O-Zone: Goon squad

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Bradley from Oceanside, CA

What effect would an offense ranked in the Top 10-to-15 have on the Jaguars’ defense?

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone discussed this indirectly Tuesday during the AFC/NFC Coaches Breakfast at the 2019 NFL Annual Meeting at the Arizona Biltmore. He discussed the reality that while the Jaguars’ defense wasn’t as dominant in 2018 as 2017, a major reason was the team played with fewer leads in 2018. The major reason the defense felt less dominant in 2018 than 2017 was it had fewer sacks and takeaways; it is immeasurably harder to excel in those categories playing from behind. Though Marrone was careful not to completely “blame” the offense, the major reason the Jaguars played with fewer leads in 2018 was an injured, struggling offense that slipped from sixth in the NFL in total yards in 2017 to 27th in 2018. That led to the Jaguars playing from behind with far more pressure on the defense than in 2017. So, how much would a Top 10-to-15 offense help? If that Top 10-to-15 offense scored enough to get the Jaguars three or four more double-digit leads over the course of a season it would help immeasurably, and I think you would see a defense much more like the play-making unit you saw in 2017.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Funny how Nick Foles is now referenced as a “Franchise Quarterback.” That wasn’t the case a month ago. He was considered one of the best “bridge-quarterback” options available. It wasn’t until we paid him $88 million dollars that he became a “franchise quarterback.” I hope they are right. We’ve been looking for one of those for a long time.

OK.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Maybe I'm a bit of a homer but what's wrong with taking a Gator in the first round?? Of the five first-round selections so far, Derrick Harvey is the only one remotely resembling a bust. Reggie Nelson wasn't given enough time to develop, Taven Bryan is ascending, and Dante Fowler Jr. is a very good player who just didn't work out. Oh ... and I guess Fred Taylor was just another guy. If Jawaan Taylor is on the board at No. 7 (and he will be) take him.

You indeed may be a bit of a homer, but as you say … not much. You’re spot on about Taylor and Harvey, and I wasn’t around to know the details of Nelson’s time with the Jaguars. Fowler was disappointing considering the Jaguars spent a No. 3 overall selection for him, but you’re correct that he’s a good player. As far as Bryan, his critics are ignoring a couple of issues. One is that he has been in the league just one year. Two is that he was a late-first-round selection as opposed to a Top 10 selection. There’s a major difference.

Smitty from Siesta Key, FL

How much of a long shot would taking a wide receiver at No. 7 be? With the news that Marqise Lee is going to be out of training camp, it seems just as likely that they have a need at wide receiver as well as offensive line and tight end. One fer Hakeem Butler here...

I think wide receiver at No. 7 overall would be a very long shot – because the Jaguars don’t view it as a pressing need, and because there doesn’t seem to be a wide receiver worthy of a Top 10 selection. While it seems some observers were shaken when Head Coach Doug Marrone said this week Lee likely would return late in the preseason, that always has been likely considering the nature of Lee’s knee injury. The Jaguars believe Lee will be available during the season. They also believe the core group of Dede Westbrook, Lee, Keelan Cole and Chris Conley will develop and be more effective next season with Foles than last year’s receivers were with former quarterback Blake Bortles. I could see a wide receiver on Day 3. I would be shocked if they select one in the Top 10.

Alejandro from Mexico City, Mexico

Unless a trade happens, do you think the Jaguars’ draft plan is the worst secret in the world (right tackle, tight end, offensive guard and running back on Days 1 and 2 of the draft?

I think your first two positions and last positions are pretty on point.

Mike from Section 224

I understand the need to protect and provide more time for Foles to pass the ball. However, I think tight end as the No. 7 overall pick is the better choice over a lineman on offense. Many, including yourself, have said it is a deep draft for quality at that position. A game-changing tight end is almost guaranteed if you pick T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant of Iowa and that is what the more successful teams have in this era of the NFL. In my opinion, I would value Hockenson at No. 7 or either of them over an offensive lineman. My recollection of Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is that he likes to utilize the tight end all over the offense. Adding Hockenson to a two tight-end set (with newly signed Geoff Swaim) would be fun to watch. Any thoughts?

I think I never call a player in the NFL an “almost guarantee” of anything. And I think you make a lot of valid points. I also think the Jaguars will select offensive line in first round the draft. But I could be wrong. Weirder things have happened.

Wade from the Westside

I understand that right tackle at No. 7 seems like the wise and responsible thing to do. However, which players could slide and prove too tempting to pass on?

Edge rusher Nick Bosa of Ohio State, edge rusher Josh Allen of Kentucky and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams of Alabama.

Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL

O-Man: Given the recent free-agent moves, there appears to be a likelihood that some real defensive talent is still on the board at the seventh pick (e.g. Rashan Gary, Montez Sweat, Brian Burns). Thoughts on whether we'd pass on offensive line or tight end if any of these defensive guys are considered best-player available when we pick?

I think the chances are relatively slim.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

Looking at statistics of Chris Conley and DJ Chark Jr., they both run 4.35-second 40-yard dashes. Conley had a 45-inch vertical leap and Chark had a 40-inch vertical. Both over 6-feet-3. Could we have found our next Thunder and Lightning? One can only pray.

Pray hard. You’re comparing Conley and Chark – two players with big-time talent who still very much need to develop – to one of the great receiving duos in NFL history. Smith was a Hall-of-Fame talent who for several seasons was as good as any wide receiver in the NFL – with the exception of perhaps the greatest player in NFL history, Jerry Rice. McCardell was one of the best route runners in league history, and was one of the NFL’s most-consistent, toughest receivers for a decade. Conley and Chark have some potential. They may benefit from playing with Foles. But in terms of comparing them to Smith/McCardell, we’re not there yet. We’re not even close to there yet.

John from Playa Del Carmen

I come for the Jags chat. I stay for the Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette jokes. This has truly become the absolute best source of Gene humor on the internet.

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King Of Funk, Thank you for highlighting the boxing prowess of the legend that is Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette. I would be grateful if you would confirm the long-held rumor that the famous quote by Muhammad Ali is not actually "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" but is in fact "Float like a butterfly, sting like Eugene P."

Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette indeed was the inspiration for not only many of Ali’s poems, but for many literary/entertainment references that have become ingrained in our culture. It is widely believed that Roy Hobbs’ bat’s nickname – Wonder Boy – was “lifted” from Gene’s nickname, and Gene’s input sans producing credit helped the makers of Hoosiers recreate his game-winning shot for Milan in the 1952 Indiana State High School finals. It goes without saying that Robert DeNiro’s character in Raging Bull – and perhaps, Goodfellas – owed its origins to the hard edges Gene honed during his inner-city youth. And of course, everyone knows that Sunshine from Remember the Titans was a blatant (and accurate) copy of Gene’s own legendary career as a high school quarterback – right down to the cannon arm, pinpoint accuracy, teen-idol complexion … and of course, the flowing locks.

Tough from Jacksonville

I'm not afraid of you or your goons.

No, but remember: I hang with Gene. Challenge him at your peril.

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