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O-Zone: One more flaw

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Marcus from Jacksonville

I get the discrepancy between the national opinion of the Jaguars and local opinions. People covering the team locally are spending all their time focusing on this team, so it makes sense that they would have a more nuanced opinion that is more than just, "They're terrible." That said, I can't understand the differences of opinion between those inside the organization (including yourself) and local media outside the organization who have covered the team for years and are extremely close to the team as they cover it. I have heard local "experts" say the team is as poorly coached as any team they've ever seen, and that this team is worse than the worst of the Gus Bradley era. A difference of opinion is normal, but for one camp to say it's not coaching and the other to say that this coaching staff is the worst in team history is quite a discrepancy. Can you explain how these two wildly differing opinions exist?

I answer O-Zone questions and discuss the Jaguars based on more than two and a half decades covering the NFL. I cover the Jaguars based on being around the team and discussing what's going on with people around the team and – at times – around the NFL. How others come to their conclusions regarding the Jaguars isn't my area. And "hot takes" of other "experts" don't play into what I do; it's too exhausting to try to keep up with "takes" that tend to change day to day based on the day's wind direction. Look: I get that it's vogue to criticize coaching. I get that seemingly everybody thinks all that ails teams can be solved by changing head coaches and/or coordinators. And I get that coaching criticism is the easy shot of people who like to play to the opinion of the masses. But criticism of coaching is not often based in knowledge of the game or facts – and the criticism often isn't all that accurate. "Hot takes" do make for fun listening, though. They are entertaining. I laugh sometimes when I hear them. They are good for that.

Leon from Austin, TX

Zone: Now with the recent Yann trade to Baltimore, how does this affect the Jaguars previous trade with Minnesota?

The Minnesota Vikings on Thursday indeed traded former Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens. The Jaguars in August traded Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings for a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. The condition for the '22 selection is that it becomes a fourth-round selection if Ngakoue makes the Pro Bowl this season. That condition remains intact; if Ngakoue is voted to the Pro Bowl this season for the Ravens – or whatever team he is with by season's end – the Jaguars will receive the fourth-round selection.

Red from the O-Zone Comments Section

This is not encouraging, John. The Jags have now lost to three formerly winless teams and a one-win Lions squad. Next up: the one-win Los Angeles Chargers. What will it take for the Jaguars to pull out a "W" next game?

Better quarterback play, stouter defensive-tackle play and better pressure off the edge in passing situations. Start there.

Darren from Fort Worth, TX

Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II looked great in camp because he was playing against defensive coordinator Todd Wash's defense.

Yes, I forgot for a moment that everything is Todd Wash's fault. I'm back on course now. Much love.

Matt from Houston, TX

Looking back on the 2018 NFL Draft ... following one of the most exciting seasons I've witnessed as a Jags fan ... help me understand the thinking of drafting Taven Bryan (who really wasn't a first-round graded pick to begin with in my opinion) over a talent like Lamar Jackson?? Clearly, the defensive line didn't need help so why waste a pick on a mediocre defensive tackle?

Your opinion was different than that of the Jaguars – and that of many NFL teams. Bryan, a defensive tackle from the University of Florida, was considered a late first-round/early-second-round player – and that's where he was drafted. Why didn't they select quarterback Lamar Jackson? The Jaguars had just re-signed quarterback Blake Bortles – and they, like many teams, weren't convinced that Jackson's shortcomings as a pure passer would allow him to succeed long-term in the NFL. As for selecting defensive line in that draft, the idea was to continue to maintain a team strength. The team knew at that point that players such as defensive tackle Malik Jackson and defensive end Calais Campbell eventually would need to be replaced – and it also knew a defensive line needs front-line talent for a rotation to succeed. The strategy at the time wasn't ridiculous. What's going on right now on the defensive line illustrates the importance of the position. Bryan so far hasn't shown capable of replacing players such as Jackson and Campbell. Maybe that will change. We'll see.

Noel from St. Augustine, FL

Foles to ARob could have been happening in Jaguar uniforms....


Alex from Orlando, FL

John, for the past five seasons I've driven from Orlando and have not missed a single home game. I've reached the point that if the Jags don't have the top 1-2 picks it will just continue to be the same problems. The worst thing this team can do this season is win three-to-five games and end up with a pick in the five-to-10 range. We need a quarterback who stands tall in the pocket and has a cannon for an arm. I like Minshew just as much as anybody, but his ceiling is just too low to consider having him start any games past this season. Thoughts.

I like a quarterback who stands tall in the pocket. If Minshew doesn't play better in the final 10 games as he has in the last few, I don't think he will start many games for the Jaguars past this season.

Andrew from 219

It seems we're starting to write off Minshew as someone who isn't the long-term answer, which I don't necessarily disagree with. But with just 17 starts under his belt, is that fair? Blake Bortles and Blaine Gabbert had longer leashes. If there wasn't a Trevor Lawrence in next year's draft, is the conversation different?

Not really.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

Considering the improved play of the offensive line and the emergence of our receiving core and the struggles of Minshew, do you think this team made a mistake in not giving Nick Foles another chance?

I know what you're saying. I get the premise. I'm not saying it's not a valid discussion. I'm not even saying Foles is as bad as he looked at times last season for the Jaguars. But considering how it went with Foles here last season, to say it was a mistake letting him go? I just can't go there.

David from Ada, OK

At this point in the season our first win is a frustration. It was the sign that everyone believed this team had potential. Then our first loss demonstrated that we could be competitive to the end in tough games. And now it just seems like...what? Explain this season in a way that helps ease the anger and frustration.

This answer won't ease the anger and frustration. But the Jaguars played well for two games when offensive coordinator Jay Gruden could game plan against coordinators who didn't know how he was going to use Minshew, and who didn't how he would game plan around some of Minshew's shortcomings. Coordinators in four games since appear to have caught up with that early-season approach. Now, Minshew appears to be having trouble countering what defenses are doing and an offensive coordinator can only game plan around shortcomings so much. That has helped limit the offense in recent weeks. The defense has struggled all season because of overall talent level, particularly on the interior defensive line. That unit has really struggled because of injuries to linebacker Myles Jack – and to a slightly lesser degree Josh Allen – in recent weeks. That combination has caused the Jaguars to be less competitive in recent weeks than in the first two. There is more to the Jaguars' struggles than that because football is a complex sport and it's rarely one thing. But from this view, that's a start.

Zach from Austin, tejas

Do you think if the defense was a *little* better, some of these games could be wins? I am not sold on Minshew as "the guy." But do you think if the defense was better with a few more than one game won, it would be even murkier waters?


Steve from Woodbine, GA

Not a question, just a bit of advice ... take it or leave it, but if I were you (and Thank God I'm not), I would no longer give win/loss predictions before the season begins. You're just not very good at it.

Add it to the list.