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O-Zone: Men of influence

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington

Heeey O … when you have an injury-decimated offense, and everyone knows it, how much can a player really "buy in" to the “next-man-up” theory?

It’s difficult. The idea that a team must win despite injuries is driven into players by coaches enough that it becomes a mantra – and it’s rare to hear players or coaches say anything else. What typically happens is teams withstand an injury or two – or even a few. At some point – as was the case this season with the Jaguars’ offense – an injury overtakes a position and it reaches a point that the “next man up” is a matchup advantage for the opponent. That happened around Week 5 for the Jaguars this past season. Players at that point kept saying “Next Man Up” and they kept wanting to believe it, but the offense no longer could function enough to stay competitive.

Logan from Wichita, KS

I thought missing the playoffs and watching teams other than the Jaguars contend would be painful. It's not. It's just dull and empty ... like the last 11 years minus last year.

OK.

Evan from Section 37 and Ponte Vedra, FL

In retrospect, don't you think it would have been better to keep wide receiver Allen Robinson and let wide receiver Marqise Lee go and not sign Donte Moncrief? Robinson looked really good for the Chicago Bears later in the year after coming back from his torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Robinson had a big-time game in the NFC Wild Card playoff Sunday – and his 10-reception, 143-yard, one-touchdown game was his best game of the 2018 season. And yes, the Jaguars certainly would have been better at wide receiver this past season if they had kept Robinson. The Jaguars at the time didn’t believe Robinson was a No. 1 receiver capable of dictating defenses and beating double coverages consistently, and they didn’t want to pay him as such. Robinson’s 100-yard game Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles was his second of the season, so he hadn’t looked like that level of receiver until Sunday. But if he consistently plays moving forward as he did Sunday, then yeah … it was a mistake.

Jess from Glenn Carbon, IL

John, what do you believe it will take to acquire wide receiver Antonio Brown if the Pittsburgh Steelers decide to trade him (two first-round draft picks, a first-rounder and a second-rounder, etc.), and do you believe the price is worth the Jaguars making the deal?

I expect it would take a first-round selection and a second- or third-round selection – depending on how early or late in those rounds the trading team would be choosing. Unless the Jaguars have some assurance that Brown will enter the situation with a different off-field approach than he has shown in Pittsburgh, I don’t think they will – or should – pursue the deal. The Jaguars are trying to improve the culture, not add to the issues.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

Jaguars Owner Shad Khan gets credit for running a bad team only because he hasn’t moved the team away – except he has moved an eighth of the games away and made the other seven mean less because of how bad the team has been. He has been here for too many years to say one good year means fans should keep caring. If I had to rate Khan as an owner, I’d give him an extremely low rating due to the terrible team record and losing a home game every year. Sunil’s recent question stated that Khan told fans to hold him accountable. How would we go about doing this? If we stop buying tickets, Khan will move the team. But Khan has shown through his tenure that he is certainly not a better owner than Wayne Weaver was. Hopefully he can change that.

Khan has stabilized the Jaguars in Jacksonville, and I don’t know that the franchise still would be here without his commitment to the area. Does he believe that the Jaguars must be creative to be sustainable in a small market? Yes. Is he going to continue to emphasize that? Yes. The small-market challenges here are real. I honestly don’t know how to “rate owners,” or how you rate Khan. I can tell you that Khan approaches things the right way in terms of hiring football people and allowing them to do their jobs, and that he wants to win. Beyond that, it’s up to the football people to do those jobs well.

The Other Michael from Middleburg, FL

What would it take to get Nick Foles in teal next season? Whatever it is, I hope Coughlin does it.

I imagine it will take a multi-year deal with upwards of $20 million, and a multi-year commitment. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Jaguars pursue Foles. He has been very good in high-profile stretches in recent seasons, but he also has struggled at times. So, it would be a risk. Considering the Jaguars’ need at the position, I would say it’s worth the risk.

Don from Doylestown

The Dallas Cowboys are built in the same way I imagine General Manager David Caldwell, et. al envisioned the Jaguars – elite rushing, stifling defense and a quarterback who doesn’t need to carry the team. Also, after watching Deshaun Watson choke I feel the decision to pass on him in the draft has been validated. Do you think the Jags’ front office might actually know what they are talking about??

I agree that the Cowboys’ formula this season is much the same as the Jaguars’ formula last season – and what it would have been this season if not for a lot of injuries. As for Watson, he’s a second-year player. I’m not one who necessarily thinks the Jaguars erred when they passed on him, but he quarterbacked the Houston Texans to the playoffs in his second season. Losing a postseason game doesn’t remotely mean his story is written.

Colonel Jessup from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

This kid broke the chain of command and took swings at another team's player – to say nothing of the fact that he is a Jacksonville Jaguar, and it would appear he can't run from here to there without pulling a hammy. What is going on in Bravo Company? Perhaps we should trade Leonard Fournette? Yes, I'm sure you're right. I'm sure that's the thing to do. Wait, I've got a better idea: Let's transfer the whole offense off the team. On second thought, let's transfer the whole Jaguars team. Tom, tell those boys to pack their bags. We're surrendering our position in Florida. Now I'm thinking this suggestion of trading Fournette, while expeditious and certainly painless, might not be in a matter of speaking the American Way. Fournette stays where he is. We're gonna train the lad!

DTWD

Rusty from New Iberia, LA

Remember when Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said we would go 16-0 this year? That sounds pretty silly now.

OK.

Dan from Las Vegas, NV

Hi John, do you know if Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin or General Manager David Caldwell will issue a postseason statement this year?

I expect Caldwell and/or Coughlin will speak publicly at some point this offseason. I haven’t been told when that might happen.

Anooj from Scottsdale, AZ

Football is clear cut: you win, you celebrate and you move on. You lose, you give yourself 24 hours, you move on. That seems like the philosophy the Jaguars have adopted. Why is it that some executives and media members such as yourself and Mr. Sexton continue to push the narrative "we were minutes away from the Super Bowl!" Did we make it to the Super Bowl? No. It's this notion we were minutes away that stopped us from getting a better quarterback in the draft and signing quarterback Blake Bortles to an extension which is now a detriment to our cap and causing us to rebuild our offense this offseason instead of last season when we knew it was shaky. It would benefit the team and this fan base if we stopped hearing about "we were minutes away" and started to hear "we lost and need to put in more effort than 2017 to get where we want to go!" Stop trying to give everyone participation trophies, you either won or you lost, period.

I don’t push narratives and I don’t speak – or write, generally – in exclamation points. But you’re exactly right that it’s about winning and losing in the NFL. When the Jaguars won those 10 regular-season games and two postseason games in 2017, that was what mattered and it did prove that a team could be successful building as they did. One thing I do wonder about, though, is when you say signing Bortles last offseason stopped the Jaguars from getting a better quarterback in the draft. This is far from proven, and it’s also a stretch to think that Sexton and I discussing how far the Jaguars from the Super Bowl is influencing the front-office goings on. We’re without question an influential duo, but that influential? Nah.

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