JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
The Other Ryan from Denver
KOAF: Minshew was just beaten down last season for leaving the pocket too quick. This year, I am seeing him trying to stay in the pocket but making bad decisions. Seems to me he is trying to show that he won't scramble too soon, yet when he scrambles it's always mostly bad. How far off am I? I really feel like he is showing how hard he is trying not to scramble too much – but if he would, we would be better off.
Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II will be the primary topic in the O-Zone the rest of the season. That felt inevitable before the season, and it feels more inevitable given the team's 1-4 start and the fact he has yet to answer many of the key questions that surrounded him entering the season. Your question indeed touches on a key point regarding Minshew, though – i.e., his pocket presence and the decisions he makes on whether to throw from the pocket or run. I can't get in Minshew's head and tell you why he's making the decisions he's making. It's also not a question that can be answered by one game, one series or one play. I've had readers suggest the Jaguars are hurting Minshew by "forcing" him to stay in the pocket. I've had readers say he should scramble more or blame play-calling for what he does or doesn't do. Bottom line: He must get better from the pocket. He must make better decisions from there. He must be able to drive the ball into tight windows and throw receivers open. You can have a certain level of effectiveness without doing that, and coaches can game plan enough that you can be effective at times without doing that. But to play at a high level consistently you must be able to do those things consistently. Minshew needs to get better at these things. We'll see if he can.
Luke from Brisbane, Australia
I only get to see the highlights down here, but it looks like Minshew's hitting some pretty decent throws. The two touchdown passes were pretty special, and it looks like some nice completions to all parts of the field. I realize his miscues don't make any highlight reels, but he's increasingly becoming the target of criticism. How much does it come down to the receivers not gaining separation, therefore making his life harder? Or is it simply a matter of Gardner not seeing/hitting the openings or making the plays when it counts? Cheers!
It's a little of both. The receivers aren't always open downfield. And sometimes, he appears hesitant to throw into tight – but beatable – coverage. It also seems he might be missing some reads sometimes. And as you mention, there are many times he makes nice throws and reads. It's rarely one thing all the time in the NFL. It's not that Minshew isn't having very good moments or doing very good things. It's whether he has them consistently enough – and whether he will improve enough in critical areas.
John from Cape May Courthouse
Can we pump the brakes on the Jags having a good offense? Yes, they have pieces but when you're scoring 22 points a game, a good offense is a stretch.
Tim from Duval
Such "flagship" franchises like Houston and Atlanta have moved on from coaching/front office combos that were much more successful than our current setup. What's it going to take for us to get new people running this team?
I wouldn't call Houston and Atlanta "flagship" franchises; the Texans have been in the NFL for a shorter time than the Jaguars. What will it take for there to be change? Only Owner Shad Khan can decide this and only he knows this for certain.
Moshe from Mexico City, Mexico
I see a very young and inexperienced team getting better. I think the future is bright and I'm happy for that.
Moshe remains "all in."
Roger from Whitehouse, FL
John, I know it's never coaching. It's players, not plays. Since the Jaguars got rid of all the players and that hasn't worked, I'd love to see what would happen if we got rid of the coaches and that don't work we would finally know it's not cliches either. First, Houston. Now, Atlanta. At least those owners seem to care. I'd love to see Khan "care."
Fans often equate cleaning house and firing people to "caring" about winning. That's the perception. It's not always reality.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL
The way the NFL has catered to offense, beating Indy was unfortunate. Go Giants. Go Jets. It's the first time in my life I've wanted the Jaguars to lose. I love them but how long has it been since they have had a franchise quarterback? It's worth losing out just for a chance to draft the best quarterback in the draft.
Chris from San Diego, CA
O'man, do you have any pop in your leg?
This is my 26th year covering the NFL. I learned a while back not to be surprised. Some things still surprise me. Life's awesome that way.
Michael from Fruit Cove, FL
All offseason you said "the team's not tanking" and "the team is doing all they can to win" and even General Manager David Caldwell said, "I love this team." In the last couple weeks, that changed to "they had to get the salary cap under control." After this last game, you're now saying "they won't intentionally do anything IN GAMES" to lose. You're getting warmer.....
I wrote and said all offseason that the offseason was about getting the salary cap manageable moving forward. I answered a question Sunday after the loss to Houston about tanking – and wrote that players and coaches won't do anything in games to lose. I appreciate your strong Sleuth Game, but that's all those answers meant.
Cliff from Jacksonville
Thanks to Robert from OP. There is no more appropriate hashtag for this Jaguars season, and indeed the entire year of 2020 than: #kluurb. Props.
Kathy from Jacksonville
I think in the first game of the season Minshew had excellent focus in part brought on by his "come-from-behind" style. But in the following games, the mistakes became "a distraction." Could a big factor for Minshew be that in trying to make up for the "missing points" that he is losing focus on his own job of "quarterbacking." The kicking was definitely a distraction Sunday.
Quarterbacking in the NFL is hard. Being successful at it in this era means making up for deficiencies elsewhere and overcoming distractions. It's part of the job. (But no, I don't think that's hurting Minshew).
Garrett from Edgetown, FL
Zone, I said this last year and you didn't agree with me. I'm going to say it again and you'll probably still not agree. Tre Herndon is absolute trash at his job. This man is great at tackling, but the caveat is that he only tackles after a minimum 14-yard completion. How did he "earn" this starting job last year? We just went to him by default when cornerback Jalen Ramsey left, and he has been killing us on the outside ever since.
Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon isn't "trash." He's not a No. 1 NFL corner. Many players are in between "trash" and elite. Herndon is among those players.
Adam from St. Johns, FL
So, did the players decide to do these cute plays or did the coaches? It's always coaching. I know, we're so stupid!!! You're so smart!!! Do you ever, ever think a coach might outthink themselves? I don't know why you fall all over yourself to defend this crap. I know it's the players and the players aren't good enough. These sorry players that the team chose aren't good enough for these coaches to get to not make stupid plays. Sheesh dumb players.
You're right about one thing. I'm really, really smart. But coaches aren't perfect. To believe they much would be folly – and I've certainly never said so in the O-Zone. What I have said – and what is mind-blowingly true – is how much observers overemphasize coaching. They do this to the point that they believe, for example, a defense that can't pressure the quarterback would be magically transformed into a competitive unit by firing the coordinator. Regarding the specifics of your question … no, I wouldn't say offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had his best day Sunday. I would have preferred more running – and my guess is that, in retrospect, Gruden would agree. He also certainly didn't have his best play call late in the third quarter. I wouldn't have called a running-back pass on fourth-and-1. I would have preferred a run, in retrospect, but it's easier to call plays in retrospect than in real time. But forget football a moment, Alan. You seem stressed. I worry about you. We've grown close over the years. Too close, probably. Get healthy. We need each other. Sincerely, O-Zone.