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O-Zone: A sense of surprise

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Sean from Jacksonville

I'm sure this has been asked and answered before, but ... who grades the scouts? What are the criteria for being a good one or even a bad one? I just can't see much objectivity in the process.

I indeed get versions of this question occasionally, though I don't know that outside observers "see" enough of the NFL scouting process to "see" whether there's objectivity in how they are graded. Different scouts in the NFL have different roles and therefore are judged differently. Area scouts are on the front lines visiting college campuses regularly, and typically are essentially information-gatherers who provide initial assessments regarding players. Further assessment, ranking of players and ultimately selecting players is the responsibility of scouts and personnel officials at higher levels than area scouts. Ultimately, the general manager decides who a team selects and signs. The general manager typically is the big boss over personnel, so the general manager usually ultimately decides how scouts are graded and assessed.

John from Daufuskie Island

I am a new Jaguars fan and have learned a lot about the team from following your column. I was a diehard Carolina Panthers fan, through the good times and bad. I reluctantly left the Panthers after they went all in on Deshaun Watson. My question is … as a loyal fan should I have expected higher ethics and morals from a team that went all in for a player that still has 22 allegations hanging over his head?

I spend little time judging ethics and morals in professional sports. I understand people like to debate it, and I understand media likes to yell about it. And I also understand these things matter to a lot of people. But here's the reality: If a player can help a professional sports team win and he is legally able, there's a very good chance he will have the opportunity to do so. That always has been that way and probably isn't changing. It's up to the individual fan/observer to determine if he likes this or not – and it's then up that fan to determine if he wants to continue following a certain team or sport. Bottom line: I'm probably not the one to ask your question. I don't see the NFL as a morality play. It's fine if other people do. It's just not my thing.

David from Ada, OK

Can I hand out assignments? For all those who feel Jaguars Owner Shad Khan is horrible as an owner because they think he's an idiot, why don't you go billionaire shopping? Go find a better billionaire. Go find a billionaire that'd give you a thumbs up in the comments section because you're so smart. Go find a billionaire that happens to have a multiple Super Bowl-winning coach in his pocket and a general manager who would've picked Tom Brady in the FIFTH round. You know, because most billionaires have so much free time just googling YouTube video "research" and scouting "pro football focus" and schmoozing on chat rooms with all their loyal fanboys. It's what they do. That's why they are successful. Khan is the exception. Find a buyer. Then Khan might sell the team. Wink, wink.

So, one fer logic (and fer Khan) …

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

Someone recently tried to defend Khan by saying that the Jags weren't that good before he got here. They are correct that the team wasn't great. But they also weren't ever terrible. They made the playoffs a number of times and rarely had 10 losses in a season. Khan has had 10+ losses in every season since he's been here except one. His second-best season would be one of the worst in franchise history before he showed up. Now we've had the No. 1 pick two years in a row. They were correct that the bar was set pretty low for Khan. They're wrong if they think Khan has done anything other than fail miserably trying to reach that low bar.

… and one not fer Khan.

Jim from ST JOHNS, FL

Is Shenault on the bubble this year? When I watch him play from the stands, I see a player who oftentimes seems to be playing to avoid injury. Occasional maximum effort but far too often a controlled effort to be in the play "zone" but not make the play. Too harsh??

The Jaguars currently have six wide receivers – Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Laviska Shenault Jr., Laquon Treadwell, Marvin Jones Jr. and Jamal Agnew – with extensive NFL experience, and I wouldn't be surprised if they select one early in the 2022 NFL Draft. I don't sense that Shenault plays to avoid injury. I do think he's an intriguing player with rare physicality for a receiver who must improve as a route runner – and who must catch more consistently than he did last season. I also don't know that he has the speed to be a consistent No. 1 outside threat. I expect him to be on the Jaguars next season. Could he be on the bubble? A lot of Jaguars players who weren't acquired this offseason could fit that description; that's the nature of new regimes. Sure … Shenault could be among them. He's far from alone.

Steve from Nashville, TN

I have been to only a few stadiums to watch a football game, Orchard Park in upstate New York being one of them, and very much understand a new venue was needed for the Buffalo Bills to play in down the road. Thinking about TIAA Bank Field, what is needed to encourage fans to leave their air-conditioned media room and buy a ticket at the "Bank?" Is part of the problem the team has been so uncompetitive lately that the venue has to fill in that entertainment gap to provide fans an experience worth the price of admission?

Winning matters.

James from Jacksonville

In the past few years, the team has kept a draft bust in defensive tackle Taven Bryan and kept such players until their contract ends – and have made high draft picks like running back Leonard Fournette and cut them while leading the team at the position. Linebacker Myles Jack led the team last year in tackles to be awarded with a cut. We have had only a handful of great draft picks and they have had a history of all being traded off the team. From a fans' point of view this is either horrible management or complete incompetence. What about the new regimen should make US the fans feel confident in the path forward?

Trent Baalke has been the general manager for a little more than a year. Doug Pederson has been the head coach for a little more than two months. Much of the history you reference took place before they had control over decisions. Bottom line: There are understandably fans who will only feel confident when they see results – and results mean winning and improvement. For those fans, words won't work. I get it. So … stay tuned. I guess. That's not a satisfying answer, but it's the only answer.

Doug from Jacksonville

I feel sorry for people like Tyler. Not because they live their lives angry and certainly say things on a daily basis that would embarrass anyone with any amount of self-awareness, but because his "joy" seems to come from a place where he complains about "woke" and can't see that we are fans of a sport that's hard to win. The Jags don't play Vanderbilt and The Citadel; they play against 31 other professional teams all loaded with the best athletes in the world. Absolutely losing is frustrating, but someone who isn't weak doesn't just complain and give up. FYI, Tyler: There are waaaay more than 20,000 Jags fans.

So, one not fer Tyler …

Ty from Fleming Island, FL

In regards to Top 5 offensive lineman in Jaguars history, wouldn't you have to put Ben Coleman ahead of Brandon Linder and Vince Manuwai? Coleman was pretty good in his day...

Coleman would be high on the list of good Jaguars offensive linemen. I wouldn't put him ahead of Linder. I didn't cover Manuwai's time with the Jaguars but based on reputation I would probably put him ahead of Coleman, too.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

In the past few days in this column, fans have complained that Jaguars owner Shad Khan is the worst owner in the league. Washington and Miami ownership have made recent news. San Francisco ownership was in the spotlight a few years ago. Several teams have moved cities just recently. Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft are the faces of NFL ownership right now. How stable is the ownership pool relative to previous eras? Is the seeming craziness just a matter of reporting bias and the 24/7 news cycle? Am I just a cynic? What is your sense of the matter; does nothing surprise you?

Fans don't surprise me. Fans fan. It's what they do.