JACKSONVILLE – The dead zone understandably feels as if it's starting early.
That means those who find my answers dissatisfying may find them more even dislikeable. Or, to paraphrase the great Eugene Levy: "You think you hate it now, but wait 'til you drive it." Perhaps that doesn't apply here. Whatever. I laugh at that line every time.
Let's get to it …
Roger from London, UK
Hi, John. First, thank you for keeping us all informed and entertained during an offseason that's even more turgid than usual due to virus lockdown. Where would we be without you?! My question: you have hinted you believe Jags will go better than 6-10 this season, so can you say what gives you this confidence? I've gone into the start of every season I can remember thinking that 8-8 or better should be possible … apart from this one. This one worries me as I can see us going 1-5 or even 0-6 in the AFC South, and that in-division performance is fatal to any team.
Have I hinted that I believe the Jaguars will win more than six games in 2020? Perhaps – though this strange offseason has served to make the memory a bit fuzzier than normal. I have said more than once that the Jaguars feel like a six-to-eight-victory team. There are multiple reasons for this. I think contending for the postseason will be difficult for a team so young. I don't see this team being all that much worse than last season's 6-10 team. I believe quarterback Gardner Minshew II's clutch-ness and savvy will win a few games. I have a hard time seeing the Jaguars over .500 because of their youth. All those factors combined seem to point to six-to-eight-ish victories. Perhaps the Jaguars will surprise me. Stranger things have happened. As for where you and other readers would be without me … lost, Roger. You would be lost in a gray, joyless place where people wander the dusty nether regions of this vast wasteland we call the internet wondering, "Where can I go to get biased, dull, team-sponsored responses to questions about my favorite team? If only there were somewhere free where I could go for this?" Alas, you would be plum out of luck. You're probably asking, "Who would want to live in a world like that?" Not I, Roger. Not I.
KC from Florida
I've heard that some teams had Henderson ranked higher on their board than Okudah. Do you have any insight on what exactly those scouts liked about Henderson more than Okudah?
Jaguars rookie CJ Henderson and Detroit Lions rookie Jeff Okudah were considered the best cornerbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Okudah generally was considered the better prospect, which was reflected by his being selected No. 3 overall compared to Henderson being selection No. 9. Those who liked Okudah better typically believed he was the best overall player while those who liked Henderson better believed he was the better pure coverage player.
Brian from Jacksonville
Enjoyed your choice of the '93 Florida State at Florida game. That was the loudest crowd of all time. The pre-snap noise on the epic Charlie-Ward-to-Warrick Dunn-touchdown play was other worldly, wasn't it? I swear you could see the sound waves. Incredible. Matched only by the silence that fell over Florida Field as Ward pulled his magician act and escaped a sure sack to hit Dunn and send him sailing down the visitors' sideline. I'll never forget it. It was beautiful.
That was the loudest outdoor crowd I've ever heard. No doubt.
Justin from New York City
What is going on with Lot J for those of us outside of Jacksonville?
Lot J currently is being used by the City of Jacksonville as a COVID-19 testing site, so any work on the Lot J development adjacent to TIAA Bank Field is on hold. As for the long-term development around the stadium, that's still a goal of the city and of the team. As is typically the case with such things, approval and progress takes time – and as might be imagined in these times, focus is more on short-term needs than long-term projects. Still, the Hart Bridge ramp destruction that is so important to the downtown projects beginning is underway, and developing the area remains a priority for the franchise.
Scott from Medford, NJ
I bought a new car last year. Named him Jean Ralphio.
Don't you work at Lady Foot Locker?
Bob from Sumter, SC
I think the player to watch this year is Shenault. The Jaguars have never had a guy who could take a Wildcat snap, run a jet sweep, turn a five-yard pass into a 20-yard gain. He could really open things up on the offense and be a great guy to move around in a West Coast offense.
I also see wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. as the most intriguing player in the Jaguars' rookie class. He has a unique skillset for this offense that fits a league-wide trend of versatile offensive players playing various – and perhaps "nontraditional" – roles. What's intriguing is that Shenault was the kind of player offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wanted for his scheme. Gruden likes to move skill position players around before the snap to create favorable matchups. Stay tuned on this one.
Keith from Palatka, FL
We are not chums and we never will be, Fred.
Well done, Kevin.
Doc from Gainesville, FL
I don't understand people that want to applaud Dave Caldwell for getting picks when trading failed draft picks or failed free agent signings.
The applause Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell gets for doing this isn't loud or lengthy, and it typically comes with the caveat that there often have been some mistakes that have led to the players being traded. At the same time, let's give credit where it's due: defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye weren't "mistakes;" rather, they were successful with the Jaguars and later traded at time when skills were declining a bit. Here's one way to look at Caldwell's 2020 offseason: Some things went wrong to get the Jaguars into their situation entering this offseason, and some things – such as older players reaching the end of their Jaguars career – went at least somewhat according to plan. The point people make when "applauding" Caldwell is he appears to have done a lot right this offseason given the circumstances. Whether those decisions will work out and he will get applause later obviously remains to be seen.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, my quarantine was going great until the last few days when the Jason Isbell album came out and now she wants to listen to it all the time with me. Thank you?
Get separate Apple Music accounts. Trust me.
Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL
To me, the answer to "Why not Andy Dalton, Cam Newton or Jameis Winston?" is obvious: sign any one of them and you undercut Minshew. If you think he might be the guy, you don't cause a quarterback controversy. Do you agree?
That's some of it. Some of it is money. Some of it is not believing the player theoretically being acquired might be interested in signing with the team at the current time. Some of it is not being convinced a certain player is an upgrade over what's on the roster. A lot goes into roster moves.
Josh from Atlanta, GA
Does Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette lack the speed to get in the end zone from far out? I feel like he has had quite a few breakaway runs that end with him getting caught from behind. Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry ends up in the end zone all the time as a big back from distance. Just curious, because I understand Leonard Fournette to have pretty solid speed.
Fournette didn't finish from long distances in the last season or so as often as he did as a rookie. That in part can be attributed to defenders having good tackling angles on a few of his opportunities, and Fournette on a couple of occasions seemed to get caught from behind. Henry, for his part, finishes a lot of his runs by breaking tackles by defensive backs and linebackers as he nears the end zone; he's something of a bowling ball with special abilities in that way. This is an area Fournette no doubt would like to improve in 2020. Doing so would go far toward getting him into the "elite" category.
Cole from Jacksonville
Is it champ or chomp? As in "I am champing at the bit to watch live football."
You see it spelled both ways, and dictionaries and grammatical books acknowledge both forms. The original phrase "champing at the bit" came from "champ," meaning chew. So a horse therefore was "champing at the bit". I still prefer "champing," but I'm a traditionalist. Either way, I'm not as passionate about the phrase as I am the use of the oxford comma – which, by the way, is never correct when used in relation to any journalistic endeavors. Period.