O-Zone: Sick with fever

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

David from Chuluota

O-Zone: At this time last year, Jag fans were flying at an all-time high after falling just short of a Super Bowl; we were rolling into the new season with high expectations and a lot of swag. A year later, the feeling is completely different. It seems every player and coach is under attack and even our beloved Tom Coughlin is not immune to criticism. This time last year, this team was picked by some to be Super Bowl contenders, and logic says with the addition of quarterback Nick Foles, we should only improve. However, instead of feeling a sense of hope and optimism, this team seems volatile and there’s a sense that “this could go either way.” In other words, this offseason fans have traded in their confidence for uncertainty. Thoughts?

I never know how to sum up the feelings of a fan base. Fans are individuals and therefore see their teams as they see life – i.e., through their individual, sometimes-skewed, lenses. I suppose there indeed is a feeling among many Jaguars fans that the season could go either way, and that’s a pretty fair assessment. If things go well for this team this season, it could finish with double-digit victories and make a serious playoff push. If things go awry – i.e., a slew of injuries or a few players not playing to their potential – it could finish with five or six victories and be well out of the playoff picture. You know what? That probably describes 25 or 26 NFL teams. Welcome to professional football.

Albert from Chandler

How successful will Foles be this year?

We’ll see. The answer to this question will go a long way toward answering the previous question.

Luis from Coamo, PR

Oh, Great Oz! I am glad Jimmy Smith went to the University of Florida (or was it Miami, or Georgia, or FSU?). Otherwise, the years he was with the Jaguars would have been truly awful. Peace.

Fair.

Jason from North Pole, AK

Do you think the most likely scenario with Telvin Smith is still that he shows up to mandatory camp and it’s a non-issue? Or is that becoming less likely?

Until more is known about the Telvin Smith Issue – indeed, until we know there is a Telvin Smith Issue – it’s impossible to know what’s likely and what’s not. But I would expect he will be at the mandatory June minicamp because mandatory means mandatory.

Ken from Across the Pond

Since you are employed by the Jags, can they "cut or release" you like they do the players, or do they handle company yes-men like you differently when it comes to termination or a raise?

They could cut or release me at any time, but who would be around to read and answer witty questions like this with insight and wit.

Josh from Pensacola, FL

What was it that made Minshew fall to the sixth round? I’m struggling to find a good reason. I think the Jags may have gotten a steal here.

It’s not hard to find a reason. Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew isn’t a prototype in terms of arm strength or size, and he doesn’t have any of the physical “wow” traits that usually prompt teams to take quarterbacks early. Lacking such traits is usually what causes productive college quarterbacks to not get drafted early.

Mac from Jacksonville

Bold prediction: Gardner Minshew beats out Foles in training camp and starts Week 1. You heard it here!

Apparently.

John from Jacksonville

When teams sign undrafted free agents what type of contracts are they given and for how long? Can other teams claim them like practice-squad players?

Undrafted free agents typically sign three-year contracts that pay the league minimum if the player makes the team. He is bound to the team with which he signs until he is released. The practice squad is a different thing. A practice-squad player has been released from a team and signed to the practice squad, but that practice-squad contract allows him to sign with another team or his own team if the opportunity should arise.

Jaginator from (formerly of) Section 124

During a game years ago, every time fullback Greg Jones trotted onto the field I stood up and yelled, “Oh, look! We’re gonna run!” Every time he exited, I yelled, “Oh, look! We’re gonna pass!” Sadly, out of 30-some plays in the first half, I was wrong only once. I know this is an entirely different regime, and I really hope this is misguided, but I fear a similar scenario playing out with Josh Oliver.

Your fear isn’t misguided. Rookie Josh Oliver is a receiving tight end, and it’s very common with for receiving tight ends to be situational players. The challenge with Oliver – as with many receiving tight ends – is to be balanced enough that it doesn’t tip the defense so much as to cripple the offense. So, yes – your concern is a possibility. But it’s not tragic and isn’t so different than the challenge faced by many teams. And by the way, I’m sorry I missed a chance to sit next to you that day. It sounds as if it would have been a real gas.

Bradley from Oceanside, CA

Do we expect Quincy Williams to be trained as a safety?

No, at least not at the beginning of his time with the Jaguars.

Scott from Tribeca

Looking at the list of undrafted free agents I noticed that over a third of them are defensive backs. Is there a hole in the roster we don’t know about?

It depends on how hard you’ve been looking. The Jaguars’ starters in the defensive backfield are strong, but the depth there is inexperienced. Cornerback and safety are definitely positions where the team recruited UDFAs heavily – and where those UDFAs have a real chance to make the roster.

Steve from soon-to-be Cancun

JO: If Giants management retained sanity and selected Josh Allen, who would the Jags have taken in the first round?

Probably Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Curran from Orlando, FL

Damn! I know fans are going to fan, but it's amazing what nasty things people send to you. Anyways ... of the current running backs on the roster, which one do you feel can best catch out of the backfield?

The Jaguars’ decision-makers keep bringing up newly-signed unrestricted free agent Benny Cunningham when talking about this, so … Cunningham.

Jim from Hilliard, FL

We now have 92 players under contract. Isn’t the limit 90? What’s up?

The 21 undrafted free agents only have been announced as agreeing to terms. When they are announced as officially signed, moves will have been made so that the roster is at 90.

DH from Jacksonville

Just curious. What makes a seventh-rounder more capable of starting at SAM linebacker his first year than a top 10 pick?

Experience and familiarity with role, mostly. While Allen probably has the skill set to play strong-side linebacker, having him play that position and working him at the same time as an edge rusher immediately means having him learn two positions. It’s OK to let him learn one before asking him to learn another.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

I’m so happy the Jags got so lucky to get Allen and right tackle Jawaan Taylor. We also got a tight end with an all-important 40 time that was #fasterthanhock, who looks pretty good, so I’m super happy about that, too. We also got a backup quarterback not named Cody Kessler and a bunch of guys for good depth. Our team is very talented and got way better in this draft. People are so obsessed with grading the selectors and scouting the scouts that they are missing out on the elation of how lucky we got and how important those first three picks are to this year’s team. I think we are going to be really good.

Well, Rob … if you’re happy I’m happy.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

That mustache, aviators and red coat alone are worth a sixth-round pick! LOL!

You’re referencing Round 6 quarterback Gardner Minshew of Washington State, who indeed has a well-documented flair for the … well, he just has a well-documented flair.

Lee from Fleming Island, FL

O-Man, since nobody on last year’s defense was able to tackle Derrick Henry would it hurt to put Quincy on the field until he gets a shot? His style and quickness just might be what it takes.

Your question implies that the Jaguars should make their defensive decisions based on one bad game against the Tennessee Titans. That obviously won’t happen. Nor should it.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Loved the Jags draft, A-plus! For all the fans who wanted a WR their was no Julio or OBJ in this draft and NO receiver better than Josh Allen. You want your big WR you got him in Josh Oliver. Jerell out!!!!

I don’t know if I can handle this.

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