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O-Zone: Game of blame

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Big on Blake from Philly

John, I love that I root for a team so good it can find a quarterback in the draft who outperforms any other rookie quarterback and still might have him compete for the starting job next season. That's an embarrassing amount of riches. Go Jags!

I don't know the extent of the Jaguars' embarrassment or the extent of their wealth. I do know Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II played well enough as a rookie this past season to deserve to begin the offseason as the starter. He also struggled enough at times – and for long enough stretches – that it's very fair to doubt whether he is the Jaguars' long-term starter moving forward. It's important to realize that Minshew went 6-6 as a starter, finishing with perhaps his best game of the season; that success must be part of the Minshew conversation along with his ability to handle adversity and his clutch gene. It's also fair to remember that he struggled through most of his final five starts with some serious concerns about his potential as a franchise quarterback. The Jaguars have a right to be optimistic about his potential. They also have a responsibility to not assume that he's going to be a star and to make plans if that's the case.

Jeff from Mebane

These ungrateful youngsters! Complaining about their NFL franchise on their FaceTweets and Snapgrams! They are lucky to have one. Why, when I was a lad we didn't have an NFL franchise ... or RedZone or this cable nonsense. We had to walk uphill in the rain (both ways) to the local bar to watch a game. Bah! #Stayoffmylawn

It was all going great before the interweb.

Adam from St. Johns, FL

When do you think it's reasonable to blame to front office for mistakes? When is it reasonable to question a coach? I am very interested in your answer because winning obviously is not needed in your eyes. How you can defend Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell in all of this is mind-blowing. It's not like he just got here. So, Dave has no blame and it was all Gus and Tom right?

Of course winning is needed, Alan, and front offices are always responsible for mistakes. And coaches always can be questioned. I'm just not as quick to run around yelling at the top of my lungs about blame – and demanding people be fired for those mistakes – as many others. There are enough people willing to do that that I choose not to do it here. People ask questions, and I try to answer them as best I can as transparently as possible. I try to explain to people why the Jaguars do the things they do, and why what happens on the field and in the offseason happens. I offer my opinion based on conversation and observation. That's my objective and I do it every day. If you're looking for more reactionary, emotional responses or calls for firings … again, those aren't hard to find. As I've said often before, if you want to read things that you agree with – or that make you feel better about your opinions – you can tweet those things on twitter or write them yourself. It's a big interweb out there. There's space for everyone's opinions. That's not always a good thing, but it's a true thing.

Ed from Jacksonville

If you owned the Jags, would you have made any changes after this season?

I probably would have made at least one major change, which – come to think of it – is exactly what Owner Shad Khan did.

David from Orlando, FL

O – In the past few preseasons, the Jaguars have had joint practices with New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens. If I recall, in 2017, our championship season, we practiced with the Patriots and we held our own, trading punch for punch, with the champs. Then in the down years, the Buccaneers and Ravens seem to push us around and eat our lunch. That's right: we did not win lunch. I guess what I'm saying is these joint practices might need to come with spoiler alerts, since they do a pretty good job of predicting the upcoming season. In retrospect, is assessment accurate?

I think I didn't get the sense that the Ravens were pushing the Jaguars around during their joint practices this past offseason; my most vivid recollection is of quarterback Nick Foles and the receivers being very effective, particularly in the deep passing game. I also think – and I'm right – that the Jaguars' joint practices against the Buccaneers in Jacksonville were in 2017. I also came away from the Patriots-Jaguars joint practices thinking that the Patriots were pretty dominant during those sessions. So, I wouldn't agree with your assessment – though I could be wrong. It happens. A lot.

Don from Marshall, NC

If the Jaguars are going to win, they need to keep the players they have now. They must sign some players in free agency. They must get lucky in the draft. Minshew must be the man. Is there a way all that is possible? Financially? Go Jaguars!

First, I don't know that the Jaguars must keep all their current players to win next season. Sometimes older, familiar names aren't as good as they once were. Neither Defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye, for example, played as well in 2019 as they had in 2017. Does that mean they're bad players? No. Does it mean you can allocate funds better than to have them play under their current cap figures? Probably. But to answer your question … yes, the Jaguars can clear enough cap space to be active in unrestricted free agency this offseason, and they can improve in the draft. And I think Minshew will be the man.

Kenneth from Fernandina Beach, FL

Mr O., Do you think the Kahn'zies will let Doug and Dave trade one of the 2021 first-round picks to acquire more help this year? Especially in the back end of this year's Round One. I wonder how much of a leash he will give these two.

Trading future first-round capital to move up in the current draft hasn't really been Caldwell's style. I wouldn't expect that to change now. But would Khan allow this? If it made sense, sure.

Craig from San Diego, CA

In your too early look at defense and any time you discuss our linebackers you seem to be working from the standpoint that Telvin Smith is 100 percent gone, permanently retired, and will not be returning to the team. It's been a long season and seems like forever ago when he made his announcement, but I was under the impression that his intention was to take a year off and come back. Did something change that I missed? Am I misremembering what was said? Maybe you know something we don't? Do you know if the two sides are even in contact and if either has any interest in a reunion for the 2020 season?

Former Jaguars weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith is retired until he's not, and I don't know if he intends to play again. He hasn't said much publicly, and it's not something that's discussed much around the team. I would be surprised if he ever plays for the Jaguars again. I've been surprised before, and it could happen again. Until it does, I'll discuss the Jaguars' linebackers as if the group won't include Smith.

David from Chulouta, FL

KOAF: What percentage chance would you give that the Jaguars select a quarterback in the first round? Just so I get the most accurate answer, please include the decimal point in your answer.


Bill from Jupiter, FL

I believe Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette's numbers are misleading. He had some big explosive plays where he ran through gaping holes that mask the majority of his runs, which often times put the Jags in second and long. Do you think the Jags have any concern over this lack of ability to churn out four plus yards a carry consistently?

I think the bigger concern is an offensive line that hasn't been able to block effectively enough for Fournette to churn out four yards a carry consistently.

Keith from Palatka, FL

To mollify the disappointed when things are not going well, the disappointed often need to blame someone(s). While finding a "scapegoat" is cathartic, it is usually not fair. Who is to blame? The general manager and his scouting department for overvaluing certain players while at the same time having to kowtow to a draconian executive president of football operations. Maybe we could blame the coach for not being able to win with a roster with a dearth of talent. Perhaps it is the owner who deferred to football people to run the football team? Who do you think is to blame? Which scapegoat should be offer on the altar of our bruised egos?

All of them.