O-Zone: Words of warning

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Mandarin, FL

Now that Le’Veon Bell went and sat out a full season after being on the franchise tag for the second time, and then got a massive contract by the New York Jets, do you think teams may be more wary to use the franchise tag in the future? I can see Jalen Ramsey giving us the bird if the team puts the franchise tag on him.

It’s hard to predict the aftereffects of the standoff between running back Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bell did go against conventional wisdom by sitting out the 2018 season and he did eventually get his wish when the Steelers allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent by not applying the franchise tag this offseason. That allowed him to sign with the Jets as an unrestricted free agent. At the same time, Bell did forfeit a year of earnings – and in a league with short career spans, I don’t know how many players will want to follow his lead and sacrifice millions. Those who wonder if Bell ever will regain the money he forfeited last season make a legitimate point. I suppose Bell’s “success” could inspire other players to follow his lead, but I doubt it will be a trend. Remember, too: Bell was in a tricky situation because of the overall devaluation of running backs in the NFL. A player in a more premium position – and corner in the case of Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is considered more premium than running back – perhaps wouldn’t face quite so hardline a stance from his organization.

David from Oviedo, FL

Zone - You’re very good at attaching percentages to the likelihood of something occurring, so I thought I’d ask: What’s the probability the Jags disappoint in 2019 and Head Coach Doug Marrone and defensive coordinator Todd Wash are replaced by Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Dom Capers?

David from Chuluota, FL

O: A little over a year ago, linebacker Telvin Smith gave speech at Paul Posluszny’s retirement ceremony where he seemed overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. What I saw was a human being and athlete who was passionate about his teammates and the game of football. Telvin needing time away from football is like a fish needing time out of the water; it just doesn’t make any sense. I know it’s just a game, but it’s also where he’s a hero and a legend.

Not everything in life is explained. Not everything is logical. And just because we see athletes for the few hours a week when they play – and just because we hear them for the few minutes a week when they speak to the media – doesn’t mean we know them as people. And it sure doesn’t mean we know what’s going on in their lives.

Ryan from East Point, Atlanta, GA

Do you think the new defensive pass interference rule changes play into the Jaguars’ favor? Because of our talented secondary and good pass rush.

I don’t think the new defensive pass interference rules favor any particular team or style. It’s not as if the league is tightening the rules in an effort to get it called more often; the idea is to make it reviewable in an effort to make sure officials have a chance to get it right and reduce confusion – and to avoid a situation such as the end of the Los Angeles Rams-New Orleans Saints NFC Championship Game. I suppose these offseason rules changes to make PI reviewable will prevent a Rams-Saints repeat; it will at least provide a mechanism for challenging the play. But referring to the league’s effort to “get it right and reduce confusion,” the belief here remains that the changes will have the opposite of effect, and that they will create more controversy and confusion than they eliminate. We’ll see.

Jim from Acworth, GA

I have to agree with John in Wednesday’s column. Yes, they are elite athletes, but they are not worth the money thrown at them. As many others, I don’t go to games because I don’t want to spend insane amounts of money on overpriced food and drinks so Player A can have more money. Sorry.

That’s absolutely your right, but the reality is that professional athletes are “worth” what the market will bear – so in that very important sense, NFL players are “worth the money.”

Tom from Charlottesville, VA

Players pay tax based on where the game is played, so with taxes so high in England the Jags Players actually do not reap the full benefit of a no-income tax state correct?

Correct.

John from Cape May Courthouse, NJ

I’m reminded of New Jersey taxes every pay check.

I can only imagine.

Big on Blake from Philly

Zone, it’s interesting to read more than a couple times in the 25 in 25 series that the Jags players said they were put together and coached by Coach Coughlin to match up and beat the Steelers. I find it interesting that it is such a strong theme, because the 2017 season when Coughlin returned it became quickly obvious he was developing the Jags to go toe-to-toe with New England. It showed all that season with the strong defense and focus on the run game. It showed in that season’s AFC Championship Game, and it showed in last season’s Week 2 blowout. I just like to make the parallel between what I noticed happening and what the players knew way back when. I think Coughlin’s philosophy is tactical and successful. And I hope all the pieces on this year’s team finally come together to get the Jags their first Lombardi.

You’re right that those 1990s teams under Coughlin were built to beat the Steelers, and you’re right that Coughlin emphasized that. But I never got the sense in 2017 that the Jaguars were building to beat the New England Patriots as much as they were just trying to play the style that gave them the best opportunity to win considering their personnel. Either way, I’m not that big on building to beat a certain team. What if you build for a team and that team doesn’t make the playoffs? Or has an off year? Why not build to be as good as you can be, play at a consistently high standard and let other teams worry about beating you? That means you can win against all opponents, not just one.

Robert from St. Augustine, FL

As one wise person said, “Life is just a vacation from eternity and I enjoy my vacations.” With the draft, free agency, coaching changes, roster moves and pending negotiations now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to sit back and reflect. I, like so many fans, forget how blessed we are to have an NFL franchise in our backyard, a team that allows us to express our emotions and opinions. We have a unique opportunity to be a true fan. In light of that fact, let’s raise our favorite drink and start celebrating the upcoming 2019 Jaguars season and if things don’t work out will still have half a glass to cry into.

There’s nothing wrong with fans getting emotional and angry over the day-to-day actions of their teams. Absolutely nothing, in fact. Besides, if fans simply counted their blessings and emphasized how fortunate they are … well, what would be the fun of that? Fans gonna fan. Even ones that know that having an NFL team in Jacksonville is really cool.

Al from Orange Park, FL

The Worrier King? With all due respect, I've raised 6 daughters to adulthood. That title belongs to me.

You have your stresses; I have mine.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I don't get the complaining about Jalen Ramsey trash talking. I recommend if for nothing more than kicks and giggles that people go search for stories about the things Michael Jordan used to say to people. He would roast his own teammates, calling them trash and losers. He called his teammate Stacey King a "powerless forward.” He was telling people to get off the court during filming of Space Jam, which I've heard before actually had some pretty competitive basketball play. I actually like this aspect of sports. This is the entertainment industry, entertain me.

Ramey’s trash talking long has been interpreted as a problem, because talking candidly is straying from the norm and people tend to criticize those that stray rather than thinking about whether what they said was inherently evil or just honest. All Ramsey really has done throughout his career in Jacksonville is be candid. And play every game of his career. At a high level. Is he perfect? No. But this whole idea that people have that he’s some sort of malcontent or distraction to the team is so far from the truth as to be comical.

Bill from Folkston, GA

Are we there yet?

No. And don’t make me stop this car.

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