O-Zone: King of the castle

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday…

Brian from Round Rock, TX

Where has DJ Chark Jr. gone? How has his disappearance impacted Minshew? Or is Minshew the reason for his disappearance? Help!

Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. hasn’t gone anywhere. The New Orleans Saints two weeks ago game-planned to defend Chark with a corner and a safety over the top to limit his ability to get deep, and the plan worked to the tune of holding the Jaguars to a season-low six points. The Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday mimicked the approach – and while Cincinnati did limit Chark, wide receivers Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley had big games in part because the Bengals’ defense focused on Chark. That’s what you’re supposed to do when defenses slant coverage in one direction; adapt and hurt them somewhere else. That’s normal for a young receiver when he first has success, and the Jaguars’ offense adapted accordingly. The more success the Jaguars’ other receivers have, the more defenses will gear to stop them and Chark in turn will have more opportunities. He also will learn to beat shaded coverages and double teams. This is part of the maturation process for young receivers. Chark is talented and mature enough to get through it and continue the process toward becoming an elite receiver.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

When we signed nickel corner D.J. Hayden, the front office talked about liking his ability to play outside if Jalen Ramsey or A.J. Bouye got hurt. Now that Ramsey is gone, why has he not played outside at all? He’s playing great at nickel, but it sure seems like he could be an improvement over Tre Herndon when we’re only playing two corners. Has the team said anything about this lately?

Hayden is playing as well as any nickel corner in the NFL, so you don’t want to move him to the outside and make a change at two positions. Remember: The Jaguars are in nickel far more than base, so it’s not as if he’s off the field much. Besides, Herndon isn’t playing that poorly. Yes, he’s giving up a few plays a game. It’s the NFL and it’s a passing-oriented league. Corners are going to give up big plays. Go back and look at cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s last game with the Jaguars. He allowed two of the bigger plays of the game that night against Tennessee. That’s not to say Herndon is as good as Ramsey, just that teams are going to make plays in the passing game no matter who’s on the field.

Enrique from Bargersville, IN

With Ramsey gone, how feasible is it to keep Campbell, Dareus, and give Ngakoue an extension?

Ramsey being gone will make it easier to keep anyone because he clears space from the Jaguars’ cap for next season, and he clears money that would have had to go on future caps to sign him. The issue with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is whether he and the Jaguars can agree on his worth, and I remain skeptical the Jaguars will be willing to meet Ngakoue’s price if it remains where it was last offseason. As far as defensive end Calais Campbell and tackle Marcell Dareus, those decisions will come later this season when we see how the pair play the rest of the season. If either plays as well late in the season as Campbell did late last season, the Jaguars likely will find a way to keep that player for next season. But both players are at the age where teams sometime decide to move on from players. Stay tuned.

Scott from Jacksonville

Hey, Minshew Mania was real. The kid did things in his first few starts that no rookie quarterback had ever done, and nobody can take that away from him. He's come back down to Earth a bit, but is still playing well for a rookie, but he looks like maybe he's thinking too much now instead of letting it fly. It could certainly be a lot worse, though. I am far from dreading his next start like I've done so often in previous years.

Fair.

Ben from Cuba, MO

At this juncture does Leonard get a new contract if he keeps running like this?

I would be surprised at this point if the Jaguars don’t exercise the fifth-year option for running back Leonard Fournette. That’s a decision they will have to make next offseason, which will give them the option the following offseason of keeping Fournette for what would be his fifth season in 2021. It’s doubtful at this point that the Jaguars would re-sign Fournette to a long-term deal next offseason. That feels like something that would get addressed in the 2020 season or the offseason before 2021.

John from Jacksonville

We drafted defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. with the third pick in 2015, and then traded him for a third-round pick. We drafted Ramsey with the No. 5 overall selection, and now according to your power rankings, will receive a low to mid-20s this year and assuming the same next year. Will we ever select a player and trade them for a pick BEFORE they were selected? Please let our front office know that you are allowed to do that per NFL rules.

Yes, you’re allowed to do it – but it doesn’t happen often, particularly when it doesn’t involve quarterbacks. And though the Jaguars may not have gotten great value for Fowler, getting two first-round selections and a fourth-rounder for Ramsey was by any measure remarkable draft equity in exchange for the player. Those selections may not yield players as good as Ramsey, but no player outside of a franchise quarterback is going to draw two Top 10 selections.

Chris from Vienna, Austria

Hey. You wrote that the London game is a home game. Only on schedule. I attended all Jax games since 2013. In my opinion there were always more fans from the away team in the stadium. It always feels like an away game.

There were more Dallas Cowboys fans and San Francisco 49ers fans the first two years – 2013 and 2014 – because those are popular teams who were playing well at the time of those games. So, yes … the crowds did seem tilted in their favor those years. That dynamic has been far less noticeable the past few seasons. But the London game by rule is a home game for the Jaguars. They are listed as the home team, and it counts as one of eight regular-season home games. They play there every season. It’s not a home game in the traditional sense, but it’s absolutely a home game – and the Jaguars better have home-field advantage when they play there.

Austin from Atlanta, GA

How does the Malcolm Smith signing impact our defense? Does it move Jack around or will he be plugged in elsewhere?

Smith is a former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, but he signed off the street on Tuesday. The hope is he can get you by for a while if he has to play, but the Jaguars aren’t going to move starters – particularly Jack – around for him. Jack is the Jaguars’ starting middle linebacker. He’s not moving anywhere.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

If Ramsey is where the defense got its “attitude” from, then it was very important to get rid of him. Fighting, trash-talking, endless amounts of stupid penalties and all kinds of negative attention. Good Riddance. Now new players will look to Calais, Yan, Fournette, Foles, cornerback A.J. Bouye as an example instead of Fowler/Ramsey.

I found Ramsey’s request for a trade, and the accompanying abandonment of his teammates, reprehensible and fraudulent. It was as bad an action as any I have covered in 25 seasons around the NFL. But just because that’s true doesn’t mean that Ramsey never did anything positive for this organization. And while the trash-talking demeanor did perhaps lead to some penalties and some lack of discipline, Ramsey’s confidence and brashness did have a positive influence on his teammates – and on the organization. Ramsey and others in 2017 believed this team was supposed to be good and supposed to win – probably before they had any evidence to suggest they were right. That confidence absolutely helped change the mindset of the organization and helped this team get out of a long period of losing. Was it important to get rid of him? By the end, yes. But it’s just as certain that he wasn’t all bad for this team.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

Can you stop answering questions with the "company- line" comments in them? They're real annoying.

If I had this policy in place, I couldn’t answer this question.

Daniel from Urbandale

Not to get too outside the bounds of reality, but do you see the Jags pulling another big trade before the deadline (either dealing someone or bringing someone in)? Seems like this year more than ever before has seen some bigger moves and sounds like has the potential for more. IF so, what position do you foresee that at?

I could see the Jaguars making a move at tight end, but I doubt it would be what people consider a big trade. I certainly don’t think they will be trading any of their first-round draft selections, and I would be surprised if they traded a second-rounder, either.

Todd from Jacksonville

Mr. O,

Mr. O was my father’s name. You can call me the king of all funk.

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