JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Dave from Duval
Dear O-Zone: My No. 1 concern with the Jaguars' offense heading into 2020 is the ability to score touchdowns in the red zone – even more specifically, the ability to score rushing touchdowns.
Good eye. This was among the Jaguars' more under-discussed weaknesses 2019 – and being weak in this area is very bad. Rushing touchdowns produced and allowed are a major indicator of NFL success and failure. The Jaguars had a mind-blowing three rushing touchdowns scored versus 23 allowed in 2019, making their 6-10 finish unsurprising. The ratio was 7-to-16 in their 5-11 2018 season and 18-9 in their 10-6 AFC South-championship season of 2017, and this is no coincidence: If you can rush for touchdowns effectively and prevent teams from doing so, you're probably going to be successful in the NFL. If you can't do one or the other – or both – probably not. This was a strange weakness this past season because running back Leonard Fournette in his first two seasons was a very good short-yardage, red-zone back. He had 14 rushing touchdowns in his first two seasons – and even when he struggled elsewhere during those seasons, he was good close to the end zone. He scored just one rushing touchdown this past season despite being healthy for 15 games, and despite having his best NFL season. I don't believe Fournette suddenly got bad at scoring in the red zone. The Jaguars' offensive line needs to be more dominant in goal-to-go situations. That's not all of it, but it's a big part.
Brandon from Athens, GA
If the worst team in the NFL played the best team in college football 100 times, how many times does the college football team win?
Taylor from Columbia, SC
I get the sense that if you were in charge you would keep the coaching staff and general manager as Jaguars Owner Shad Khan did. If you were in charge, what would you do differently/how would you attack this offseason in terms of personnel, free agency, draft, schematic changes, etc? Move Myles to weak side? Draft heavy on the lines? Just wondering what an Oehser Offseason would like at this point?
I would move Myles Jack from middle linebacker to the weak side and draft or sign middle linebacker. I also would use two of the first three selections in the 2020 NFL Draft – two first-rounders and a second-rounder – on offensive and defensive linemen, and use the other on either a tight end or a cornerback. I also would sign a tight end or cornerback in in free agency. There's more but that's a start.
Howard from Homestead, FL
I choose to look at the bright side. Our second favorite team (whoever is playing Tennessee) has made it to the AFC Championship game. This week, we're all Chiefs.
Rvjag from North Augusta, SC
There's a lot of talk about replacing the defensive coordinator. Do you think Jeff Lageman would ever consider being a coach? I have always been impressed with his football knowledge and his ability to handle Tony Boselli.
I have no doubt Lageman could coach, but coaching is a huge time commitment. Lageman, who played defensive end for the Jaguars from 1995-1998, has a good life as a commentator for Jaguars radio and a contributor to Jaguars media. I don't know that he would want to disrupt it by coaching.
Quentin from Baltimore, MD
What if during every fourth quarter's two-minute warning when the Jaguars need a game-winning score or game-ending stop, the stadium plays "Don't Stop Believin" by Journey? Think the fans will get hyped and the players will feed off it??
Either that, or 60,000 people could get mad at David Chase all over again.
Ben from Jefferson, OH
O, what are our plans in free agency? I feel like we need to address needs at tight end and interior defensive line. What do you think?
We're far enough away from this that no one – not even those doing the planning – knows the plans. Those will be decided in the coming weeks through extensive meetings with many, many contingency plans at the ready. My best guess a couple of months out is that tight end will be addressed in free agency and interior defensive line will be addressed in the draft. As I said, that's an early guess. We'll see.
Christopher from Orlando, FL
Rumors going around that Jason Garrett will be the next offensive coordinator of the Jaguars. Do you think he is a good fit?
Sure. Garrett, the former Dallas Cowboys head coach, is an experienced and capable coach with play-calling experience. I see no reason he wouldn't be a fine fit.
Dakota from Dupree, SD
Zone, the Jaguars' run-stopping inability last season to me was more about the linebackers and less about the defensive line. They were out of position and blocked far too many times in the latter half of the season. While defensive line is a priority to upgrade, isn't linebacker even a bigger priority? It should be.
Defensive interior and linebacker play were both a problem against the run for the Jaguars last season. Both will be a priority this offseason.
Is former Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo's dismissal a clear sign that quarterback Nick Foles will be cut?
Marcus from Jacksonville
Tell the truth … when a writer writes a column that starts with "Too Early" or "Way Too Early," is that your way of saying, "I really don't want to write this, but this is what the fans want, or this is what my editor told me to write?" Just curious.
I don't have an editor who tells me what to write, and the fans these days pretty much want me to stay quiet or go away. Here's what a writer means when he/she writes a column that start that way – that it's way too early to guess or predict what the writer is guessing or predicting, but there's nothing wrong with speculating as long as people realize it's too early to be doing it. Or something like that.
Bill from Jacksonville
We heard from Head Coach Doug Marrone all year that he has to be better to get the wins. Appreciate him for falling on the sword, but what - specifically - does he have to improve upon? Roster? Game-time adjustments? Play calling? I know the metric to measure it is won loss, but will there be something else we'll be able to point to during the season to document said improvement? Thanks O!
Not really. Winning is enough.
Big on Blake from Philly
John, is it a coincidence that former Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis is playing in his second conference championship in three years? I think not. #missinglink
Well, it might be a little bit of a coincidence. At the same time, it's fair to say the Jaguars have missed the leadership and locker-room presence of older veterans such as Lewis and former middle linebacker Paul Posluszny in recent seasons.
Mike from Cortland, NY
Hey O, let's assume defensive end Yannick Ngakoue says he will hold out if he's tagged (which is likely). Would it make sense for the Jags to tag and trade him rather than just letting him walk or no show from a hold out?
Let's not assume anything about the negotiations. Perhaps they will go more smoothly than expected. Or perhaps Ngakoue eventually will be willing to play under the NFL's franchise tag, which isn't ridiculous considering the tag would mean earning more than $1 million per game. But if it's apparent they won't reach an agreement, and it's apparent Ngakoue won't play under the tag … then sure, a trade would make sense.
Rusty from New Iberia, LA
How can this team be so bad with so many holes at still be over the cap next year? Watching some of these playoff teams and their roster is stacked with talent. How do they do it? Is our cap smaller being a small market team?
The Jaguars have had a lot of money and cap space in two quarterbacks who have played ineffectively and sparingly in recent seasons. That hasn't helped.
Dakota from Dupree, SD
Zone, remember that time Brett Favre left Green Bay and they made that shirt with his picture and it said, "We will never forget you Brent." That was funny.
You're right. That was funny.
Andrew from Mattoon, GA
As you prepare for the O-Zone, do you pick questions to which you already know the answers? Or do you talk with others and get feedback? Have you ever taken a question to a coach or someone in the ownership office? I'm not being sarcastic. I'm curious how the process works. Thanks for all you do!
I read questions and I answer them. If I don't know the answer, I ask someone. Usually, I know the answer because I am usually "awesome." Sometimes, people don't like the answer, because even though I am "awesome," I also suck. Always.