O-Zone: Heir to the throne

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Sean from Jacksonville

Curious if we'll find out what the team doctor says about Jalen Ramsey's sickness. IF he's just using this as a way to get a favorable response to his trade demand? Let him go. Get the most you can for him and send him packing. IF he is sick? Either trade him ASAP or pay him as the highest-paid cornerback. Let's find an end to this one way or the other.

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey did not practice Monday because of an illness. While I was as skeptical as anyone when I first learned of this on Monday morning, his sickness indeed was real. That doesn’t mean there won’t be weirdness moving forward regarding his request to be traded, but this was not that. As far as your demand that the Jaguars take some action, there’s another route: prepare for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos assuming Ramsey will play and … have him play. He’s under contract to do so and he’s not going to play for anyone else. Just because a player wants to be traded doesn’t mean a team is obligated to trade him. That’s particularly true when a player has nearly two years remaining on his contract.

Otto from Ponte Vedra, FL

John, I was one of the Jaguar fans who cast doubt on the prospects of quarterback Gardner Minshew II and defensive tackle Taven Bryan. My main hope now is that a meal of crow is Keto friendly. Go Jags!!

No reason to eat. Neither Minshew nor Bryan gave fans much reason to believe in them during the preseason, and a lot of the concern/criticism at the time was warranted. Both are playing better now, and the praise they’re receiving is warranted, too. Their stories do illustrate an oft-forgotten point: It’s not always wise to give up on a player after a small sample size. Players can improve, particularly young ones.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

What is the prognosis on tight end Josh Oliver? With four good receivers straining opposing defenses horizontally and vertically, he could have a lot of room to work with and a lot of opportunities to contribute to an already good offense.

Oliver, a third-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2019 NFL Draft, has been out since early training camp with a hamstring injury. Head Coach Doug Marrone said Monday Oliver is expected to practice this week with his game status depending on his strength this week during practice.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I am loving everything about the mania. It is fun to have something to be super-excited about with actual solid play on the field. I just don't want everyone riding the high to turn on general manager the minute he shows that he is still rookie and has a lot to learn. I am expecting a few rookie starts out of him, like throwing three interceptions in a hostile environment. Could it be this weekend against a pretty good front? I have no idea. Fans always gonna fan, but don't jump off a cliff when we see a rough game out of the kid.

Minshew absolutely will have tough games, and fans will jump off figurative cliffs when that happens because it’s what fans do. The big picture here is that he’s proving at the very least to be very capable and he’s showing signs that he may be special. I would be surprised if he has a cliff-jumping game this week because Denver’s front – while talented – hasn’t been effective this season. But I could be wrong. It’s happened before. A lot.

Keith from Palatka, FL

Our offensive line is more troubling than our petulant cornerback. While the pass blocking is better, the run blocking is not. Left guard Andrew Norwell is playing more like the undrafted free agent he was instead of the All-Pro guard he became. Right guard A.J. Cann is no better than he ever was. Our line will not magically get better in run-blocking this season just because we want them to. Our line will get better run blocking when we get better guards in the offseason.

I don’t expect the current version of the Jaguars’ offensive line to be a dominant run-blocking unit. I don’t expect this because I’ve never seen this group be such a unit; even in 2017 when the Jaguars led the NFL in rushing this wasn’t a team that could run when it absolutely had to run. But there are reasons to believe the unit can improve in this area. It hasn’t played together long, and run-blocking can often benefit from cohesion and continuity. Will Richardson Jr. likely will play right guard at some point soon, and he has a high ceiling. Left tackle Cam Robinson should get better as he returns to form after missing 14 games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. All those are reasons to hope the running game can improve.

Chris from Nashville, TN

"… Who won his second NFL start on Thursday." Did he really, though?

Absolutely.

Kevin from Jacksonville

Hey, John: Do you think our running-game struggles have anything to do with us not using a fullback? In 2017 we had Tommy Bohanon and we led the league in rushing. When we had Greg Jones, we were always a running powerhouse. It seems when we don't have a fullback our running game sucks.

Teams run well in the NFL all the time without a fullback, and the running game had a fullback last season when it struggled in the area. The Jaguars’ current running issues have more to do with an offensive line struggling for chemistry and continuity than anything else. While running back Leonard Fournette doesn’t have quite as much missability as would be ideal, he had minus-3 yards on 14 carries before a 69-yard run near game’s end. You’re not in the negative after double-digit carries if everything’s going right up front.

Justin from West Des Moines, IA

Fourteen carries for minus-three yards. I understand the offensive line maybe didn't have a great game, but wow. Help us understand - how is it that Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo don't even get a shot to create a spark out there?

You have it reversed. When it’s minus-three after 14 carries, that’s not a matter of the back not making defenders miss. It’s a matter of the back not having a chance to do anything before being hit.

Rob from Ponta Vedra, FL

Taven "Bonesaw" Bryan appears to get great push but lacks the ability to shed or spin off a block and locate the ball carrier. Will a great bull-rush alone make him worthy of a longtime starting role in the NFL? Do you think with practice he can develop enough pass rush moves and learn to shed blocks enough to make up for his seeming lack of natural instincts?

We’ll see.

Anooj from Decatur, GA

The media reaches too hard on the narrative of Jalen Ramsey. The man is sick. Get over it. He played Thursday night knowing he is putting his career on the line and risking injury, you think he is going to fake sick? Jaguars need to keep Ramsey, Jaguars Owner Shad Khan needs to pay him, and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin needs to leave. Y’all be reaching sometimes.

You’re right that Ramsey is indeed sick. But considering the weirdness of this story, it wasn’t ridiculous to react with a measure of skepticism upon first hearing the news.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

To the fans that say, "Pay the man!" I could not agree more, as long as we can agree The Man is always the quarterback. What's left over, minus dead money, is split between the other fifty players.

You’re not wrong.

Mr. Padre from St. Mary’s, GA

I'm thinking the biggest issue in trading Ramsey is that the teams interested are too good. Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens would only be giving us picks at the bottom of the round(s).You aren't going to get a player of Ramsey’s value at Pick No. 30.

That certainly doesn’t help.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

A number of fans in the stadium Thursday night seemed to feel that we were running the ball too much. I couldn’t disagree more. We were up 14-0 in the first quarter and our defense was dominating. We weren’t running well, but it was clear to me that in the second half if we ran every play, took two minutes off the clock and punted every drive we were going to win easily. There was no need at all to risk turnovers, which were pretty much the only way Tennessee was ever going to score enough points to win. What did you think of the run/pass mix?

I thought it was fine. What did the fans in the stadium think of the score? Were they good with the victory?

Steve from Midwest Tour ‘19

There is no question you are the King of Funk. Perhaps 'Stache could be the Prince of Funk? Every king needs an heir!

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