O-Zone: Wrong number

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Don from Marshall, NC

If you’re at the one-yard line in the red zone and you have one play to score, are you really going to pick another running back besides 27? Not me!

This is absolutely valid. For all that Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has not been during his two NFL seasons – reliable being No. 1 on that list – what he has been is very good at scoring in the red zone. That attribute should not be casually dismissed. The ability to convert short-yardage and to score by running when close to the end zone is key to any NFL offense. It remains important even in what is now a pass-oriented NFL. The Jaguars struggled in that area for most of the years between 2012-2016 and the team never got close to .500 or competing for the postseason. Fournette scored nine rushing touchdowns and the Jaguars were second in the NFL with 18 as a team in 2017 – and not coincidentally, they had their best season in a decade. They had seven rushing touchdowns as a team last season, last in the NFL – and not coincidentally, they finished last in the AFC South. Rushing touchdowns aren’t the only reason for the Jaguars’ results in those seasons, but Fournette’s effectiveness in this area absolutely makes the Jaguars better when he’s healthy. And available.

Unhipcat from Carslbad, CA

John. Seatbelts apparently were not the only safety device your parents neglected to use.

That’s not nice.

Nathan from St. Augustine, FL

I don’t really get the fans’ angst at players trying to get the maximum amount of money on a contract they can, while they can. Players are just fighting for their piece of a very large pie. It's not like owners are just going to take the millions they would save on smaller contracts and donate it to a fund to save the California spotted snail. It's going into their pockets. Which is fine. They own it. But at the same time, I can’t have an issue with a player trying to maximize his earnings in a game with such a risk of injuries.

Fans’ angst on this front has nothing to do with the California spotted snail, or the Kansas striped mongoose. The angst does on occasion have to do with the effect of one player’s large salary on the rest of a team’s salary cap, but it mostly has to do with fans not liking a player potentially hurting a team by holding out when all players already make what by any measure is a lot of money for playing a game. It’s not logical for fans to not like this because most people would also try to maximize their own income in a similar situation. But being a fan isn’t about logic. It’s about wanting your team to win as often as possible. And fans gonna fan. Always.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

Why would Ngakoue take under $20 million per year if the other defensive ends who came up for extensions this summer didn’t? Am I missing something?  

When discussing a possible contract extension for Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, the number observers often cite first indeed is $20 million a season. This is because players such as Frank Clark (Kansas City Chiefs) and Demarcus Lawrence (Dallas Cowboys) signed contracts in that range earlier this offseason. The difference is that Clark and Lawrence had played the final year of their first contracts and were seeking new contracts. Ngakoue has a year remaining on his contract with the Jaguars having the option to control his rights for at least a year after that with the franchise tag. It’s often the case that a player getting a deal earlier than the “deadline” of his contract expiring signs for a little less than would have been the case were it closer to the deadline. That’s not saying Ngakoue will agree to that, or that this negotiation suddenly will get easier, but that’s why the Jaguars could be offering less than $20 million for now. And why Ngakoue might be persuaded to accept it.

Nostalgia from NostalgiaLand

“Video Killed the Radio Star” or “Tarzan Boy?” Don't those songs make ya weep with nostalgia?

I’ll take the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and yeah … a little.

Robert from St. Augustine, FL

During the past year, the Jags have signed a number of free agents. By year’s end, who do you think will be their top three “steals?”

I don’t know that there will be three steals from the unrestricted free agents signed this past offseason, because steals imply surprise success. That means a player such as quarterback Nick Foles can’t be a “steal.” Still, I do expect wide receiver Chris Conley (Kansas City Chiefs) and tight end Geoff Swain (Dallas Cowboys) to have bigger impact with the Jaguars than many expected when they first signed during the offseason. Both were somewhat overshadowed in their past offenses, and both will be given plenty of opportunity to show they can be more productive than previously has been the case.

IHateAds from Online

What's the most annoying ad or commercial in your opinion? Geico easily. They gotta be millions in debt by now lol.

I like the Geico ads. Then again, I like burlap underwear, so there’s that.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

I know what the secret is to getting players to agree to 18 games: just offer them a bigger cut of the money. If they still say no, then offer them more money until they say yes. They have a price – and if ownership offers them enough of the pie, they will take it. Owners will also still make more money. It’s pro sports, it’s about the money.

There’s some truth to this point, but the bigger truth is the owners aren’t just going to continue to offer more and more money to players in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations until players say, “OK. We’ll do the 18-game thing! Awesome!” This is because the way players get more money in those negotiations is to get a bigger percentage of revenue. If owners give away too much of that, they don’t benefit from 18 games. There certainly is a place to meet in the middle because there always is a place to meet in the middle in negotiations, but it’s not a case of the owners being able to just give as much money as the players demand.

Moo from Jacksonville

Have you ever experienced déjà vu?

No, but I do feel like I answered this question before.

Mark from Brighton, UK

What if the new Jags’ stadium was built as a replica of Wembley Stadium? The team would always feel at home when they played in London and at least the fans would get some shade.

Nah, but I do think shade will get addressed at some point at TIAA Bank Field or wherever the Jaguars play. The heat in September and into October in these parts is a very real thing.

Limo Bob from Neptune Beach, FL

Just because most workers are underpaid doesn’t mean players are overpaid. The Jaguars’ franchise is now worth over $2 billion.

Fair.

Joey from Far, Far Away

The 3.3-year length-of-career number is very misleading. It includes all the players who never actually play in the league. Players who make the season-opening roster in their rookie season average 6.5 years career length. Seems to be a more applicable stat. Thoughts?

You’re referencing a recent O-Zone discussion about NFL player longevity and how it relates to what they must demand in contract negotiations. As for your question, I think the difference between 6.5 years and 3.3 years is about three years. That’s a lot in the sense it’s about double, but when discussing career longevity it’s not a lot at all. And when you consider that many players play less than six seasons, it’s easy to see why all players must maximize their potential revenue – especially young players signing their all-important second contracts.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436 Since 1995

As the rookies are reported Monday, what does reporting for training camp entail? What goes into the process? Is it any different for the veterans?

Reporting means showing up at TIAA Bank Field on time, undergoing a physical and meeting with coaches to review details such as the offensive and defensive schemes, etc. Teams get rookies and quarterbacks here a few days early because extra time is needed before veterans arrive Wednesday, but the process logistically for both groups essentially is the same.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, did Boselli actually let you speak to him in person about the Hall of Fame or did you have to contact him on Twitter?

Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli calls me constantly to talk about the Hall of Fame. I’m talking constantly. I’ve had to put his number on silent on my cellphone. It’s embarrassing, actually.

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