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O-Zone: Wipe it up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Anyone that hired Urban Meyer isn't infallible, but I doubt Shad Khan has been in many rooms where he wasn't the smartest cat. He is also the boss and it's very clear who the boss thinks should be calling plays this year. It's pretty clear multiple heads will roll if the Jaguars do not qualify for the playoffs this year. I personally like the public ire of Shad. I feel like it would " inspire" me to work hard and do right.

I was in the room when Jaguars Owner Shad Khan spoke to a small group of "football" media Wednesday. This came after a day in which he spoke to many media members about the Stadium of the Future agreement along with Mayor Donna Deegan, Jaguars President Mark Lamping and city negotiator Michael Weinstein. The idea of the smaller meeting was for Khan to discuss football matters, something he hadn't done since the end of the 2023 season. I wouldn't necessarily call Khan's mood that day "public ire." He did discuss the "PlayCallGate." And while it did seem he would like Head Coach Doug Pederson to call plays this season, he indeed made clear that he hired Pederson to be the head coach and that he wouldn't interfere with football decisions. Khan also made clear that more is expected than a winning season – and that he has complete faith in Pederson as a head coach. I didn't come away from the meeting thinking that multiple people automatically will be fired if the Jaguars miss the postseason in 2024. I'm not saying that wouldn't happen. It's just that many circumstances can shape a season and many circumstances influence decisions on retaining and/or firing coaches and personnel people. But Khan on Wednesday did make clear that last season's finish was unacceptable, and more is expected. It seemed Khan wanted to set a tone for the '24 season. If so, mission accomplished. And no … when it comes to NFL ownership, Khan isn't infallible. No owner is infallible. The league is too competitive with all decisions relying on speculation and unknowns. Infallibility in that scenario is unrealistic.

Scott from Lake Nona

12 billion!!! As a longtime Jags fan who lived in New Jersey for 25 years, I hated DirecTV, but paid the ridiculous fees to watch Jags games. Remember: Not only did you pay for NFL Ticket but also had to sign a three-year agreement with DirecTV just for the right to buy NFL ticket. This verdict is long overdue. ... DirecTV really put the screws to consumers for 20 years.

You're referencing a verdict this week in an antitrust case in which a federal judge ruled that the NFL illegally fixed prices in its "Sunday Ticket" package. The NFL under this verdict indeed must pay $4.6 billion in damages times three for a total of $13.8 billion. The NFL plans to appeal, so we're probably a long way from finality on this one. I admit I have little experience and no significant opinion in this area. I had no personal need for the ticket because I have been covering games most Sundays since 1995. The prices always seemed high to me. But I'm notoriously cheap and most prices seem high these days. And those kids are on my lawn again.

Crash from Glen Saint Mary, FL

OZ! So, T-Law's kid is going show up right after the Cats win the Super Bowl? Great timing!

Very cool.

Benson from Carlisle, PA

O, Do you think with a foundation in place that seems to have been missing with Trev's new contract and the stadium deal complete, that this franchise will take a step forward and be competitive every season?

Signing quarterback Trevor Lawrence to a long-term extension is a good foundation piece on the field. Solidifying the stadium deal for the long term is important because first-class facilities help retain and draw first-class players – because a revenue-producing stadium helps the team compete with the rest of the NFL financially. Those two factors therefore increase the Jaguars' chances of being competitive every season. Remember, too: The Jaguars have been 9-8 the past two seasons, winning the AFC South in 2022 and missing the postseason by a game in 2023. They have been competitive the past two seasons. We'll see where they go from here.

Jerry from Italia, FL

Zone, for some odd reason I counted the number of players on the roster today, it looks like we have 83 (71 on the Mobile App) players. I thought we could have 90 players on the roster, if I'm correct, when will the roster be filled out and what positions do you expect to be added? It sure is slow in the dead zone!

The Jaguars' roster currently stands at 91, with 90 "regular" players and tight end Patrick Murtagh as the team's International Pathway Program player. Three players are also on injured reserve.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

The very-annoying-but-generally-worth-reading-imo Mike Florio posted an article stating that many teams will end up kicking the ball out of the end zone anyway with the uncertainty around the new kickoff rule. This is because they changed the starting position in this scenario to the 30-yard line instead of the 35. I just wanted to write that I think this is correct and I'm a bit dumbfounded that the move back to the 30 was accepted. I didn't realize this. I would be shocked if the kickoff ended up being barely ran this year. Maybe that was the plan all along. Give coaches a chance to see it a bit, but ultimately move the starting point up to the 35 next year after teams have had a chance to see how it looks in an NFL environment.

The idea behind changing the NFL's kickoff rule was to bring back the kickoff return, a play that has become rarer and rarer in recent seasons as the league tried to make a dangerous play safer. Florio may be right on this one, though I expect teams to try different approaches in coverage and on returns through the early weeks of the season. This is one of the most dramatic rules changes in recent memory, with fundamental rules changes completely changing how a play is executed. This never has come close to happening in the "modern" era. Even minor rule changes sometimes must be implemented before we see how teams will adjust. On a change of this magnitude, the transition and implementation are almost sure to have a hiccup or two.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Wow. I forgot how much you suck in the dead zone.

Let's go, Jaguars. On to '24.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: I know you don't give much credence to Pro Football Focus rankings, but this is the dead zone; so humor me this. PFF gives Jaguars edge Travon Walker a mediocre pass rush grade and says that he is worse against the run. You have repeatedly said that one of Walker's strengths is against the run. What do you see when looking at Walker?

A player who is very good – and often dominant – against the run, who forces offenses to account for him, who often draws double teams against the run and pass and who is rapidly improving as a pass rusher.

Scott from Aruba

After the reports of the reporter scuffle, I Google searched Gene Frenette Karate. And then looked at the videos. WOW, I get it now.

Good eye – and good instinct. Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist, Northeast Florida cultural icon and force of nature Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette is well-known for many strengths – voice like Sinatra, hair like Samson and a knack for a "catchy" turn of phrase chief among them. Perhaps most-often overlooked are his martial arts skills. While Bruce Lee got the notoriety, insiders and purists speak in hushed tones about Frenette's skills. "How many black belts for Geno?" you ask. None. Gene's an idealist. He accepts no rewards and acknowledges no labels. He does everything for the love of the pursuit.

Sam from Orlando, FL

When Eugene "Dynamite" Frenette retires, will we elect a new Gene? We must keep a keen eye on Dons chimney for the smoke signals.

Gene never will retire.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King Of All Funk, "I'm not sure even longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist, Northeast Florida cultural icon and force of nature Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette could pull it off." BLASPHEMY!


Neil from GILBERT

Is it true that your title "King Of All Funk" was the inspiration for the name "Stadium Of The Future?"

I would rather not say.

Bo from Winter Springs, FL

I think I've narrowed it down to two possibilities, Gary from St. Augustine is either Jaxson de Ville or Gene Frenette. Did one of them catch you sneezing in the buffet one day?

I definitely would rather not say.