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O-Zone: Group think

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bobby from Jacksonville

Hi, John. With Gardner Minshew II back at quarterback, do you think the Jags could possibly win out and finish a respectable 8-8?

Anything is possible, I suppose – and the Jaguars' remaining schedule is such that it's conceivable they can contend in every game. That's the optimistic view. The realistic view is quarterback play hasn't been all that has ailed the Jaguars in recent weeks. The defense has played poorly for the most part, and the offensive line has struggled to pass protect at times. Remember, too: while Minshew has played remarkably well for a rookie quarterback, and while he has been an exciting story, he was not playing at an overly high level for much of his last four starts – and he played his worst game in his last start, a 26-3 loss to the Houston Texans in London before the team's bye week. The realistic outlook for this team is it must play much better than it has in recent weeks to win even one game. Winning four would be extremely hard to imagine.

Mike from St. Augustine, FL

I think firing Head Coach Doug Marrone is insane. He had a dominant defense and Blake Bortles at quarterback, and we blew a Super Bowl berth at the last second. He has an absolutely miserable, talent-deficient, beaten-to-death team and they suck. Where is the need for explanation?

I'm not sure it's fair to call the Jaguars completely talent deficient, but the gist of your email? Well, you're not all that wrong.

Kyam from Le Mars

If Doug gets fired but General Manager David Caldwell and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin stay, that would be the worst decision the organization could make. Marrone didn't overpay Bortles, linebacker Telvin Smith and quarterback Nick Foles while refusing to pay cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

I'm not big on the idea that someone must always be fired, mainly because I believe fortune and circumstance dictates a lot in the NFL – and I believe all the people we're discussing are capable. That's not saying people won't be fired at the end of the season, but it's why such things aren't done deals. Either way, if you're asking if I believe Marrone is why the Jaguars are 4-8 … no, I absolutely do not believe that.

Johnathan from Syracuse, NY

Why put Minshew in now? If we in fact are trading quarterback Nick Foles, wouldn't it be more prudent to allow him to rack up some kind of positive stats for the next few weeks to bolster his trade stock? Nobody will make a move for him if he has been benched and his last game was horrible. Also: Don't you think we've seen enough of Minshew that we know what we're getting and we shouldn't push him too much and risk injury? Maybe you could help make some sense of the situation.

You're overthinking this. Marrone controls who plays quarterback and Marrone wants to win games. Now. He's not thinking about bolstering trade stock or protecting players for the future or anything of the like. This isn't about future seasons or the offseason. It's about now.

Art from Drexel Hill

I can't imagine how the front office could be back next year. How many more chances does a guy like Caldwell get in the same organization? He picked two coaches that failed and two quarterbacks that failed. That's not something many GMs get a chance to do in the NFL.

Conventional NFL wisdom would support your view, but Owner Shad Khan doesn't always buy into conventional NFL wisdom. He has believed in continuity – often longer than fans might prefer. In Caldwell's case, a strong case can be made that his recent drafts have been better than his early drafts. One thing about your question, though: It implies Marrone failed. Agree to disagree, I guess.

Josh from Jacksonville

I'm confused as to why folks think the Jaguars are a "talented" team. We had a talented defense back in '17, but there's like four of those starters left. Now we're a team with a couple really good players and that's about what the record reflects.

Harsh, but not completely unfair.

Mike from Cortland, NY

Looking ahead to next year, there are a ton of positions to address and not enough cap room or draft picks to fill the holes. I'm of the belief that the Jags do not have an elite – or soon-to-be-elite – quarterback on this roster. Minshew might be fine, but he can't lead us to a winning season without serious offensive help. I like the idea of addressing interior offensive line, tight end and fullback. It's time Jacksonville creates an offensive identity. Add a lead block informer, a couple of big guys in the middle, and sell out on committing to be a Top 5 rushing team. That, along with shoring up a couple spots on defense, is the only way for this team to win as fast as 2020. There isn't a Deshaun Watson or Lamar Jackson or Pat Mahomes in this draft.

I have no idea the future of the organization because only Khan knows. I agree that bolstering the offensive line is critical, and tight end absolutely must improve. Remember, though: The interior defensive line must be addressed; no way will this team contend if it can't be stouter up front defensively than it has been this season. As far as your assessment of quarterback, we'll see. It's not remotely guaranteed that the Jaguars won't go that direction in the draft. Minshew must play better in the next four games than he did in his last four to secure the job moving forward; even then he may not be able to completely secure the position because there are too many variables lying ahead for this franchise. Now, as for quarterbacks: While your boldness is impressive, Mahomes was projected as a late-first-round selection and no team selected Jackson in the first round. Watson was hardly a can't-miss prospect. So, is there a can't miss prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft? Probably not. But there were no can't miss quarterbacks in the past two or three drafts, either. This is not to be argumentative. It is to point out that you don't know all that much about the draft on the nights/days it occurs. You sure don't know much about it in December.

Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL

The offense dropped off significantly the play after tight end James O'Shaughnessy went down, and it has never recovered.


Tired of the Losing, Homesick, FL

There's something to this offensive-line thing; just look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. No killer Bs, no problem. But what do they have? A veteran offensive line. True, having a franchise quarterback like Big Ben helps, but taking care of your O-Line is important. Even if your skill players are Pro Bowl worthy, having a good to great line gives you a chance.

Fair and accurate. The Jaguars' offensive line hasn't been good enough or consistent enough in recent seasons. It must be a major focus moving forward.

Nick from Palm Coast, FL

For as long as I can remember the opposing team entered the field on the west side of the stadium. Why did they enter thru the north side this past week??

Because they moved the visitors' locker room. This past week was the first game with the new location.

Mariano from Jacksonville

Mr. O, given the way this season has played out, it seems unlikely Marrone keeps his job. In a hypothetical situation where Doug is no longer HC, would Ron Rivera be a good fit for this team?

I think Marrone should be the head coach of the Jaguars moving forward. I thought he was a good head coach in 2017 and I don't believe he has gotten worse since then. As for Rivera, he was a good coach for the Carolina Panthers. He appears to be able to lead and make sound decisions. He appears to be able to manage a team and a season. I expect he will coach in the NFL again at some point. Where he specifically might "fit," I haven't the foggiest.

Graham from Reading, UK

As much as I love the energy and fun Minshew brings, you can't base the future of the franchise on a sixth-round quarterback. Surely we should draft a quarterback with our Top 5 pick and worst-case scenario we have two good quarterbacks with low cap hits on the roster?

You don't draft a first-round quarterback because Minshew was selected in the sixth round; you draft one if you don't believe Minshew is a franchise guy – and if you believe there's one available when you're picking. And obviously: Don't call me Shirley.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Looks like "Foles gives us the best chance win" has been debunked. Also running back Leonard Fournette sucks, the offensive line sucks, the tight ends suck, the front office sucks and Marrone and defensive coordinator Todd Wash suck.

I suck, too. Don't forget that.