O-Zone: Mind your business

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

John from Cape May Courthouse

In recent seasons, the Jags have used an enormous amount of resources on the run game. They have made the left guard and center the two highest-paid players at their positions, spent two second-round draft picks on tackles, spent the No. 2 overall pick on tackle, spent a second-round pick on a running back and spent the No. 4 overall pick on another running back. The results have been unimpressive, to say the least. It’s mindboggling that this regime would put so much equity in an area of football that the rest of the league is moving away from.

Nah, can’t go with you there. Spending the No. 4 overall selection on a running back can be questioned, but there’s nothing philosophically awful about using a second-round selection (T.J. Yeldon) on the position. As for the equity spent on the offensive line over much of the last decade, few in the NFL would agree with your point that the Jaguars have overdone it. Remember, offensive linemen pass block, too – and if your line is ineffective your offense is going to struggle. No team in the NFL is moving away from building the offensive line – at least no team that wants to win consistently. Remember last season? When the Jaguars’ offensive line was wrecked by injuries and the season fell apart? You certainly don’t want to see that every week. Or any week.

Dean from Rochester, NY

It seems if a player is really good and wants to get paid, he can just throw a hissy fit, ask to be traded and likely will get his payday. This isn't the way it is supposed to work. What will the league do about it?

Not much can be done because this is a team-by-team issue rather than a league issue – and because great players have leverage to try to dictate situations; average players do not. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is good enough that he will draw interest on the open market if he is traded, and he’s good enough to assume he will get a huge payday. He’s also good enough that teams will pay him even if he’s perceived as a headache. The Jaguars can either pay him or -- if they deem him more of a problem than his talent is worth – they can trade him. As for the “hissy fit,” that’s up the individual player. You can’t legislate all things away.

Nelson from Los Angeles, CA

O, I really don't understand why the organization won't just pay the man. Money will make all these issues go away. He is clearly the best in the league at his position and one of the best at any position. You don't let generational talent go especially ones that you drafted. Just pay the man!!

Maybe they will, though Ramsey’s history suggests that that might not “make all these issues” go away. The question is whether money will make enough issues go away that he can be more of a benefit than a concern.

Rick from Franconia, VA

Everyone's run as the king of whatever they are the king of eventually comes to an end. When it comes to the King of All Funk, I am thinking you are Eli and Gardner is Daniel Jones. What say you?

Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew – aka, The ‘Stache – knows where to find me. But if he wants to come at me, he should be aware. I am the king of all funk.

Henry from 215 TIAA Bank Field

So many highlights from Thursday's game, but I've yet to see a replay of Josh Lambo making a (potentially) touchdown-saving tackle still deep in Tennessee territory. When their returner evaded a couple of tackles and started to make his way around to the sidelines, I was starting to worry. Usually if the kicker makes the tackle, the damage has already been done. Loved how he hyped up the crowd afterwards!

Hey, one fer Lambo!

Daniel from Jacksonville

O-man, I can't think of any player in our history that has surprised the (inter)national audience in such a big way as Minshew. Is this as exciting to you as it is to us, or just another day at the office?

I admit I have been slow to completely believe in Minshew Mania because I am cautious when it comes to young quarterbacks. Experience tells me they struggle more often than not – and that those who don’t struggle early, often struggle later once defenses adapt to their strengths and weaknesses. But Minshew without question is changing this crusty old man’s opinion. He has done nothing thus far to indicate he can’t play well in this league, and his supposed drawbacks– size, arm strength, etc., -- haven’t proven to be liabilities. “Excited” probably isn’t the word I would use, but I’m intrigued by the kid. He’s got something, and it has been an amazing story thus far.

Kevin from Charlotte, BC

After watching the game and looking at the upcoming schedule of Denver, Carolina with Cam's questions, New Orleans with no Brees, Cincinnati and the Jets, we have a legitimate chance to go 3-2, 4-1 or 5-0 over this stretch if we perform similar to Thursday and against the Texans. Do you see us at potentially 4-4 or better after eight games?

Yes.

Sean from Jacksonville

Surely you jest.

Indeed I do.

Lewis

Oh great 'O ... it appears Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has lost a step. Two years ago, nobody would have caught him from behind. I, as many fans had high hopes for No. 27, but barring him all of a sudden finding his own "beast mode " and posting outrageous numbers statistically, this should be his final season as a Jaguar. Good day sir.

I don’t see this being Fournette’s last season with the Jaguars, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they opted next offseason against picking up his fifth-year option for 2021. Head Coach Doug Marrone was notably pointed Friday in saying the offensive line was far more the issue with the running attack Thursday than Fournette. It’s safety to say it’s a cumulative effort – or on this case, a cumulative problem.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

I just performed a very complicated, detailed breakdown of the Jaguars’ schedule. Without question, the Jaguars will run the table and head into the playoffs at 14-2. #MinshewMania

Fair.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: I know Marrone says the line needs to block better, but during the game there was an interesting statistic stating Leonard Fournette faces a stacked box over 50 percent of the time. That is the highest in the NFL. I don't care how good the line is. There aren't enough blockers against eight in the box. We've had marginal quarterback play, but don't you think you need the threat of a passing game to get the defenders out of the box?

The stacked boxes against Fournette will remain the standard defense against the Jaguars until they’re a dangerous enough passing team to force defenses to change. Thursday night was a good step toward this because quarterback Minshew was able to hurt the Tennessee defense – which historically loves to stack the box against Fournette – through the air. The more this happens, the more you’ll see teams get out of eight-man boxes.

Dave from Dallas, TX

Hey Mr. O: Y’all a hoot and a half sometimes. Thanks for those occasional lol moments.

I do what I can.

Royce from Jacksonville

Mr. O why is it that when the run game is not good the running back is the first name mentioned? The Jags have two highly paid linemen – guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder – that are being pushed around and there is very little to be said. I am guessing the players on the team see this, too. Treat everybody the same but different works great on a team.

It is indeed ironic and sometimes unfair that the player with perhaps the least control over the running game – the running back – gets the most credit and blame for success or failure. People mention the running back first for the obvious reason that he has the ball in his hands. But Marrone mentioned the line prominently when discussing this on Friday and said the line must be better. It’s a priority.

Jaginator from (formerly of Section 124)

Zone coverage has many flaws, but I don’t think the average fan understands the trade-offs that come with playing press man coverage. It can yield huge chunks in the run game – because half your defense has to turn and run AWAY from the line of scrimmage once the ball is snapped. It’s also a liability against mobile quarterbacks or running back coming out of the flat, because few defenders can “stay home” to police the middle of the field. Strict man coverage causes numerous headaches against bunch formations. Even when receivers spread out in a “traditional” formation, NFL offenses have become extremely adept at the “rub route” – which is just a cheeky way of saying that they use the defense’s man coverage to create natural picks (and wide-open receivers).

Well said. Very well said, in fact.

Lewis from J’Ville

Never mind.

OK.

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