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O-Zone: Talking football

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jeff from Jacksonville

I feel like the new rules combined with logical sense will eventually lead to the kicker/punter position being combined so teams can open up an extra roster spot. Do you see this possibly happening down the road? How difficult would it be for one person to do both jobs?

I'm assuming by "new rules" you mean the kickoff rules implemented by the NFL this offseason, but I doubt they will do what you envision. The rules were put in place to make kickoffs safer. Time will tell if that happens, just as time will tell if the kickoff remains part of the NFL, but I don't see either punts or field goals being eliminated. That would necessitate punter and field-goal specialists remaining part of the game, and I highly doubt you will see teams combine that position. While both kickers and punters do kick footballs, the leg motions are different enough that they actually are two very different skill sets. Both skills are valuable enough – and both have enough potential to cost teams games – that I doubt with very rare exceptions you will see teams try to have one player do both.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, even in the dead zone, Myles Jack Wasn't Down.


Biff from Jacksonville

Based on your experience, what are the priorities for acquiring impact free agents? Obviously money is important, but what follows beyond that? Coach, owner, general manager, talent level, potential for team success? One might reasonably argue priorities change based on whether one is a mid-twenties as opposed to an early-thirties player. Considering the small-market nature of the Jaguars, I'm interested in how Jacksonville might be able to snag big names even if they aren't the top-dollar landing spot.

This varies on the player. Some players sign for the most money with no other factor considered. Others factor in the potential for success, or a particular coach, if money is close – although few take significantly less money for any reason. That's true for players pursued by the Jaguars, but it's true of most markets as well.

Ivan from Hollywood, FL

Personally, I am happy Jalen Ramsey came in at No. 17 on the NFL Network's Top 100 Players 2018. My guess he will consider anything less than one an insult! Since he has been insulted so heinously, I am sure he will dedicate 2018 to proving them wrong.

I see you've already met Jalen.

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, after a wonderful year a couple of thoughts: We had a very good defense; not a great defense yet. A great defense would not let the 49ers game occur. A great defense would not let Pittsburgh get 42 points in playoffs while we had our foot on their necks. I'm not mentioning the second half of the Patriots game because I chalk that up to "coaching scared" by the staff. This year, with minimal injuries, we should be better. I think we shall be more robust against the run with defensive tackle Marcell Dareus having a full year under his belt. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue will just get better – as will our defensive backs. My major concern is at linebacker. Yes, linebackers Telvin Smith and Myles Jack should have good years, but after them: a tremendous downtick. We need some veteran backup help there. To be honest I would not be surprised to see Poz talked out of retirement for one final year. Go Jags!

You have high standards. While I can't relate, I suppose I admire it to some degree. But whatever your standards, great NFL defenses or offenses quite often have imperfect games. It's particularly true in the modern era that the best defenses often have games in which they allow a lot of points. Still, while I'll grant you that the Jaguars' defense last season was very good and not great, I wouldn't get too geeked up about linebacker. Familiar-named veterans aren't always the answer; the Jaguars like Blair Brown and Leon Jacobs at outside linebacker and from that combination the thought is they can find the depth/starting strong-side linebacker they need. But I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for Paul Posluszny to come out of retirement. He retired because he didn't want to play if his skills weren't at the highest possible level. I doubt he reverses that decision.

Jordan from Jacksonville

If Blake Bortles throws a touchdown pass but no one is there to critique his throwing motion or complain that he didn't throw five more, did the touchdown pass actually happen?

The great thing about the NFL is the answer to this is an unqualified yes. This isn't a league in which critics or voters decide important things. It's not about polls or style points. If you win enough games, you make the postseason. If you don't lose in the postseason, you win rings. If you win rings, you don't care all that much about the critics or complainers.

Esko from Finland

Since you like to tell us about your memories of actresses and female singers of '70s and '80s, were you ever a fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh? It must have been in the mid-'90s or thereabouts when I saw the film, but I can still recall that her performance in Flesh and Blood was not that bad at all.

I thought Jennifer Jason Leigh was great in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I think that was the first thing I saw her in, though I might have been distracted by another actress.

Gary from Centerville

The Godfather: Part II, drops mic.

The Godfather: Part II is epically good – good enough that it's almost hard to call it a sequel. It absolutely belongs with Christmas Vacation in the conversation about all-time best sequels.

Al from Memphis, TN

Who gets more snaps Week 1, Dede Westbrook or Keelan Cole?

Cole, probably by quite a bit.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Funk, how 'bout a Dead Zone hypothetical? We dress three running backs, five linebackers and five receivers; and all three running backs are ruled out with injury at halftime, tied against a team with a good defensive front in a must-win game. Would your first instinct be to run Myles Jack out there knowing he would have probably been the fifth running back taken his draft year, but would need instruction in the huddle on every play? Marqise Lee, who probably has a better idea of what the running back should do on most plays and has shown enough quickness and wiggle with the ball to potentially be dangerous, but lacks the size necessary to handle a blitzing linebacker? Have Touchdown Tommy Bohanon line up another yard and a half deeper and forego speed at the position? Go five wide and put the game on Blake's shoulders for an entire half? While we all continue to hope and pray that never happens, I'm curious what Coach Oehser would do in that scenario, and/or if the Jags (or other teams) typically identify an emergency running back ... just in case?

My guess is you would see Jaguars go mostly five wide receivers in your scenario with the game on Bortles' shoulders on the great percentage of plays. You could see some combination of Bohanon/Jack in that scenario, with one or the other running if necessary.

Steve from Duval

Offseason question. Have you or will you research if bologna prices or sales have increased since Doug Marrone became head coach in Jacksonville?

Not unless something goes terribly wrong.

Zain from Orlando, FL

How did Niles Paul look the last couple weeks? Are we going to be running out of two tight-end sets or one tight-end, three-wide receiver sets with him as a big wide receiver – or is he very much a backup/special teams guy?

Paul looked much better in the offense than I anticipated, and I think he'll be more involved in the offense than many observers first anticipated. Rules regarding reporting on offseason practices prohibit us saying in detail how the Jaguars might use Paul.

Prince from Minneapolis, MN

Six o'clock already I was just in the middle of a dream …

… I was kissing Valentino by a crystal blue Italian stream.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I don't understand why people don't like Mannequin. The window wedding where Kim Cattral and Andrew McVarthy were married by Hollywood as Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" played in the background is one of my all-time favorite movie endings. I have a hole in my heart the shape of 80's movies plot structures. They just don't end them the way that they used to John.

I read your question with interest, but by the time I got to the end I was distracted to the point of obsession. Not with the point that longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Gene Frenette was trying to make at 8:46 of Volume 4 of his "Talking Football" series. Rather, I was trying to figure out who the #$%& doesn't like Mannequin.

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