JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
We all know there's no such thing as a sure thing – except for Cusack, anyway. But the Jaguars taking Trevor No. 1 seems pretty close. In what scenario could you see the Jaguars not taking him and passing up … a sure thing?
First, good John Cusack reference. "The Sure Thing" ranks with the best 1980s comedies – primarily because of Cusack, but also for pre-"Melrose Place" Daphne Zuniga and underrated appearances by Anthony Roberts and Tim Robbins. But I digress (obviously). You're correct that the Jaguars selecting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft is pretty close to a sure thing – the surest draft thing I recall since the Indianapolis Colts selected quarterback Andrew Luck No. 1 overall in 2012. The only imaginable scenario I could see for the Jaguars not selecting Lawrence is if they truly believe a player such as Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson is a significantly better prospect. Anything is possible – particularly in the secretive world of the draft. But as I've said repeatedly, if Head Coach Urban Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke were to tell Owner Shad Khan they don't want to select Lawrence No. 1, I imagine they would need an unbelievably, dazzlingly good reason. I can't imagine what the reason would be because not only does Lawrence appear to be the clear No. 1 prospect in the draft, he also appears to be the safest prospect – i.e., the prospect with the least chance of being a bust. That's a difficult combination to pass at No. 1. And I doubt the Jaguars will do so.
Steve from Nashville, TN
I would think the Jags would want their 17th-game home game to be in 2022, with the possibility of restricted fan attendance still in the fall/winter and a young team needing one more year to be a viable playoff contending team?
Teams won't get to choose when they have nine home games compared to nine away games if/when the league moves to a 17-game schedule – just as teams don't get to choose prime-time games, Thursday games or how many games they play at home in September or December. The plan reportedly is for AFC teams to have nine home games one season and NFC teams to have nine away games the next season and so on; that will at least take imbalance out of the equation when it comes to the playoff race. As for when the Jaguars will be "viable" … I'm getting a few questions along these lines suggesting the Jaguars' decision-makers might make various decisions based on not thinking they will contend/win immediately. I do think the Jaguars will be smart in how they use the salary cap this offseason and how they make decisions. I don't think they will make short-sighted decisions. But I don't believe Meyer will enter the 2021 season with the idea that it's OK to lose and that they should make decisions with the idea they won't contend in 2021. I've only covered Meyer a month and a half or so, so I don't know him as well as I have known some head coaches I have covered. But I can't imagine he will spend a year thinking a team he coaches won't win or contend. That doesn't seem to be how he's wired.
Sal from Austin, TX
Could you please refrain from the slogan "Fans are gonna fan?" It's soft and sets a weak tone for the fanbase.
Esteef from AB
Yes, there is a way for each team to an eight-game home-and-away schedule. Have the 17th-game heading to side. London. Mexico City. Nome Alaska. You name it.
Yes, that is an option for the NFL to have a balanced home-and-away schedule if the league indeed adds a 17th-game – as is expected beginning for the 2021 season. That's a fairly large logistical undertaking, though, particularly with COVID-19 still creating uncertainty. So, I don't believe you'll see many – if any – neutral-site games in 2021. But could the NFL eventually add neutral-site games as you suggest? And could that eventually mean all teams playing eight home games, eight away games and a neutral-site game? Eventually, sure.
Michael from Phoenix, AZ
The solution to the home game disparity in a 17-game season is pretty straightforward. Everybody plays an international game where "home" is fairly meaningless, except possibly $, with the following week their bye. Then the only conundrum is who gets the early bye (bad) and who gets it late (good). The NFL gets the international exposure it seeks, and the owners get even more cash.
I don't know that your scenario adds any complexity to the bye-week conundrum. Teams are going to want late byes as opposed to early ones in a 17-game schedule just as they did in a 16-game schedule.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL
John: If we move to a predominant 3-4 defense, where do you see Myles Jack playing? While he wasn't terrible in the middle, he plays much better on the outside.
If the Jaguars move to a 3-4 scheme, then in their scheme, Jack likely will play mostly inside linebacker in base situations. He would be fine in such a scheme – just as he was fine as a middle linebacker in a 4-3. That was really the case until 2019, when he had to make up for a lot of inexperience around him. But to your point … yes, Jack excelled as a 4-3 weak-side linebacker this past season. He played near an All-Pro level. Finding a way for him to reach that level in a different scheme would be among the top priorities of the offseason – if indeed the Jaguars move to a 3-4.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ
Zone, I'm glad to hear, "So far so good" with regard to your code still working. However, word on the street is that Ms. Palcic may be a proponent of the Oxford comma. If that is in fact the case, would you see yourself acquiescing – or would she know where to find you?
I don't know if new Vice President of Football Communications Amy Palcic is a proponent of the Oxford Comma. If she is, she is certainly free to use it in her written communications – and if she is not attempting to write in Associated Press style, she may well be correct. If she is writing a journalistically correct story, she will not use the Oxford comma. And I will not use it here in the O-Zone. And sure, eventually, she will know where to find me.
Aqeel from Toronto, Canada
Oh, another question on a more serious note Mr. O. Coach Urban states on his video regarding the BIG mistake most teams make with a first-year quarterback is they put them out there too early and destroy their confidence. I agree with him and we have seen many examples over the years here and elsewhere. Do you think its possible Coach Urban gets a vet not only to mentor, but perhaps start a few games, especially with the changed offseason? A vet who knows his system could split reps without much detriment ... or will there be an Urb-encey to start the No. 1 pick?
Meyer hasn't said much along these lines since taking over as the Jaguars' head coach, which isn't surprising. He likely won't – and shouldn't – discuss quarterback much until the Jaguars decide and announce who they will select in the draft. IF the Jaguars indeed select a quarterback No. 1, when that player starts will depend on the player. It's true that some teams have played quarterbacks too early. But "too early" is not a one-size-fits-all description. Some rookies may be ready to start immediately. Some may not. Stay tuned.
Tony from Los Angeles, CA
O-Person, you've made me realize over the past few weeks that I would like the record to show that I have weighed in. I don't actually want to weigh in, I just want the record to show that I have.
I don't like weighing in, either. I never feel all that good about myself when it happens. Not that I feel great about myself when I don't weigh in. Never mind.
Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA
Hi, John... 17th game. Will players play that extra game for free? Will they get another 1/16-of-a-season paycheck? What does the NFLPA say, and how is the CBA affected? Will season ticket prices go up proportionately?
Players would not play the game for free. According to reports, one option is to pay players an extra game check – with the cap on that being $250,000 per game. That means some of the league's highest-paid players would get less for a 17th game than other games. It would affect the salary cap, but the 17th game is contingent on at least one new media contract – a contingency that ensures there is added revenue to pay the players under the cap.
Culligan Girl from Duval
They can't handle the truth, John.
I know exactly what you're talking about.