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O-Zone: Keep rocking

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

John from Jacksonville

My thought on Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II is he learned his lesson last season when he was benched in favor of Nick Foles. Minshew's magic began to fade some at the time, making the quarterback switch to Foles easier. Minshew did not like being benched at all. He returned as the starter and he played better closing out the season. I feel he is motivated more than ever knowing he doesn't want to ever get benched again.

I don't doubt that Minshew's midseason "benching" last season motivated him, and he indeed showed improvement over the final three games of the season compared to an inconsistent stretch shortly before Foles returned to the starting lineup. That late-season improvement after struggling at times early in the season bodes well for Minshew's future and speaks to his resiliency and mental toughness. I perhaps would attribute this improvement as much to gaining needed experience, improving pocket awareness and learning from mistakes as much as I would attribute it to motivation, but yes … Minshew appears motivated not to be benched. Most quarterbacks – and indeed, most players – share this feeling. We'll see if it helps Minshew become a long-time NFL starter.

Trev from Jacksonville

Why do the Jags guarantee first-round contracts when that's not necessary at all? Didn't they learn anything from Dante Fowler Jr?

The Jaguars don't guarantee all first-round contracts – though it is common practice in the NFL to fully guarantee the contracts of players selected earlier in the first round, particularly Top 10 selections. The theory is that a Top 10 player is highly likely to play all four seasons of the rookie contract. Not all players selected later in Round 1 have their contracts fully guaranteed, though. The Jaguars, for example, did not guarantee the entire contract of Bryan – who was selected No. 29 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. About 80 percent of Bryan's contract was guaranteed – which, again, is about the NFL norm for late first-round players.

Matt from Bremen, IN

John, I don't disagree that the Kansas City Chiefs have done a better job than the Jags since they had the top pick in 2013, and I'm not excusing the job Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and crew have done since then. But let's not forget that Kansas City had a roster that included six Pro Bowlers that year, while the Jags had zero. Though, ultimately, the big difference is probably that the Chiefs traded for Alex Smith at quarterback, and then snagged Patrick Mahomes after nine teams (including the Jags) passed on him. We, on the other hand, have wallowed in quarterback misery.


Sam from Winter Park, FL

Caldwell didn't just miss on quarterback Blake Bortles. He's arguably only hit on cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen and both were giftwrapped to him: 2013-2015 miss. Defensive tackle Taven Bryan. Miss. Running back Leonard Fournette. Miss. Simply put, by any shred of logical standard Caldwell is fired after three terrible drafts and doesn't even get to select Ramsey.

You're not alone in criticizing Caldwell. And the Jaguars' record over the last seven seasons makes Caldwell easy to criticize. But your argument perhaps goes a bit too far and overlooks some key points. The Jaguars' 2014 draft was in no way a miserable draft, having included wide receiver Allen Robinson, linebacker Telvin Smith, wide receiver Marqise Lee and center Brandon Linder and cornerback Aaron Colvin; the Bortles selection in Round 1 doesn't completely negate the quality of the rest of the class. And it's also unfair to say Caldwell has hit on only Ramsey and Allen. Linebacker Myles Jack was in no way a miss in Round 2 in 2016, nor were the aforementioned players from the 2014 class. And wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. and right tackle Jawaan Taylor in recent seasons look like good selections. Bottom line: Had the Jaguars hit on a quarterback in the last decade, everything around that quarterback would look much better. Not perfect, perhaps – but much better. Elite quarterbacks have that effect on everything around them. Perhaps Minshew will prove to be such a quarterback. We'll see.

Eric from St. Augustine, FL

How can you overlook "Number One" with Charlton Heston, or "Horse Feathers" with the Marx Brothers? Football movies both.

I left out "Radio," too. Don't I get credit for that?

KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF - I don't get why it takes so long to sign all of these rookie contracts? Isn't there a set scale for rookies based upon their draft position?

Yes. There's also a global pandemic that has restricted travel around the NFL, which has restricted physical examinations and otherwise moved many, many items of normal league business down team's list of immediate priorities. The rookies will get signed before they miss anything of significance. I expect all to be signed well before they officially are to report for training camp; the Jaguars, in fact, have signed eight of 12 rookies already. This is not a crisis. It's not a "thing." Though there are many crises and "things" currently happening in the NFL, this is not among them.

John from Jacksonville

I heard a rumor about longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette that I didn't believe but now you may be able to confirm it as fact. I was driving the other morning near the Duval county line and saw a flash followed by the sound of a sonic boom. Is it true that he runs the perimeter of the county line every morning and that was him that I saw and heard? If so, how does he make that sonic boom sound like "Duvallllll"?

From the diaphragm.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

People seem to be angry with you a lot, O-Zone. What did you do to deserve this?

I'm not at liberty to say. Ask Shadrick.

Maryanne from Jacksonville

Thinking about your response to my last comment: a couple of great players came to mind – wide receivers Allen Hurns and Robinson – who are still playing very well in their respective teams. Do we always respond by saying they're not worth the money?

It seems we differ on our definitions of "great" players, particularly when it comes to Hurns – who has just over 700 yards receiving over the last two years. As far as Robinson … your question was about the Jaguars releasing great players. Robinson was an unrestricted free agent who signed elsewhere after the sides didn't agree on a contract. If you are asking if there have been good players drafted by the Jaguars in recent seasons who have signed elsewhere in free agency … then yes, there have been a few. And Robinson indeed qualifies.

Don from Marshall, NC

Seems to me great teams make great players. The selfish thought of being one player away from greatness has doomed many. Blake Bortles was closer to the Super Bowl than Mark Brunell playing on the road against Tom Brady. Leave the poor guy alone he has been long gone. Go Jaguars!


Gustav from Frankfurt, Germany

Just because someone is good at singing polka doesn't mean they can also play the glockenspiel. In the same way, just because Shad Khan is an automotive bumper mogul, doesn't mean he knows the first thing about making an NFL franchise successful on the field. Apparently, he doesn't know how to hire the right people for that part, either.

You're right. It does take many NFL owners time to learn how to succeed in the NFL. There's a big transition and success rarely comes quickly for new owners; there also is some luck involved. And a lot of any team's success does depend on being fortunate enough to find leadership fortunate enough to hit on the right quarterback. No, the Jaguars haven't done that yet – and they haven't had the success under Khan that Khan would want. But he is a smart man who has been successful throughout his career. He is intent on doing things the right way. Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, but that combination gives him a good chance of success over the long term.

Fred from Chicago, IL

Where have all the good times gone, Zone? Enquiring minds want to know.

What good times?

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, a fun-fact I have is that many years back the drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd played drums on the very first song I wrote as I was sharing it with my own bandmates. Do you have any fun facts about yourself you can share before the dead zone ends?

I have an autographed copy of "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys" by 38 Special that I got when I met the band at a signing at the Record Bar in Regency Square Mall in 1981. It says: "To John, Keep Rockin'." I did, fellas. I did. Also, I sing a mean polka and can play the $%&# out of the glockenspiel.