership will be missed. It's very possible their play on the field can be replaced – at least enough that the defensive overall can be better than last season.
Ricky from Arlington
I'm tired of you.
You're lucky. You can take a break. I have to live with this all the time.