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O-Zone: Character building

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

RJ from Jacksonville from Tally

Do you think Gardner's supposed arm-strength issues are overblown as I do? He can make the deep throws and, as far as his last workout post, seemed to zip it to his wide receivers.

Arm strength was considered an issue for Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II entering the 2019 NFL Draft; it remains to be seen if it will factor into his long-term NFL success or failure. You're right that it didn't hurt him on deep throws as a rookie – and in fact, he was among the better deep passers in the NFL last season. But arm strength really isn't a factor on deep throws as much as it is on intermediate and longer deep-out patterns. The only sign I saw last season that indicated arm strength might be an issue was that Minshew didn't use the middle of the field particularly effectively. That could be a velocity issue, but there's also a strong case the Jaguars' receivers and tight ends – particularly the tight ends – played into this. With Minshew expected to be the starter the entire season in 2020, we should get a clearer picture on this front. His arm isn't the strongest in the NFL, but I don't believe it's so weak that he can't be effective. And as far as the much-ballyhooed recent workout post … yes, he looked good. Really good. His arm looked strong. His passes had zip. He looked impressive. I normally would caution against getting too excited about a minute-long offseason video, but hey … it has been a long offseason. Get excited about what you want.

Paul from Apalachicola, FL

Can you explain the difference between what you want (Minshew to be a Pro Bowler) and what you need (the top pick in 2021)?

The difference is if Minshew is a Pro Bowl selection in 2020 it probably means he's good – and that as a second-year player, you will be pretty sure he is ascending with a chance to be very good for a long time. The No. 1 selection in the draft gives you a chance at a good prospect – probably a quarterback in this case – but it doesn't guarantee that the player will be great. Either way, don't fret. I don't know if Minshew will be great or not, but I am confident he will be good enough to ensure the Jaguars don't finish 2020 with the NFL's worst record.

Bill from Jacksonville Beach, FL


I think we need football in the fall. Or at least a few more workout posts.

Tim from Formerly Section 123

I now find myself actively hoping that the NFL fails so badly this fall that teams start to fold. How sad is this? I have gone from a paying season-ticket holder to actually wanting the NFL to fail. I don't even know myself how this is possible, but it is the truth.

I can only guess what caused you to suddenly dislike the NFL so much. But guess what? Your desires aside, NFL teams aren't folding anytime soon. And while they may take a short-term economic hit this fall because of COVID-19 issues, the great majority will be financially solid soon enough.

James from Salt Lake City via Jacksonville

I agree: No team tanks on purpose. The Jaguars just seem to be good at losing without having to try.

Eight teams were better at it last season. Not that that makes the Jaguars good. But it does illustrate that maybe the Jaguars will have a tougher time securing the No. 1 selection than perhaps observers believe.

Tank from Tankersly, OH

So, how actually does this tanking work, John? Does [Head Coach] Doug [Marrone] walk in before the first game and say, "Hey, Gardner: Throw a bunch of picks over the next few weeks ... it will kill your career, but it will help whoever comes in to replace all of us." Or, does he simply say, "The more you guys suck then the Jaguars – who none of us will be a part of next year – will get the first pick?" Kind of sounds like a good plan to me, are you on board?

Your question outlines the ridiculousness of the whole "tanking" concept. Well done, Tank.

Josh from Atlanta. GA

Who is your favorite Jags defender that you covered? Big John (defensive tackle John Henderson) is mine, but so many to choose from. Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, safety Donovin Darius, cornerback Rashean Mathis, linebacker Daryl Smith, defensive end Tony Brackens, defensive end Calais Campbell, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, etc. There's a laundry list. One thing I take pride in is the talent we've had over the long years on defense. Offense has been embarrassing, but we have had some premier players that could really lay the wood.

I don't really have "favorite" Jaguars players. I missed covering Henderson and Stroud – and I really only caught a few seasons of Darius, Mathis and Smith. I think Brackens deserves to be in the Pride of the Jaguars. I enjoyed covering both Campbell and Posluszny very much. They were front-line players and the definition of professionalism. That's a good combination if you're covering a player.

zac from austin, tejas

Dead Zone Q: Do you play fantasy football? We need one more person for our league. I'll even post half of your buy in if you want. In any case, can you help me come up with a team name? Last year I was "RuPaul's Jag Race."

I don't fantasize about football. That's true. And it's my team name.

Darre from Khansville

I know he's included in the Pride in the stadium so he does get respect, but it seems former quarterback Mark Brunell doesn't make the list of greatest Jags as often as it seems he should. How great would wide receivers Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell have been if they didn't have someone get them the ball consistently like he did? It might just be my incorrect impression, but I feel like he should be in those conversations more consistently.

Brunell is in the conversation when people discuss the best players in Jaguars history – and he deserves to be there. I would have him unquestionably in the Top 10. But there are players I would put above him.

Marty from Jacksonville

Johnny-O, in response to KC from Orlando, who said, "It just boggles my mind that signing a contract doesn't mean anything. Players sign a contract and then they do not want to uphold what they signed." I would point out that an NFL contract basically says, "We hold your exclusive rights, and if you play for us, we will pay you this, and if you don't play, we won't pay you." So, a player who decides to sit out is NOT breaking his contract. He has a perfect right to sit out under that contract; he just doesn't get paid.


Pat from Duval

Who was better Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt or Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue?

Some of this answer depends on what you mean by "better." If you mean which defensive end combination was more complete, then you probably have to go with Clowney and Watt in their prime with the Houston Texans because both are very good run defenders in addition to being pass-rushing threats – and because Clowney is probably a better run defender than a sack specialist. If you mean which combination is purely better at affecting the quarterback, then you give Campbell and Ngakoue the nod when they were in their prime with the Jaguars – because Ngakoue is definitely a better sack specialist than all-around player. As far as Watt and Campbell, they were pretty comparable at their peaks – though Watt had a longer stretch being considered the best at the position.

Marc from Oceanway

So, if Ngakoue were to hypothetically sign his tag after Week 8, does he then make half of the total franchise tag amount?


Bill from Jacksonville

It's the Dead Zone, let's have some fun. John, can the argument be made that regardless of position, Jerry Rice is the best player in NFL history? The NFL has been a passing league for some time now, and his receiving records still appear untouchable.

Yes, a strong argument can be made that Rice is the best player in NFL history regardless of position. I considered him that when he played, and nothing has happened since to change my mind. He and former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor dominated the game from non-quarterback positions for a more extended period than any players I ever saw. I would consider Taylor part of this conversation. And former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. I'm sure there are others. Those are the three I consider first in this conversation.

Brian from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Why don't you answer my questions? You never answer my questions. This hurts.

Adversity is good for you, Brian. It builds character.