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O-Zone: Summertime blues

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

Looking at the whole team - offense, defense, special teams, staff - how does this team compare to the AFC Championship runner-up teams from our past? I think there at least three. Are we going Jags to Riches this year? Are we going from Meyer to flyer?

The Jaguars in their history have played in three AFC Championship Games, losing to the New England Patriots there following the 1996 and 2017 seasons and to the Tennessee Titans following the 1999 seasons. I'm not big on comparing teams across eras, so it's difficult to say this team is better or worse than those teams. The 1996 team stunned the NFL by nearly advancing to the Super Bowl in the franchise's second season. And while that team's story was great, I never considered it the "best" team of those eras. It was more a young team that got hot at the right time, and the core of that team matured into a really good and consistent team. The 1999 team probably must be considered the best of that or any Jaguars era with three Hall-of-Fame level players – offensive tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Jimmy Smith and running back Fred Taylor – at the peak of their talents and a slew of other Pro Bowl-level players having career-best seasons. The 2017 team was the most dominant, big-play producing defense in franchise history. It also had an underrated offense that could get hot in the right situations, though that unit wasn't reliable enough to be considered great. This Jaguars team absolutely has a chance to be as good or better on offense than any team in franchise history. All other areas appear on paper to be good enough to help this team get into the playoffs and make a run. Stay tuned.

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, I'm liking what I'm reading about my Jaguars. Mainly staying healthy and competing. I've been all-in for over twenty years now. So, since 2000-ish is this season's roster the best I've had as a Jaguars fan? Is this the most talented Jaguars roster ever? What say you?

As mentioned in the previous answer, it's difficult to compare rosters 25 seasons apart. I would hesitate, though, to categorically say the current roster is "more talented" than a 1999 roster that included Taylor/Smith/Boselli – not to mention wide receiver Keenan McCardell, offensive tackle Leon Searcy, defensive end Tony Brackens, linebacker Kevin Hardy, defensive tackle Gary Walker, running back James Stewart, quarterback Mark Brunell, safety Donovin Darius, etc. That '99 team had a lot of good players.

William from Savannah, GA

John. I, too, am one of those who doesn't read this column much. So, what's the word? Are the Jags going to sign Tebow? Is Coach Meyer gonna' get his man?

Jaguars 2023 Training Camp begins in late July.

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

In regard to the stadium … you can have nice quality, fast completion or cheap but not all three. And if you want two of those, you're not getting the third – i.e. if you want a nice stadium built fast, it won't be cheap). Just setting expectations.

I don't sense any interest from the Jaguars for a cheap or fast solution to this, and there's really no reason to embark on a project of low quality. The Jaguars are in the NFL. Jacksonville is an NFL city, an NFL market. NFL teams in the 2020s play in high quality stadiums and the quality only is going to keep increasing over time. The deal the city and team eventually reach won't produce anything not of NFL quality.

Just shy of the Ditch The Ville

Big O, so many giggles reading about the Jags culture. I understand from almost 70 years of existence that experience, quality management, positivity and credibility are valuable ... is that the difference?

Culture in the NFL, like culture anywhere, is tricky to define. My thought always has been it starts with players trusting the head coach and believing in the direction the head coach has established. If that trust leads to success, further trust is established and that's the basis for a strong culture. If the team leaders believe in that direction and a team has enough success for players to continue to believe in that direction, the rest of the team will follow. Once players start questioning that leadership, awesome play-calling – and even a lot of talent – can't overcome the lost trust.

Marc from Oceanway

John, How helpful is it really for you to tell us, "The Jaguars appear as deep and talented offensively as at any time in recent memory?" You're an old man, John, and I doubt your "memory" is all that reliable.

Good eye.

Kinzie from Asheville, NC

Hi, John! The question yesterday about the Jaguars name got me thinking and I did a little research. So, it seems that panthers formerly ranged throughout Florida, as far west as Arkansas and as far north as South Carolina. Today only about 120-to-230 adult panthers exist, primarily in southwest Florida. Jaguars don't even live in the United States, but in south and middle America. I realize that the Florida Panthers hockey team already had its name so naming us the Jacksonville Panthers was probably too much of a conflict of interest. I love the Jaguars name, but just confused as to why we didn't choose an animal that is reflective of the area or local flora and fauna. Is it really just because both begin with a J? What's your take? Hindsight being 20/20, I would have voted for the Manatee or some kind of Shark Species. Still love my Jags though.

In 1991, the time of the contest that eventually decided the Jaguars' name, the Jacksonville Zoo housed the oldest living jaguar in North America. That had a degree of influence on the name. Sharks also was considered a strong possibility. There was a connection with that name because that was the name of the city's first World Football League team in 1974 – though there was also a thought that the name of the NFL team should be original and not drawn from a past Jacksonville professional team. I recall perhaps being a touch lukewarm about "Jaguars" when it was announced. That's a half a lifetime ago, so I don't exactly remember why that was the case. Perhaps I was just young and still in a phase where I thought I was supposed to dislike everything. I like it now and can't imagine any other name.

David from Orlando, FL

KOAF - In 2023, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence's salary cap hit is around $10 million. If he gets a new contract next year, it should be in the $55 million a year range. At the same time, the cash-strapped Jags will have a lot of players with contracts set to expire in the next year or two, or could become cap casualties, including tight end Evan Engram, outside linebacker Josh Allen, wide receiver Jamal Agnew, wide receiver Calvin Ridley, running back Travis Etienne Jr., cornerback Tyson Campbell, safety Andre Cisco and offensive tackles Walker Little and Cam Robinson. No doubt, the golden age of Jaguars football is upon us, but I would contend that Jag fans should savor this year's roster because it may never be this loaded again.

The gist of your email is correct, if not necessarily the facts. While Lawrence indeed could sign a mega-contract extension next offseason, remember: The salary cap hits of such mega-contracts aren't the same as average salary. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, for example, had cap hits of $5.3 and $7.6 million early in a 10-year contract that pays an average salary of $45 million. Still: Your point is correct. The Jaguars have a lot of familiar names and good players. It's difficult to keep all such players in the salary cap era. Draft and develop. Draft and develop. Draft and develop.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

Boneless wings? What else, an entire keg of severely watered-down beer to wash them down?

Boneless wings or no wings … either way is fine. But don't water down the beer. That matters.

David from The Island

There are 90 players currently on the roster. Of those 90 players, how many have a spot locked up on the final 53? I'm thinking maybe only two or three spots are up for grabs.

I went through the roster upon receiving this question. I found seven or eight positions where I wasn't sure about the final player or number of players. Remember, to: The whole idea of a "final 53-player roster" is a bit of a myth these days. Teams keep 10 practice-squad players, most of whom will play a role on the active roster either by call up or injury. There will be competition in Jaguars 2023 Training Camp, pretty much at every position group.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I'm back from vacation and you still suck.

It's always summertime in Florida.