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O-Zone: Gutsy call

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

James from Jagsonville via Salt Lake City, UT

O-man … I really do not like "what-if" questions but here is a "what-if" question. What if Minshew has a Top 5 quarterback year, but we still have a bad year (see defense) and we get the first pick? Do we still pick the quarterback from Clemson?

As enticing as this question may be – and it certainly entices Jaguars observers and O-Zone readers these days – this essentially is an impossibility. If Gardner Minshew II is truly a Top 5 quarterback – if he truly performs one of the NFL's best five quarterbacks and shows all the traits you want from such a player – then … no, the Jaguars would not select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Because if Minshew truly is a Top 5 NFL quarterback, the Jaguars will win too many games to be anywhere near a position to select Lawrence.

RVJAG, Past Season Ticket Holder, from North Augusta, SC

Players such as Josh Oliver who are on IR, do they get to have any interaction with the team other than physical therapy?

This depends on the situation. The priority for players on injured reserve is rehabilitation. If players are rehabilitating around the team's facility, they will interact with the team and often participate in meetings. You often hear players on injured reserve speak of not feeling as if they are a part of the team, but that's because they're not practicing and not part of the week-to-week, day-to-day urgency that is the NFL. They are in no way prohibited from interacting with the team.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Why are you so down on Gardner Minshew?

I'm not down on Minshew. I like Minshew and believe the Jaguars are right to give him the opportunity to start this season. But my job is to analyze the Jaguars and explain situations to the best of my ability – however limited that ability may be. In the case of Minshew, people who know football better than I – and he knows who he is – will tell you Minshew's arm strength and size often is a liability for NFL quarterbacks. There were times this perhaps showed up last season in terms of throws and plays he didn't make. There were also times he made plays and showed a savvy that made up for it. I'm not down or up on Minshew. I don't know that he's destined to be a franchise quarterback. I don't know how his NFL career will turn out. No one does at this point. We start finding out more in two and a half weeks.

Captain Bob from Jacksonville

With the Colts game up first and only two weeks away, what's Indy looking like – specifically Rivers? Also, somewhat related: What is the team's reaction to the rag sports mag called Sports Illustrated predicting only two wins! Get real.

I covered the Indianapolis Colts for 10 seasons; unfortunately for the purposes of your question, those 10 seasons ended in 2010 so I have no first-hand knowledge of how they're looking during 2020 Training Camp – or how quarterback Philip Rivers is looking. Because Rivers – who signed with the Colts as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason – is a Hall-of-Fame level quarterback, I will assume he is playing at a high level and improving their offense until I see otherwise. As for Sports Illustrated's prediction that the Jaguars will win two games this season … I have said and written often that it's logical that national observers expect the Jaguars to struggle this season. They finished last in the AFC South last season and lost a lot of "name players." They also have the youngest quarterback in the division, a player about whom there are questions around the league. None of this means the Jaguars won't outplay expectations, but those are common reasons for low expectations. I expect the Jaguars to win more than two games this season. We'll see who's right.

John from Birmingham, England

Who is struggling in camp?

/raises hand…

Michael from Jacksonville

How can the long-term success of the organization be achieved when the coach and general manager are operating on a hot seat? This team is not built to win and the best-case scenario is drafting a franchise quarterback in 2021. However, the coach and general manager likely need to win to keep their jobs. What's best for them and what's best for the organization appear to be completely different, which is not a formula for success. If this team wins five games, doesn't get one of the two quarterbacks in the draft, and still fires the coach/general manager, aren't we right back where we were this summer?

I get many versions of this question, so it clearly concerns fans. But it's hard to find evidence that these concerns are founded. The merits of your assessment that the team "is not built to win" aside, the reality is that the Jaguars under General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone unquestionably this past offseason did everything possible to strengthen the organization for the future. They traded three established veterans – defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and quarterback Nick Foles – for draft capital. They made these and other moves to get the salary cap in order moving forward. They entered the draft with 12 selections and used all 12 selections rather than using them to trade up because they wanted a slew of young players from what they considered a very deep draft on the roster. Pretty much the only thing left to meet your idea of doing what's best for the future is to intentionally lose games. While "tanking" is a popular topic among media talking heads and fans, no general manager and head coach are going to do that. Bottom line: as much as fans like to criticize the front office, there's evidence that the Jaguars are quickly building a good foundation. Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen and right tackle Jawaan Taylor look like core pieces. Way-too-early evidence is positive regarding at least three rookies – cornerback CJ Henderson, wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. and defensive end/linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson. I don't know what the future holds for Caldwell and Marrone. But if they're not here in 2021, there's a very good chance whoever is here will reap benefits from the approach they took this offseason.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Tommy from Orange Park has an interesting memory of Blake Bortles. He remembers him as strikingly fast, athletic and willing to put his shoulder through people? I remember an awkward runner who ran OK for a quarterback, a guy built in the middle kinda like Will Ferrell – and a guy I never once saw put a shoulder into anyone or anything. Blake never said he would be a great NFL tight end; that would be ridiculous and he would have been roasted for it. But just for fun let's try him out and run a bunch of one-on-ones where he tries to block Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson and see how it goes. Or we can give him the ball and let him "put his shoulder" into linebacker Myles Jack. Let's also watch him create some separation from Henderson and win the ball out of the air ... Laughing too hard to continue baaahhh.


Fred from Naples, FL

You refer to trying to mute Sexton. Who's Sexton?

Also fair.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Do you expect there to be a dip in the quality of play for the first two or three regular-season games due to the impact of COVID-19 and no preseason games? Or possibly balancing out with less noise in the stadiums fewer false start penalties and delays of game?

Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley offered an interesting perspective on this recently, when he said one two things could happen – that there will either be a dramatic dip in the quality of play because of lack of preseason games or that there will be a dramatic increase in the speed and energy because of fresh legs. I don't think not having an offseason program will hurt the level of play in any noticeable way; six weeks is enough time for players to be ready if there were preseason games. But I do believe not having those games will have a negative effect. While fans, media and observes complain about them, there is a difference between speed and intensity of a practice and a regular season game. Preseason games ae somewhere in between and players benefitted at least a little from them. I expect the most notable effect might be seen in rookies. Players often struggle to contribute significantly throughout their entire rookie seasons. I expect those struggles to be magnified this season.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Dear John, Is Cam Robinson's gut a concern or an asset?

Neither. Most offensive linemen have "guts." Unlike the gut of, say … me … they're not causes for concern.