O-Zone: No more tears

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Mike from Cortland, NY

Hey, O: I know you said were moving past Ramsey in this column, but having watched Ramsey's interview with Ryan Clark, I feel like I'm owed the front office's side of the story. The best player this team has seen in two decades at least, the biggest personality – the guy who actually put us on the map – was just taken from the fans that have been starved for a player like that for many of our entire lifetimes. Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin might not owe anybody an explanation under NFL rules, but he personally owes every fan in Jacksonville – and in my case, New York – an explanation. The front office should not be awarded a free pass here. Stand up at the damn podium like a man and tell us what happened to cause us to lose the only identity of our team we’ve had in years.

Running back Fred Taylor played for the Jaguars throughout the 2000s, and wide receiver Jimmy Smith played for the team through half that decade – so the idea that Ramsey is categorically the Jaguars’ best player in the last two decades is an overreach. I understand Ramsey’s talent, but let him do a little more before we put him in the Hall of Fame. But whatever. As for your main point, I have said and written often that I wish Coughlin and/or General Manager David Caldwell would address the issue publicly. I don’t know that it would satisfy fans who want to side with Ramsey on this issue, because people believe what they want to believe in these situations, but at least people officially would know the Jaguars’ stance. The Jaguars’ decision-makers at some point will speak publicly, and I’m sure it will be addressed then. As far as being “owed” an explanation, I understand you feeling that way, but the bottom line as we move forward from the Ramsey Saga is Coughlin and Caldwell “owe” fans the best possible team they can compile – for the immediate future and the long term. If the Jaguars win, they will have done their job. If the Jaguars lose, they won’t be around for that long term. That’s the arrangement, even if some people are frustrated with not receiving timely answers on some specifics.

Paul from Ponte Vedra, FL

Shouldn't respect be given if expected? Just wondering.

Yes.

Steve from the Sunroom Couch

"Consider this the last Jalen Ramsey-centric O-Zone." Dear John, could you please make this the last Ramsey question, period?

Probably not. I am reducing the number of Ramsey questions, but this forum attempts to answer best as possible pertinent Jaguars questions – and to address issues of interest. People are interested in Ramsey. They ask questions. I answer.

John from Cape May Court House

John, how does the old football adage go? If you got two quarterbacks, you've got none? Sorry, couldn't help myself. But in all seriousness, do you believe that the franchise quarterback is on the roster? I'm not entirely sure he is.

Time will tell, but there sure is a better chance that a franchise quarterback is on the Jaguars’ roster than there has been in a long, long time.

Jarret from Crosby, ND

Zone, follow-up to my question yesterday. How could you even entertain the notion of trading Minshew??? Even if the picks offered were in the Top 10, this team has had top ten picks for the better part of a decade, and look what we have to show for it! We found a diamond in the rough in the sixth round and finally have our quarterback, and you'd trade him away for a couple first rounders, when we’d likely just squander them anyway if history is any indication? The fact that anyone would even toy with the idea of trading Minshew saddens me. What gives, Zone?

If I recall correctly, the question asked if I would consider trading rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II for two first-round selections over the next two drafts. The teams in question were Miami and Cincinnati, which means the selections could be in the Top 10. When you’re discussing that level of draft equity, you consider it. You don’t always take it, but you consider it.

Chris from Nashville, TN

The Jets have a solid run defense. Here's to hoping Head Coach Doug Marrone doesn't continue with the trend of running Leonard Fournette up the middle on every first or second down, especially the way our O-line is playing. I want to see the Stache putting up numbers like his first few games. Over/Under: Minshew 300 yards and three TDs?

I re-checked and confirmed that you sent this email this week. I checked because your email reads as if the Jaguars’ play-calling in the run game is bad – and as it the run-blocking of the offensive line is equally bad. I won’t make the argument that the Jaguars are the best run team ever to play football, but Fournette is leading the AFC in rushing. And the Jaguars are fifth in the NFL in rushing. Maybe a few play calls have been OK? Maybe the offensive line is run-blocking at least OK? Maybe?

Aqueel from Toronto, Canada

Mr. O, I don't think it is a coincidence that since the Jags’ pass-catching tight end went down that the passing game and Minshew have struggled – especially in the red zone – and that since a more run-blocking tight end has been in, the running game has improved. After all the time he has missed, do you think Josh Oliver can realistically make a difference here?

It’s a lot to ask for a rookie third-round selection – Oliver – to have a mammoth, immediate effect on the offense, but a sixth-round quarterback did it. So, who knows?

Cathy from Ponte Vedra, FL

I've read that the plan is to activate Nick Foles in Week 11. Does that mean he will necessarily start that game?

No.

Mark from Green Bay, WI

I agree with Mr. NFL from Unfortunately from Jacksonville, it looks like the Jags play down or up to the level of the teams they are up against. They don't seem to go in to crush anyone, just squeak by and come oh so close to winning. Maybe I'm wrong but it sure seems that way.

Most teams in the NFL “play up or down to the level of their opponent” on occasion because the reality is there’s not a mammoth difference in talent on most NFL teams, and most games are decided by seven points or less. Because games are usually close, “bad teams” often play “good teams” close and baffled fans and observers who forget that the league is built to produce close games forget this dynamic. Another reason the Jaguars this season play up or down to the level of their opponent is that right now they’re an average team with a rookie quarterback. Average teams usually aren’t going to blow teams out and they’re not going to get blown out, and teams with rookie quarterbacks usually aren’t going to score enough for easy victories. That’s one theory, anyway.

Tom from Charleston, SC

You sure have changed your opinion of Ramsey since he left. He went from game loving, team loving to an immature child in a stroke of a pen. Ramsey was allowed to spend preseason training sessions working out with his father, who I assume the Jaguars felt was doing a good job. I have said that if his father had spent less time teaching him to be an athlete and more time teaching how to be a man, then he wouldn't have continuously shown such immaturity. As a father, what do you think?

As a father, I don’t pass judgement on other people’s parenting. I don’t pretend to be perfect on that front, or to know enough about their dynamic to speak intelligently. I’ve been pretty clear on my opinion of Ramsey, and it has nothing to do with him training away from the Jaguars in the offseason. That was always fine, and it remains fine for a player to train away from a team in the offseason so long as NFL rules permit it. I also still maintain that the Brinks Truck, the GQ interviews and the off-field stuff were minor issues. NFL players have a right to say and do what they want away from the facility. Where my opinion of Ramsey changed was when he decided he was being “disrespected” by the front office after showing blatant disrespect for the head coach. He then proclaimed to love his teammates and care passionately about winning, then apparently opted to not play with those beloved teammates when evidence suggest he would have been physically able to do so. Did I change my opinion at the stroke of a pen? Perhaps, but these seemed to be pretty extreme actions that merited the change.

Stephen from Glorieta

O-man, your comment about "There's no crying in baseball" kinda freaked me out since I just watched "A League of Their Own" last night, partly because I thought it should apply to football, as well. Are you keeping tabs on your readers or am I just being paranoid?

I am the king of all funk.

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