JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Sascha from Cologne, Germany
Hey, John. Can you give us your first insights and impressions of OTAs and maybe some standouts? Or is it too early for that?
It's indeed early – and as such, any current assessment also risks being incomplete. Remember: Although the Jaguars held three Organized Team Activities practices last week, just one was open to the media. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the offense, for example, struggled in red zone Thursday but Head Coach Urban Meyer said Lawrence was very good – and very accurate – the previous day. The biggest "takeaways" I had watching Thursday was the defensive front looks bigger compared to last season and the defensive front seven appears to have added depth and athleticism. This impression came from watching non-padded drills and a lot of work in individual sessions, so take it for what it's worth. Tight end Chris Manhertz, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in March, also had an impressive touchdown reception in red-zone work. So, there was that.
Kerry from Pasadena, MD
Zone, how likely is it that many of the "amateur general managers" cutting Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan were both critics of Tyson Alualu while he was in Jacksonville (clearly a bust for a first rounder) and now lamenting his decision not to return this spring? While neither is likely to end up in the Hall of Fame, if Taven can develop into a starter/solid contributor who plays for more than a decade, that's a "solid pick." As someone else noted, many solid contributors make an impact for teams that didn't draft them – but part of that perception likely is due to unrealistic expectations by fans of the team who originally drafted them. What say you?
I say the Jaguars believe Bryan can contribute to the defensive-line rotation this season, and Bryan played OK late last season playing "big end." Bryan in three seasons has not played to the level of Alualu, who even when criticized by Jaguars fans early in his career played at a level far higher than those fans believed. If Bryan could play somewhere near Alualu's level, he indeed will have a long career and will have lived up to his draft selection.
David from Ada, OK
You could eliminate a lot of these questions if you just changed "I don't see the harm or downside" to include "of course I'm only human." Clearly, these people see you as something more than that.
When the readers are right, they're right.
Brett from Canton, MS
I think you will be adding Marvin Jones Jr. to your list of favorite players you have covered in the near future. His personality is great, and I could see it being infectious on the team. He was a great interview on the podcast in my view, but what were your thoughts on him after sitting down with him for that interview?
Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. indeed joined the O-Zone Podcast recently, and he was as advertised – engaging, well-informed, pleasant, diverse interests. And who knows? Maybe he will be among my favorite players to cover. I'm sure membership in that club is among his priorities.
Rob from Fleming Island, FL
Do teams have any more insight as to how other teams' players are looking in OTAs or minicamp? Would Gardner be able to generate an interest for his skill set assuming he is doing well?
How Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II or any other player performs during OTAs doesn't typically matter much when it comes to trade value in the NFL. Few if any teams say, "You know what? That guy did great in a non-padded practice in May. Let's hitch the wagon there." If Minshew has any trade value this offseason, it will be based on his 20 starts over his two NFL seasons. Stay tuned.
Tom from St Johns
Since you are expected to "know it all," I would like you to read the mind of Jeff Kerr (CBSSports.com) and explain why he has such total disdain for the Jags "D." Also, is this a generally projected opinion of a majority of media "experts" when they talk 2021 Jaguar defense? Also, do you have the same low expectations?
I learned after reading your email that Kerr writes about the NFL for CBSSports.com. I don't know him, though I'm sure he does a nice job. I also don't remotely pretend to know – or care all that much about – why he feels as he does about the Jaguars' defense. This is not a commentary on Kerr; I just don't care all that much about how most national media feel about the Jaguars' defense because it makes no difference in how it performs next season. But it makes sense that Kerr (or anyone else, for that matter) lacks confidence in the unit. There are many newcomers and few big names. The unit struggled last season, with only linebacker Myles Jack playing at a high level throughout the season. When you have a lot of new and not a lot of knowns, observers typically don't have high opinions. I think the Jaguars will be better defensively next season because it feels the additions on the front will make them stouter against the run. That will improve everything else defensively. I expect it to be perhaps a season or two before the defense is in the top quarter of the league because it takes time in a transition to get a unit where you ideally want it.
David from Ada, OK
Remember that time when that NFL team had a questionable tight end on the roster and because of that they were the worst team in the league (again) and lost all their games?
I do not.
Mark from Archer, Fl
Zone, the one thing I wish the Jags had done this offseason was re-sign Keelan Cole instead of signing one of the free agents they did. He was a very solid receiver for the team. I can just imagine how much better he would be with a good quarterback throwing the ball to him.
The Jaguars' decisions at wide receiver this offseason seemed more about wanting players who filled specific roles rather than not liking Cole, specifically. They signed Phillip Dorsett II for speed and explosiveness, Jamal Agnew because he's a combination receiver/returner and Jones because of his experience and proven production in recent seasons.
Richard from Lincoln from Rhode Island
I see Jess from Glen Carbon Il's only going to check in in July. I hope he waits until at least the 21st. We all know that after that date you will be one more year older and wiser! Just saying!
That indeed is my birthday. I'll be registering on Ozoneretirementfund.com. Don't worry about a damned toaster, either. Cash is king. And XRP.
James from Destin, FL
Hi John, the people not happy with Tim Tebow just don't get it. He's on a roster of 90 currently and from what I heard is getting the league minimum for possibly playing. That is pretty low risk considering his background of being a competitive person. I honestly hope he makes the 53-man roster and does great. If he does, some will still complain. Now let's get to the more important question, what's the deal with the Culligan girl?
Some people always will complain. Always. Then again, I have no idea what you're really talking about.
DaJuane from New Jersey
Big O, I recently read an O-Zone question and response about this year's draft class having the potential to be one of the best in franchise history. In all your Jaguars wisdom, what draft class would you say is currently the best ever in franchise history?
I would have to say the 1996 and 2016 classes are close. The first three selections in 1996 – linebacker Kevin Hardy in Round 1, defensive end Tony Brackens in Round 2 and cornerback Aaron Beasley in Round 3 – contributed immediately during that season's run to the AFC Championship Game and remained core players throughout the Jaguars' ensuing three playoff seasons. Brackens perhaps was the best defensive player in Jaguars history – and he might have been better if not for injuries. The '16 class of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue so far has produced an All-Pro cornerback in Ramsey and a Pro Bowl level player in Jack – though Jack has yet to be so honored. It also brought a productive pass rusher in Ngakoue. The obvious caveat is that Ramsey/Ngakoue are no longer with the Jaguars, so that blurs the picture on whether that class ultimately is the best class in franchise history or the most disappointing.
Diana from Greenville, SC
It's here!! It's here!! My TL #16 Jersey!! Now all I need are tickets to a game! Oh wait, have those already!! Just booked the hotel, too! Longtime Clemson Fan, first-time NFL Fan. Go Trevor & Go Jags.