O-Zone: Bungle in the jungle

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, my single emotion regarding Minshew is meh. I was hoping we would draft Trace McSorley. He holds many Penn State records. He also had a pretty good preseason. He made the Baltimore Ravens. Hope this doesn't become another shoulda, coulda, woulda for us. Go Jags!!

Jaguars backup quarterback Gardner Minshew II was plenty productive in college at Washington State, but a player’s collegiate records aren’t all that pertinent to this discussion either way. Still, your emotion regarding Minshew is understandable because it’s hard to gauge from the preseason just what the team has in the sixth-round rookie. The positive for Minshew is he showed a lot of traits during the preseason that caused the Jaguars to draft him: poise, good decision-making at the line of scrimmage, good knowledge of the offense, good pocket awareness, etc. The negatives were the lack of arm strength – something that was well-known about Minshew before the draft – and the fact that the Jaguars did not score a touchdown in his 30 drives. The great unknown with Minshew – and the one that Head Coach Doug Marrone mentioned several times this past week – is it’s just very hard to judge his preseason performance because he was playing with backups the entire time. Would he have fared better with better protection? With a better running game? With receivers making more plays on the ball? Very possibly. In fairness to Minshew, he looked pretty much as advertised – like a smart player capable of managing the game and taking advantage of a strong running game/strong defense. That’s what the Jaguars expected. That has been enough so far for him to remain the backup. I don’t know how long he will stay in that role. The NFL changes fast, even at the quarterback position.

Stephen from Jacksonville

If the Jaguars need to improve their backup quarterback situation then maybe they can trade for one. Based on their recent dealings, do you think the Texans would be willing to trade Deshaun Watson for two seventh-round picks and a half-eaten sandwich?

I doubt it.

Brad from Orange Park, FL

Reminiscent of Jon Gruden trading Khalil Mack and telling the world in his post-loss press conference telling that the Raiders "need to get to the quarterback" … us fretting over a backup quarterback role, when we paid a definitive one $16 million and kicked him to the curb. I know - "sometimes it's time to move on." But, if Foles goes down and Minshew is dysfunctional - it will be national media open-season on how bush-league the Jaguars' front office is. I would really appreciate the inside scoop on – given the entire Bortles/Jaguars saga – what made it the perfect time for us to cut Bortles when we did, and then publicly wonder aloud whether or not we have an adequate insurance policy for our new expensive free agent quarterback.

Bortles’ 2019 contract called for him to make $16 million. If he were released, the Jaguars would have owed him $6.5 million. They weren’t going to pay him $16 million to be a backup after signing Foles, and there was no reason for Bortles to agree to a pay cut to be a backup for a franchise for which he once had been the starter. Either way: Sometimes, it’s time to move on. So, it really wasn’t all that reminiscent of what happened with the Oakland Raiders last season. It was an interesting premise, though. Or not.

Jeremy from Omaha, NE

Sunk Cost Fallacy. Taven Bryan. That is all.

It’s not “all.” Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan was inconsistent in the preseason and deservedly will not start, but he certainly is one of the best 10 defensive linemen on the team. And because his salary is guaranteed, there’s nothing to be gained from him not being on the team. It’s also too early to tell if he’s truly a “sunk cost.” Bottom line: If he continues to be a serviceable reserve, the Jaguars still will benefit from him being on the team – just not as much as they would have liked.

Chris from Odessa, TX

O, over the last two seasons has any front office botched the quarterback position as bad as the Jaguars? Not only the dead money from extending Bortles prematurely and idiotically, but now going with Minshew as the backup. I understand that backups are backups for a reason, but putting this guy on the field if anything happens to Nick Foles is a joke. A sixth-round rookie who lacks arm strength and struggled mightily against in large part other backups and guys now looking for jobs. It's one thing to have faith in the kid, but not at the expense of not being prepared in case of injury at the most important position on the field. There is no way that Minshew is the best option for backup quarterback at this time. Time for grumpy grandpa, Tom Coughlin, and his sidekick, David Caldwell, to do the right thing and sign a veteran. Let the kid hold a clipboard and wear a headset this entire season.

Who ya got?

Bill from Dansville, NY

I believe the season in which Marcell Dareus was first team All-Pro, his coach being Doug Marrone with the Buffalo Bills, they ran a 3-4 defense. You speak as if when the Jags line up in this formation, Yannick Ngakoue, Josh Allen, and Calais Campbell will be our only pass-rushing forces. Dareus racked up 10 sacks that season and led the NFL up until he was injured ... right?

I have mentioned Ngakoue, Campbell and Allen prominently in writing about the Jaguars using a 3-4 scheme because Ngakoue and Allen are the edge rushers in the scheme – and because Campbell has been the team’s best front-seven player the past two seasons. That’s not to say Dareus won’t be a factor in the pass rush. Marrone has talked often this offseason about Dareus having more potential in that area than he has shown in Jacksonville, with the main reason being he has focused on the run more since joining the Jaguars. If Dareus is a factor in the pass rush, then the defense could be otherworldly in this area.

Bill from Ponte Vedra, LA

On Minshew's defense: Not only did his receivers drop several catchable passes, but they never seemed to fight for the 50-50 balls. I didn't see any wide receiver in the game who deserves to make the team.

It’s difficult to judge backup players – particularly quarterbacks – in the preseason when they’re not playing with starters. This plays into Minshew’s favor.

Paul from St. Johns, FL

I see that DT Dontavius Russell made the final 53. I don’t remember hearing much about him in camp. What can you share about the type of player we have in Russell?

Russell is a big, space-eating defensive tackle. A seventh-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, he showed good ability during camp and preseason to get push on the interior of the line. He’s the type of player that is very hard to get through waivers to the practice squad because offensive and defensive linemen – particularly drafted ones – are at a premium.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

Hello John I took a little siesta but I'm back cuz I'm sure you're well pleased with just wanted to let you know I'm really pleased with your breakdown of the 53-man roster however I am a little confused I noticed that the Culligan girl was not among the 53 what's up with that?

I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Sean from Jacksonville

A little thin at running back? Seems a bit odd in the transactions with Alfred Blue. One day he's on the roster, the next day he's on injured reserve.

What the Jaguars did with Blue was a case of the Jaguars managing the roster to keep Blue. A player that the team wants to place on injured reserve with a possibility of returning has to be kept on the roster through Saturday at 4 p.m., after which he can be placed on injured reserve.

Sam from Orlando, FL

In response to your answer to my question about Bryan, the angst isn’t with Bryan. It’s with the fact that front office bungled ANOTHER draft pick. Then are bungling letting players earn their roster spots on the field. Bryan is caught in the middle of fans having very little faith in a front office that frankly, has looked inept more often than not on personnel matters.

First, the angst over Bryan at this point is way overblown because he has become a flashpoint. He was inconsistent in the preseason – and had a few eye-catchingly bad plays. But he was not awful all preseason – and certainly not bad enough to be released. The book is not yet closed on Bryan, though it’s true he hasn’t yet lived up to his draft status. As far as bungling letting players earn a roster spot on the field … Bryan was one of the best 10 defensive linemen on the roster. Having him on the team is not “bungling.”

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