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O-Zone: Scary good

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tim from Jacksonville

I haven't heard of any coaches quitting or opting out for the season even though as a group they probably fall into a higher-risk category due to age and health. Is that because of finances, generational differences or something else?

What's perhaps most intriguing about the opt-out issue is the number of fans who see the decision as a commentary on the player's character. For instance: Asking about generational differences implies that the older coaches are somehow tougher or more dedicated – or more … something – than the younger players choosing to opt out of the 2020 NFL season. It's unfair to imply that a weakness or lack of dedication is the root cause of an NFL player deciding not to play. Whatever your beliefs about COVID-19 – and whatever we eventually learn about the risks of athletes playing football in this environment – players aren't opting out because of a lack of dedication or weakness. They're opting out in many cases from concerns about their health; in other cases, they're opting out because of concerns over their family's health. Whether you agree or disagree with their reasoning doesn't change that. As far as there being no coaches opting out … I don't know for sure why we haven't seen this, though I suspect it's because it's somewhat easier to maintain social - and presumably safe – distance as a coach than as a player. Coaches can conduct meetings virtually and maintain distance during practice and games. Players at some point must come into contact with other players.

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey, John. Is it me or is Tre Herndon not getting any respect from national media? I thought he did a decent job. He kind of reminds me of A.J. Bouye.

Of course Herndon gets disrespected by national media. He entered the NFL in 2018 as an undrafted rookie, and the perception of media is he emerged as a starter solely because of the departures of former Jaguars cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. The Jaguars think more highly of Herndon than that and believe he can be a good starting cornerback. They're giving him the opportunity to prove them right.

Abhi from Plano, TX

I wanted to ask if you think the hypothetical signing of guard Larry Warford would help the team. In my opinion, other than the offensive line, the Jaguars' offense is very good. Thoughts?

Warford has opted out of the 2020 season.

Stan from DUVALLL

With the false positive test for COVID-19 increasing in the NFL, is the league looking at potentially changing labs or policies for the coming season? Asking for a friend.

As far as changing labs … doubtful. There will be false positives in the NFL when testing for COVID-19, just as there are imperfections everywhere when it comes to combating this virus. I absolutely anticipate the NFL readdressing COVID-19 policies throughout the season as better information and protocols become known.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

_You qualified for a stimulus check? You are significantly underpaid! _


Hunter from New Hampshire

O, I have been a fan of the Jags for a few years – since 2015. I haven't been this excited about this team since then. I liked the Jags back then because I saw the potential. I always said, "Just wait" – and that's when 2017 happened. Now, I'm saying it again but this time with even more hope and excitement because of Minshew. I cannot wait for the season to start.

I like the potential of this team, too. I'm not expecting a 2017-type AFC South title or run to the AFC Championship Game because this team won't have experienced playmakers along the lines of defensive end Calais Campbell – who was in prime in 2017 and so important to that season. It seems this team will be better in 2021 than 2020, but that's just a projection. And yes … much of the hope depends on quarterback Gardner Minshew. If he develops as the team and fans hope, the team's improvement could accelerate and this season could be better than I anticipate. We'll see.

Chris from Mandarin

Reporting that Minshew didn't have COVID-19 isn't necessarily true. While he may not have had it during his recent time off the active roster, he also states that he tested positive for antibodies, which means he has had it at some point. I just figured I would add this since not everyone reads every article that comes through this website.

You know what's awesome? Having a helper.

Pat from Duval

Do you anticipate any players moving positions? Particularly among cornerbacks, we have a lot of potential at corner and wondered if any of them had the attributes to play safety?

I wouldn't expect any of the Jaguars' prominent cornerbacks – Herndon, CJ Henderson, Josiah Scott, D.J. Hayden and Chris Claybrooks – to switch to safety. The Jaguars have Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson as starting safeties, along with Andrew Wingard, fifth-round selection Daniel Thomas and free-agent rookie J.R. Reed. Those players figure to have a chance to be the five safeties.

Chris from Jacksonville

A little comment on the statement by Bill from Ponte Vedra: here is something you may not have considered. If a player sits out, perhaps it is because they do it not for themselves, but for their loved ones. It's not a stretch to imagine they may have spouses or children that are immuno-compromised, but they'd like to be able to be around for the next 5 or 6 months.... I'm not saying that's the reason for all, but I guarantee that's the reason for some.


Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

Everyone is looking forward Minshew's skill improvement. From your personal view, can improvement be evaluated in a few practices?

Not really. I – like most observers – will watch Minshew for improvement when the Jaguars begin practicing next week. I also almost certainly will breathlessly tweet reaction and analysis, proclaiming this or that about Minshew. But the reality is what we need to know about Minshew's improvement – red-zone efficiency, third-down efficiency, making on-schedule plays from the pocket instead of depending on improvising after plays break down – we will only know by how he plays during the regular season.

Brian from Cranford, NJ

One reader recently mentioned that it would be silly to not play considering players can just as easily get the virus from going to the grocery store. Last I checked, most people who go to the grocery store don't get tackled, stomped on, bloodied, battered and bruised, a much easier way to become sick. If players are worried about getting the virus from contact with other players, then it is their right to sit out. What am I missing?

Not much.

Unhipcat from Camping at the Beach, Pendleton

Hi John. What I've read about Laviska Shenault Jr. has me guardedly optimistic. Lots of talent, some injury concerns, college-to-NFL. But I don't watch film, so I have no idea how he compares to other rookie receivers. Any opinions?

Larry Fitzgerald. Deebo Samuel. Any receiver that plays with aggressiveness, physicality and a lot of run-after-the-catch ability. Those are potential comparisons, providing Shenault can adapt to the professional game.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I have really enjoyed the podcast. Great guests and great conversations. Apologies in advance if I missed the answer, but do you have a singular favorite fond memory from the 90s teams you covered with the Times-Union? So many to choose from. Personally, overall would be the Broncos Divisional win, but single play is the touchdown pass to Jimmy Smith. Mark Brunell put it where only he could catch it, and the feels I got are fond memory to this day.

That game certainly stands out, along with the AFC Wild Card Playoff victory over the Buffalo Bills the week before. But I don't know that any one game from that playoff run stands out from the others. The memory that stands out is the overall feeling of the seven-game winning streak that took the Jaguars from 4-7 to the AFC Championship Game in 1996. The team gradually began believing in itself, a belief that came about long before anyone nationally believed. Local observers began figuring out the Jaguars were pretty good – and national observers for good reason still didn't see it. For those of us covering the team, there definitely was a feeling of being close to something special that few outside Jacksonville could grasp. There was also the feeling of watching a young, talented team grow up and become a contender right before eyes. We were young – as a city and a franchise – and everyone who was there experienced NFL success and magic for the first time. You only get to experience that once. That always will be what I remember most fondly about covering those early Jaguars teams.

Adan from Wescosville, PA

I just got a gaming that Minshew is gonna be scary good. DTWD

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