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O-Zone: Just go home

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jaginator from formerly of Section 124

I totally understand that no team wants to be "held hostage" by a player's demands (on social media, or elsewhere). But here's the "burning question" in my mind: Will Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue develop a mysterious back ailment that keeps him out of games this season (until he's traded)? And will that mysterious ailment be miraculously healed when/if he's traded? I REALLY wanna believe that Yannick is not "that guy." But at this point, I can't discount anything – until the games are played …

This is a major concern for Jaguars fans – judging by my inbox, anyway – and that's understandable with the memory of former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey's intense love of teammates fresh in the collective memory. That episode was painful enough to leave a lasting scar. But I don't see Ngakoue behaving similarly this season – and not just because he's not "that guy." Even if he were that guy, the reality is it's very risky for him to not show up for the 2020 season or try to force his way off a team with in-season "stunts." Ramsey could do such a thing because he was perceived as a generational talent at his position and he had played at an All-Pro level; he was elite and had performed as such. That made him enough of a commodity a team would trade significant draft equity for him even knowing it would eventually have to pay him market-setting money – and even with whatever perceived "baggage" might accompany him. As stated often here in the past, Ngakoue is very good and deserves to be paid very well. But can he afford to develop a mysterious ailment? Can he afford to do anything else to bring negative attention to his situation? Can he afford to do anything but try to play at a high level and prove he's worth the contract he seeks? Perhaps, but that would be a major risk – more of a risk than Ramsey took early last fall.

Travis from High Springs, FL

I know it's still early to try and talk about what's going to happen with the season, because of coronavirus. But with the schedule being released Thursday, there are games that I and people I know are extremely excited to buy tickets for. Do you have any insight as to who, if anyone, will be allowed at games?

The hope and plan is for all NFL teams to play a full schedule in 2020 as announced with full stadiums. Contingencies will be announced and executed as needed. I can't predict what those contingencies will entail, and I don't know of anyone else who can either. This is new ground for everyone.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

I just read that Philip Rivers accepted a job as a high school football coach. He won't take over until he retires, though. He has owned the Jags traditionally, but if we can't beat a high school football coach twice a year then we are in serious, serious trouble John.

I smiled at this.

Maryanne from Jacksonville

Have the Jags gotten any better on the offensive line? In re-watching last year's games, it seems as though the offense just didn't get the job done. No protection for the quarterback.

The Jaguars' decision-makers believe the offensive line must improve and believe that improvement will come from players who were on the roster last season. So, the answer to your question is, "No. The Jaguars haven't gotten better on the offensive line." That necessary improvement must still happen.

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey, John. Do you see Will Richardson Jr. challenging A.J. Cann for the right guard spot and taking it? Also, the way defensive tackle Taven Bryan played at the end of last season, do you think will carry over to the new season?

I expect Richardson and Cann to compete again in training camp this season for a position where they rotated last season. I expect Cann to keep the job – primarily because he for the most part kept it last season. As for Bryan continuing to play as he did at the end of last season … sure, I expect it will carry over. But remember: I'm a wide-eyed optimist. I love life and people, and always expect the best.

zac from austin, tejas

I will commit to buying season tickets if you commit to NEVER referring to them as "jaggies" ever again.


Jonny from Jacksonville

My main man, Jonny-O!!! How ya doin? People's angst over the Mike Glennon signing is kind of goofy (which belongs in this forum). Their anger comes from having seen Glennon fail when he was with the Bears, but I am not sure anyone paid attention to his other seasons. Go back and look at his stats and you will see some decent backup quarterback numbers. And that's a good thing because he's our backup. I like this signing. What say you KOATF?

Glennon agreed to terms with the Jaguars Friday. He's a backup quarterback. He has backup-quarterback numbers and a backup-quarterback reputation. People were expecting, what … Tom Brady? Aaron Rodgers?

_Jerell from Columbia, SC                                                                     _

16-0? I think more like 15-1 but if things fall right, I could definitely see 16-0 and the first-round bye.

Jerell remains very much all-in. I remain very much suspicious of all things around me.

Eric from Columbus, IN

Zone, any word on Minshew's progress this spring? I know his arm strength has been a concern ... just curious if there's any hope for a Brady or Peyton Manning-like arm strength upgrade?

My understanding is Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II has been working this offseason. That work, like all work this offseason, has been done away from TIAA Bank Field so I have not seen him throw since last season. Is there hope for greater arm strength? Sure, but such things usually don't happen in two or three months.

Ryan from Murfreesboro, TN

After Minshew Mania took off, I remember Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone saying something along the lines of Minshew caused him to look at the backup quarterback position in preseason differently. Will there be a bigger quarterback rotation with the starting offense this year?

I think the starting quarterback – in this case, Minshew – will play more for the Jaguars this preseason than was the case last preseason. That's because the Jaguars held then-starting quarterback Nick Foles out of all but one half of one preseason game in Marrone's effort to minimize injuries entering the season. I would expect Minshew to get more snaps this preseason than Foles did last preseason – perhaps a quarter and a half or so in Preseason Week 2 and close to half in Preseason Week 3. That would be a normal starting quarterback's preseason reps. That feels about right for Minshew this preseason, with an extensive look at the backup in Week 1 and a couple of series in Week 2. Something like that.

Tom from Shanghai, China

Six things for the Jags to have a winning record. 1) Minshew takes a big leap. 2) Running back Leonard Fournette goes off in a contract year. 3) Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. becomes a top 5 pass catcher 4) Tight end Tyler Eifert becomes the first reliable weapon over the middle since, ever 5) The offensive line plays a little more like their salaries and draft status 6) The defense doesn't absolutely suck.

Six thoughts. 1) Yes. 2) Yes. 3) Yes. 4) Yes. 5) Yes. 6) Yes.

KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF, thank you for keeping the naysayers who think we are on a mission to tank at bay. I definitely think the Jaguars did a great job in free agency and the draft. If we can stay healthy and see some meaningful growth from our young players, along with Ngakoue playing on the franchise tag, I could see this team potentially being a .500 club. Assuming we and the Los Angeles Rams miss the playoffs next year and both have top 10 picks, what do you think would be the strategy for this team as far as next year's draft would be given the scenario? I imagine if we are a .500 ball club, best available would be the best way to go. However, part of me wants to upgrade the offensive line to improve our running and passing game. What do you think?

I think this is probably a good question. I also think the Jaguars will try to select the best player available based on their needs no matter where they select in the 2021 NFL Draft. I also think we're far enough from that draft that I haven't thought too much about it yet.

Steve from Desolation Boulevard

Are you ready, John? Alright fellas ... if I was the D Coordinator, I would dial up a blitz that would start with a man in the back yelling "everyone attack" wouldn't that be Sweet? Not sure what I would call it though, any ideas?

Little Willy.