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O-Zone: Funny guys

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Pat from Duval

Did Gardner Minshew II's style of reading coverages reduce wide receiver Keelan Cole's targets? Cole has had some incredible plays with little separation and has some impressive possession abilities combined with deceptive speed. I suppose it's possible he regressed last season. If not, what will it take for Minshew to put faith in him?

I didn't get the sense that Cole regressed last season – or that Minshew didn't have faith in him. While he caught 24 passes in 2019 compared to 38 in 2018, you may have to look a little closer to analyze Cole's production. He caught 29 of his 38 passes in 2018 in the first two months of the season, then dropped off dramatically; at the time, he had struggled with drops and appeared to lose confidence a bit. He then had 20 of his 24 receptions in 2019 in the second half of the season – a time during which he seemed to be regaining the form he showed as a rookie in 2017. A look at the last three games of last season – all played with Minshew at quarterback – is reason for optimism about Cole's future. Minshew targeted him 12 times during that span, with Cole catching seven passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. That translates to about 37 receptions for 885 yards and five touchdowns over a 16-game season. That's nearly 24 yards a reception, so Cole won't maintain that this season. But those last three games could be a good sign for Cole contributing more in 2020.

Tom from Shanghai, China

Who would you say is the Jaguars' best player at present? Not most important, but best at their job in comparison to the rest of the league. I'd like to say wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. or defensive end Josh Allen, but I think – unfortunately – the answer is Josh Lambo. It's not a good thing when your kicker is your best player, is it?

You're probably right that Lambo is the best Jaguars player compared to other positions across the league. He is one of the best handful of kickers in the NFL right now – and has been since joining the Jaguars in 2017. It's not intrinsically bad for a kicker to be that good. It's not bad for any player to be that good. What you would like for the Jaguars is for more players to be on the level of Chark, Allen and right tackle Jawaan Taylor. They're all ascending, young players who have the potential to be among the best in the NFL at their positions relatively soon. Those three are a good start. More are needed.

Dan from Ormond Beach, FL

Good morning, John.

Is it?

Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hey Zone: What is the first date that any Jaguars players will be on site, on the field and practicing (if such a date is currently slated)? Second, if you had to make the projection based only on the information known now, how would you describe the conditions on game days this season for the fans in light of the pandemic-related concerns (e.g. negligible changes as compared to past seasons; limited number of fans permitted at each game with social distancing, etc.)? Thanks O, and GO JAGS.

When Jaguars players will be on site remains to be seen. The best projection right now is around July 28; that's when training camps are expected to begin under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. But this is a fluid time, and players and owners could agree on a different start date. As far as conditions for fans at games … we're a little less than three months from the scheduled start of the regular season. The NFL currently is planning on full stadiums with no restrictions. That doesn't seem realistic, but how much the NFL will have to steer away from that plan? I wish I had a better answer, but I have no idea.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

What's up with Ryquell Armstead? Think he will get more touches this year than last? He looked pretty good with a small amount of opportunities last year. Seems like he can get to the edge quicker than Leonard Fournette and runs with purpose. With this being Fournette's last year, it might be worth it to see what they have with him.

Armstead showed flashes with very limited opportunities last season. But barring injury, I am skeptical he will get significant more opportunities this season. The Jaguars are unlikely to take Fournette off the field in base situations in favor of Armstead, and Fournette doesn't request to leave the game very often. Also: newly-signed Chris Thompson figures to have a significant role as a third-down back. That likely will reduce Fournette's role in that situation and make it less likely for him to be unavailable in base situations. Or I could be completely wrong about this. Like usual.

Sam from Orlando, FL

So many people point at the Amendments and how we must protect them when there is a mass gun tragedy in this country. But people get very, very upset about people practicing their amendment rights peacefully before the start of a children's game known as football.


Adam from Wescosville, PA

When and why did quarterbacks stop calling their own plays?

This began going away in the 1970s, when offenses began becoming a bit more complex and coaches began wanting to control play-calling from the sidelines. Coaches such as Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers soon thereafter began scripting plays early in games – and as offenses became more complex, it became the norm for everything to be called from the sideline. Players such as Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly in the 1990s and Indianapolis Colts/Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the 2000s and 2010s have periodically essentially run offenses from behind center. In Manning's case, that often meant going to the line with two or three plays that could be called based on the defense for that particularly play. A lot of quarterbacks now have the freedom to change plays at the line in certain situations. The more experience a quarterback has, and the better grasp of the offense he has, the more freedom he is usually given.

Jeff from Orange, CA

People keep posting about how they don't go to football games to hear/see political opinions, yet nothing during the actual football game involves any sort of political statement. If players coordinated for a play a game where everyone knelt or did something between kickoff and final whistle, that's a different story, but players' political efforts have no impact during the actual football game. Tailgate an extra five minutes or listen to the anthem in the concourse instead and relax.


Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

So, on the subject of kneeling, as a season-ticket holder I propose this to my fellow fans. If you don't approve of it, then let us start our own protest. When the anthem is played, turn your back on the players and face the video boards. Maybe if they witness how many don't support their actions, it will make them rethink their approach. Alternative plan: if you want to kneel, stay in the locker room until after the anthem. OK sorry I am done on this subject. I am really concerned this season is going to be even more drama filled than previous ones. Given the bar set by our team, that is a scary thought.


Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

Thank you for posting two very strong views on the "kneeling." I loved the comment regarding the movies and actors. I'm an old fart and I have changed my views on many subjects and have become more accepting. I do believe police reform is now essential. Nevertheless, do not disrespect my flag. Again, I appreciate you.


Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O'/King of all Funk as there will be no London games this year was there relief at this (particularly as there were two games planned this year) or has the team travelled to the UK so often now it has become just another road game?

There wasn't relief around the Jaguars that there won't be London games this season, primarily because there's not a lot of "relief" around the NFL about very much these days; there instead is much unknown – and much energy being put into how to prepare and execute what promises to be an incredibly unusual season. Not having the London games certainly will make the season logistically easier than would have been the case had the games been played, but I doubt there will be anything truly easy about 2020 from a logistical standpoint.

Mark from Jacksonville Beach, FL

I find it hilarious that the "way-too-early" mock drafts have the Jags picking number one for next year's draft.

I find Dave Chappelle and Anthony Jeselnik hilarious. Oh … and Bill Burr. He's funny, too.