O-Zone: Keeping at it

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let’s get to it …

Mike from Bridgeport, CT

You've been saying for months that sometimes, it's time to move on. If Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell's comments at the NFL Scouting Combine Wednesday didn't make people believe the Jaguars will move on, then I don't know what will.

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager David Caldwell both talked quite a bit at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine Wednesday, and they both – as expected – talked a lot about quarterbacks. Neither specified that Bortles will be released, and Caldwell specifically said that Bortles had not been told as much. But both Caldwell and Marrone talked enough about quarterback scenarios that didn’t involve Bortles that it was clear the Jaguars are moving on. Because … you know … sometimes it’s time to do that.

Sage from Orlando, FL

Why can't the Jaguars ask quarterback Bortles to restructure his contract, and then release him, so they don't have so much in dead money? You know, for being a bust.

Kids, be better than this.

KC from South Florida

What are your thoughts on Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray? Could he be a possibility at No. 7? A lot of fans seem to dismiss him due to the fact that Coughlin probably doesn’t like his size and therefore won’t even be considered.

Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin never has said publicly he doesn’t like Murray’s size. I also have received no indication from anyone around the Jaguars that Coughlin feels that way, nor have I heard any legitimate reports that that’s the case. I have seen and heard plenty of people speculating about how Coughlin feels about Murray – and about small quarterbacks in general. Here’s the thing about Murray: He has special attributes. Whatever your philosophy on small quarterbacks, you must acknowledge those attributes and determine whether they’re enough to overcome a lack of prototypical size at the position. The Jaguars certainly will study and consider him seriously with that in mind. But you can’t ignore the “size issue.” It’s a big man’s game and quarterback is traditionally a big man’s position. Murray was able to use speed and athleticism to offset his lack of size at the college level. That’s phenomenally more difficult against faster, stronger more athletic players in the NFL.

Chris from Nashville, TN

Sexton told me that it wasn't him microwaving fish. It was simply the smell of John O permeating through the office. King of funk indeed.

This couldn’t be less accurate. And while I usually don’t use this forum to brag, my natural aroma is perhaps my greatest attribute – as anyone fortunate enough to spend time with me can attest. It’s hard to define, but it has been described as on par with quality leather, fine cologne and expensive bourbon. The understandable envy men feel in my presence is why most people get away from me as quickly as possible upon meeting me. Too much of a good thing overwhelms the senses. Like flying too close to the sun. Only with awesome smells.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I'm not opposed to getting Nick Foles from the Philadelphia Eagles. He would be an upgrade over what we have had for many moons. But I can't help but think how much fortune and circumstance dictate success in the NFL. You must do your homework and be a good steward of the roster and cap, but that alone often isn't good enough: you need to be good and lucky. Here the Jaguars are, sitting at No. 7 with multiple good quarterback prospects. How many teams miss out on a good quarterback simply because they weren't in a good position to grab one in the draft? There is a good argument for all three out of Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State, Drew Lock of Missouri and Daniel Jones of Duke. It could be years before they find themselves in such a position again to draft a good quarterback in the Top 10 without giving up a lot of equity. It's a tough decision, but I assume we will find out the answer sometime in the next three weeks?

You absolutely must be good and lucky to find not only a quarterback in the NFL, but to build a team and find good players. The work increases your chances of success, but you also must have good timing – and you must find players who develop and who fit your system to prove you right. We probably won’t find out the answer in a matter of weeks, though. It will take at least until the games begin next season.

Big Moon from Utah, USA

Outside Focus Zone, is it realistic that Bortles could back up Foles?

No.

Blues Man from Jacksonville

The quarterback free-agency options certainly aren’t overwhelming, and I’m sincerely hoping we don’t land Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum, or even Ryan Tannehill. Seriously, they are not much of an upgrade over Bortles. And, to be honest, though Foles may be a better option, I’m leery of him as a “franchise” quarterback. I’d personally like to see the Jags draft a quarterback. Sure, there will be growing pains, but perhaps in the long run it would be more logical?

I think the Jaguars will pursue Foles as “Plan A.” Is he a franchise quarterback? Probably not, though the hope is he would be an upgrade over Bortles. The reality is not a lot usually separates 5-11 from contention in the NFL, and even a marginal quarterback upgrade in terms of accuracy and a few throws which Bortles often struggled could mean positive results. I believe “Plan B” would be a quarterback along the lines of the ones you listed with a quarterback potentially drafted at No. 7 overall. Either plan is risky because you’re probably not starting a “franchise-level” quarterback immediately. But there’s no “no-risk” quarterback scenario available this offseason for a team without a starter. You’ve got to choose a plan and go with it.

Sam from Winter Park, FL

Were you in Madison Square Garden the day Eugene "Percy" Frenette body slammed Andre the Giant and took the title home?

No. I heard about it, though. And the “P” doesn’t stand for “Percy.”

Jakes from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

O-man, with all the injuries we had on the offense last year, if we would have had Patrick Mahomes as our quarterback, I still don't think we would have won many more games. People probably would have been saying, "Why did we draft him?" Again, just saying …

I agree in part with your premise – that the Jaguars’ injuries offensively last season were enough to make pretty much any quarterback struggle. And the injuries were certainly severe enough – and widespread enough – that they played a major role in the team’s struggles. But to say the Jaguars wouldn’t have been better with better quarterback play … nah, I can’t agree with that. Bortles wasn’t “at fault” for a lot of the Jaguars’ losses, but neither did he raise the level of play enough of players around him. The Jaguars need to find a quarterback capable of doing that. It won’t be easy. I don’t know that there’s a free-agent available who can do it or a rookie available that can do it immediately. There’s no way to know for sure until they acquire one or the other. But they need it, and it’s time to go ahead and try to find it.

Howard from Homestead, FL

If the Jags get Foles, what do you think of them investing a later pick on a lightning-in-a-bottle prospect like Devlin Hodges? He just broke Steve McNair’s passing record. I know he was FCS, but that didn’t hurt McNair.

Maybe. Who knows?

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, do you think there are other teams whose offseason scenarios involve Bortles as an option for their quarterback whether it's starting or backup?

I think Bortles will be signed in free agency and be a backup next season. I don’t know if that means teams are putting him in their “offseason scenarios,” but I think that’s what will happen.

John from Cape May Courthouse, NJ

Thank you for putting words in my mouth, but it’s not necessary. I can do my own talking. I never said offensive lineman weren’t important. What I said was they were not difference-makers worthy of being taken with a top 10 pick. Fan favorites Eugene Monroe and Luke Joeckel are prime examples of my point. Joe Thomas, for how great he was, didn’t win the Cleveland Browns a whole lot of games as I recall. My point is, if you’re in the top 10 take a chance on a guy who can take over and win a game for you. In my humble opinion, I just don’t believe spending a top 10 pick on offensive linemen is a wise draft strategy.

You just keep being you. Commitment to a cause is a beautiful thing.

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