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O-Zone: Get it done

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Johnathan from Syracuse, NY

In recent years, I have seen many players move on from Jacksonville that we never should have let go. Instead of placing the franchise tag or letting them run out their rookie deal, do you think it would be more beneficial to offer a contract earlier in hopes to retain skilled players? Do you think there's a possibility we might use this mentality in the future? (Examples: wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., quarterback Gardner Minshew II, defensive tackle Taven Bryan).

The Jaguars, like pretty much all NFL teams, believe in re-signing key drafted players to second contracts. They have done this in recent seasons with players such as center Brandon Linder, linebacker Myles Jack, linebacker Telvin Smith and others. There have been other high-profile players during that same span who haven't re-signed for various reasons, perhaps most notably wide receiver Allen Robinson and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Robinson signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Chicago Bears in the 2018 offseason and the Jaguars traded Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams last season despite a severe back injury. Regarding defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is currently out of training camp because he hasn't signed his franchise tag, the Jaguars did precisely what you suggest by offering him a contract in the 2019 offseason. By league rules, that was the first offseason the Jaguars could extend Ngakoue, who was drafted in 2016; NFL teams can't extend drafted player's contract until the end of his third NFL season. They didn't take this approach with Ramsey that offseason because they were attempting to re-sign Ngakoue at the time – and because they controlled Ramsey's rights by exercising the league's fifth-year option for first-round selections. That gave them more time with Ramsey's contract than Ngakoue's. As for the Jaguars' mentality in the future … I absolutely expect them to work as quickly as possible to sign worthy players to long-term deals. If Chark builds on last season's development, he likely will be such a player. Defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen also has the feel of being such a player following the 2021 season. We'll see on Bryan and Minshew.

Chase from Jacksonville

Thoughts on a potential NBA boycott abruptly ending the season? Also, could you ever see something like that happening in the NFL?

I suspect the NBA will finish the postseason, at least in part because players' profile – and therefore their ability to get their messages heard – is higher when games are being played than when games are not being played. I would be surprised if a boycott ended the NFL season. I would not be surprised if social injustice is a major topic throughout the course of the 2020 season.

Mike from Navarre, OH

Do the Jaguars plan on having an intra-team scrimmage during training camp? Or have they already?

The closest thing to an intra-team scrimmage in Jaguars 2020 Training Camp will take place Saturday morning inside TIAA Bank Field.

Chis from Mandarin, FL

Would it surprise you if Josh Allen ended up with 18 sacks this season?

Yes, but not because he is incapable of that sort of season. Sacks totals often depend on circumstances, and players with monster sacks numbers often play for teams that hold late leads and consistently get teams in obvious passing situations. If the Jaguars' defense defends the run well enough to create a lot of passing situations, and if the Jaguars are leading late in games to create those same situations, then yes … Allen can reach astronomical numbers. But it's fair to wonder if the defense and the team will play at that level this season. I expect he has a chance to reach double-digit sacks either way. He's that sort of talent.

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hello, John. According to the current state of the training camp … with which quarterbacks would you start the season and with how many? The Jaguars shouldn't make the mistake of last season and start the season with only two quarterbacks. At that time, this cost a fifth-round pick even though you had a passable quarterback with Alex McGough. My ranking would be: No. 1 Minshew, No. 2 Josh Dobbs and No. 3 Jake Luton.

I don't expect that to be the order, though I agree that the Jaguars should – and likely will – keep three q_uarterbacks entering the season. I expect the Jaguars to keep Minshew, Mike Glennon and Luton. I'm less certain the order. While I expect Glennon will back up Minshew because of experience, Luton has looked good in practice. Really good. My sense is it will be tricky making him the backup because of a lack of preseason games and because that would make your top two _quarterbacks really young. We'll see.

Jaginator from (formerly of) Section 124

Everyone seems focused on the problem (or not?) of Minshew's arm strength. Personally, I'm much more interested in whether he's learned how to attack a Cover 2 defense. In the early part of the season, when his completion percentage was through the roof, he was feathering a lotta passes to the wide receivers. Once defenses switched to Cover 2 and he had to start looking/throwing to the middle, his completion percentage plummeted. I really hope he's figured out how to attack that defense.

So do the Jaguars.

John John from Daytona Beach, FL

Hey, Mr. O. Let me start by saying I was one of the guys that was shocked they kept Gardner Minshew II as the backup after last preseason. I have to admit I was incorrect. I know this is a little late to discuss this, but do you think the complete collapse of the team in the middle of the season was the result of the team going back to Nick Foles instead of getting behind Minshew earlier? I really think the team was rallying behind Minshew. But when the team decided to make the switch, it messed with the team's mojo. I think they could have finished with a winning record. If that is the case, one could conclude the team last year was way better than their 6-10 record. If that is the case, maybe all you media dudes are wrong about the talent level on the team this year.

The Jaguars had one of their worst offensive games of the season in Minshew's last start before Foles returned. That was the loss to the Houston Texans in London. That followed a stretch when it appeared defenses were "figuring out" Minshew and when he was struggling compared to his first few starts. Minshew also struggled in multiple games after returning to the lineup before rallying the team to a victory in Oakland and playing really well in the season-ending victory over Indianapolis. I have written and said often that Minshew deserves a lot of credit for responding well to a really tough stretch; many players wouldn't have done the same. But I don't think the Jaguars would have finished with a winning record had they not made the change. Minshew's level of play through before Foles' return and following his return to the lineup don't really suggest that that would have been the case. Also: the team's run defense collapsed in the second half of the season. That hurt the mojo as much if not more than the quarterback change.

John from Cape May Courthouse, NJ

Trade Machine!!!!...well … more like trade scenario. With Bears running back David Montgomery going down with what could be a significant injury and the lack of depth in the Bears backfield combined with Jags trying to move heaven and earth to trade Fournette, could there be something here? Do you think the Jags would still be willing to move Fournette two weeks before the season if the price is right?

The Jaguars haven't been "trying to move heaven and earth to trade" running back Leonard Fournette. They explored trading him around the 2020 NFL Draft. Had they been able to do that, I imagine they would have selected a running back in the draft. Because they didn't select a running back, I don't think they will try to trade Fournette – short of a blow-your-mind trade offer, or course.

Ryan from DetroIt, MI

Zone - previously Fournette has been an every-down back for the Jaguars when healthy, rarely coming off the field. Do you think that continues to be the case this season now that Gruden-favorite Chris Thompson has joined the team? Does it look like he will replace Fournette on obvious passing downs similar to the role he had on the Washington Football Team?

I think Thompson definitely will be used extensively on third down in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's offense, though I think Fournette has proven good enough in passing situations that it would be unwise to never use him in those situations.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, is it best to write in before or after your afternoon nap?

Neither, though it is better to have written than to still be writing.