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O-Zone: Once in a lifetime

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from the Sunroom Couch

Dear John, Does Gardner's draft spot affect your opinion of him?

I suppose so on some level, primarily because it's hard for anyone to truly know and control all that influences their thinking. I do know Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, so that always will be at least part of how I think about him. Still, I don't believe draft status changes how I analyze his chance of being a franchise quarterback. Minshew showed impressive savvy, poise and a clutch gene as a rookie last season. He also has an ability to connect on deep passes and make off-schedule plays outside the pocket when protection breaks down. He wasn't overly consistent, struggled on third downs and in the red zone and seemed to struggle making reads at times from inside the pocket as a rookie. The strengths are impressive and give the Jaguars hope he can be a franchise quarterback. The questions are also real and he must make strides toward answering them this season. All the strengths and weaknesses would be the same no matter where he was selected in the draft.

Jagmobile from Jacksonville

Can you give us an idea of how many former players and coaches live in the Jacksonville area and notable names? I think they're on to something, like sunshine, ocean – and, of course, no state income tax helps.

Many Jaguars players indeed have settled in Jacksonville following their playing careers – and yes, sunshine, the beach, the golf and the lack of a state income tax are reasons. This is a great place to live, as those who live here well know. Linebacker Kevin Hardy, kicker Mike Hollis, defensive end Jeff Lageman, quarterback Mark Brunell, quarterback David Garrard, linebacker Tom McManus, offensive lineman Maurice Williams, running back James Stewart, left tackle Tony Boselli, center Dave Widell, wide receiver Ernest Wilford, cornerback Rashean Mathis. Those are a few. There are more.

Stu from Wrestlingworth

As the KOAGF could you have a word with the NFL about the schedule if college football is cancelled this year? Sunday at 1 p.m. is perfect for me; it's 6 p.m. in the United Kingdom, the kids are in their cages for the night - it's all good! Saturday 8 p.m. would be waaaay past my bedtime!

I'll make a call.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, rumor has it that "he who shall not be named" has recently changed agents. Do you think that's a positive sign on the chances he will return? Not going to lie, the idea of him returning is exciting.

It's OK to name the player. It's Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, and he indeed reportedly has parted ways with his agent: Ari Nissim. It's best to be cautious about any enthusiasm that the move might be a good sign for Ngakoue to report and play for the Jaguars this season. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell on Tuesday said didn't have any idea whether it was a good sign; considering how difficult it is to read Ngakoue's intentions, there's a good chance Caldwell is being honest. But considering the stagnant, toxic feel the Ngakoue situation has had for pretty much the entire offseason … well, while we don't know if this week's news is a positive sign, it sure isn't a negative one.

Rob from Fleming Island, FL

John, what protection – if any – does the team have to protect them from Yan coming in to get paid and then either plays less than able or feigns injury? Either way, he would be free to play elsewhere next year.

Technically, there's little "absolute" protection for that scenario. But while many Jaguars fans worry about this because of the situation around former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey last season, Ngakoue has little incentive to do this. Unlike Ramsey, Ngakoue is not widely considered one of the NFL's best two or three players at his position; perception that he is difficult or a malcontent could hurt his chances of maximizing his contract whether that contract is with the Jaguars or some other team. Also: Ngakoue has been under double-digit sacks each of the last two seasons; he would have every incentive of playing well to maximize his value – and not playing well again could hurt his chances of maximizing his contract. But mostly, I just don't see Ngakoue playing less hard or faking injury. He was unhappy with his contract last season and played hard throughout the season. If Ngakoue plays for the Jaguars this season, I would expect the same approach. But, remember: Ngakoue wouldn't be technically a free agent in 2021 – even if he does sign the franchise tag, report and play. The Jaguars still would have the option of applying the franchise tag on him for another season.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

Maybe I'm just getting old and feeble-minded, but didn't we already have a "real-life version of the movie The Replacements" a few decades ago?


Terry from Cordele, GA

If you need to say it … Fournette said, "I'm not a jerk!" What about you, should we embrace our inner and outer jerk?

Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette's not a jerk. I wouldn't say he always comes across great in the media, but that doesn't make him a jerk. It just means he doesn't always love doing interviews and therefore doesn't come across well in the media. As for embracing our inner and outer jerk, do what I do: Embrace all your jerks. The sooner you realize you're inherently unlikeable, the sooner you can stop worrying about it and let the feeling of inevitable jerkiness embrace you like a warm blanket. (Aaaaah…..)

James from Salt Lake City via Jacksonville

Is there any truth to the rumor that cultural icon Gene Frenette is opting out for the season?

Absolutely not. Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette will outlive us all, and he'll be writing for the T-U if and when they close the doors for good. That much I can guarantee.

Chris from Mandarin

Really, what's with the one-sided love affair with Gene Frenette? I've never thought he was that good a writer. To be honest, Vito Stellino and you – yes, even you – are much better.

Watch yourself, Chris. Seriously … watch yourself.

Shawn from The Mean Streets of Arlington

When is the NFL first kickoff this season?

September 10, when the Houston Texans are scheduled to visit the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

One fer Fournette. Got his jersey as a gift his rookie year and am sooo glad I didn't get the others I wanted like Jalen or Gip or ARob or Yan or Poz or even Calais. I can wear Leanard's jersey this year unlike any of those other players . That's rare air for any of our good players from 2017. Wish I could wear it next year. Guy was a stud when he walked in the door and I'm excited about what he will do in a contract year. We were soooo bad at his position before. I think it is dumb to let good players leave when their fifth-year option is not that much. We will miss him when we go back to Toby Gerhart-level talent at that position.

One fer Fournette … and what the heck: One fer Frenette, too.

Bob from Sumter, SC

Sounds funny, but I think one of the keys to success are the tight ends and Shenault being productive over the middle. If defenses crowd the line for Fournette and shade outside coverage toward wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., it could really open up the entire field for Minshew and the run game.

This isn't funny at all. The Jaguars' tight end group – particularly Tyler Eifert, Josh Oliver and James O'Shaughnessy – has the potential to give the offense a dynamic it hasn't had there in recent seasons. And rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. has the physicality to add a dimension to the offense. Added impact from either Shenault or the tight end should draw double-teams from Chark and should force defenses to focus less on Fournette. The Jaguars haven't had enough dimensions on offense in recent seasons. Anything that will add some will help. Substantially.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

Love it when you say, "We will see in a month." You made my Monday feel like a Friday! - Thanks.

Ed needs football in the fall. Don't we all?

Sean from Tampa, FL

Any interest from the Jaguars around Logan Ryan?

The Jaguars have some salary-cap space, but they're not likely currently in the market for the more expensive, high-profile free agents who remain available.

Brian from Cranford, NJ

Do you ever find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife? Do you ever ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

Let the water hold me down.