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O-Zone: Better things

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jeremy from Jacksonville

When quarterback Gardner Minshew II's hand is fully healed, does he take back over as starter? Speaking of which, how long is he projected to be out?

This remains uncertain. I don't expect Minshew to return to the lineup this season unless rookie quarterback Jake Luton falters – and while Luton was better against the Houston Texans in his NFL debut two weeks ago than he was on a windy day against the Green Bay Packers this past week, he very definitely has not faltered. Head Coach Doug Marrone said Monday he doesn't expect Minshew to be ready to play Sunday against Pittsburgh; beyond that, we don't yet know.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

What is the worst mistake of the last five years from this organization?

From a long-term perspective, and with the benefit of hindsight, the answer clearly is not selecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft. It was a short-term decision to take running back Leonard Fournette No. 4 overall that offseason, and Fournette was key to the team's run to the AFC Championship Game that season. But there was a gnawing feeling at the time that the short-team gain might lead to long-term pain. Ouch.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John: So many questions from Germany lately. Seems we have a community here. Now, to my question. Do you think it was a good decision to draft rookie defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson? It's too early to judge, but I don't see the reason why General Manager Dave Caldwell said in April they barely drafted him with the first pick.

Caldwell said the Jaguars nearly drafted Chaisson at No. 9 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft because he was as athletic and gifted as any defensive player in the draft. Was it a good decision? Stay tuned.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

"Win now." "Our goal is to win every game." "We like our roster." These are things a head coach must say. But the reality is that the Jaguars are in a rebuilding year. There is no lack of effort. No lack of drive. No lack of coaching/game planning. There is simply not enough talent. With some key picks in next year's draft (we have plenty of picks) and a top free agent or two (we have cap space), we really could see a winning team next year. And regarding quarterback: a likely first-round draft pick aside, if we had to choose between Minshew and Luton, wouldn't you go with Luton? Like Minshew, Luton has confidence, toughness and mobility. But Luton appears to have a stronger arm, and he absolutely has something Minshew will never have – prototypical height.


KC from South Florida

A lot of fans have been saying "Losing is winning and winning is losing" lately. This is obviously all about getting the highest possible draft pick to take a potential franchise quarterback. My question is, what if the Jags pull off a victory or two the rest of the way and end up out of the Top 3 draft picks? They will obviously have the ammo of draft picks to move up for the quarterback they like, but would they actually do it? The Jags don't really have a history of moving up in the draft. If you were general manager, would you trade a haul to move up to No. 1 or No. 2?

If I could, sure. But there's a very good chance this season that teams sitting at No. 1 or 2 overall won't trade no matter how much "ammo of draft picks" another team offers. Remember: If you're willing to trade many draft selections for a player you want there's every possibility the team with which you're trying to trade wants that player more than it wants your draft selections.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

If this team had defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and Calais Campbell we would be awesome and a playoff team. You guys talking like we better off without them? The truth is our general manager did a bad job of drafting to replace those players. Defensive tackle Taven Bryan and safety Ronnie Harrison were the draft picks meant to replace that talent and that is why we are where we are. Bad drafting on the defensive side is why we are bad. Just having Malik and Gip over Bryan and whoever would make this team competitive.

You're correct about Bryan and Harrison. I don't know that you're correct about the Jaguars being awesome and a playoff team if they had Jackson, Gipson, Ramsey and Campbell. The Jaguars had those players in 2018. They were not a playoff team. And they were not awesome.

Keith from Palatka, FL

I root for my favorite team to lose each game because it is the only path to hope. We currently only have backup quarterbacks on our roster; what we need is a franchise quarterback. If we can lose out, then we can get either Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (dream scenario) or Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The Jaguars have no one to blame but themselves for the majority of their fan base hoping they lose. They have lost so much in the last decade it is approaching historical. If Owner Shad Khan has any common sense left, he will give this beleaguered fan-base hope beyond just a franchise quarterback. He needs to give us a new general manager and a new head coach. If he does not do that, I am afraid he is facing a "peasant revolt" that will be seen in masses of fans throwing in the towel on a franchise that has brought mostly misery since he became the owner.


David from The Island

Does Keenan McCardell get a serious look for a head coaching job in 2021?

I hope so because I think McCardell eventually could be a very good head coach. I doubt it because the avenue is typically assistant to coordinator to head coach. McCardell is currently the Jaguars' wide receivers coach, so he probably needs to be a coordinator first. He also isn't helped by the Jaguars' record in recent seasons. That's probably not fair. But the path to an NFL head coaching position isn't always fair.

Zac from Austin, TX

DiRocco says that not drafting defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson would have been worth getting Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. I could understand not wanting to open this can of worms in your Q&A but … thought?

You probably would have had to not draft cornerback CJ Henderson at No. 9 overall and Chaisson at No. 20 to move up to No. 6 to select Herbert. But yeah … I would have done that. But just one question: Who's DiRocco?

Ken from Jacksonville

There have been several players that passed thru waivers that it appears could help our football team to improve. The next one in line would be cornerback DeAndre Baker that the New York Giants recently released. Why is it we never express interest in these players even though they appear to be capable of improving our team? If a player is claimed by a certain team, do they inherit the contract that the player had when he gets whacked or does his new team offer him a new contract?

Teams don't typically "express" interest in players on waivers; they either claim players off waivers or don't. And the Jaguars often do claim players off waivers. They recently reportedly put a waiver claim in on guard Pat Eiflein following his release from the Minnesota Vikings. The New York Jets, who are currently ahead of the Jaguars on the waiver claim list, also claimed Eiflein and were awarded his rights. And yes … a team claiming a player off waivers claims the contract of the player with the former team.

Ryan from Detroit, MI

Zone - assuming the Jags end up with a Top 3 pick and draft a quarterback in the first round, who do you think would stay on the roster as backup quarterback: Minshew or Luton? Do you think we could get a Day 3 pick in return for either of them in a trade?

I would lean toward Luton on this, though I wouldn't lean far yet because we've only seen Luton for two games. I do think the Jaguars could perhaps get a sixth or seventh-round selection for Minshew.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

Best thing that ever happened to the Steelers and the worst for the Jaguars was Jags being moved from AFC Central. We owned the Steelers and still do: more wins, more points and more playoff victories head to head. Do you see the dominance continuing Sunday?

The Steelers have won six Super Bowls, so I don't know that the Jaguars moving out of their division is the "best thing" that ever happened to them. But no … I don't see the Jaguars beating the Steelers Sunday.