JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Marcus from Jacksonville
You say that defensive end Josh Allen is a keeper and is everything that the franchise has been looking for in a Top 10 pick for a decade. That's all well and good, but why is it that a player can receive these accolades after one season while players that don't live up to their billing require three-plus years to properly evaluate? I'm thinking of guys like quarterback Blake Bortles and defensive tackle Taven Bryan. I get that Josh Allen is a special talent, but I imagine you would have said the same about cornerback Jalen Ramsey after his rookie season, and look how that turned out. I have high hopes for Allen, but I have little faith in the organization to keep him happy and eventually sign him to a long-term deal. When good players literally pay millions of dollars to leave a team, it makes me question that team's ability to retain other good players. Here's hoping Josh Allen is an anomaly in that regard.
Different players develop at different paces – and players enter the NFL in different circumstances; you often can tell if a player is going to be good very quickly, but it takes longer to determine for certain that a player can't play. Also, it's difficult to compare Allen and Bryan because Allen was considered a top-five talent in the 2019 NFL Draft while Bryan was selected No. 29 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. All first-round selections are not the same, and late first-rounders on average have dramatically different expectations and success rates than Top 5-to-10 selections. As for the Jaguars' re-signing their top draft selections and top talents … you're right to be skeptical. Absolutely and without question. The franchise's recent record on that front has earned that skepticism. But the feeling here is that Allen is not Ramsey – in many, many, many ways. Concept of team. Overall approach. Attitude. Etc., etc. I expect the scope of their careers eventually will reflect that, and I expect Allen ultimately will be remembered much more fondly by Jaguars fans than Ramsey. I also think there's a good chance Allen will have as good or better overall career. Maybe I'll be wrong. We'll see.
David from Orlando, FL
KOAF: When Gardner Minshew II was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL draft, he signed a four-year deal worth $2.7 million. Please tell me that the Jags are throwing him a bone, since he's now the starting quarterback and one of the faces of the franchise? It's a bad look that he's the lowest-paid quarterback on the team … yes, even behind Jake Luton.
It's not a bad look because it's not a "thing." The Jaguars can't "throw Minshew a bone," because teams can't renegotiate/extend drafted players' contracts until the end of their third NFL season. If Minshew plays well over the next two seasons, he will be paid well. Very well.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL
John, with the opening kickoff almost here, what is a reason or reasons you think this team could surprise people and be successful this season?
The offensive line. I don't yet know if it will be good because I haven't seen the unit in a game. But if it's as good as the Jaguars believe, and if it's far better than most observers believe, this offense – and team – could be better than many expect.
Mike from Atlanta, GA
Did you say you think the Houston Texans are the team to beat in the division because they won it last year or do you think they are the best team in this division? It seems to me that the Tennessee Titans are the team to beat now. They looked good in that run to and into the playoffs. Tough defense and a strong running game paired with an efficient quarterback is always a tough matchup.
The Texans have the AFC South's best quarterback in Deshaun Watson, and they have won the division four of the past five seasons – and six of the last nine seasons. They often don't seem to be the "popular choice" to win the division, yet – with the exception of Watson's rookie season, 2017 – they always seem to win it. As I see it, they are the division favorites until someone else does.
Chris from Neptune Beach, FL
Your mobile site is awful still. (General Manager) Dave (Caldwell) has done a great job. Traded one Top 5 pick for two mid-first-rounders. The Los Angeles Rams aren't winning the Super Bowl, but they are better than the Jags, right? So far, we have K'Lavon Chaisson and another pick this year? Sorry, I wasn't keeping up. But we still have a bevy of picks next year, including the Rams' first-round selection. That's good enough for me this year. Over the last 25 years, I've tried to go to two games a year. I didn't/don't have a lot of money.) I'll probably try to get to two games this year. Minshew is way more entertaining than Blaine Gabbert ever was in 2013.
Jeff from Orange, CA
Do you think if we had a regular preseason where fans and the broader media outside of Jacksonville had a chance to see James Robinson, that there would be more enthusiasm about what he brings? In other words, should we have some cautious optimism that the Jaguars can have a somewhat effective running game without any name-brand players?
There likely would be a bit more enthusiasm about Robinson had more people already seen him play, though skepticism would fairly remain until he performed in the regular season. But yes … there should be cautious optimism about the Jaguars' running game. Name-brand running backs aren't nearly as important to a running game as quality offensive-line play. The Jaguars believe they will have the latter. If they're correct, the name and experience of the running back may not matter all that much.
Bateman from South Florida
Assuming DJ Chark Jr. is the leading receiver on the team this year, who would you predict to finish as the second-leading receiver on the team?
Rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.
Sascha from Cologne, Germany
Hey, John. Just trying to understand. I know Head Coach Doug Marrone can't say we will lose a lot of games and I also know the media is searching for headlines, but how comes this big gap between playoff talk and 0-16?
Because the perception of the Jaguars among national and local observers is dramatically different than what the team believes.
Jack from St. Augustine, FL
What purpose does the injury report serve other than supporting bookmaking – either legal or illegal?
Patrick from Victoria, Canada
Hi, John. Is James O'Shaughnessy ahead of Tyler Eifert on the depth chart? If he is, are you surprised? Thanks.
O'Shaughnessy indeed is listed ahead of Eifert on the Jaguars' unofficial Week 1 depth chart. I was mildly surprised at this, but remember: While there is one tight end position on the depth chart, there are many offensive formations that include two tight ends. I expect both players to play a lot with a minimal difference in snaps.
Jim from Jagsonville
Talent is talent. Character is character. Balance or opposition? Only the Jaguar knows ...
Can I mumbo dogface to the banana patch?
Rusty from New Iberia, LA
When signing players such as defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church, we were told the plan was only to keep them for a year or two until we can replace them with good draft picks. Is it safe to say that plan has failed?
Not particularly. The "plan" in a sense is still playing out because we don't yet know how all the drafted players will fare in the NFL. In the case of Church (Ronnie Harrison) … yeah, the plan probably failed. In the case of Campbell (Josh Allen?), Jackson (Taven Bryan?) and Bouye (CJ Henderson?) … stay tuned.
Bill from Folkston, GA
Just looked over the depth chart. Been reading your O-Zone for a few years. Been following football since Super Bowl I, been following the Jags since the beginning. Sad to say, this season, I just don't care what happens at all.
Darron from Jacksonville
How long before teams start putting social media clauses in contracts stating players will be penalized for negative statements about the team?
Not soon, if ever. The NFL Players Association understandably discourages teams from mandating what players can and can't say publicly. Remember: players in a sense aren't as much "employees" as "independent contractors" and operate under a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Teams discourage such statements, as does common sense. But, teams are unlikely to put such a thing in writing.
Michael from Jacksonville
So, this year we want the Los Angeles Rams to have the worst record and the Minnesota Vikings the second-worst while we win the Super Bowl. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.