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O-Zone: Renegade

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Aaron from Tallahassee, FL

Long-time reader, first-time questioner … Have I noticed you're coming around a bit on Minshew? What gives? Are you now a believer?

I've never been "down" on Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II, though I have said and written often since he became the starter that there are valid reasons to not assume he is destined to be a franchise NFL quarterback. His arm strength remains a concern, and he must get better and more consistent making conventional plays from inside the pocket; much of his success last season came from off-schedule plays, which is a bit of a concern in the long-term. Also cause for concern are the long stretches of ineffectiveness that occurred last season once some defenses got a better idea how to game plan for him. That said, I suppose I have "come around" a bit on Minshew in recent weeks. He did have some really rough stretches last season after a promising start, but he had a couple of encouraging late-season performances – particularly in the fourth quarter of the December victory at Oakland and much of the game in the season-ending victory over Indianapolis. To recover from a tough stretch as well as he did is a good sign. He still must eliminate the long stretches of inconsistency he had last season, but can he do it? I'm starting to believe he can.

Iron John from St. Augustine, FL

When our national anthem plays, all citizens are expected to stand, remove their hat and place their hands over their hearts (or salute, if they have served.) Anyone not standing is a non-citizen, is physically unable ... or is being disrespectful. Seems to me this organization gets that and allows players room for free speech (and kneeling) at the risk of them seeming disrespectful. You said you weren't sure why folks got so upset; do you feel the flag and the anthem have become hollow symbols without much meaning?

I don't feel the flag or anthem are hollow at all. I suppose I misspoke if I said I don't understand the anger. What I meant was I can't relate to people who get so upset at people kneeling for the anthem. This is because I tend not to get overly upset about very much unless it harms me or people to whom I'm close. I have enough going on trying to get through my own life without spending mental or emotional energy worrying about what other people do or don't do.

Brandon from Duuuval

John, would you be opposed to the NFL doing what the Korean baseball league is doing with putting stuffed animals in the seats? They could then donate them after every game to St Jude's or another worthy cause.

Go for it, I guess.

David from Maplewood, NJ

Always remember, no matter where you go ... there you are.

Very true. The problem for me is I'm always with me wherever I go. And goodness knows I'm tired of my act.

Rob from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Tell Jim to imagine former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles lined up on a run play with the assignment of blocking an NFL defensive end or linebacker... yeah, right! Or catching a short pass over the middle and taking the hit. I don't think he is close to being strong or athletic enough. Also try to imagine Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell still having a job after drafting him Top 5 then having him play third-string tight end. Oh, but you were totally right, Jim. I hope I'm not the only one mocking him right now.

You're probably not.

Richard from Jax Beach, FL

You often state and asked if the season will move forward then you believe it will because you have not seen or heard anything on the contrary. Legitimately with what is happening with baseball, Clemson, and other sports-related breakouts of COVID-19 I believe now we have legit legitimate reason for concern. Unlike basketball that can isolate itself in a single facility, the difficulties on football are monumental. So far every example of a sports team even training or being at the facility has brought a major outbreak of the virus regardless of distancing and testing methods. Are we starting to now shade towards the side of worry if there's no vaccine that they can legitimately play football this year?

I would love to have keen insight on this topic. I don't. My understanding of the situation – and of the NFL's approach – is that all possible efforts will be made to have the players and people who come in contact with the players as isolated as possible. I also assume they will be tested regularly. I don't know the details of the other sports-related breakouts enough to know how it applies to the NFL. Were the "breakouts" caused by players coming into contact with each other? Were people careless away from their "cocoons?" Are these questions even pertinent? I honestly don't know. Is it possible that they won't play football this season? I suppose anything is possible. I also know there are still nearly three months between now and mid-September, so I expect there to be a lot of stories and angst and rumors and concerns about the NFL before the regular season is scheduled to begin. But everything I have heard to date leads me to believe that medical people and NFL people believe they have a plan that will allow them to play a season. I wouldn't remotely call that a guarantee. But I believe the NFL believes it's playing games in 2020.

Scott from Jacksonville

Aww, give Mike some credit. Social distancing defense against the run was funny.

Yes, it was.

Zac from austin, tejas

Was there pressure or suggestion from the NFL for the Jaguars to begin marking Juneteenth as a holiday for its employees? I only ask because I saw a statement from the Detroit Lions as well. I hope that it was purposeful by our organization and not just a check-box sort of thing. So proud to be a Jags fan.

There was no pressure from the NFL on this issue. The league office did declare Juneteenth a holiday, and the Jaguars were among multiple teams that did the same. But the Jaguars in recent weeks clearly have been among the leaders among professional sports teams on this issue. I have no doubt they would have declared Juneteenth a holiday with or without the league doing so.

Josh from Jacksonville

The Jaguars missed the boat on Colin Kaepernick. Had we signed him prior to the 2017 season, we'd have won the Super Bowl that year.


Mike from Atlanta, GA

The West Coast offense is a great idea for Minshew and this team. By all accounts Minshew learns quickly, more than most. He should understand what the concepts are trying to do and this will help him make those reads really quickly. Since the West Coast offense relies on shorter drops and getting the ball out quickly, this will teach the bad parts of his game out of him. It will force him into going through the reads and getting rid of the ball rather than letting the play break down to take advantage of the chaos. He will have no choice but to learn to play from the pocket. Minshew's accuracy downfield fits great in that when you take shots downfield off play action, you have to make it count. They have a stable full of receivers that can run in the open field after the catch. Tight end Tyler Eifert has experience playing for new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and should be a help to Minshew especially early on. So how do the running backs fit? The West Coast offenses like to use running backs as receivers out of the backfield. Will Chris Thompson play a bigger role than we think? Will he play more than just on third downs?

I agree that Minshew could fit well into a West Coast scheme. I expect Thompson to play a big role in passing situations, which is often about 60-to-65 percent of the plays. I also expect him to play well considering his experience playing for Gruden in Washington in recent seasons. That doesn't mean Fournette won't be involved in those plays, but I think Thompson will have a big role in the passing game.

Chris from Jacksonville

Dead Zone question incoming. I know you've been a sportswriter since you covered wrestling in the 708 B.C. Olympics. With that being said, is there anything that could tempt you out of the game? Being the next great American novelist? Being the Press Secretary? What about retirement? Do you plan to get out when the getting is good, or get dragged out the back door when you collapse in the press booth?

I don't want to grow old gracefully. I don't want to go 'til it's too late. I'll be some old man in the road somewhere kneeling down in the dust by the side of the interstate. – Zevon