O-Zone: Coming home to roast

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let’s get to it …

Geoffrey from Orlando, FL

After four years of trying to “fix” Bortles’ accuracy issues, sign me up for the most accurate passer in the draft. That would seem to be Kyler Murray. Dude drops dimes. He’s up to 207 pounds; that shows he is willing to craft his body into an NFL player. After success of shorter-than-average Baker Mayfield – and of course, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees – where do you see Murray falling in the draft?

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has become The One and Only Story of the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine – and he is in that sense one of the most fascinating pre-draft stories in recent memory. As far as your question … my first thought is I hesitate to compare anyone with Brees. He’s an all-time great and it’s dangerous to think you can replicate greatness based on comparables such as size. My second thought is I liked what Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone had to say about this topic Wednesday. Marrone essentially said that his experience in the NFL – and when recruiting as a college coach – was that while there were exceptions to all rules, he had learned over time that straying from normal measurables with players got you burned more often than not. Marrone quickly added that there are times when a player is so good that straying from the measurables can get you a great player. As far as your question, it’s not so much a matter of Murray’s willingness to “craft” himself into an NFL player as much as whether he can succeed in the NFL playing his style. He used athleticism and quickness to excel outside the pocket in college, and without having to read NFL-level defenses and without having to face players with NFL speed. Also: The NFL exposes players to more physical punishment, and Murray’s style will expose him to more than if he were a pocket passer. There’s no way around it. Wilson indeed has excelled playing that way. Time will tell if Mayfield will as well. I can’t really say that Brees does it, because Brees has learned over time to excel in the pocket despite his size. I don’t know if Murray can do the same. I sense that some team will believe in him enough to take him in the Top 10. I absolutely don’t sense that team will be the Jaguars.

Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hi John, Come on free agency! I’m dying for some action!

Baby needs a new pair of shoes!

Jason from Da’Hass

John, I've been behind in the O-Zone action for the past few days, but just got caught up. #HaskinsOrBust. Do what you gotta do to get to No. 1. Nick Foles at $20 million-to-$22 million per year is absolute insanity and will put the franchise back years, so of course Foles will suit up for the Jags next year. Compensatory pick formula a mystery you say? Someone on the Patriots staff figured it out as they, once again, have a treasure trove of draft picks this year.

A few thoughts on your thoughts. One is that while Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins seems to have become something of an afterthought in the consciousness of Jaguars observers this week, I don’t sense he’s at all out of the picture for the team. Another thought is that while many around the combine have completely bought into the story that Foles will be the quarterback of the Jaguars next season, I don’t sense that’s a done deal. Also: the compensatory process isn’t on its surface a mystery. If you lose more than you gain in free agency one offseason you will receive compensatory selections the following year. But the specifics of the formula are indeed a mystery as the NFL doesn’t announce the details – even to teams.

Robert from Oneota, NY

Thought I’d mess up the trend and not talk about quarterbacks … well not directly. I understand it is time to move on from Blake. It’s inevitable, c’est la vie. Your comment about Bortles not stepping up during the injuries is part of the reason he is leaving. OK, I get that, too. What I do not understand, if the above premise is true, why is Marrone still here? What did he do to step up his game, besides throw others under the bus? He gets another chance? Why? The light from the 2017 season still blinding people? As much as I like the Jags, ever consider 2017 was a fluke – an aberration in the time/space continuum of the NFL? The Jags beat some good teams in that run, but they also lost to the Jets, 49ers, Cardinals and twice to the Titans. I understand the decision has been made. I also know that “fair” is someplace you buy a pig … and … no, coaching is not everything in the NFL, but this Marrone fellow needed to go along with Blake and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Save the 2019 season from the drama of replacing the HC. Get on the road to stability. Go Jags!

So, if I’m reading this right … one not fer Marrone.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

Hi John, and Happy Combine! Do you think it's possible that what Caldwell meant by "big picture" is that they're thinking of going after Nick Foles for the here and now AND drafting a QB at No. 7 for the future?

I don’t think that’s what he meant, and I don’t think that’s what the Jaguars will do. I wouldn’t rule it out, and I think it’s something they should consider, but I don’t at this point think it’s something they will do.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

I always noticed an uptick in the quality of your work around early to mid-November. When do you truly activate “Playoff Zone” and is that before or after Eugene (Gene) “Playoffs” Frenette is in full swing?

There wasn’t an uptick in the quality of my work. You got that wrong.

Chris from London, UK

Mighty O, Last year many fans were concerned about offensive-line depth and the way the season played out it’s hard to argue with them. Given the number of offensive linemen with contracts expiring, I’m extremely nervous at the moment, am I missing some grand plan??

I’m sorry you’re nervous. Having problems with nerves can be … nerve-racking. Fans will always be concerned about offensive-line depth for the simple reason that NFL teams will hardly ever have it. There simply aren’t enough good linemen for all teams to have good starters; much less good depth. Yes, the Jaguars have a lot of lineman becoming free agents. I expect they will re-sign one or two, perhaps acquire one as a free agent and almost certainly acquire at least one in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Chase from Hilliard, FL

Is it possible that even if the Jags sign a free agent quarterback such as Foles, that they still take a QB at No. 7 in the draft as well?

It’s possible. I doubt it will happen.

Jeff from Jacksonville

John, I'm confused by the sentiment that Bortles didn't "elevate the play" of those around him. You have said this often, but I have heard it other places as well. My question is how is one expected to elevate the play of replacement level players (on the offensive line, wide receiver/tight end corps, and backfield)? This is not an email in support of Bortles because I agree it is time to move on. I’m just curious as to what that would look like to you. And what is it about Nick Foles that suggests he would have been any different given that he struggled in very similar situations (thinking about his first stint in Philly and his time in St. Louis?)

You’re right that Bortles wasn’t in a “fair” situation this past season. The best answer for why the Jaguars are moving on is probably less about one specific game or stretch of games and more about being able to see after five seasons that the Jaguars just generally need to improve at the position. They tried it with Bortles. They stuck with it. And while there were moments of success, the feeling is that there weren’t enough and that it’s time to go another direction. As far as Foles … no, the Jaguars aren’t getting an elite quarterback if they sign him. They’re getting a player who has struggled at times. What the Jaguars would be getting is a player they believe is better enough to squeeze a bit more out of this offense and turn some close losses into victories. That sort of improvement at the position can mean a lot.

John from Priest River, Idaho

Those quarterbacks are already “seasoned” veterans. Why not leave them on the roaster?

Because sometimes, it’s time to move on. And because sometimes, it’s time to get a guy off the roaster lest he … well … roast.

Advertising