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O-Zone: Getting better

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

unhipcat from carlsbad, ca

Dear John: I keep reading about how Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II doesn't have good "arm strength?" How is that measured? A tape for distance like a shot put or a javelin at a track meet? A radar gun for speed like cops or baseball games? A pressure sensor for force like those sledgehammer things at a county fair? I'm actually serious (except for the sledgehammer part.) Or is it just the eyeball test, and it just looks like he's "not that strong?" I ask because Minshew was one of the top-rated deep passers in the league last season, and I assume that takes a certain amount of arm strength to be successful. Signed, Confuzzled.

I'm sorry you're confuzzled. Confuzzlesion can be … well, confuzzling. Yes, arm strength in the NFL is pretty much measured by the eye test – and if you watch Minshew play or practice, it's not hard to see that his arm isn't overly strong by NFL standards. It's also true he is one of the NFL's top-rated deep passers, and it has been easy to see why that's the case during 2020 Jaguars Training Camp. His touch and accuracy on deep passes are very good. But deep passes really aren't where arm strength comes into play in the NFL. Arm strength matters more on intermediate routes – and passes into tight coverages in the middle of the field and on the sidelines. Minshew has shown a lot of improvement in camp, and he has looked very good for the most part. But the arm-strength issue really won't play out until the regular season. That's when we'll see if he can make all the throws – or enough of them – to keep coverages and coordinators honest. Stay tuned.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

They're a little thin at tight end, again. They've had one serviceable receiving threat at tight end since the old days of Kyle Brady streaking past secondaries at light speed. We will talk about the need to address tight end again next offseason. It's a Groundhog Day type of thing. Why is it so hard to address that position for the long term? I can see on any given year why it may be hard but over 20 years? At some point it needs to be prioritized.

Tight end is a hard position to address because there aren't many first-round-lock tight ends coming out of college most years – and when such players are coming out of college, teams often pass on them for other positions. This scenario happened for the Jaguars in the 2018 offseason, when they were ready to select tight end T.J. Hockenson from Iowa at No. 7 overall. Defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen slipped to them there, and they selected Allen. No one at this point would suggest the Jaguars should not have taken Allen, but it did leave tight end unaddressed. The Jaguars later in that draft did what many teams do to find a tight end: they selected one in the third round. That was Josh Oliver, who has shown promise but who obviously has been hampered by injuries. But yes … the Jaguars have struggled to solve the position. It's an issue.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, if you are calling the first play on the other team in game one, do your target rookie cornerback CJ Henderson, our rookie DE, or go with the run game given our poor lack of defending it last season?

I'm taking a knee, because no way am I beating the Jaguars this season.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Drew Brees is not really prototypical, is he? I'm hoping Gardner can become like Brees and Brees is the one guy that gives me hope a guy Gardner's size can work. Thoughts?

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is not a prototypical NFL quarterback in terms of size. He plays prototypically in terms of playing from the pocket and making all throws needed to win in the NFL. I was not clear on that in a recent O-Zone answer. Sue me. Seriously … sue me. I want it. I want it baaaaaaaaaad.

Cole from Medena, OH

John, so I read (I believe on a Wikipedia page) that the original title of the Lipps, Inc., song was going to be Take Me to O-Zone town, but then after a certain KOAF established himself they changed the title ... is it true you would not let them use your photo on the album cover?


Josh from Atlanta, GA

I really didn't know we had the same tight ends coach since 2013. No criticism, just wonder if you think it is abnormal for a position coach to retain his job when his position has been abysmal at best for as long as it has been? I feel like, regardless of injuries or FA decisions, that is a long time to keep someone with such a poorly performing position group.

The Jaguars' tight ends indeed haven't been as productive as the team would have hoped during Ron Middleton's time as the position coach – 2013-present. It might be abnormal for him to still be the position coach if the Jaguars had had a bunch of great tight ends who had grossly underachieved during that span, or if there was evidence that coaching was the issue. I would argue that that hasn't been the case – even though it's always coaching in the NFL.

John from Ocala, FL

Hi, O. So Michael Lombardi says "per a GM who isn't involved in the Ngakoue trade talks, Ngakoue is getting traded..." How would a GM not involved with the trade talks know anything about Ngakoue being traded? It's laughable. Lombardi doubling down on the erroneous report is even funnier.


Michael from Middleburg, FL

What's the latest news on Telvin?

Former Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith is on the team's retired/reserve list and has been there since July 24, 2019. I don't expect him to play for the Jaguars again. If he doesn't, I doubt there will be much news regarding him here.

Sean from Jacksonville

I think it is very close to panic-mode for the defensive line. That leads me to entertain the song "Another One Bites the Dust" from Queen, as the team's 2020/2021 theme.


Sean from Jacksonville

Here's one for Ron Rivera's health and beating cancer! Hooah!

Ron Rivera, The Washington Football Team's head coach, was diagnosed with "squamous cell carcinoma located in a lymph node." He told ESPN Friday the cancer is in its early stages and "very curable" and that he plans to continue coaching. And yes … one fer Rivera.

Aqeel from Toronto, Canada

Mr.O, I may be wrong (as I am many times(, but I got the feeling Larry from Duncan was asking what the identity of the Jags is? The Patriots developed their "Patriot Way" and the Steelers have been known for their toughness etc. Many teams take on the identity of their coaches or have developed an in-house system or way of doing things. The only times the Jags have seemed to have an identity was when Tom Coughlin was with the team. Of course some people only focus on the negatives with that, but he at least gave a clear idea of what he would like the identity to be and that was a team first, all in win lunch attitude. Before his arrival there was too much turnover and other issues going on, but in 2017 his clear message and direction was a big part of that team's success in my opinion. The next year the injury bug hit hard and everyone went from buying in to his message to saving their jobs and dysfunction. I know Head Coach Doug Marrone is trying to establish something but he just doesn't seem to have a strong enough personality. The Jags need to create an inner system or "way" that clearly sets expectations for every individual. Perhaps the "Pride of the Jaguars" can be more than a ring of honor and symbolize what it means to be a Jag? What are your thoughts on this aspect of the team?

Marrone's personality is strong enough to establish a culture. When you win consistently in the NFL, you have an identity. When you don't, you're searching for one.

Dan from Aukland, New Zealand

Did the Jags know about the five-game suspension for the PED violation of Josh Mauro prior to signing him to a contract? Are teams able to practice due diligence and test players before signing them or are they dependent on plays willingness to disclose the use of PED's? Just curious.

Teams typically know about such situations before they sign free agents. I have been given no reason to believe in the case of Mauro that the Jaguars didn't know about his suspension.

Dakota from Dupree, SD

Zone. How's it going?

Great. Just great. I'm even happier today than I was yesterday.