O-Zone: Oh so right

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Travis from High Springs, FL

I read an article that said the Kansas City Chiefs were just playing soft zone coverage after Nick Foles’ injury Sunday to not give up big plays, and that's why Gardner Minshew II was able to look so good and have such a high completion percentage. But when teams start game planning for and attacking Minshew, he’s not going to be able to play as well as he did Sunday. Do you believe there's any credence to this?

This is absolutely the key question now about Minshew. He showed Sunday he is a very capable backup quarterback, and he certainly showed he was prepared. He completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns with an interception over three quarters, so it’s not as if he only played with the game decided. Remember, too: The Jaguars were driving to make Sunday a one-score game before running back Leonard Fournette lost a fumble early in the third period, so Minshew played a lot of meaningful snaps. He also made multiple throws impressive enough that it’s reasonable to think he can succeed in the NFL. But of course teams are going to game-plan and attack him differently moving forward. That’s what teams do to young quarterbacks. And Minshew’s not going to play as well every game as he did Sunday. That doesn’t happen for rookie quarterbacks (or most veterans), and it won’t happen to Minshew. The question isn’t whether Minshew will get game-planned or whether he will struggle at times; it’s how he will adapt and whether he can find ways to succeed once teams take away his strengths. That’s the learning curve for every NFL quarterback, and it’s what ultimately determines success or failure at the position. That will be true for Minshew, too.

Jim from Jagsonville

With Foles out on injured reserve for a minimum of eight weeks, will he be allowed on the sidelines on game day or in the stadium during practice? It was pretty tough of him to go back on the sidelines after such a severe injury.

Yes, he can be in meetings and on the sideline – and I expect he will be involved around TIAA Bank Field on a daily basis once he is cleared to do so after surgery.

Spazman from Jacksonville

If this currently hot mess of a defense continues to struggle, I'm curious to see how (in my opinion journeyman) former coach Dom Capers intervenes with Todd Wash to correct the problem.

Dom Capers, now a defensive assistant with the Jaguars, was in no way a “journeyman” NFL coach. He was one of the NFL’s most-respected defensive minds, and was an innovator of the 3-4, zone-blitz schemes in the early-to-mid-1990s. As far as Capers “intervening” with Wash to “correct the problem,” that’s not how it will work. Wash is the defensive coordinator. The two certainly will discuss concepts, with Capers very much there to advise, but Capers won’t be Superman busting in the door in tights and a cape to save the day.

Emile from Tallahassee, FL

Hi, Zone: I'm tired of a 10-point deficit feeling insurmountable. To be honest, I previously chalked it up as the former quarterback giving the team that quality, but the offense played more than well enough to win on Sunday had the defense made a stop or two. Is this just something in our team’s identity that we can only play with a lead? We just can't have playoff aspirations if that's true.

You’re right that a 10-point lead has felt insurmountable for the Jaguars for too long. The lone exception was 2017, when the defense did a remarkable job creating points and scoring opportunities when trailing. That enabled that team to come from behind from double digits at times, which was notable because defensive touchdowns and turnovers usually come when you’re leading more than when you’re trailing. But for more than a half decade, it indeed has been the offense that made it difficult to rally from double digits down. The problem on Sunday was the defense couldn’t get the Chiefs off the field. That shouldn’t happen often this season, but if it does you’re right: There will be no playoff aspirations around here. Or smiles. Or good days.

James from SLC via Jacksonville

Hey, O-man: I guess the Steelers’ season is over, too. They got trounced by a pretty good team also. So, like us, they should give up too. Just saying.

Absolutely. Because one game doth a season make.

David from Oviedo, FL

Former Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny had something that our current linebackers are missing. He had an understanding of the game that enabled him to take a beeline and meet the runner in the hole … as if he knew exactly where the runner was going before he got there. Our current linebackers are waiting for the running back to make a move and often times, because they’re reacting late or picking the wrong lane, they get washed away in a mass of humanity. I think the organization has devalued the linebacker position for a long time at the detriment of the entire defense. Just take one look at the Dallas Cowboys and the capital they’ve invested in their linebacking core and it’s easy to see how much they value the position. Thoughts?

I think you’re right that Posluszny was a big-time player, and the Jaguars have missed his presence – particularly against the run. But considering what the Jaguars paid linebacker Telvin Smith in 2017, where they drafted Myles Jack in 2016, and what they paid Jack recently, I would be hard-pressed to say the Jaguars have devalued the linebacker position. If anything, a case could be made that they have overvalued it.

Chris from Nashville, TN

When does the emergency alarm go off? After the blowout in Houston? Maybe after starting 0-3 following the Titans game? While I saw the KC game coming, can't say a 0-3 start was what I envisioned, but it seems very plausible at this moment in time.

The alarm is going off now. The supposed strength of your team – the defense – got embarrassed in the opener, and you lost your starting quarterback. That doesn’t mean the Jaguars can’t turn the alarm off, but if what we saw Sunday wouldn’t trip the alarm, what would?

Blues Man from Jacksonville

John ... not much of a question, but I was listening to Minshew’s Wednesday’s press conference and I truly hope he does well. He seems like a truly good person that is hardworking and very appreciative of everybody and everything. For his sake, and as well as the Jags, I hope he kicks some tail!

Minshew has an unbelievable number of things you want in a quarterback: leadership, poise, confidence, an “it factor,” accuracy, football intelligence, etc. Can he make all the throws at the NFL level? Is he good enough to be “one of 32.” Will he adjust and adapt once teams game-plan to take away what he does well? Those are questions we can’t answer until we see it play out. I think he has a chance. The odds remain against him. But I do think the things listed above give him a chance.

Austin from Atlanta, GA

More often than not, we see backups be coddled with bubble screens and handoffs to minimize their potential "downside" in the game. What are the odds we actually open the playbook up to the new QB1? Seems like he earned that chance last week.

The Jaguars will install more of the offense for Minshew as time goes on. He has extremely high football IQ and the ability to process information is not a problem. You don’t want to overwhelm him, but I expect the Jaguars to move more quickly in this area than usually is the case.

Jud from Jacksonville

What is your view on the strength of the Jags offensive line? Did they do a good job in trying to protect Foles? We have had some problems in the past with injuries. Do we need better players or more play time for them?

The Jaguars’ offensive line did a good job Sunday. Tackles Will Richardson Jr. and Jawaan Taylor both did a nice job, though guard A.J. Cann struggled at times and allowed the hit by Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones that injured Foles. One game doesn’t mean the line will play well all season, but through one game it looked better than last season. 

Sean from Charlotte, NC

O, I get the reaction when a player is ejected for fighting/lack of composure. I was kissed when Fournette did it and many other players over the last few years. That being said, I was at the game Sunday. The heat was cooking people’s brains. I get it.

I don’t care how many Jaguars lose their composure or how hot it was, if you’re getting unexpectedly kissed in the stands that’s just wrong. Or hell, maybe it’s as right as it gets.

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