O-Zone: Meet and greet

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Scott from Jacksonville

I could swear you said Fournette was looking really good in camp, so I'm a bit confused by this move. How about you?

The Jaguars early Monday morning waived running back Leonard Fournette, and it's understandable the move confused you. It confused many Jaguars observers. But while I absolutely was surprised by the move, I wasn't all that confused. While Fournette looked good in 2020 Training Camp, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone laid out the reasons for the move clearly Monday morning by saying he believes the Jaguars' remaining running backs – Chris Thompson, Devine Ozigbo, James Robinson and Nathan Cottrell – will fit into new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's offense better than Fournette. This understandably is difficult for many observers to believe because Fournette was the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft and a two-time 1,000-yard rusher in three seasons with the Jaguars. But Marrone made it clear he wanted to evaluate the roster not on reputation or past performance but by how players could contribute this season – and how they approached the season in terms of being fully on board with Marrone's team-first mentality. Marrone's money quote from his Monday availability on this topic was this: "I tried to challenge all the people around me to say, 'Let's go off what we see. Let's take names, take draft picks, take all that stuff off the jerseys, take it off the table, and then let's put them on the field and see who the best players are and what's going to be best for our team.' So that was my goal and that's my responsibility and that's what I feel I'm doing." In that context, the team felt it best to waive Fournette.

KC from Orlando, FL

With our recent departures, how do you see the Jaguars this season? Do you still see them as peaking as a .500 club, or is our ceiling more of a six-win team? They both have provided a great deal of entertainment these past few years. I wish them well.

I thought following the 2020 NFL Draft the Jaguars were probably a six-to-seven-victory team at best. That's because I believe this team has a really good core of young talent – maybe the best that it has had in a decade or more – but I wonder about the lack of veteran playmakers who are used to making game-changing and game-clinching plays at clutch moments. The six-to-seven-victory projection was with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and Fournette. I expect Ngakoue's departure could cost the Jaguars a game or two; while I don't know that he's elite, he is capable of a big sack or strip-fumble that can change the outcome of a game or two. I don't know that the Jaguars got all that worse offensively when they waived Fournette.

Chris from Nashville, TN

A few days ago, I asked who would have a better season: Fournette or wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. Now that Fournette has been traded, you should reconsider your answer. Leaving Jax for a team with a functional front office and offensive line will work wonders…

Here's what I need: A roof over my head, the love of a good woman, health for me and my family. Here's what I don't need: You telling me what I "should and shouldn't do." As far as Fournette or Chark having a better season … I thought before Monday the right answer was Chark. I still like that answer.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

The Jags tried radiation, chemotherapy and even alternative medicine but sometimes the only thing that works is the knife. So, is this team officially cancer-free?

That's certainly the hope.

Rob from Fleming Island, FL

How do you think the players will react to the moves by the front office along with the fans screaming for tanking? How do you see Gardner reacting knowing they are looking to draft his replacement?

I expect this group of players mostly will react fine to Fournette being waived, and I don't expect screaming fans on Twitter to have much of an effect on the locker room. As for quarterback Gardner Minshew II, he will react fine. He has had to prove himself his entire career and he has known since the offseason he must play well to be the team's franchise quarterback moving forward. He's a smart guy. He's mentally tough. He can handle knowing he must play well. And if he can't, he shouldn't be a starting NFL quarterback.

Ron from Virginia Beach, VA

First Yan, now Fournette. Was this something that was foreseen?

Trading Ngakoue was expected. Waiving Fournette was not.

Maurice from Ed White Commander

I realize the season is two weeks away, but can we mail it in right now? News of the Fournette release was shocking considering what was behind him. What is going on? What is the identity of our football team?

The Fournette waiving indeed was shocking and it's a sure sign the Jaguars' offensive approach is going away from "ground and pound" and more toward offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's West Coast philosophies. It also means the Jaguars' reset/rebuild/restart – whatever term you use – is full go in a big way. The Jaguars like the young players on this roster, and clearly need those players to rapidly form the team's foundation and to continue developing as they began to do last season. We'll see about the team's identity. The team wants players such as defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen, Chark, Minshew and right tackle Jawaan Taylor to form a young core that puts "team first" and to show this season that the Jaguars are moving in a positive direction. That's the plan. We'll see how it plays out.

John from Jacksonville

In your answer to Joel, am I reading you correctly that Yannick basically paid $4.8 million to get out of Jacksonville?

Essentially.

Jeff from Orange, CA

Fournette carried the ball 265 times last year. How do see those attempts being distributed to the remaining running backs and are there any street veterans on a short list that are realistic additions to replace him?

Players such as Armstead and Robinson – and perhaps Ozigbo – likely will split a lot of early-down repetitions, and Thompson likely will play a huge role in passing situations. I don't think Fournette will be replaced by a street veteran. The Jaguars like what is there.

Steve from Nashville, TN

So Leonard Fournette had zero trade value with one year left on his rookie deal?

Correct.

Andy from Alpharetta, GA

What are the Jags doing? Why would you not trade Fournette, not draft a running back and then cut him? What happened? I want to have faith in the leadership team ... but I'm really struggling right now.

The Jaguars tried to trade Fournette and couldn't. I would have liked to have seen them select a running back in the 2020 NFL Draft, but they selected Armstead in Round 5 in the draft before that – and they like Robinson and Ozigbo. Weirder things have happened in the NFL than undrafted running backs playing at a high level, so don't rule that one out.

Kyan from Iowa

O-man, the Jags are clearly in the rebuild. If Minshew turns out to be a franchise guy that bodes well with all the cap space/picks. What if they win six games but he proves not to be a long-term solution. Do they have enough draft capital to move up to No. 1 overall for a player such as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence?

Probably not.

Art from Drexel Hill, PA

Going to be hard to convince people this isn't a tank now.

"Tanking" indeed is going to be a theme among many – if not, most – observers when it comes to the Jaguars. That already was the case before waiving Fournette, and the voices seemed to reach a crescendo Monday. Still, Marrone laid out the reality of tanking during his Monday media availability when he said, "If that happens, then I'm not going to be here." Players and coaches don't tank, and the Jaguars won't tank this season. As for how the team will fare …

Logan from Wichita, KS

Doesn't the NFL have rules against teams trying to lose EVERY GAME? General Manager David Caldwell needs his walking papers and Owner Shad Khan should have the franchise taken away. Trying to go 0-16 for the next decade is not OK!

Thanks, Logan.

Morgan from Jacksonville

I know this isn't how I'm probably supposed to feel right now, but I am really excited for the future of the Jaguars. We haven't even played a game yet and getting the first pick is hard to do, but at least I feel like there is potentially some direction to this team. We have been wandering through a dense forest and maybe for the first time in a while, I see the light at the end of it all.

We need to get you on a Teams meeting with Logan.

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