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O-Zone: Not bad at all

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

John from Brentwood, UK

I'm hoping for a season in which the Jags surprise a great many outside observers in a positive way.

You're far from alone. How realistic is your hope? That's another question. The Jaguars' 2020 season will depend on a young team coming together. Success will depend on effort and belief, but those things only go so far in the NFL. The chances for success mostly will depend on a young core – players such as defensive end Josh Allen, right tackle Jawaan Taylor and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. – reshaping the team in their image. It will depend on veterans such as center Brandon Linder, left tackle Cam Robinson and linebacker Myles Jack being the players they are capable of being. It will depend on unrestricted free agents such as middle linebacker Joe Schobert and tight end Tyler Eifert being the sorts of players they were signed to be. Mostly, it will depend on quarterback Gardner Minshew II defying the skepticism of many observers and taking a major step toward being franchise quarterback. It would be a heck of a story if it happens. Here's hoping.

Dan from Somewhere in the Back

Hi, John. Any thoughts as to why we haven't heard from Caldwell regarding the release of running back Leonard Fournette? It seems odd to me that we haven't heard from him with everything going on.

NFL general managers don't always talk publicly following transactions, particularly during training camp or the regular season. I expect Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell will speak to the media sometime between now and the regular season, particularly with the roster being trimmed to 53 players Saturday.

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. I was hoping you could elaborate more on your point: "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." Curious as to Gruden's approach to running back that pushed Fournette to the side.

More emphasis on missability. Less emphasis on ground and pound.

Steven from Charlotte, NC

I read every day (I must be the person you keep referring to) and have read just about every day that our young core (Chark, Allen, Taylor, Minshew) is the future and why we can be optimistic about the future. This continues to confuse me. If we have the same general manager, what on earth gives you any hope that any of these players will be happy and subsequently retained? The only way I see that happening is if they end up not fulfilling their promising starts. If they start playing worse. I have more confidence that they will be re-signed. Please help me understand the disconnect.

Chark, Taylor, Allen and Minshew aren't defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, cornerback Jalen Ramsey or defensive end Dante Fowler. And Caldwell isn't former Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin. The team is trying to change the culture. Showing progress this season is important. It's understandable that fans don't have confidence in this. The only thing that will convince many people is results. Results must happen now.

RVJa from North Augusta, GA

Since Jaguars running backs coach Terry Robiskie was brought in to work with Fournette, will he more than likely leave the team?

Now? Like before or during the regular season? No. As for what NFL assistant coaches will do after a season, that pretty much always is anyone's guess. Theirs is a nomad's life.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Are NFL contracts written so vaguely that no one knows if a one-game suspension voids the guaranteed salary or not? Or is it more complicated than the average fan could be expected to understand?

Fournette reportedly has filed a grievance to recoup his 2020 base salary of a bit more than $4 million from the Jaguars. The Jaguars voided Fournette's guarantees in 2018 following his suspension for his involvement in a fight against the Buffalo Bills. A one-game suspension should theoretically void the guarantees, particularly when the suspension is handed down by the league. But a player has the right to file a grievance. And until a grievance is ruled upon, it can go either way.

Robert from Chicago, IL

With Fournette's situation, why now? Am I wrong to think they wasted a ton of practice snaps in camp on him? I'm not in denial that he was clearly not part of the team's long-term plan, but why make this cut so late?

Marrone's explanation of this Monday was he didn't enter 2020 Training Camp planning to waive Fournette – and that the idea of camp was to evaluate all players without regard to the player's name, past performance or reputation. With that in mind, the team waived Fournette. I'm unsure if that answers your question, but that was the explanation.

Marlin from Newberry, FL

Four million-plus dollars is a lot of bread! I took a pay cut to get out of Jacksonville and into a better place, but it wasn't that much! But now that I think about it, it was about the same percentage (22 percent or so). I hope defensive end Yannick is as happy in his new position as I have been in mine.

I know many people who don't want to "get out of Jacksonville," and I'm proud to be one of them. If former Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is happy in his new situation with the Minnesota Vikings, that's fine. I can't say I really care all that much.

Mike from Orange Park, FL

As with all breaking Jaguars news why is it the Jaguars website is always the last to report anything?

A couple of thoughts. One is that it's categorially incorrect to say that the Jaguars' website is "always the last" to report news. Another is that you might be new to the O-Zone because I have explained repeatedly through the years that the Jaguars' policy is that many transactions cannot be reported on the team website until they are official. This was the case with the reported trade of Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings, a deal which the site reported immediately upon it becoming official with the NFL. This is not an unusual policy for many NFL teams, though it admittedly is an inconvenient and sometimes frustrating one for those of us whose job it is to report news for the site.

Steven from Charlotte, NC

Cutting Fournette before his contract expires has to be another seething indictment of our incredibly poor front-office decisions. I understand TC was a factor in this draft, but it is so frustrating to continue and blame poor decisions those years entirely on TC. This is yet another colossal failure of a franchise and we continue to be the laughingstock of professional sports. It is so hard to be a Jaguars fan. Sigh.

Coughlin wasn't "a factor" in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was the final decision-maker. I agree that it's a bit tiresome and not entirely accurate to say that Coughlin is responsible for all that has ailed the Jaguars in recent seasons. But he was the final decision-maker in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL


We're not there yet.

Chris from Mandarin

What can you tell us about the running back James Robinson?

He's a rookie free agent from Illinois State who many believed could be a mid-to-late-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. He rushed for 4,444 yards and 44 touchdowns in college. He looked very good in 2020 Training Camp. He's going to get an opportunity to play this season. A lot.

Liam from Ipswich, England

Hey, Zone. Is it time to start spending some of our draft capital this year, especially on the D-Line, to make this a win-now team?

This is unlikely, and it's hard to argue it would be a good move. The Jaguars in theory could trade future draft capital for defensive linemen, but teams are unlikely to part ways with front-line defensive linemen in the weeks/days leading to the regular season. I don't know that the players you would get for what the Jaguars would be willing to give up are going to turn this into a win-now team. The idea of the Jaguars' stockpiling draft capital for the 2020 and 2021 drafts has been to rebuild the roster through the draft, and I expect for the most part that will continue to be the approach.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, how do you roll with the "punches" given what your inbox must look like right now?

I open emails. I answer them. Sometimes, I smile. Sometimes, I grimace. Sometimes, I weep. But mostly I smile. I'm answering questions about football. There are worse things. Let's not pretend I'm walking on hot coals here.