O-Zone: My hero

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from Johnston, IA

Great O, one thing I've often wondered about was whether coaches – or even reporters like yourself –know when they have a good team going into a season? As a fan, of course every year I'm hopeful. A couple of the years I knew we had a bad team going into the season, but I've never known when we had a good team. It was like it magically appeared. Is it possible to tell? How do you feel about the team going into this season?

Coaches often have a feel for their teams, though coaches more often have good feelings about veteran teams with reliable quarterbacks; that's one of the most trustworthy traits an NFL team can possess. The 2020 Jaguars are a young team; that means while Head Coach Doug Marrone has a good feeling about the makeup of the team, he can't know for sure what to expect come the regular season. How do I feel about the team? This is a young team that will make some mistakes, but that will believe in one another and believe in the direction of the organization. That can mean a lot when things get difficult. I also think it's a team with a quarterback – Gardner Minshew II – capable of winning some close games with clutch play late. Considering the youth, I think that will mean an improving team that wins six or seven games. Then, I think it has a chance to be better in 2021. Maybe much better.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

"Players want their voices and actions heard on this issue. I doubt moving the anthem on game days will be something teams do." Fun fact: the fans also have voices and want to be heard. I don't go to a movie to hear about the actor's position on something. The logic applies to football games. You want to stand for a movement, go for it. But kneeling is only going to further alienate this challenged fan base.

That may well be. I don't know that it's going to stop players from kneeling during the National Anthem this season. We'll see.

Jerry from Orlando, FL

What makes you think you're so smart?

Years of evidence.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Do you think the 2020 season will start as scheduled?

I think the 2020 regular season will start as scheduled. I am unsurprised by reports Wednesday that the preseason may be reduced or delayed. Caution is the buzzword right now when it comes to having players and coaches close to one another. That's the way it must be for now. It makes sense for the league to be as careful and methodical as possible in that process.

Adam from Wescosville, PA

How would you compare and contrast Mark Brunell with Gardner Minshew II?

I would put little stock in such an exercise – mainly because Brunell's first season as a starter came two-and-a-half decades before Minshew's first season as a starter. During that time, the game has changed enough that it's difficult to compare players or statistics. That said, Minshew as a rookie in 2019 appeared well ahead of Brunell in 1995 in terms of awareness and reading defenses. Brunell early in his career relied heavily on mobility and often looked to run when under pressure rather than looking to throw when evading pressure. Minshew does the latter, which usually bodes well for a quarterback. From a relatively rough beginning Brunell developed into a good player. Where Minshew will go from his beginnings we'll soon find out.

Derrick from Atlanta, GA

Look into your crystal ball and tell us, O Great Zone: Will Gardner Minshew be the Jaguars' starting quarterback in Week 1 2021?

I've gone back and forth on this question this offseason – much the annoyance of many O-Zone readers. But you know what? I do think he will be the Jaguars' starting quarterback in Week 1 of 2021. I have come around to thinking that his improvement in the final month of last season matters a great deal – and that it is a harbinger of good things to come. Yes, he struggled for a while at the start of the second half of last season. But he worked through it and didn't let those struggles cause him to backslide. That's a good sign.

Mike from Section 122 and Port Orange, FL

Why is it that the players want to subject fans to their political and personal beliefs on game day? I believe in their right of free speech and the right to protest. However, if they want to protest, give up their game check and go protest on game day in front of city hall or any other political building they want. I come to the stadium to watch great athletes play the game of football, not take part in their protest. They don't want their rights ignored or put down, but have no problem in making fans become part of their protest whether we want to or not. Pay your money to see the game and pay for the right to see us protest or don't come to the game. This is against our rights to watch the game without having to endure their political beliefs.

Players kneel during the National Anthem on game days because that's the most high-profile forum to make the point they're trying to make. If they were to do it on another day, far few people would notice or care – thus at least somewhat defeating the purpose of the action. As far as a right not to view the game without having to endure the players' political beliefs, I don't know if that's a "right." There absolutely is a choice, though: If players kneel before the games, fans have a choice either to watch the games or not. The popularity of the game is such that many fans who don't like the kneeling probably will watch. The dislike many people have for the kneeling is such that many probably won't watch. I expect this will remain a major conflict point on this part of the issue come the fall.

Gary from Palm Coast, FL

Regarding Keenan McCardell being a coordinator before becoming head coach: From my perspective, a position coach guides the players. A coordinator coaches and directs the coaches. That "coach-the-coaches" experience makes being a coordinator a better choice for a head coach. Your thoughts?

There's something to that, and that's indeed one way being a coordinator does help once he's a head coach. A coordinator is in charge of a portion of the staff, which helps prepare him for being in charge of the entire staff. He also speaks to essentially half of the team in offensive or defensive meetings as a coordinator as opposed to a position coach speaking to small group in position meetings, which prepares him for addressing the entire team in team meetings. Those elements don't make up the entirety of coaching, but those are a couple of areas where being a coordinator helps once a coach is in the head job.

Zac from austin, tejas

It feels like "long time, no question" but it's been a week. I hate how long the days feel now. My question is, out of the 32 starting quarterbacks, with jobs, how many of them would you consider "franchise QBs." (I'm actually proud of this question, because you have to actually think and count).

This is a good question, because I – like pretty much anyone else who talks about the NFL – falls into the trap of using the phrase "franchise quarterback" too often without considering what it really means. I also tend to use "elite" too often without always considering what that really means – but again, I'm not in the minority on that front. For the purpose of this question, I'll define a "franchise" quarterback as one who has proven himself with a high level of play with his current team (preferably for more than one season)  and that you can't remotely imagine not being the quarterback for that team to begin the 2021 season barring retirement or injury. On that front, we'll go with: Russell Wilson, Seattle; Lamar Jackson, Baltimore; Deshaun Watson, Houston; Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City; Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay; Drew Brees, New Orleans; Matt Ryan, Atlanta; Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh. I'm aware that I'm leaving Dak Prescott of Dallas and Carson Wentz of Philadelphia off the list, but I just can't decide if they're franchise guys. I'm also leaving Tom Brady of Tampa Bay and Philip Rivers of Indianapolis off because they just joined their current teams and it feels like there should be a body of work with a current team to be a franchise quarterback. That list doesn't feel perfect. Maybe it's close.

Robert from Orange Park, FL

O-Zone: Who is the wind beneath your wings? Not your wife, or your kids. Or you dog. I mean, like in real life.

Jerell.

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