O-Zone: A little less urgent

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tony from St. Louis, MO

Where do the Jags stand with all the unrest in the country? Silence is acceptance.

While many professional sports teams – including many NFL teams – have issued statements regarding the unrest in many cities, the Jaguars indeed have not. I do not expect Owner Shad Khan or the team to remain silent for long. Remember: Khan is the NFL's sole minority owner, and he long has expressed and believed that "actions speak louder than words." When speaking on issues, he does not do so casually and prefers to be sure the words have meaning and are not a quick-trigger reaction. He has said this when discussing his commitment to Jacksonville and has said it on multiple off-field issues since taking over as owner in 2011. I expect Khan and the Jaguars soon to issue a statement regarding the unrest and the issues that have led to that unrest. When they do, I would expect it to include perspective, to be well-thought out and to strive to be more than just words in a statement.

Zac from austin, tejas

Have any of the draftees been paid? Or is that not until Game 1? That's a long stretch of not getting paid (but I guess I could troll the Best Buys and hope to run into K'Lavon Chaisson doing temp work?

The draftees have not yet been paid a salary because NFL salaries are paid during the regular season. Draftees also get paid being their signing bonus, but linebacker Shaq Quarterman is the only one of the 12 draft selections who have signed with the team. The rookies and veterans all receive per diem during the offseason program.

Steve from Nashville, TN

After all the league rookie quarterbacks sign their contracts, the Jaguars 2020 cap hit for the position (active roster players only) will be just north of $3 million – among the lowest in the league sharing that space with the New England Patriots. You don't have to look too far beyond this fact to understand why most league writers have the Jaguars finishing last in the league this year.

I don't know exactly where or far you must look, but league observers are projecting the Jaguars to finish with a poor record because they went 6-10 last season and were perceived to have lost more than they gained in the offseason. And because a lot of national observers don't yet know what to make of quarterback Gardner Minshew II. Those are typically the factors that play into predictions – the previous year's record, perception of the quarterback position and offseason gains/losses. The idea that a team can improve from within usually doesn't play into it much. Either way, I doubt what the Jaguars are paying Minshew and their other quarterbacks figures much into the equation.

Robert from St. Augustine, FL

This season, do you think our offense is capable of elevating the performance of the defense or are we still looking at putting the pressure on the defense to elevate the performance of the offense?

I look for the Jaguars' offense to be the slightly stronger of the two units in 2020, because I expect Minshew to be improved from last season – and because there's some continuity along the offensive line that should lead to improvement there. The defense has a chance to improve because it should be better against the run, but I don't know that the unit will yet be able to "elevate" the offense. I frankly don't know if either unit will be so dominant as to elevate the other. They may need to focus on complementing one another first.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: All these questions about Jaguars quarterback with initials G, B and M, but they forgot the two greatest draft picks: Big Ben and Patrick Mahomes. Oops. Never mind. I forgot they passed on those guys.

Keep hanging on, Ray. Never let go.

Zack from Jacksonville

Here is a scenario for you to ponder: Put Gardner Minshew on the 2017 Jaguars with all other factors the same (Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson get hurt, last-place schedule, etc.). Two questions: 1. How many more wins do the Jags have that season? 2. Does the play-calling in the AFC Championship change significantly as we wouldn't have had to rely so heavily on running back Leonard Fournette?

First: The Jaguars often played well against the Indianapolis Colts when quarterback Andrew Luck was healthy – and considering how the Jaguars' defense played against the Houston Texans that year I don't know how much a rookie version of Watson would have made in those games; the Jaguars were good that season and beat several good quarterbacks. Second: I don't know that the season would have played out all that different with Minshew at quarterback instead of Blake Bortles. Remember: While Bortles was inconsistent that season, he came up big in some big situations – which is sort of what Minshew did for the Jaguars' last season. As far as the play-calling in the AFC Championship Game against New England that season … again, I don't know how much would have changed. The approach at the end of that game was as much – if not more – to protect a struggling offensive line as it was to "protect" Bortles from turning the ball over. Had the offensive line been playing the same way in front of another quarterback, I don't know that the approach would have been all that different.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

The passing game could take a really big leap. DJ Chark Jr. is one of the best receivers in the league. If he can improve in route running in his third year, he could put up some big numbers. The rest of the receivers and tight ends only need to open up the field enough to keep the defense from shading toward Chark. That's well within the realm of possibility. Do enough to stop Chark from getting consistently double teamed. Chark has a lot of talent and him getting a lot of one on one looks could lead to a lot of big plays for the offense.

This is what makes the addition of rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. and tight end Tyler Eifert so important for the Jaguars this season. If one of them – or someone else offensively – can draw defenses away from Chark, you're right it could make a big difference offensively.

Don from Marshall, NC

Peter King says all the good things about Gardner and then ranks him at the bottom on his power poll. Oh, he is a believer. I could care less about the ranking, but man talk about disrespectful. The city nobody wanted with the quarterback nobody wanted and here we are. I say it's fuel for the fire when the truth gets known. Let's face it the Jaguars need the fans to stick up for them now. Go Jaguars!

King, who now writes his Football Morning in America column for NBC Sports, said on this week's O-Zone Podcast that he was a fan of Minshew and that he was pulling for him. He also said he believed the young quarterback faced a great deal of pressure this season. He never said he thought he was great yet or believed in him. King very much likes Minshew, and wants him to do well, but doesn't know what to expect from him. He also hopes he does well. That's not disrespect. That's honest, and it's honestly pretty much how many football people – and the Jaguars – feel about him. He has potential. He has shown flashes. He is not yet established as an NFL starter. That's his next task.

Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington

Was this question even worth reading? KOAGF?

Absolutely.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Wow. This really is the Dead Zone.

I don't know if it's the Dead Zone or not. I do know there are a few fewer questions in the O-Zone than normal in recent days – and I would have been surprised had that not been the case. People are thinking about far more important, pressing things than football these days. And in many cases, they're not thinking about football at all. There is plenty of time for football later. I have gotten a few questions about the unrest and my thoughts on it. I haven't addressed that because this isn't a political/social forum – and because I don't know how much perspective I could add to any conversation on this issue. I considered not writing the O-Zone for a day or two during this. I decided to continue not because of any streak, but because if people are asking questions they apparently have an appetite for the answers – and I don't mind answering them. But if it feels a little different here – a little less urgent, a little less in tune with the outside world – that's because there a lot of other things much more urgent.

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