O-Zone: Point taken
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL
What's up, Zone? Defensive tackle Taven Bryan has been one to watch for development and improvement going into his third year with the Jaguars. Given the early attrition across the defensive line, it seems that the quality of Bryan's contributions could now play an even more determinative role in the success of the defense. What insight do you have on the nature and severity of this knee injury? Thanks and GO JAGS!!
Bryan, a first-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, absolutely will be key to the Jaguars' defense this season. The Jaguars must improve against the run; with the unexpected losses of defensive tackle Al Woods (COVID-19 opt-out) and defensive lineman Rodney Gunter (retired for health reasons) during 2020 Training Camp, Bryan's disruptive ability and size make him the most talented player on their interior. He improved last season, particularly in the last several games, and the onus this season will be on him to continue that development – and to be more consistent than he has in his first two NFL seasons. As for the nature of his injury … it's a bone bruise sustained in practice this past Saturday. Head Coach Doug Marrone said it's a week-to-week situation.
Hunter from New Hampshire
Did you see the Minshew Bud Light campaign? Absolutely amazing to see, personally. The video got me hyped!
Your referencing "a campaign" released by Bud Light this week in which people who play Fantasy Football become eligible to win a free case of Bud Light if they select Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II in the first round of their fantasy football draft. There are some more details than that about what a person actually must do to win the case of beer; I'll leave it up to readers more diligent than I – and for fantasy participants – to find those details. But yes … the campaign is funny. It's "on brand." The video fits Minshew's persona. He's easy to like. Here's hoping he's everything the team and Jaguars fans want him – and need – to be.
Marlin from Newberry, FL
Dear John, I bet I know who Brett "I like beer" Kavanaugh is taking with his first pick in his fantasy draft! Seriously, though, it is great to see a Jaguars player get some national attention. Minshew was all over my news feeds yesterday. I don't drink, but I will be taking Minshew with the first pick in my fantasy, just because. If I win, who should I give the beer to?
(Googling Shadrick's address…)
Sean from Philadelphia, PA
Hey, O-Zone. Long time, no see. I think the Jaguars have a lot of great pieces on offense and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's new take on the offense excites me. However, I can't remember the last time the Jags had a solid offensive line. What's your gut telling you about the big boys up front this year?
I expect the line to be improved because all five starters returning should give the group continuity. I also expect – based on what coaches ae saying about left tackle Cam Robinson – that he will be improved in his second season removed from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Robinson's improvement would automatically make the line better. All of that should mean the Jaguars' best offensive line in a while. We'll see if that "should" becomes reality.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL
Zone: I've been swamped with work the last month or so and haven't submitted as many annoying queries to the O-Zone. But, don't worry, my streak (of consecutive days reading the O-Zone) is still alive. Something tells me that no matter how vigilant, my streak will never surpass yours. Looking forward to some football!! Thanks and Go JAGS!!
Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX
KOAF: To the best of your knowledge (yes, I know I should be prepared to be disappointed) how often do players from lackluster teams (either when the player was active or the current state of the team) get inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame? Can you think of any modern Hall of Fame inductees where you said, "Wow I forgot that player 'X' was that great because he played on a horrible team the majority of his career?" This is in reference to running back Fred Taylor's chances of being inducted before reaching the "Senior Class." The only person I can recall that might fit this is the Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson in 2021.
This is not to be argumentative, but Taylor played on four postseason teams with the Jaguars – and his teams won three postseason games – so his teams didn't lack that much luster. Taylor's Hall-of-Fame chances are hurt more because during his career he never was perceived nationally as the best running back in the league or in is conference. While Taylor was great over the entirety of his career, he was at various times eclipsed by great shorter bursts of greatness by players such as Shaun Alexander of Seattle and Jamal Lewis of Baltimore. He also played at the same time as LaDanian Tomlinson of San Diego and Edgerrin James of Indianapolis, who both multiple had statistical seasons that helped keep Taylor from earning a lot of postseason honors. But specific to your question … yes, players have made the Hall of Fame playing on teams that lacked luster. Defensive end Lee Roy Selmon of the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers comes to mind. Bottom line: While it's true that most Hall of Fame classes are stuffed with players with playoff success, and while most Hall of Famers have a postseason resume at least on par with Taylor, that's probably not the biggest factor keeping him out of the Hall of Fame.
Mike from Cortland, NY
Hey, O, here's a situation I haven't seen tossed around yet. Let's say hypothetically the Jags win 7-9 games with Minshew taking a modest jump. We'll say he goes 68 percent, 3,700 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Jags have the 14ish pick. However, the Los Angeles Rams lose some key pieces to injury or COVID-19 and Jax has their No. 1 overall pick. Do you take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence then?
Do I take him in your scenario? Yes.
Steve from Shreveport, LA
Gary got a nerve. I just admit I laughed out loud for the first time in a long time. I haven't "had it with you," but I can see his point.
Steve is referencing a recent email from "Gary from St. Augustine" stating that he had "had it with" me. I replied, "I get it." Because I, too, could see his point. I'm the one who has to live with me 24/7. That takes a toll.
Chris from Nashville, TN
Who has a better season, wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. or running back Leonard Fournette? Definitely not asking for fantasy draft purposes..
I'm going to say Chark, because early indications are he's taking a significant step – and he has real chemistry with Minshew. But it's hard to get a gauge on the running game in training camp. If Fournette is as good as he has looked in limited contact, then he's going to have a big season.
Chris from Mandarin, FL
Can you give us three specific instances from last season where Minshew's arm was a liability and the reason the Jaguars didn't win a game, or that a drive stalled? I'm left scratching my head.
It's not an issue that can necessarily be illustrated by a specific play that led to an interception or batted ball. Or even a specific drive. It's more about what defensive coordinators know Minshew can or can't do, and what throws he can and can't make. Is he avoiding the middle of the field because of arm strength? Does he not make a certain throw because instinct tells him he can't make it? Does his offensive coordinator scheme a certain way – or away from certain plays – because of the limitations? There were games last season when the Jaguars' offense stagnated – against New Orleans and Houston – that the theory was the coordinators were catching up with Minshew and game-planning to take away his strengths and expose his weakness. Minshew's 12 starts are still too small a sample size to know for sure, and it's very possible he can overcome this. He's going to get his chance.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, do you remember the "good ole days" when people complained about our wins not being dominant enough vs. complaining about all the things that are going wrong in the season that has yet to begin?
Refresh my memory.
Brian from Gainesville, FL
Big O, I'm with you on teams not tanking, especially pros. Makes no sense for the coaches and players. But, let's say a team was 1-14 going into the last game of the season and going 1-15 is an absolute guarantee of the No. 1 in the following draft. Would a pro team tank then?
The players wouldn't. The coaches probably wouldn't unless they were guaranteed of returning. Remember: 1-14 teams are usually bad enough that they don't have to tank to scale the mountain to 1-15.