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O-Zone: Slim as can be

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Ken from Fernandina Beach, FL

O-Zone, has Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone taken a play out of former Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach's playbook and asked Minshew the question, "Gardner, do you want to lead the league in yards or do you want to carry Trevor's clipboard?" It does seem it's one extreme or the other. If Gardner is not MVP material this year, he's a bust. What do you think?

I receive many versions of this question. But while it's indeed an intriguing question for many because of the simple "if-then" scenario – if Jaguars quarterback Minshew isn't great this season, then the Jaguars will draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence … – I doubt that's a plausible scenario. Minshew was neither great nor a bust as a rookie last season, and it's unlikely he will be either this season. I don't expect him to fall off the table and be awful – and while I do expect him to improve on his rookie performance, it's probably unrealistic to expect that improvement to vault him to the status of Most Valuable Player. Far more likely is that he improves enough to be good with potential to get better. That could put him among, say, the Top 10-to-20 or so NFL quarterbacks. I in no way expect him to be in the bottom two or three. That means he won't likely perform poorly enough for the Jaguars to have a chance to select Lawrence No. 1 overall next offseason.

Tom from Charlottesville, VA

Is there an offensive lineman that could be considered to be converted to the interior defensive line to bolster that area? I remember a great Philadelphia Eagles name Chuck Bednarik who played both ways. I do not think there is someone on the roster that capable, but could this be an area to find help for the interior defensive line?

You're right that there's not someone on the roster as capable as Chuck Bednarik. He played center and linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949-1960, and was the NFL's last full-time two-way player. As far as lineman switching sides of the ball, this does happen on occasion. But it's usually a marginal offensive or defensive lineman being moved to the other side for depth or development. Success is rare, and it's rarer that a player can adapt quickly enough to contribute immediately. You're essentially asking if a marginal offensive lineman could switch to defensive tackle and be a better option than any number of players who have played the position for years collegiately and professionally. I highly, highly, highly – did I say, "highly?" – doubt this will be an option for the Jaguars this season.

Joe from DUVALL

I haven't seen this "What if?" What if Minshew started 16 games, maybe going 9-7 and making playoffs? JUST SAYIN.

If that happens, I expect Minshew will be the Jaguars' starting quarterback next season. JUST SAYIN.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I am sending all prayers to anyone listening that Laviska stays healthy. If he does, we have a star in the making. I am so excited for that kid.

Jaguars rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. through two weeks of practice absolutely looks the part of an immediate contributor and future star. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said Shenault might have been a Top 10 selection had he declared for the draft in 2019. It's easy thus far to see why. Stay tuned.

Taylor from Columbia, MD

How do the Jags decision makers feel about DJ Chark Jr. versus Allen Robinson? I see them on pretty similar career trajectories and talent levels, but we didn't feel A-Rob was elite or worth a second contract. Do you think they feel differently about Chark, and if so, why?

I don't get the idea that the decision-makers think about Chark and Robinson as a "versus" situation. The Jaguars tried to re-sign Robinson; there was a limit to what they wanted to pay at the time because they indeed didn't seem him as elite. I would put Chark's career trajectory right now ahead of Robinson's at the same time in his career, primarily because of Chark's speed. If Chark develops in Year 3 as he did in Year 2 – and every indication thus far in 2020 Training Camp is he is doing just that – I would expect re-signing Chark to be a priority. Perhaps as early as next offseason.

EJ from Jacksonville

I'm disappointed that Josh Oliver is on IR. I understand that he is not eligible to return. Why?

The Jaguars placed second-year tight end Josh Oliver on injured reserve Thursday with a broken bone in his foot. He is not eligible to return because the team placed him on injured reserve before September 6. Players placed on IR after that are eligible to return; players placed on it before are not. The Jaguars placed Oliver on IR before September 6 because they believe his injury is such that he won't be able to contribute this season.

Austin from Jacksonville

Do you think in 2040 we will look back on the old two-tone helmets as "ahead of their time" or something like when young people see all that leather from the '80s?

I think we all need football in the fall.

Captain Bob from Jacksonville

Hey Zone, what's the thinking behind the NFL rule that if you place a player on injured reserve before September 6, he's out for the season? What can a team do to avoid that, carry an injured player on the roster until then?

The thinking is to prevent teams from "stashing" players on injured reserve in training camp to help with roster management at the cutdown date. Yes, a team can avoid placing a player on season-ending injured reserve by including him on the 53-man roster on September 6.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, have you ever had the urge to show up on the practice field with some pads on to see if they would let you play?

Management and ownership nixed this idea. Contractually, I can say no more.

Terry from Cordele, GA

Ok, we all know how bad it is! But hope springs eternal, or something like that. With that, we do have some strengths on this team, like Gardner Minshew. So, in your opinion, is our young quarterback more like Kenny Stabler, Joe Montana, or Fran Tarkenton? Or is there someone else he reminds you of?

Tarkenton, who played for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, is probably the best comparison. There also are certainly similarities with Stabler in terms of persona, and Minshew shows signs having of Stabler's clutch gene and accuracy. He does not particularly remind me of Montana. I went into detail on this in a recent O-Zone answer, so I won't bore loyal readers – he knows who he is – with another deep dive, but Minshew seems to have the escapability, clutchness and creativity of Tarkenton. A quarterback ideally needs more than that, particularly against modern defenses. We'll see if Minshew has enough of the other stuff needed to be a franchise guy. Stay tuned.

Larry from Duncan, OK

Great and powerful "O," there doesn't seem to be a direct or public announcement concerning the direction of the Jaguars. Perhaps the organization's culture is the reason. For example, if you watch the organization's morning and afternoon shows, it's all opinion by design but never is there an official Jaguars position. There is somebody stirring up things to cause defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and former cornerback Jalen Ramsey to demand trades. Everything rises and falls on leadership. Who's in charge?

Shad Khan owns the Jaguars. He's the leadership, though I would say it's rare for NFL teams to "announce official positions" in the manner you seem to want. Franchise direction usually is "proclaimed" in media interviews conducted by owners, general managers and coaches throughout the course of the season and offseason. Khan, General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone conduct such interviews. That's pretty normal.

Richard from Jacksonville

Without preseason games, fans aren't as able to get excited about rookie quarterbacks. How has Jake Luton looked so far? How would you rank him compared to previous Jaguars sixth-round quarterbacks (Brandon Allen, Minshew, Tanner Lee, etc.)?

Luton has looked good in limited opportunity during training camp. I would go so far as to say he has looked better than any of the team's other sixth-round quarterbacks in practice because Minshew did not look particularly good in practice last training camp. Luton has thrown a few impressive balls in recent days and weeks. It's a very small sample size and doesn't tell us much about how he will perform in games.

Cam from St. Augustine, FL

Zone, with respect to Bob from Sumter, SC., my sources say the Jags can get a one for Yann, but would prefer a two and unload your incredibly bloated contract as part of the trade.

Trust me, you've got the wrong Zone.