JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Steve from Nashville, TN
It appears the NFL may be in a period of churn from a perspective of perennial losing teams starting to be competitive and vie for playoff spots. "Blue Bloods" like the Patriots, Packers and Steelers may not be a sure thing anymore to make the tournament. We have recent examples of some teams hacking the cycle by renting a seasoned franchise quarterback for a Super Bowl run ('20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, '21 Los Angeles Rams and maybe the '23 New York Jets). Do you agree there should be a cyclical ebb and flow to team's success due to the NFL structure of the salary cap and draft positioning (not withstanding having a franchise quarterback for a decade or more)?
I don't know about "shoulds" and "cycles," or maybe I'm too dim to sift through the question. I do know the success over the last decade or so (or more) of teams such as the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers has less to do with blood color and more to do with Tom Brady, Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger playing quarterback for those respective franchises during that time. The Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals have varying colors of blood but have ebbed to the top of the league because Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow play quarterback for those respective franchises. The Jaguars are showing signs of ebbing that way, too, because of Lawrence. The salary cap and draft positioning certainly affects success and failure in the NFL, but the league's long-term trends are typically defined by its quarterbacks.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL
Even though I still hold General Manager Trent Baalke responsible for some blame for what went on in 2021, I am going to trust the partnership of Head Coach Doug Pederson and Baalke after the results of 2022. We lost some pieces, gained some pieces, and will gain more through draft. As you have noted, the O and D will continue to improve with another year together. So, no matter who we pick through the draft I am going to wait and see how it all works out. Does that mean all picks will be perfect? Absolutely not. The draft is truly a crapshoot for all teams, but I now believe Jags are on right track for having a completive team. Out of that future success in playoffs and a Super Bowl is possible. Does that sound logical and thoughtful KOAF? Go Jags.
I always smile a bit when I hear questions and statements about "blame" and "credit" in the NFL. The reality is both are usually given too quickly – and randomly – to individuals in what is the ultimate team sport. While media and observers love simple answers on questions about these issues, real NFL answers are typically complex and layered. Your assessment does have logic, though. You say it seems the Jaguars are on the right track, and you realize not everything will be perfect – and that nothing is guaranteed. Good eye.
Ray from Newport News, VA
Once in a while you answer questions about Jaguars Owner Shad Khan. Do you think he reads the O-Zone? If he doesn't, he should. But I imagine he has little time for our little slice of daily fun and entertainment. Assuming Mr. Khan does not read the Ozone Mailbag, who is the highest Jaguars executive or coach that you know that reads the Ozone Mailbag?
Where does the person who changes out the soda machine rank?
Mike from Azores
Hey, John. What are we doing? Restructuring contracts after free agency is basically over, at least for the premium guys? Should we have re-done these contracts earlier to allow us to maybe keep right tackle Jawaan Taylor, or outside linebacker Arden Key or sign a big name? I know they need a little over $3 million to sign the draft picks, but that leaves 10 million plus to sign who? Please explain the thinking here?
Managing the cap is a year-round task, best done with a constant eye on the future, which means restructuring and moving money is not always done for specific situations. Nor should it be.
Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA
After the Great Whirlybird Incident of 2021, I remember on this website watching postgame videos and maybe I listened to a radio show. My memory fails me a bit, but I believe you and Jeff Lageman and Tony Boselli discussed it. I remember thinking something went very wrong for then-Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt to be in the backfield that quick. Then on TV, we all saw then-Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell spinning. I made a point to find an explanation. I don't think you all discussed it in much depth as Urban Meyer was head coach at the time but you guys explained that it was a whirlybird and that was by design. That was all I needed to know. And that was my first clue that we were all in for a bumpy ride that season. I'm still in great wonder how of how as soon as they saw Watt lined up across from Norwell that they didn't immediately call time out or kill that play. Unless that's what was thought was going to stop Watt, which is even worse. You guys talked about it, I remember.
Mark from Jacksonville
Hi, John. Can you please explain why guards and tackles are paid significantly more than centers? I understand that tackles are the most premium because of their ability to play in space, but I always thought the center was essentially the captain of the online, making the calls and so forth. I definitely don't see how it would be less important of a position than guard. Thank you, sir!
I've always found this odd, too. I don't have a great explanation. I would value an elite center over an elite guards for precisely the reasons you cite.
Alejandro Lomelí from Mexico City
Dear KOAF, if Jaguars hire an expensive player before May, they'll lose the compensatory pick due to Jawaan or Arden. Is it realistic to reach an agreement with a player and make it official later to avoid losing picks? Is there a risk to lose that player for a higher bid during that lapse of time?
This is the sort of idea that sounds interesting in theory but doesn't work well in practice, at least in part because of the reason you cite – that another team could sign the player to a better contract. Also: Players would rather have a signed contract than an agreement because of the whole binding nature of the thing.
Brad from The Avenues
So, rumor has it that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson could land in Indy this season. My first thought was that this could make sweeping the division a bit harder, though I'm not overly concerned about it. My next thought, and I swear I'm not being mean here but couldn't you just imagine all the Baltimore fans heads exploding, losing their star quarterback to the same team that slipped out of town in the middle of the night back when?
Jackson – if healthy and available -- would certainly make the Indianapolis Colts dangerous, though rebuilding around his style could be a process. You need to adapt philosophy and approach for a quarterback who depends on mobility as much as Jackson. As for the reaction of Ravens fans to such a move … yes, there would be bitterness. And anger. But while there are fans old enough to still feel hatred for former Colts Owner Bob Irsay for moving the franchise from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984, I sense the anger on that front is fading with time. The anger in this case likely would be more about losing Jackson than about his next team.
Brendan from Yulee, FL
Anthony Richardson can't throw anything with finesse. All he can do is the bullet pass, and when he gets pressured, he reverts to this habit over and over. As a Florida Gators fan, I was insanely annoyed by how good he "could be" and how BAD he actually was. I wouldn't even draft him, but what do I know? I sit on the couch and complain when my teams lose. The Gators did lose a lot with Richardson.
Sam from Edgewater
To be fair, very few coaches would take a job with a general manager who was under as much fire as Trent Baalke in January 2022. Usually if the GM gets fired, so do the coaches. Not a good horse to hitch your wagon to. Which makes it all the more absurd we were able to nab someone like Doug Pederson.
Pederson took the approach of not pre-judging a situation and not making quick-trigger decisions based on noise. As did Khan. The world would be a better place if more people did the same. I'm not holding my breath.
DuvalJag95 from Jacksonville
I truly believe Gary from St. Augustine is brilliant. Just wanted to put that out there.
He's a visionary. I think most of us can agree on that.