JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL
The Jaguars' offense for quite some time has been fairly predictable. Even in 2017, while ranking sixth offensively, offensive success seemed more due to good execution than scheming. Now, with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden at the helm, can we look forward to less-predictable offensive sets and plays that can keep defenses off-balance? And if so, how much of a difference do you think that might make?
I've been around few teams whose fans thought its offensive coordinator was unpredictable. I recall Indianapolis Colts fans complaining about the offense when I covered that team – and that offense functioned at a high level relatively consistently. Fans typically believe their own offensive coordinator is bad because not every play that coordinator calls is a SportsCenter highlight, and all other SportsCenter highlights therefore must be being called by better coordinators. I thought Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett in 2017 was very unpredictable and creative given his personnel. Remember: Coordinators usually get lauded for being unpredictable when plays they call work. Example: the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 season. Jaguars coaches were lambasted afterward for conservative play-calling late in the game. Much of that conservative play-calling came after Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was sacked on a play that began creatively – and not conservatively – with running back Leonard Fournette pitching back to Bortles after a handoff. That play failed because the New England Patriots pass rush beat the Jaguars' pass protection. Had the play worked, Hackett undoubtedly would have been praised for creativity. Because of the way the play failed, coaches decided the best way to win was a more conservative approach; the Jaguars lost and the game plan is remembered as "predictable." As for Gruden, he is known for scheming and creating matchups; he undoubtedly will design plays to do that. If the players execute those plays, he will be considered creative. If they don't, he will stink. Because it's always coaching in the NFL. Always.
Josh from Atlanta, GA
Did you see the minute-long video of quarterback Jaguars Gardner Minshew II on the practice field? Look for it if you haven't. He looks absolutely yoked and his passes are coming out lightning fast. It definitely looks like he has been busting his butt to set the world on fire. I am excited, and excitement is ... exciting.
I saw the video. He looked good – perhaps even "yoked." I'm not surprised. He's a hard worker and reportedly has been working hard throughout the offseason, and there's no reason to think he wouldn't look good. Whether all of that will mean he's successful this season, and how he will fare in situations that last more than a minute … I haven't the foggiest.
Steve from Hilton Head, SC
I don't know why readers are so interested in your prediction of the number of wins this season. Don't they know that predictions are very difficult - especially about the future?
Life's full of little mysteries.
Mike from Atlanta, GA
Why is everyone so sure that Trevor Lawrence is a can't-miss quarterback? I remember hearing so much about how Andrew Luck is the most surefire, can't-miss, definitely-a-Hall-of-Famer-quarterback prospect since John Elway. Ryan Leaf was drafted before Peyton Manning. Trevor Lawrence looks like he can throw a football really well, but he also seems like he isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. I have no idea what his future will be, but I don't believe in the idea of a "can't-miss, surefire, definitely-going -to be-great" quarterback prospect.
A few thoughts on your thoughts. One is that Leaf wasn't selected before Manning. Another is that I – somewhat like you – generally disbelieve in the idea of can't-miss quarterbacks. The only quarterback I recall watching and saying "There's no way this guy will miss" was Luck. And he didn't miss. He was strikingly close to elite upon entering the NFL and played at a high level throughout his career—relatively short though it was. Luck at Stanford seemed far ahead of most college quarterbacks in his ability to run the offense from the line of scrimmage. That's what made me sure he was going to be good in the NFL. I don't have a feel on that with Lawrence yet.
Sean from the Mean Streets of Arlington
So, from what I gather, you're expecting the Jaguars to be a six-to-eight-win team – or am I really confused?
I'll try to be clearer moving forward.
Diego from South of Tierra Del Diego thank you Larry Merchant
How deep into the season do you think Jaguars Owner Shad Khan will stick with Head Coach Doug Marrone? Next up: Jay Gruden and the sooner the better. Diego is done with the Gus Bradleys and Doug Marrones. Last good coach we have had was Jack Del Rio and we ran him off. No way to build a winning franchise. I really do hope they win with Minshew. Reminds me of Brett Favre in his early years. Favre only won one Super Bowl playing with much better teams than the recent Jags.
Del Rio coached the Jaguars for nearly nine seasons, and was fired near the end of a 5-11 season. That seems a relatively normal, but if you're angry about Del Rio being gone … OK. That's your opinion. As for Khan, I don't know how long he will stick with Marrone because I don't know how the Jaguars will fare this season. I don't know the numbers Khan wants in terms of victories. My sense is he wants to look at the Jaguars and see an improving team that looks as if it is moving in the right direction. What perhaps struck me most about your question was Minshew reminding you of Favre, and how Favre won "just" one Super Bowl. Winning a Super Bowl is hard. A lot of good teams and good quarterbacks never win one. If Minshew is as good as Favre, the Jaguars would take it. Many teams would.
KC from Cincy
The New York Jets are listening to offers for safety Jamal Adams. Would a straight up trade of Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue for Adams be fair for both sides?
Brian from Jacksonville
Someone I admire once advised to never forget that writing is for the reader. Use of an oxford comma is never correct, but that pause can be pleasing for the reader. Rules are rules, but wordcraft is art. Art bends rules. The poet in you? O?
Writing is for the reader. I read, too. The oxford comma distracts me.
Nick from Palatka, FL
Zone: Are you saying that Eugene P. can't put a comma before "and" in a three-plus-item series ... just because? Sounds kryptonitish? Please reassure me this is not the case.
I indeed am saying that longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette must adhere to the non-oxford comma usage. It's not "just because." It's because Associated Press style. It exists for a reason – because it keeps written mass communication from looking and reading sloppily. Believe me: when you read someone who uses AP style correctly and someone who doesn't, there's a difference. Even if you don't know quite why.
Christopher from Titusville, FL
I know this is highly unlikely, but let's say former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey goes to free agency next year and tells the Jags he is interested in returning to Duval. Do you see the Jags talking to him to try and sign a deal to pair him with CJ Henderson or is it a bridge-is-burned type of deal?
I would be a little surprised if there were interest on either side.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL
Fifteen-yard completions seem rather routine, and it's not even a special teams play. Not fer
You're referencing a prospective rule to replace the onside kick with a play in which the offense has to convert what essentially is a fourth-and-15 play. This is being discussed because the new safety rules have made successful onside kicks next to impossible. I don't know that 15-yard completions are as routine as you think. Yes, a lot of them happen, but third- and fourth-and-15 is very tough to convert because defenses are playing to defend that play. I don't love the rule because I liked the old onside kick. But the old onside kick isn't coming back, and the NFL has to do something to give teams trailing in games at least some remote hope. Within that context consider me a reluctant "fer."
Brian from Gainesville, FL
Big O, I'm a lawyer. Legal writing calls for the use of the Oxford comma as does business writing. It's important for precision and to avoid ambiguity. So it's good enough for the law and it's good enough for economics, two of the arguably most impactful areas of life, but it's not good enough for journalism?! What kind of obsequious, fatuous, and elitist nincompoopery is this?
What kind of obsequious, fatuous and elitist nincompoopery is this? /Fixed