O-Zone: Imagine the possibilities

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Will from Jacksonville

You wrote an article saying this draft class has the potential to be the Jaguars’ best ever. This begs the question: What draft do you currently consider to be the best?

The two that come to mind are the 1996 draft class that featured linebacker Kevin Hardy (Round 1), defensive end Tony Brackens (Round 2) and cornerback Aaron Beasley (Round 3) and the ’16 class that featured cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Round 1), linebacker Myles Jack (Round 2) and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (Round 3). Ramsey’s sideways this month departure hurts the ’16 class’ case, but the ’19 class absolutely has a chance to dwarf all others. It includes a potential long-term starting quarterback (Gardner Minshew II), a potential franchise pass rusher (Josh Allen) and a potential Pro Bowl right tackle (Jawaan Taylor). Just having the quarterback would make it a good draft. Just having the pass rusher would, too. If all three are as good as the Jaguars believe, it’s a phenomenal draft. If they get production from any of the other selections – tight end Josh Oliver and linebacker Quincy Williams, for example – it would be otherworldly.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Does Gardner Minshew have any incentives built into his contract for earning additional salary for starting a game or taking a certain number of snaps or does he earn the same if he were on the sidelines holding the clipboard?

Incentives are for veterans renegotiating contracts. Minshew is a rookie who was selected in the sixth round. His contract is just about as basic – and low-paying – as is allowable under NFL rules. He will make the same win or lose, play or not play. It won’t be much by NFL standards, but his days to make a lot by any standard will come eventually.

Keith from Monks Corner

Keep Lee because of more upside and let Robinson walk because of his unknown return from injury. How has that worked out? Just another front office blunder.

The Jaguars should have re-signed wide receiver Allen Robinson. That was a mistake. But re-signing Lee the same offseason – 2018 – absolutely was not a mistake. They re-signed him because he’s a very good overall receiver – receiving, run-blocking, toughness, third-down production – and he had proven that in 2017. Lee sustained a devastating injury after he re-signed. Does that make the signing go down as a “blunder?” To the biased and misinformed, perhaps. I’ll tell you what: Put it down however you want. Lee is a good player – and when healthy, he was really valuable. People who understand football understand it. I’ve explained it often. I can’t control who bothers to grasp it and who doesn’t.

Jags Fan 818 from Jacksonville

Hi, Zone. New Orleans Saints fans rallied around quarterback Teddy Bridgewater when Drew Brees went out, just like we have rallied for Minshew. I'm happy for Minshew with the success he is having! But I would be surprised if Nick Foles doesn't at least start against the Indianapolis Colts when he is eligible to return November 17. Foles was a big deal when he came to Jacksonville. He should have the opportunity to do his job. Jags have two quarterbacks! What a problem to have!!! Go Jags! Beat Texans!

Hey, one fer Foles!

Stephen from San Diego, CA

I keep reading that there is an upcoming controversy between Minshew and Foles. A recent article pointed to Minshew’s 13-2 touchdown-interception ratio as fourth best in the NFL. Sounds impressive, except when you consider his total QBR is ranked 24th. Also with quarterback stats, we like to talk about interceptions but not fumbles. Minshew leads the entire NFL with nine fumbles. In both these categories, Minshew is keeping company with James Winston of Tampa Bay and Joe Flacco, both of whom are considered to be having “down” seasons. With Minshew at the helm, the team has gone 4-4. However, the wins have come against four losing teams a combined 7-24, and the losses against teams with winning records. There is no controversy here. Perhaps the bar has been set so low in Jacksonville that his play (and his Stache) have people excited, but the team will go back to Foles. The upcoming schedule is too soft (Bucs, Chargers, Falcons) for the team to miss out on getting Foles back on track.

So, another one fer Foles! But it should be noted that you built an entire argument about Minshew’s statistics being deceiving around … statistics. Irony can be pretty ironic.

Phil from Coral Springs, FL

I just realized Gardner might be the second coming of Doug Flutie ... thoughts?

Jaguars fans should hope he’s better than that.

Ethan from Wampum, PA

Do Minshew's chemistry and experience with this offense, particularly his receivers, give him any edge in this approaching quarterback debate? Foles would only have the offseason and these next couple of weeks to catch up to what Minshew knows of his teammates’ tendencies. Do fans and analysts just imagine this as a factor, or is this relevant to what Head Coach Doug Marrone is weighing at all?

The chemistry with the receivers is a factor that has contributed to Minshew’s performance in recent weeks. He played well this past Sunday – and if he plays well again in London Sunday, he will make it very difficult to replace him. He will have the “hot hand,” and chemistry plays a role in that hot hand. In that sense, chemistry absolutely will be relevant to Marrone’s decision.

Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ

I firmly believe that defensive end Calais Campbell is the greatest free agent signing in franchise history. O-Zone, can you change my mind?

No.

Joey from Athens, GA

O, is this defense starting to show it can be elite again? Over the last two games, they have recorded six interceptions and 10 sacks.

The Jaguars have played two struggling teams in recent weeks, and they were able to get the defense the lead in both of those games. The defense used that situation to create pressure on quarterbacks and force those quarterbacks into mistakes. This defense has proven it can be very good – even elite – while playing with a lead. Can it be that good in other situations? Can it do it against other teams? Those are the questions moving forward.

TJ from Orlando, FL

Why is Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers favored to win Defensive Rookie of the Year while Allen was snubbed in midseason voting? His brother. That's it. People know the name Bosa and are generally lazy.

Fair.

John from Ramsey, NJ

We're at midseason and .500. Through the ups and downs, we're still standing tall. I see very much improvement in the team this year. Depth is starting to surprise me. It's coming together and we're able to absorb loss of players. I'm thoroughly enjoying this season and love watching Minshew develop and grow. I going to be miserable this bye week ... missing my Jags. Let's win this one against Houston and hopefully take second place or share first in the AFC South.

There are signs that what we are seeing is the foundation of a pretty good young team. There are some good signs in a lot of areas. The saga around former Ramsey made this hard to see, but the signs have been there throughout the season. It’s not a done deal yet. There is still a lot of developing to do. But when you look at some of the young players performing well and you consider that the team has four first-round selections over the next two seasons … well, there is reason for optimism. Stay tuned.

Tim from Jacksonville

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the wide receiver need to be open for a quick release to be relevant, and if said wide receiver are open that quick wouldn't the Stache already be throwing to them?

Not if he’s not as knowledgeable about and comfortable in the offense.

Chris from Mandarin

You know, it’s been a fun season and the Jaguars have been in every game. Say what you want about the decision Marrone has to make in a few weeks on quarterback, but that’s good enough for now. There’s a lot to like on both sides of the ball and it’s really, really refreshing.

The Jaguars have won the past two games. Winning is cool. Fans like it.

Anthony from Jacksonville

Being that the team (and since traded player) have appeared to have both moved on, aside from the Super Bowl, when's the next time that Jag will encounter the recently departed Jalen "2.0" Ramsey? I know the Jags played the Rams at home in 2017, but when do they appear on the schedule again?

The Jaguars will play the Rams in 2021. We’ll see if that means they’ll be playing against Ramsey. It’s possible he still will be on the Rams’ roster, but that’s a season and a half away. That makes a lot of other things possible, too.

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