JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK
Oh Mighty 'O' / King of all Funk, if the reports are true and the Jaguars offered defensive end Yannick Ngakoue a long- term deal of around $14 million a year last year, and there is talk of him sitting out and missing $17 million this year, that is $31 million he has lost. Even if some team wishes to trade for him and pay him what he is seeking (about $20 million a season?), there is no way he will ever earn the "missing" $31 million he could have earned. If that is not life-changing money, I don't know what is. I am not sure who is advising him, but with him wanting to "feed his family," there is only one person preventing that, and Yannick sees him every time he looks in the mirror.
I don't know that we'll ever know exactly what the Jaguars offered Ngakoue last offseason, or exactly what he turned down and why. Sides have little motivation to confirm or document such things until a deal is signed. As I have written and said often, I don't pretend to know exactly what motivates Ngakoue or what he wants. I know I like his approach to playing in the NFL. I like how he plays. I always have found him professional and respectful personally in my dealings with him. I think he should be well-paid, but it doesn't seem he agrees with the Jaguars – or the rest of the league – about what well-paid means. As for his "money lost" and what decision he will make about playing on the franchise tag in 2020 … remember: he is a prideful guy. He's going to make decisions based on what he believes. Whether that lines up with what others believe isn't all that pertinent.
Gary from Wesley Chapel
O-Zone: The Jags don't need to offer Yan a better deal, or trade him yet, if he chooses to sit out the season. The best time to use his trade value is to wait until the draft order for the 2021 draft is set. Then they can target whichever team they need to move up in the draft. All the draft capital the Jags will have can be used to move up from anywhere on the draft order to target Trevor Lawrence. I love Gardner Minshew II, and would love for him to be a Jaguar as long as he wants to be, but Trevor is a special talent and could set this franchise up for an exciting decade of the '20s. Right?
Your question is based on more than a few assumptions. One is that the Jaguars will be in position to move up to the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Another is that the team selecting No. 1 overall would not want the player – in this case, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence – the Jaguars theoretically would be trading to No. 1 to obtain. Still another assumption in your scenario is that some other team would want to trade for Ngakoue next offseason. That would require that team wanting to part with draft equity AND wanting to commit to pay Ngakoue what he wants. That last part didn't happen this offseason. There's no guarantee it will happen next offseason. As for Lawrence … yes, he looks special. We're so far out from the draft or knowing how this season will play out that it's difficult to speculate beyond that, but he does look special.
Roger from London, UK
Hi Mr. O. You think that a 7-9 outturn is realistic this upcoming season. Which are the 7 Ws? I'm afraid I'm not as optimistic, mainly because I can see only Ls against AFC South teams given the way they have restructured their rosters. Afraid that 4-12 looks likelier to me.
Rob from Pittsburgh, PA
Hey, John: I hope you had a great July 4. Which undrafted players do you think will make the team and can you see one of them being the next Allen Hurns? #jags
Projecting success for undrafted rookies always is difficult. It's even more difficult this offseason because they won't participate in even an non-padded NFL practice until training camp begins. That means we're still very much in the guessing stage for this year's Jaguars undrafted rookies and likely will be for a while. Still, keep an eye on former Georgia safety J.R. Reed, former Illinois State running back James Robinson and former San Diego State cornerback Luq Barcoo. All had impressive college credentials, and Robinson and Reed were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
Jake from Cary, NC
I found a 2019 preseason article on a Bengals website projecting the team to finish 7-9. I bet if you cumulated the preseason projections from every team's site, the average projected win percentage would be pretty far above .500.
Mason from Palm Bay, FL
Hey, John. Haven't written in or read the column in a while. Last season was very frustrating and I'm sorry to take it out on your Q&A column. My question: do you think Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has learned from everything that has transpired over the past few years? Obviously, nobody expected us to be in this spot just three seasons after our 2017 success. I just wonder if he'll have his hand more so in things than in the past. Things really fell apart and change has to start from the top.
Welcome back, Mason. You've missed some witty and stylish prose in recent months; I've really been "on my game." My answer: I'm sure Khan has learned much from recent seasons, and he has changed his approach at least a bit. Rather than having former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin as his direct report in football operations, Khan now has structured football operations so that General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone both report directly to Khan. In that sense, Khan will have his hand in things more than the past. How that will change on-field results remains to be seen – but structurally, at least, it's a significant change.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL
In 1987, the NFL and the NFL Players Association could not come together. It was a season that, for a time, featured replacement players from the defunct USFL, undrafted former college players, and even a quarterback who was on furlough from prison. Fast forward to 2020. No strike or lockout, but potential for many players on the opening day roster dropping out due to COVID-19. We hope it will not happen, but if it does – if teams lose 10 or 15 or 20 players – where is the pool of backups?
Players from the defunct XFL, undrafted former college players, players who have been on the fringe of the league and players who have been in the league in recent seasons.
Justin from Gerstley
I disagree that it "starts" with the quarterback. Give any NFL quarterback an extra three seconds of reliable protection and their quarterback rating will skyrocket. It starts with the O line.
Well, sure. And give any NFL quarterback a line that is so devastatingly good at run blocking that the team rushes for 300 yards a game and the quarterback wouldn't matter a bit. We're trying to stay at least a little within the boundaries of reality here. And in that world, it starts with the quarterback.
Brian from Jacksonville
AJ Bouye recently made public comments that confirmed how toxic he felt the Jaguar locker room had become in 2018 and 2019. Add TC's epic clash with inflated egos and the outcome was, well, the outcome. AJ gave a flat, even critical take on the Jaguar defensive scheme. Based on Bouye's comments, defensive coordinator Todd Wash's game-planning became predictable and uninspiring. AJ's sentiments are concerning. How can Coach Wash survive 2020 given the massive overhaul of the Jaguars' defensive roster? I'm thinking the odds are poor. How about you, O?
I respect former Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye and don't doubt that players didn't like the scheme last season. The defense struggled and players rarely like the scheme when a defense struggles. It's easier to blame scheme than players; that's as true for players as it is for fans. If the Jaguars' stop the run better and are therefore able to play to their strength more – which is rushing the passer – then I think the Jaguars' defense will be better than it was in 2019. If that happens, then I figure Wash will return in 2021. If not, then the defense won't be better. If it's not better, there's a good chance he won't return.
Jim from Saxson, WI
Hey, John: Ngakoue could have made $19 million last year and played for $2 million. This year he could leave $17 million on the table. That is $34 million he could have made in two years. That is life-changing money for 99 percent of us, don't you think?
Sure. But people make decisions based on their circumstances, not the other 99 percent.