O-Zone: Cute suit

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from Atlanta, GA

That's about as favorable as schedules get. The only games I would mark now as losses would be at Houston, Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago. Everything else is up for grabs. Even the game in Los Angeles, the Chargers aren't what they used to be. They don't even have Philip Rivers at quarterback any longer. I don't think it's a stretch to think they could be at .500 in December. The Jaguars have finished last multiple times, but I can't recall such a favorable schedule.

The NFL released its 2020 schedule Thursday, and you're not alone in thinking it's relatively favorable. I heard that from more than a few observers. I'm not big on predicting records on Schedule Release Day; you don't know the true quality of most NFL teams until five or six games have been played in a given season. But on paper, this feels like a schedule that gets tougher as the season continues. I would guess the Jaguars need to get through their first seven games .500 or better to have a chance at a winning season, and I think a second-half schedule that includes games at Baltimore, at Green Bay and at Minnesota is maybe a little tougher than you think. And I am curious about the games you think are tough. I agree that Houston, Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago will be difficult. But what about the Ravens in Baltimore in December? Jaggies got that one, huh?

David from Ada, Oklahoma

Is it just me or do this first eight weeks seem a little easier than the last eight weeks? And that's maybe an advantage for the rookies

Absolutely the early part of the season looks on paper easier than the second half. That early part includes a four-of-five-game stretch against teams that finished last in their respective divisions last season. Does that help rookies? It doesn't hurt, but the NFL is such a jump in competition that rookies most rookies are going to need a few games early to acclimate no matter how tough or "easy" the schedule.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

"The Jaguars have a veteran to back up Minshew: Josh Dobbs." Okay, so technically Dobbs is a veteran. But to us mere fans, it's hard to see him as a "veteran" when he's never thrown a pass in an NFL game.

Understood.

Big on Blake from Philly

The schedule was released Thursday. And the biggest winner is our very own Senior Writer. Seven 1 p.m. home games. How do you beat that? Way to go, Zone you finally made it! Keep us all updated on how your Florida retirement goes this season.

There are also seven one o'clock road games. Days that wonderful don't come along every year. It was emotional. And thanks for thinking of me.

Chris from Space City, TX

Darren from Fort Worth asked you why the Jaguars declining to pick up running back Leonard Fournette's fifth-year option seemed to be more meaningful than other players. Not surprising you brushed the question off. A more appropriate response would be because dumpster-fire teams like the Jaguars and Chicago Bears reached on Top 5 picks in 2017. The Jaguars chose a running back who they are now trying to dump by Year 4. These teams could have Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson and be set at quarterback for 10-plus years. But because of their ignorance, they are so unsure at quarterback they both had to reach out to injury-prone Nick Foles to bail them out. Taking a running back No. 4 was a reach for any team, but our beloved Jaguars couldn't even pick the right running back. Christian McCaffrey went four picks later. This is why the Jags not picking up the fifth-year option is being discussed so much and why they're again a laughingstock. One fer this being the last year of this front office's/scouts' incompetence.

My response was more appropriate. And better.

Joshua from Lakeland, FL

I'm happy the NFL is trying to keep us optimistic about the season starting up as normal. But I can't help but wonder how realistic that expectation is. Do you think it's a realistic goal to start the season in September?

Yes. I don't know what form or fashion it will take – or whether fans will be in the stands. Or how many fans will be in the stands. The NFL set a plan by announcing the schedule Friday. There will be contingencies – probably many of them. That's the proper approach in this situation.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Coaches and probably front-office folks don't tank especially several years into an unsuccessful regime. They need their jobs.

Correct.

John from Jacksonville

Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue can gamble on himself all he wants but he would never make up $34 million. If he got $25 million a year starting next season (which would never happen), it would take five years to get dollar for dollar, and it doesn't make up for two lost years of that money. I'm not sure there is any casino that gives those odds. Yan, please get a new agent and play football.

This question is about whether Ngakoue will play the 2020 season for the Jaguars on the franchise tag. It takes into account money Ngakoue lost in 2019 by not signing the Jaguars' contract offer. There's some logic in the question. That still doesn't do much to guarantee that Ngakoue will play for the Jaguars on the tag in 2020.

Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL

Zone: Knowing what you know now, what is your current projection for the defense's ability to stop the run in 2020 (let's say on a scale of 1 to 10)? Thanks and Go Jags!!

They were about a two or three last season with one being the worst. I think they will be better. So, let's go with six. That's a first lob at the question. Maybe I'll feel differently the more I look at it.

Adam from Wescosville, PA

Do you ever see the NFL widening the field? More space would mean bigger plays.

I don't expect that.

Jim from Neptune Beach, FL

Let's go on the assumption that Yan is on the roster next season and decides to play. With the other options now available at defensive end, including Josh Allen (who has earned more time this coming year), Chaisson (you have to play a first-round draft choice), Aaron Lynch (supposedly a decent back-up), Cassius Marsh, Lerentee McCray and Dawuane Smoot, I have to wonder if Yan's going to have diminished snaps. That could hurt his sack/strip counts, making it less likely he will put up the numbers needed get paid like he wants – either here or elsewhere. His "trade-me" play could backfire money-wise. And if he decides to sit the season out, there won't be any numbers at all this year to look at. I have always enjoyed watching him play, but I think he's backed himself into a corner. Even if he decides to play, he's probably not going to get the time to make is case for that superstar contract. He's going to be disappointed any way you look at it. What say you?

I think Ngakoue probably will be disappointed with what his next contract because it feels like the Jaguars have offered about what the league considers his market value and those offers clearly have disappointed him. I think if Ngakoue plays for the Jaguars he will get more similar opportunities to what he has had in the past.

Sanford from Jacksonville

Good morning. Collin Johnson at 6-feet-6 and a big body. Could you see him transitioning to a tight end in our offense? I think management may have found a gem in this pick.

No, I think the Jaguars plan to play Johnson at wide receiver.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Dear John, Caldwell has one winning season. This was his eighth draft as Jaguars' general manager, so out of seven previous drafts that comes to 14 percent. I'm going out on a limb and predicting after the '20 season that will lower to 12.5 percent. Who else would keep their job with that success rate?

You have asked essentially the same question many fans ask, albeit with an admirable twist having applied statistics and math to the equation. My answer essentially remains the same: Many fans aren't going to believe in Caldwell until the Jaguars win. Owner Shad Khan believes he and Head Coach Doug Marrone working together – and with former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin not involved – can produce better results than the last two seasons. I have no answers that will sway people until something changes on the field. That's the situation. That's where we are.

Darren from Fort Worth, TX

Cute. Maybe those top-six ranked defenses from 2016-2018 had more to do with the talent on the roster and a lot less to do with the defensive coordinator's scheme/ability.

And maybe the 2019 defense did, too.

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