O-Zone: Gang of one

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Space City, TX

O, it is pretty clear that Executive VP of Football Operations and CEO of Grumpy Inc., Tom Coughlin, is out of touch with today's game and players. Twenty-five years ago, when he ruled with an iron fist of fear and discipline, those players took the abuse. It was a different era and accepted then. That practice is ineffective in 2019. It's being reported that Owner Shad Khan would really like to not trade Jalen Ramsey. If this is indeed true, why not fire the old-school, old man Coughlin? If not because of the many idiotic football personnel decisions, or inability to add any value to the organization, then because he is completely out of his league in today's NFL. #grumpyeraover

I won’t say NFL players love Coughlin’s approach; players griped about Coughlin when he was head coach of the Jaguars in the 1990s and early 2000s, and I’m sure they gripe about him now as the EVP of Football Ops. It’s in most players’ nature to recoil at hardline discipline. But let’s not paint this as 53 players being miserably unhappy and wanting out; this is an issue about cornerback Jalen Ramsey rather than a collective locker-room issue. Regarding the inability to add value, though … I’m curious … were the decisions to sign defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, cornerback D.J. Hayden and quarterback Nick Foles as free agents, or to draft wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., linebacker Quincy Williams, edge defender Josh Allen, right tackle Jawaan Taylor, guard Will Richardson, quarterback Gardner Minshew II and defensive end Dawuane Smoot idiotic football personnel decisions? This is not to say Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell never have made mistakes, but all those players have been acquired since Coughlin arrived. The Jaguars made the AFC Championship Game in his first season and they have played well enough to win in two of the first three games in his third season. Is this being completely of one’s league? That feels extreme.

Jami from Wye Mills, MD

John, now that Ramsey is on a self-determined indefinite leave of absence, I have a couple of questions. I don't think he will, but if he decides to fly to Denver on Saturday, does he play? He will not have practiced all week. If he doesn't play, do they slide D.J. Hayden out in base defense? Then when they go to nickel move Hayden back inside and put Breon Borders or Tre Herndon on the outside? At least they'll have this week to practice. Thanks.

I would put the chances of Ramsey playing Sunday close to 50 percent – if not greater. Whatever the percentages, it’s absolutely not safe to assume he won’t play. If he doesn’t play, look for Herndon to start outside with Hayden remaining the nickel corner.

Tyler from Jacksonville

For YEARS, I have been writing into you to say that Uncle Rico would be the perfect backup quarterback in Jacksonville. I in no way hate to tell you I told you so.

Fair.

Ernst from THE Glen Kernan

A Great O, with Fournette unable to get through the holes quickly, why don't the Jags bring Corey Grant back in? He had several 100-yard rushing games when he was here and was always a potential home-run hitter.

One issue here is the Jaguars don’t believe running back Leonard Fournette is the major problem with the running game; the offensive line must do a better job. The bigger issue is Grant sustained a significant foot injury that ended his 2018 season. He signed with the Green Bay Packers during training camp but was quickly released. That suggests Grant is no longer the same player as before the injury, though here’s hoping for his sake that’s not the case.

Hunter from Orlando, FL

Do you think Fournette’s inability to make anyone miss is also what makes him good in pass protection?

I laughed at this.

Ryan from Dearborn, MI

Zone - I've often heard it said that run blocking is easier than pass protection and that most offensive linemen prefer run blocking. If that is the case though, why is our offensive line sooo bad at it?

The Jaguars’ offensive line has struggled to run block in the first three games. One theory about why is left tackle Cam Robinson is key to the group’s run-blocking ability, and that he is still regaining form after missing 14 games with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Another is that the tackles are both inexperienced, with Robinson having played 18 NFL games and right tackle Jawaan Taylor playing three. Another is that run blocking requires continuity and cohesion and this group because of preseason injuries and youth has played together sparingly. I don’t know what to expect from this group, but run blocking absolutely is an area that can develop during a regular season. Stay tuned.

Josh from Pensacola, FL

One player never transcends the team for a fan. I don’t care what happens with Ramsey at this point. I feel good about this team and its direction. We all just want to win like Jalen. Only difference is we don’t care if the win comes with Ramsey on the team or not. Why do players not care about their legacy anymore? It is so crazy that players that are so blessed with talent and money and a union that will allow them to get paid whether they show up to work or not will still find reasons to complain and somehow convince the world that they are victims? It’s so pathetic and it’s a trend that will ruin football eventually. So sad.

I get mad when people get on my lawn, too. Stand tall, Josh.

Art from Drexel

At what point is it too late to bring Oliver back?

Jaguars rookie tight end Josh Oliver practiced Wednesday, and I expect he will be active soon. But there’s really no time that would be too late. He’s on the active roster, so the team can play him at any time.

Chris from Nashville, TN

It's cool to have a trendy quarterback that can manage the game and keep you in it, but this is still technically a losing football team (1-2). Without the defense creating turnovers/short field advantages, I don't really see a winning offense that scares me as an opponent at this time. Any chance the coaching opens up the passing game and starts calling more first- and second-down passes instead of stubbornly feeding LF4 the ball for insignificant gains? I mean, the kid has a 110 passer rating, but ranks 26thin passing attempts.

While the Jaguars are indeed technically a losing football team, it’s just as true that they have played very well over the past seven quarters. But we’re splitting hairs here. As far as your assessment of the Jaguars needing the defense to force turnovers and create short fields … yes, for this team to be competitive, the defense is going to have to play well. It’s going to have to create short fields and create points more often than not – but that was going to be the case no matter the quarterback. When you build a team with a dominant defensive line as its strength, you need that strength to be a force to be a good team. And while I understand the frustration with the coaches sticking with the running game, remember: While Minshew has been remarkable, he will be making his third NFL start Sunday. Proceeding with at least a smidgen of caution so early in his career – at least until he and everyone around him gains further confidence in what he can do – doesn’t seem to be a ridiculous approach.

Joe from Fleming Island, FL

John, if a player misses a game for voluntary reasons, do they forfeit their game check for that week? Things like family funerals, births, etc. Obviously, players are people too and definitely should attend these events, just wondering what the CBA says. Thanks.

If the absence is excused, the player still gets paid.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z: Denver is 0-3 and they're not the Miami Dolphins. The Jaguars do not do well traveling to distant time zones to the left. So, if the offense stays efficient, the defense doesn't wilt in the rarified air, and the Jags pull out a win, could we legitimately start thinking playoffs?

The Jaguars will be 2-2 if they beat Denver. What that would mean is they have escaped the 0-2 start and are on even footing with a chance for very good season. If you want to start thinking about the postseason, that’s fine – but the reality is 2-2 is treading water. They can still sink or swim. Or surf. Or do something else swimming-related.

Jim from Middleburg, FL

John, I know you can do this if you want to.

I fear you are in a small fraternity of people who overestimate me.

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