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O-Zone: Keeping the faith

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Dan from Varna, Bulgaria

I hope I'm wrong, but it looks like we will be looking for a starting quarterback next year again. Gardner Minshew II's physical limitations are obvious, and the opposing defenses are catching up quickly.

It's hard to know what the Jaguars will do at quarterback next offseason – primarily because it's way too early to know how they will feel about Minshew by then. Minshew has many strengths such as intelligence, accuracy, leadership and a clutch gene that often allows him to make big plays late in games. Those strengths matter. He has shortcomings such as height and arm strength that also matter and won't go away. He also has shown a tendency to leave the pocket too early when he needs to be throwing downfield. That's an experience thing and improving in that area needs to be his next step. Bottom line: If Minshew plays as up and down the rest of the season as he did the last two games – and if the Jaguars are drafting in the top three or four – then yes … there's a good possibility the Jaguars would draft a quarterback early in the 2021 NFL Draft. If he plays better, then the Jaguars likely will win enough to make that less likely.

Paul from Jacksonville

Although I'm in the camp of those who would like to see defensive coordinator Todd Wash do something, anything, to try to bring pressure on the quarterback, I also worry what will happen if we start sending more guys and STILL don't get pressure. Unfortunately, I'm starting to think that even without the numerous injuries, this defense just doesn't have all the personnel it needs to get the job done. And then there's the quality of our depth. It's gonna be a long season.

It doesn't look promising at this moment; I will grant you that. The Jaguars are four games into the regular season, which is approaching the point you can get an accurate read on an NFL team. The Jaguars have forced three turnovers and have four sacks defensively, and they have struggled to cover in most of their four games. Perhaps they will change course, but the defense so far looks like one that will struggle. It's up the group to prove that's not the case. We'll see.

Kevin from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Hi John. Even Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence couldn't win with the way our defense is currently playing. Do you think we could've kept a couple of older, more experienced players if defensive tackle Taven Bryan was released? Our line is really struggling.

Releasing Bryan wouldn't have meant the Jaguars keeping older, more-experienced players.

Shon from San Antonio, TX

OK, we have to talk about the elephant in the room. Who cares about Lot J if the Jaguars continue to field a team that is always at the bottom of the division? That we have a young team is known. What I don't understand is why can't this team find continuous improvement. The Jaguars are a business and as a brand, the fact that we are one of 32 teams is our only attraction. If Lot J is managed like the Jaguars, it will be the Jacksonville Landing 2.0 in 30 years. If we start winning, they will come. The success of that development hinges on the future success of the Jaguars. Jacksonville is a great city and my hometown but having been to other major cities, we're gonna need more than Lot J. Just win baby!

Here's who cares about Lot J: Anyone who wants the Jaguars to be in Jacksonville – and to be a financially stable organization – for the long term. And anyone who wants Jacksonville to have a big-time downtown. And anyone who wants TIAA Bank Field and the area around it to be somewhere close to the level of other NFL stadium/surrounding areas. Anyone who has been to other NFL cities knows that area must be upgraded. I understand fans are frustrated with losing, but what the Jaguars do developing downtown Jacksonville and the business side of the organization does not take away focus on football. The two have nothing to do with the other, and the Jaguars partnering with Cordish Companies to develop downtown will have the overriding positive impact of helping solidify the team in Jacksonville. Jaguars fans shouldn't dislike news that Lot J is moving forward. They should celebrate it because it will go a long way to ensuring the franchise is strong here for the long term. (And the Jaguars are managed very well, by the way. The record on the field doesn't reflect that, but that doesn't make it untrue.)

Scott from Medford, NJ

Hi, John. Are we now in the era where a quarterback can put up huge statistical numbers and still not be a franchise quarterback? Have the rules changed the game that much?

Good eye.

Jimsure from DBS

Now that the Houston Texans have fired Head Coach Bill O'Brien – who has been historically better than our coach – do you get any hints or premonition we will be doing the same any time soon?

No. I don't think the Jaguars will make a coaching change soon – or any time this season. Which is fine because there's not a lot of evidence that this team is poorly coached. There are observers that say that, just not any evidence.

Bill from Jacksonville

"We entered the season wanting to know if he's the guy. After four weeks, we still don't know." If we "don't know" by the end of the season, then he isn't.


Jim from Middleburg, FL

At one time you could tell the difference between the NFL and Thursday night "rassling."

I laughed at the notion of someone rassling and straining his back. But maybe that's just me. I've been "in a mood" lately.

Steven from Lakewood

Statically Minshew is up in the top 13 per PFR. Are we looking for too much from him?


The original Bryan from Tampa, FL

You and others have cited youth and inexperience as contributing factors to our defensive woes. Would you say these are the primary factors and if such that things should improve as the season progresses? Or is the talent level just too deficient

I think the defense can improve. I don't know that it's going to improve enough between now and the end of the season to be considered good enough. I think there are too many spots where the Jaguars need to improve in the offseason, with safety and defensive tackle being two of those spots.

Tom from Charlottesville, VA

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone mentioned recently that they did not have enough speed on some plays. Are the Jags lacking speed in the overall defense?

The Jaguars have some fast players on defense. Cornerback Chris Claybrooks is a burner. Weak-side linebacker Myles Jack is fast and athletic for his position, and the same is true of defensive ends Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson. A lack of speed isn't as much an issue for the Jaguars' defense as an overall lack of front-line experienced playmakers. The Jaguars have a few. It's fair to wonder if they have enough.

Steve from the Sunroom Couch

Dear John, Are we having fun yet?

You have no idea.                                                                    

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

Is it time for defensive coordinator Todd Wash to go? His vanilla defense may have worked when the defense had great personnel, as in 2017, but with the current team we need something more creative.

Marrone will part ways with defensive coordinator Todd Wash when he believes doing so will improve the defense. I don't expect that to be soon.

Bo from Linwood, NC

At what point is not coming close to even pressuring the quarterback make the better option bringing-the-house blitzes? I would think a few rushed throws would benefit a struggling defense over giving anyone a clean pocket and all day to throw.

If bringing-the-house blitzes were the answer the Jaguars would … wait for it … bring the house with blitzes. Marrone went into detail about this Monday, noting that when you blitz you try to create a numbers advantage. Because most teams protect with six players, it's necessary to bring seven rushers to create a numbers advantage. That by definition leaves a maximum of four players in coverage, which pretty much assures every player in a young and struggling secondary one-on-one in coverage. I understand it's frustrating to watch an opposing quarterback stand in the pocket with no pressure. It's frustrating to watch from this vantagepoint, too. But that's why the Jaguars don't believe the answer is simply to bring the house.

Logan from Wichita, KS

So where do I send my resume for the GM position? The bar is set so ungodly low I don't think I could possibly do worse.

I absolutely believe you could. But I have more faith in you than most do.