O-Zone: Pop the question

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Let’s get to it …

Big on Blake from Philly

Living in Philly, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Nick Foles’ character and what a genuinely good guy he is. I do appreciate that quality and can see him stepping up as a vocal leader immediately. My hesitation with him signing with the Jags (aside from my Blake Bortles affection) is his small sample size of mundane starting experience. He’s stepped into some magical situations here the past two seasons and did good things, but he hasn’t shown in the past his ability over 16 games and into the postseason. I’m coming around on this guy, but do you think he will elevate the play of those around him or simply minimize mistakes in the biggest moments (quite contrary to our BB5)?

Your question is the great unknown about Foles – and it’s a legitimate question. Foles hasn’t had a chance to start and play a full season for a good team since early in his career. That was when he had a spectacular second season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He then got into a tricky situation as a starter for a below-average St. Louis Rams team in 2015, making his struggles that season difficult to evaluate. He followed that with an equally difficult year to evaluate as a little-used backup with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016. His sterling performances the last two seasons have been comparatively short bursts late in seasons – and in postseasons – with very good teams in Philadelphia. Is Foles now a mature franchise quarterback who is ready for his closeup? Is he a player only capable of short bursts in ideal situations? Does he need elite players around him, or can he lift “OK players.” The answers are impossible to know in advance, but the answer will determine a lot of futures around the Jaguars. I expect Foles to be better than former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, but I don’t expect him to turn this Jaguars’ offense into one as potent as the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. Stay tuned.

Eman from Home

What was the question?

What?

Michael from Middleburg, FL

I believe it’s time to cease the discussion as to how great, insufficient or something in between about Foles. The only thing that will determine his status is game time. All the thought he is the savior should be delayed.

Delaying? What would be the fun in that?

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Dom Capers has had a long career including positions as assistant, defensive coordinator, and twice a head coach. I’m curious how someone of his experience ends up as a Jaguars assistant coach. Is this his “twilight tour”? Or should I just be grateful we have him?

Jaguars defensive assistant Dom Capers is a veteran coach with enough experience that there’s very little in the NFL he hasn’t seen. Coaches at this stage of his career often join staffs as assistants, particularly if they know someone around the team well. Capers knows Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin well from their time together in Jacksonville in 1999 and 2000. I wouldn’t rule out Capers again being a coordinator in the NFL and I wouldn’t rule out him serving in other advisory capacities. There’s no particularly blueprint for coaches with Capers’ level of experience. But yeah … be grateful the Jaguars have him.

Philip from Belleville, NJ

Hey, John. Former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles signing with the Rams last week got me thinking. Since he was going to make $6.5 million regardless, could he have stuck it to the Jags and signed a contract with the Rams for nothing? It would make no difference to him and he could get a little revenge on the Jags. Keep them on the hook for the full $6.5 million. Or is there a rule to prevent this?

There’s a rule to prevent it. Teams must pay players on their team at least the minimum salary for their years of service. If there is offset language in a player’s contract such as was the case with Bortles, another team may still pay the player on top of that minimum contract.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

And Luke McCown was 12 …

Fair.

Brian from Jacksonville

It's very likely some defensive-line standouts will be selected in the Top 6 of the 2019 NFL Draft, so one of the Top 4 quarterback prospects probably will be available at No. 7. Trading back with a quarterback-needy team is very real possibility. You think? Hope Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson is still available when we do pick! He is the guy, right?

A team wanting a quarterback always is the best possibility for a Round 1 trade, and we won’t know if the demand will be trade-worthy until the Jaguars are on the clock at No. 7 overall. I will continue to believe Hockenson is a strong possibility for the Jaguars until the draft, but I imagine I’ll also continue to consider offensive line the more likely Round 1 direction.

Dave from Duval

Hey O: The Jaguars have now addressed every perceived need in free agency except backup running back. I don’t say this to mean every hole is filled and every need is met. I get it doesn’t work that way with the cap. But I really do believe that with Will Richardson on the roster the Jaguars are set up to not “reach” with their first 4 picks in Rounds 1-4. I think they can fill needs but attain value. What do you think?

The most likely candidates currently on the Jaguars’ roster to start at right tackle are Cedric Ogbuehi and Richardson. I believe both could figure into the Jaguars’ plans along the offensive line next season. I don’t believe either player puts them into a situation in which they don’t have a need at offensive tackle early in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

Many of our first-round picks since Owner Shad Khan took over have come from Florida colleges and now it sounds like right tackle Jawaan Taylor from the University of Florida is a strong possibility this year. How much of a coincidence do you really think this is? All these picks were at least borderline expected to be highly drafted, but it’s hard for me to believe that we just happened to think the best players were also from local schools that could help sell tickets.

It’s a coincidence. The impact of a first-round selections on ticket sales is minimal enough that there’s no reason to select a player from a local school for that reason.

Seamus from Vancouver, BC

Hey O-Zone, I think you get a lot of "drinking-the-Kool-Aid" questions because in a lot of our minds, your office is in the same hallway as CoughCaldArrones' – around the corner from Khan's, and the Jaguars’ Draft War Room is across from the cafeteria and next to the weight room. We sort of expect that you are the fly on the wall in most Jaguars’ decision-making activities. This has some of us confused as to why you don't have more insight to Jaguars’ decisions and plans. Can you give us a clearer picture of how your relationship with the Jags’ head office actually works?

A fly on the wall? No, I do not sit in draft meetings and I am not in discussions regarding personnel, game planning or anything of the like. My role essentially is reporter/analyst who happens to be employed by the team. This doesn’t mean I am privy to the Jaguars’ decisions before they are made; it’s an unrealistic expectation to believe anyone on a team website would have such access. That’s because the Jaguars and most NFL teams aim to keep many of their decisions and plans as secret as possible in the interest of maintaining competitive advantage. Media covering the team and others close to a team often have better insight into the likely direction of those plans because they observe the team closely and have conversations with decision-makers. My insight into the Jaguars stems from the same approach. I don’t pretend to know what the Jaguars are going to do before they do it because the “head office” isn’t going to tell me any more than they would tell traditional media. I will say this: The Jaguars allow jaguars.com to analyze, criticize and be as honest as possible far more than many teams’ websites allowed. Our coverage isn’t perfect. My analysis misses at times. There are things I don’t know. But on the whole, those viewing and reading here get an honest and comparatively transparent assessment of team on-goings. That’s the role, and I would put forth that we do it well.

Jaguars F.O., Staff, and Personnel from Jacksonville

The opinions of John Oehser do not reflect those of the Jaguars organization. We apologize.

Fair.

Yoav from St. Johns, FL

Are there any Jaguars-related questions you’re surprised you haven’t been asked yet? If so, what should the fans really be asking?

Anything that doesn’t require insight.

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