JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Dave from Dallas TX
Hey, Mr. O: Wow, a $200,000 fine for OTA violations seems unreasonable and annoying. What did we do wrong? How did the NFL discover it? Do they have spies at all venues? Can we appeal it?
You're referencing the Jaguars this week being fined $200,000 for violating Organized Team Activities protocols during the 2021 offseason program – and Head Coach Urban Meyer being fined $100,000 for the same issue. The Jaguars as a result also will lose two OTA practices in the 2022 offseason. I find it curious, though, that you ask what the Jaguars did wrong and say the fine is unreasonable. Perhaps it's perfectly reasonable – or perhaps the fine is mild compared to the transgression? As far as what the Jaguars did wrong, the violations reportedly involved contact between wide receivers and defensive backs in a June 1 OTA practice. It hasn't been reported how the NFL discovered it, but violations are typically reported to the NFL/NFL Players Association with an investigation taking place afterward. Mark Long of the Associated Press reported the Jaguars saying the following: "The Jaguars are vigilant about practicing within the CBA rules and will re-emphasize offseason training rules as they relate to contact." There was no mention of an appeal.
Jon from Brentwood, UK
Mr. O, is the news about the Jags being fined for OTA breaches concerning given the previous history of the franchise in this area? Is this Coach Meyer not being fully conversant with the details of the CBA or – more worryingly in my opinion – an indication that his methods could bring him into conflict with the league on a regular basis? Or is this just another example of the over protectiveness of the NFLPA? My concern is its effect on Coach Meyer's vision for the new ethos in Jacksonville.
A $200,000 fine is not nothing. The loss of two OTA practices next offseason also is not nothing. But a team getting penalized for OTA violations also isn't any way unique. The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys received penalties this offseason. It has nothing to do with the NFLPA's issues with the Jaguars during the tenure of Tom Coughlin as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, and there's no reason to think it will mean some ongoing conflict between Meyer and the NFLPA. The Jaguars lost a couple of OTAs next year and will pay a fine. It's not indication of a crisis.
Josh from Atlanta, GA
Two OTAs next year? Seriously? What in the hell is the NFL smoking? Obviously not the good stuff because that is not chill. We all know how INSANELY INVALUABLE OTAs are. (Sarcastic tone noted)
Sean from Jacksonville
$200,000 and $100,000? Ouch.
Sean from Jacksonville
So, the supplemental draft? Necessary? Time to move on from one of the most misunderstood events in the NFL?
The NFL this year has opted not to hold the supplemental draft for a second consecutive year. But just because the league hasn't held it for two years – and just because you don't understand it – doesn't mean the league should "move on" from the entire concept. The NFL holds the supplemental draft for players whose collegiate eligibility changes after the regular draft. Some years, players get selected via this system. Some years, they don't. It wasn't necessary this year, but that doesn't mean it never will be necessary again.
Jesse from Texas
Is it possible that Gardner Minshew II could outplay Lawrence in training camp, and earn the right to be the Jags' starter at the beginning of the regular season?
In theory, yes.
Vitaly from Jacksonville
Do you see any breakthroughs with the team in applying analytics in new and innovative ways? Fans keep reading and hearing about all these numbers, but at this point, it just seems like coaches don't really know how to apply all that info in a productive way yet. (Unless they are hiding it, which is certainly possible) Anything you are able to disclose candidly?
Analytics is more of a tool to be used by all involved with a football operation than anything specific that you can point to and say, "Yes, this is Analytics!!!" It has changed – or at least started to change – how NFL head coaches think about certain situations such as when to go for first downs on fourth down, when to go for two-point conversions, etc. It also is being used to analyze how far players run in practice and other areas of performance, as well as studying opponents' tendencies and so on. The Jaguars and other teams aren't going to discuss everything they do in this area, but it undoubtedly is part of the NFL and will remain so.
Marcus from Jacksonville
John, I may be in the minority, but I don't really understand the clamoring of fans to sign another tight end. I realize our tight end room is not stellar, and there are no explosive star players in there, but as I look around the league, I don't see that as a major problem. I think players like Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers and a couple others mess up the curve and make it seem like you need a 1,000-plus-yard receiver at tight end to be good. Of all the playoff teams last year, only two had a tight end that had more than 700 yards receiving and Kelce – being No. 1 – doubled the yards of the No. 2 guy. I think an explosive tight end would be great, but it doesn't seem like a requirement in order to have a successful team.
Chris from Canal Winchester, OH
For some reason, John, I thought you went to Englewood (which answered a lot of questions about you). Now you say you went to Episcopal? Well, that does provide better answers. LOL Go Saints! C/O '82
I've always said I went to Episcopal. To have said anything else would be lying. I often lie because I am by nature deceitful, dishonest and believe there's no reason to tell the truth when the opposite will suffice. But not in this case. Go Saints Go.
Andy from St. Augustine, FL
While I know that there is (almost) always competition at every position, can the Joe Schobert signing now be considered a "miss?" I'm thinking when he was signed the thought was to have him penciled in as a starter for the next few seasons, not to have to compete with Damien Wilson in Year 2 of his tenure. I know I was a little underwhelmed with his play last season. He seemed to take poor angles to the ball more than I would have liked.
We're slightly ahead of ourselves here. Schobert started 16 games for the Jaguars in 2020 after signing as an unrestricted free agent from the Cleveland Browns. He led the team in tackles and interceptions. I don't know precisely what role Schobert will play in 2021. Perhaps he will start alongside Myles Jack. Perhaps he will play largely as a nickel linebacker, which would mean being on the field "only" about 70 percent of the time. Perhaps it will be a combination. I don't know if that would be overwhelming, underwhelming or just whelming. But I also don't know that it would necessarily be a "miss."
Jerry from Italia, FL
Zone, when we drafted Lawrence, I wondered what would happen to Minshew and thought the two would not be able to coexist with Minshew having such a big personality. However, this might not only work but it may be the best possible situation for the Jags. Minshew was going to go to Alabama not Washington State to improve his chances of getting into coaching; he knows his limitations. Also, minor things like getting his haircut after fans started making a competition out of who had the best hair shows Minshew doesn't want to hamper Lawrence's position as the leader of the team. Don't get me wrong: if Minshew has a chance to start somewhere, I'm sure he would go in a heartbeat and if given the opportunity to start here we'll get his absolute best. However, with the current situation I think Minshew will be an outstanding backup and an incredible resource for Lawrence. What are your thoughts on this?
I, like many observers, entered the offseason believing that Minshew likely would be traded – in part because of the co-existence issue to which you refer; it just seemed it would be a tricky transition for Minshew from starter/focus of attention to backup and relative obscurity. This was an assumption based in large part on "conventional wisdom" and had nothing to do with anything said by the Jaguars. You know what they say about assuming …
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, have you ever thought about making an effort to find the best taco ever in an effort to curb your Sbarro addiction?
How hard is it to find Taco Bell?