O-Zone: Throwing shade

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Robert from St. Augustine, FL

Simply put: “Good” teams beat “good” teams more often than not. Historically, the Jaguars have a combined record of 41-110 against playoff teams. During the past three years – even with an elite defense – the Jags have a 5-16 record. The Jags play seven-to-nine games against potential playoff teams in 2019. Most experts agree the Jags’ 2019 schedule is one of the NFL’s most difficult. If the Jags want to make the playoffs, then quarterback Nick Foles and Co. must have a very, very good year. I hope they are up to the challenge and seize the opportunity to make a little Jaguars history. Let’s go out and beat Kansas City opening game. No excuses.

I’ll adjust your premise a bit by saying “great” NFL teams beat good teams more often than not, but that you can be a pretty “good” team by beating the teams on the schedule you’re supposed to beat. But that’s nitpicking too much because your big-picture point is correct: While it’s impossible to know a schedule’s true difficulty before about the fifth or sixth week of a season, the Jaguars’ 2019 schedule on paper appears difficult – particularly early. Their home schedule seems particularly difficult, with out-of-division home games against projected powers such as the Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints. The Kansas City game in Week 1 looms large for many reasons – the Chiefs’ status as Super Bowl favorites and the Jaguars’ ugly loss in Kansas City last season foremost among them. A loss in that first game obviously wouldn’t destroy the Jaguars’ season, but a victory sure would be big.

Lost from Lostville

Are you as lost as I am?

I don’t know.

Travis from North Dakota

With all the questions of left tackle Tony Boselli and running back Fred Taylor being worthy of the Hall of Fame, which I believe they are, what about Jimmy? Do you think he will ever get any recognition or was he just really, really good but not great enough to be worthy of the Hall?

Former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith absolutely was worthy of the Hall. This franchise’s history would look much different without him, and the 1990s playoff years wouldn’t have been nearly as successful if not for him. He was the NFL’s best wide receiver after Jerry Rice for a stretch, and Rice was unquestionably the best receiver of all-time – perhaps the best NFL player of all-time. All of that said, I believe Smith will have a difficult time making the hall. I sense Taylor will get traction toward enshrinement once Boselli is inducted, but it may take longer for Smith.

Brad from Orange Park, FL

The “With all due respect” retort made me laugh; I’m not a cheap laugh either …

Well, with all due respect …

Sean from Jacksonville

New series of dead-zone articles: "Top 3 Busts That Showed Promise." This wouldn't be a Where Are They Now shtick. Those are sort of easy. No. 1 on that list? Wide receiver Justin Blackmon. When he was on the field as a rookie, he showed great skills.

He could have been special. The idea that he played so short a time and couldn’t overcome his issues is one of the saddest stories I’ve been around in 25 years in this business.

Marlin from Newberry, FL

Dear, John: Please tell "P-Kav," "Hit Man," "Hollywood," and "I Will End You Before You Can Apologize" thank you for all the work they put into the All-25 player video series. If they are ever in Western Alachua County, they can look me up and drinks are on me. Because of his untimely death, the video they posted on Vince Manuwai was especially touching and left me a little teared up. Vinnie and I had a couple of the same hobbies, so I would often see him at various establishments back when he and I were both living in DUUUVAL. Out of the hundreds of Jaguars players over the years, Vinnie was the only one who – if he saw me – knew my name. We weren't friends, but it still meant a lot. He was a really good football player, a really good poker player and a great person. Thank you again.

One fer the supporting case and very definitely one fer Vince Manuwai.

David from St. Augustine, FL

Let’s make sure we are characterizing these contract demands accurately. While players have every right to demand more money for themselves, we need to point out that they are not demanding more money from the team or the owner. They are demanding money be taken away from the other players on their team and be given to them. The amount the team and owner pays is set during collective bargaining, including revenue sharing and the calculations for the salary cap.

There is some truth to this. Still, when Jaguars Owner Shad Khan is writing a $45 million check for a signing bonus I wouldn’t tell him that the player isn’t getting money from the owner.

Jaginator from (formerly of) Section 124

I think a lotta fans are under the delusion that every dollar “selfishly” grabbed by a player for himself is taken away from the salaries of other potential teammates. But teams, under the current CBA, must only spend 89 percent of the (currently) $188 million cap on a rolling-average basis. Teams can spend $167 million per year and POCKET the remaining $21 million. And if you look at the yearly cap numbers, most teams are, in fact, pocketing some-or-all of that money. So, players – who are lucky to make millions in a given year – should give up money so billion-dollar businesses can funnel more money to billionaire owners???

This is true in theory, but it’s not how it usually plays out. That’s because there’s a cyclical element to this. While teams can be under the cap in a given year or years to stockpile cap room, that is often counterbalanced by spending on signing bonuses and guarantees in other years. If you look at the money being spent on salaries, it’s hard to argue that most teams are trying to play to the minimum.

Limo Bob from Neptune Beach, FL

Why do you think athletes are overpaid compared to people with regular jobs? Capitalism in its pure form always pays what the market dictates. Your mentality along with us average Joes is that the billionaires should give us more of the pie with benefits.

Perhaps I mispresented my view on this. I don’t have a “mentality” that NFL players are overpaid. Personally, I care not one iota what players make, and I often have said and written that they absolutely should be paid whatever the market dictates. Is that a ridiculous amount? Sure. Can I understand why some people think it’s far too much? Sure. Do I have a problem with it? Absolutely not.

Sean from Jacksonville

Wait. Did Yannick also get fined, along with Telvin, for missing the mandatory three-day minicamp? I was jostled from hibernation with that thought and a need for ice cream.

No announcement was made, but I can’t imagine Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue wasn’t fined for missing mandatory minicamp in June. The rules for fines are in place for a reason, and I know of no reason they wouldn’t apply here.

Steve from Duval

Why do you think so many fans bemoan players’ income and their desire to be paid more while ignoring that the owners make billions? I’m OK with the money being made, it just seems to me that the players are always the scapegoats when the NFL doesn’t necessarily have the best track record of taking care of their previous employees, etc.

I don’t get the sense from emails I receive that O-Zone readers generally take ownership’s side over player’s side on these issues – and in fact, I get the feeling more O-Zone readers want players such as Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey to get new contracts. That makes sense because many O-Zone readers follow the NFL more closely than a so-called “casual fan.” Why do many fans side with owners over players on this? Perception and ease of argument, perhaps. It’s easy to make a quick judgement and say, “Players are being selfish; they make too much money.” It’s not so easy to study an entire, oft-complex issue and realized that there are multiple sides to the story.

Flo from London, UK

All in all, you're just another brick in the wall.

You. Behind the bike sheds. Stand still.

John from Jacksonville

When the current stadium is eventually replaced do you think it will be a dome?

This is far enough in the future that not only do I have no inside information, I have no insight into a possible direction. My first guess would be that any new stadium in Jacksonville would not be a dome, but that there would be heavy emphasis on providing shade for all or most of the stadium.

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