O-Zone: Hush, hush

HOUSTON, Texas – Let’s get to it…

Eric from Columbus, IN

I’m surprised by all the arm-strength concerns. Uncle Rico can throw a pigskin over them mountains!

This sums up much of the discussion around Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II this week. There is euphoria over his impressive performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1. There is hype over not only his mustache and bandana, but his entire every-man persona. There is hope and energy among Jaguars players and fans that perhaps this Round 6 rookie has something special and can parlay that into more production and a victory over the Houston Texans Sunday. And perhaps he can. But remember a couple of things: While Minshew indeed showed a stronger arm than expected against the Chiefs, there are still legitimate concerns about the ability to make certain throws to the deep sideline, and there is very real concern over how Minshew will respond when coordinators design schemes to take away his strengths and exploit his weaknesses. Expect teams to blitz and play schemes to test every aspect of Minshew’s game. He will have rookie moments. He will get lost sometimes, even with his impressive football IQ. How he responds to that, and whether he can find ways to beat defensive specifically designed against him, will determine a lot about his NFL future. And the Jaguars’ 2019 season.

Big on Blake from Philly

John, I know this will be game day morning and it’s kind of hard to start a thing on game day morning – but let’s try. I’m shaving everything to a mustache tomorrow for the game. I’m Minshew (read: I’m in too). #ImMinshew #Minshew

Everything?

Tom from Jacksonville

When I watch our defense play, we have after most plays someone who has to bump into someone or talk or celebrate. I watched the Pats after our game; I think we have more talent on defense, and after every play they simply move onto the next play and make sure all are on the same page. Should I blame our players or our coaches? My coach had a saying the bench is best place in the world for a player to learn.

Your coach didn’t coach professional players in a salary-cap era in which depth is rare – and in which it’s almost impossible to bench star players whose talent makes a difference in winning and losing.

Andrew from Matton, IL

Mr. Khan shaving his mustache would be like Green Bay tearing down Lambeau Field.

And just as expensive.

Mark from College Park, MD

What are your realistic expectations for Taven Bryan this year? Can he become an interior defensive starter this year? Or will Calais continue to play out of position due to injuries?

I expect second-year defensive tackle Taven Bryan to remain a backup this season and I don’t believe he will start unless injury forces that situation. I expect this because I haven’t seen much to make me think he’s going to play well enough consistently enough to get either starting tackle – Abry Jones or Marcell Dareus – out of the lineup. While Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell played inside in base situations more than normal against Kansas City, I don’t expect Campbell to start again on the interior unless there are injuries. I expect Jones and Dareus to stay in those spots, with Bryan part of the rotation.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, what would you say Minshew has to do on Sunday to earn the right of the hype to continue?

Win.

Tom from Charleston, NC

Lately you have been justifying not sitting a player that is hurting the team with "stupid penalties.” You support the theory that you may be taking your best player off the field. Please justify why you would keep a player in the game that is stopping offensive drives or extending opposition drives due to a lack of discipline. That equates to little Johnny getting caught cheating on a test and facing suspension, now the principal says that you can't suspend Johnny because he gets the best grades in the class. At some point, bad behavior negates good results.

I indeed often have written that’s why coaches take the approach of not benching players for silly penalties – that it’s risky to sit your best players because coaches don’t like having their best pass rusher next to them on the sidelines on third-and-8 as opposed to on the field. I never said I support that theory. I would bench players on occasion. Either way, your “Little Johnny” analogy doesn’t work: if you suspend little Johnny for cheating, little Johnny – and only little Johnny – gets punished. If you suspend good players, that hurts the entire collective effort. That’s the basis of the whole dilemma.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

I know the story right now is about Minshew, but Houston is going to load the box and dare him to throw, whereas Jacksonville’s hope's to run run run. Do you think Fournette is more the key to this game than the young QB?

No, when a rookie quarterback is making his first NFL start on the road, no player is more key.

Marcus from Jacksonville

You say that Dom Capers is not going to be the one to intervene in order to fix a problem with the defense. I agree that he won’t overstep his bounds and go against Todd Wash, but I do believe he was strategically brought in to be in place in the event that the defensive woes of 2018 continued and Wash needed to be relieved of his duties. Statistically, the 2018 defense was good, but they were prone to be undisciplined, blow coverages and have entire games where they were just plain awful. This reminds me of when Doug Marrone was brought in as a position coach under Gus Bradley. A former head coach with experience and success was brought in to work under a head coach on the hot seat. Bradley gets fired, Marrone steps in and ultimately gets the gig. I could see a similar situation, if we have a few more games like last Sunday. Wash gets canned, Capers naturally slides into that position in an interim role, and ultimately gets the job if he is able to turn things around. Sounds smart to me.

It’s an understandable theory. It looks good on paper. It would surprise me if it happens. I suppose we’ll see who’s right. It might be me. Weirder things have happened.

David from Culouta, FL

Johnny-O: Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette says, “It’s our job to make him comfortable.” So, I think it’s only fair that Minshew stop stretching in only his jock strap, so all his teammates can experience some level of comfort.

As with many things in life, it’s all a matter of personal preference.

Nate from Granby, MO

Former Alabama and current Dolphins safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, has been given permission to seek a trade. I think it would be a good pick up for the team and Ronnie Harrison if we could acquire him. Do we even have the cap space for such a move?

It depends entirely on what it costs. If the Jaguars could get a player such as Fitzpatrick for a third-or fourth-round selection, OK. For a first-round pick? No, I don’t think the Jaguars – a team that is hardly assured of selecting in the bottom part of the first round – should give up a first-round selection for a safety.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z: It's either going to be really good or really bad!!

Buckle in.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

That whole strategy of "hold players out in the preseason so they are healthy for the regular season" didn't quite go as planned.

The Jaguars were pretty healthy entering the regular season. It was once the regular season started that things started going awry.

Brian from Greenwood, IN

I was happy to see Jimmy Smith get on the HOF list, although I am a little disappointed it takes a "class of 20" for him to be considered. I know that he won't make it, but his stats are better than Michael Irvin's stats – who had his own off-the-field issues, yet has a gold jacket. If you look at where No. 82 ranks all time statistically in the NFL, it is No. 23. Further, he played in fewer games than all 22 wide receivers ranked ahead of him. There was a five-year stretch from '97-'01 when was arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl in five consecutive years. I just wish the voters gave Jimmy Smith more love. He deserves it! Sorry not a question, just an observation.

You’re a bit confused about the Hall process, which is understandable considering its complicated, extended nature. Smith has been on the modern-era list for the Hall for a while now, and the “Class of 20” has nothing to do with his chances – just as it has nothing to do with Tony Boselli’s, Maurice Jones-Drew’s or Fred Taylor’s chances or their candidacies. All are modern-era candidates, and the Hall elects five modern-era candidates a year. That won’t change this year. The Hall indeed will induct 20 players, but the extra inductees will be from the veterans’ committee, contributors and coaches – not from modern-era candidates.

KC from Ukiah, CA

How nice would it be if the running game showed up BIG on Sunday, and Minshew II merely had to manage the game, not carry the team on his rookie shoulders? On another note, I for one am a big fan of "Chippy John" and welcome a little more sass to The Zone!

Shut up.

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