JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Leader from Jacksonville
You know what? I'm still extremely irritated at the front office for losing yet another top talent. But after the ESPN crying by the current "slighted " player, just trade him for peanuts and be done with it at this point. Everyone wants to be on a winning team with a "winning culture" but what happened to being the change to culture and being the DRIVING FORCE behind winning? The weak want to be on the easy and paved road to glory. Champions take the situation they have (good or bad) and champion the change needed to win. Let the "slighted" cry baby go! Yeah, our front office is stupid, but it is clearly a two-way street here.
This is about Yannick Ngakoue, and the defensive end on Tuesday again made news by criticizing the team and saying he doesn't want to play for the Jaguars anymore. Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know well the story by now. Ngakoue and the Jaguars couldn't agree to a contract extension last offseason, which led to him holding out of training camp. He was unhappy about the situation throughout last season; he evidently remains unhappy. But while I understand that many Jaguars fans are upset with the team that Ngakoue is upset, I do wonder how much the front office could have done to prevent this. The team tried to offer him a contract extension last season – a year before he was scheduled to hit free agency. The Jaguars offered him what they believed was fair. Were they supposed to make him the NFL's highest-paid defensive end when he wasn't the best defensive end on his own team? Were they supposed to pay him like an elite player when it has become clear in recent weeks that the rest of the NFL doesn't see him that way? Had the Jaguars paid him what he wanted and he followed that with the same seasons in 2020 and 2021 as he had in 2018 and 2019, fans would have criticized the front office – deservedly so – for the move. As far as Ngakoue's comments on ESPN Tuesday … they're regurgitations of what he has been tweeting. He feels the Jaguars mistreated him. He wants out. Maybe the team will trade him, but know this: The Jaguars aren't trading him for "peanuts." If they get what they believe is a good deal, they may trade him. If not, then he can play for the Jaguars this season or no other team. The Jaguars used the franchise tag on him this offseason for a reason, and that's how the tag works.
Rob from St. Augustine, FL
Bucs got it right. Went back to their classic Alstott, Lynch, Brooks unis. When is Jacksonville gonna stop messing around with changes and put on the 99 uniforms, permanently?
Probably not very soon.
Nicholas from Rockville
Yann rips the Jags, we have two home games in London and it seems we have another rebuild after two straight losing seasons. When are we going to get some positive news about this team?
It remains to be seen whether the Jaguars are in a rebuild, and my sense is there will be positive news following the draft considering the team has 12 selections and is in good shape for a productive draft weekend. As far as Ngakoue ripping the Jaguars … while I like Ngakoue and wish he and the Jaguars could work out a deal, the tweets and the criticism has grown tired. I can't keep track of what he's irritated with from one day to the next. I know it's topical, but I'm bored with it.
Steve from Sunroom Couch
Dear John: Thank goodness for the Jaguars. Otherwise players like defensive end Dawuane Smoot, defensive tackle Taven Bryan and weak-side linebacker Quincy Williams would be working 9-5.
This is not true, but OK.
Brian from Cranford, NJ
I apologize in advance for the stupid question (and I know you'll retort with "only stupid senior writers") but anyway ... what exactly is a change-of-pace running back? Does this refer to the style of runner? What exactly constitutes a running back as a "change-of-pace" guy? Thanks, O.
It's not a stupid question, and there are certainly stupid senior writers. A change-of-pace back in the case of the Jaguars would be a back who is more of a make-a-defender-miss, quickness-based player as opposed to a power back.
Eder form Mexico City, Mexico
O-Man, do you think next year Ngakoue will suffer in terms of sacks without Calais Campbell? I think it's easy to make big numbers with him playing near or in the other side of the line. Do you think this affects the trade value for Yannick?
I think teams are reluctant to treat a player who has yet to prove he is elite at his position like he is elite at his position. Ngakoue is good. Very good. But he said Wednesday he is a Top 3 defensive end. An argument can be made he hasn't been the best defensive end on his team since his rookie season.
KC from Orlando, FL
With all of the draft capital, do you think the Jags would trade their second-round pick and a Day 3 pick to get into the late first round to have the extra year in the rookie contract? Keep it funky funk master!
Ray from Jacksonville
John: "This team went 6-10 last year. Needs are not scarce." Whew! I sure am glad the team has such a savvy general manager. How many rebuilds is this guy going to get? And yes, when you trade good (not great) players for picks, you're rebuilding.
I get it. You're upset. So are many others. This has caused repeated emails wondering why David Caldwell is the general manager – and bemoaning Owner Shad Khan's decision to retain him. I'm not sure what to tell you anymore. Caldwell's the general manager. He has secured an impressive 12 selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has cleaned up the salary cap for 2021 and beyond. I don't know how he'll draft moving forward. I do know his primary error was missing on quarterback Blake Bortles and that beyond that, he hasn't drafted particularly poorly. I don't know what to say beyond that. Nor do I have a solution to your angst to suggest. Watch the draft? Watch the season? See if you're right? I'm not sure where else to go.
Steve from Jacksonville Beach, FL
Mr. O, I know that fans are going to fan. However, I also know that Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone have the resources and knowledge to make intelligent decisions. As fans we tend to react rather than waiting for the plan to unfold. I remind the fans that we were 6-10 last year. If you don't make changes you can expect the same results. Let's be patient and support our team's leaders. They want the same thing that we do and that is to win. It certainly looks like they have a well-thought-out plan to get us back to be more competitive. No question, O. Just had to get it off my chest. Thanks for your daily column.
Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL
Rashaan Melvin has played for seven teams in seven seasons. He should be here for special teams and IF he ever plays, it would be if multiple players got hurt. The signing with Darqueze Dennard fell through, so now we need a SERVICEABLE vet. You know, like a starter opposite Tre Herndon. Not a practice-squad level guy? Do you think we might pursue a guy like Eli Apple (more on the level of Dennard) and not just a guy like Melvin? What if the rookie gets hurt? Rashaan Melvin would be our starting outsider corner? Yikes!
I thought I answered this, but perhaps not. The Jaguars signed Melvin with the idea that he will compete for a starting cornerback job. That likely means he will compete with an early-drafted rookie, and I would expect the rookie to win the job at some point. I don't believe they will pursue another veteran for that purpose. Also: The Jaguars like Melvin better than you do. He has started multiple times in recent seasons and has played pretty well for the most part. As far as what happens if the rookie gets hurt … no, you don't want starters getting hurt. The depth isn't as good as the starters. But Melvin as a backup is in no way a deficient situation compared to many NFL teams.
Max from Wyckoff, NJ
What do you think about the Jaguars tanking for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence next year? I know the coaches and front office don't intend on tanking, but they have to realize Trevor is exactly what we need for our franchise to turn around. What do you think?
The coaches and front office won't tank.