O-Zone: Slow and easy

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from Jacksonville

The Jags are at home for three of their first six games in 2019. This is usually a great way to start a season, but the first three home games are against Kansas City and New Orleans in Weeks 1 and 6, with the Tennessee Titans sandwiched in at Week 3. Oops. The Jaguars’ first three road games include trips to Carolina, Denver and – oops – Houston. That is a brutal start to 2019. Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin un-liked the NFL scheduling committee. A sense of walking out of the Bank 1-5 or 0-6 after a Drew Brees drubbing seems palpable, but there is hope for better results. It’s May and mostly sunny. Right?

The Jaguars’ early-season 2019 schedule absolutely looks tough on paper. And if all the teams involved are precisely what they were last season, the Jaguars probably would be in trouble. But the NFL changes from year to year, and you just don’t know the true difficulty of a schedule until you’re about five or six weeks into any season. I agree that logic says the first six weeks of 2019 will be tricky for the Jaguars. But if you’re going to be a good team, you must beat good teams. And you should be able to do it at home. Want to contend for the postseason? Beat New Orleans or Kansas City at TIAA Bank Field. And at some point, the Jaguars need to get past this whole “Can’t-Beat-Tennessee” thing. The three road games you mention are tough – but if the Jaguars are improved, they’re in no way impossible. Bottom line: You must play your schedule. If the Jaguars are good enough to contend for the postseason, they’ll negotiate the early part of their schedule and still be at .500 or better. If they’re not good enough, they won’t. Just go play.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

Jason Isbell music put me to sleep, pretty much like Jaguars last season ...

Fear not, there are plenty of people singing songs about lift kits and never getting back together to keep you awake.

Strnbker from Dothan, AL

If Nate gets a hug from Whitney the Culligan girl can I sign up?

All these years later, I still have no idea what you’re talking about.

Keith from Palatka, FL

I agree that the Jaguars defense is stout against the run notwithstanding the outlier game against the Titans in Week 14 last year. You missed my point. I was not talking about the entire defense, I was talking about defensive tackle Malik Jackson, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and linebacker Telvin Smith. Those three were not good against the run last year. Malik is gone and Yannick and Telvin are AWOL (before the lecture, I'm fully aware its "voluntary"). Yannick deserves a raise and will get one if he understands his limitations against the run. Telvin was not good last year. If I needed to improve as much against the run as these two, I would definitely not be skipping OTAs. But hey, whatever, Coughlin doesn't notice stuff like that or really care, right?

You’re right that a reason the Jaguars moved on from Jackson was that he struggled against the run last season. And if you’re making the point that Smith and Ngakoue should be in the voluntary offseason program because they also struggled against the run last season … I guess. Ngakoue is OK against the run, particularly for his size. I doubt a few weeks in the offseason program is going to change that dynamic. Would Smith improve against the run if he were here? Look, he has been in the NFL a long time. He’s in the prime of his career. He knows the defense. Being in Jacksonville for 10 practices might help his run defense marginally, but forgive me if I don’t think those 10 practices will make a huge difference – and forgive me, too, if I just can’t bring myself to believe missing a few May/June practices is an earth-shattering deal.

Luke from Plymouth Meeting, PA

Are the Jaguars interested in bringing back Corey Grant after signing Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham, and drafting Ryquell Armstead? If so, does he still have a spot in the offense?

The signing of Blue and Cunningham as free agents this offseason and the drafting of Armstead wouldn’t necessarily preclude the Jaguars from re-signing Grant. But while Grant played running back, he might be better described as a weapon because of his speed. The primary issue with Grant was the foot injury he sustained in a Week 5 loss to Kansas City last season. It was serious enough to be a long-term concern, and I don’t currently sense he will be with the Jaguars in the future.

Tony from St. Louis, MO

I don't think it's the fans and media that is making a big deal out of Lee’s injury history. It was a Jag coach that made that famous description about him. Something about a white tiger if I recall.

It was former Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olsen who (in)famously called Marqise Lee the Albino Tiger. That’s actually a good example of what I mean when I say Lee’s injury history has been exaggerated. There’s a perception that he missed a lot of games early in his career, and that’s not necessarily the case. Olsen made the “Albino Tiger” comment before the 2015 season, which meant Lee had missed no games that season when Olsen made the comment. While Lee missed a lot of offseason work early in his career, he missed 11 games in his first four NFL seasons. He missed the entire season last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, so that skews his injury history somewhat. Now … as far as it being a coach who made the “Albino Tiger” comment, remember: Just because a coach says it doesn’t mean it’s right.

Unhipcat from Lemme tell you about when I was young, CA

Video games? Madden? Pfft. I had the electric vibrating football field. Each team had a spring-loaded quarterback who launched a little felt football and whoever ran into it first either caught it or intercepted it. That was a man’s game back then, John.

Darned right it was.

Mike from Boscobel

A lot of fans are excited about our draft pick, Gardner Minshew. But I'm curious where that leaves Alex McGough. When we signed him, I was intrigued; he looks to have a lot of potential. Is he essentially a camp body now or will the Jags potentially keep three quarterbacks?

McGough, who signed as a free agent in January, is more than a camp body. He will have a chance to compete for a position, possibly as the backup quarterback or possibly the third quarterback.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

If Blues Man from Jacksonville is "perplexed" about the small-school skepticism of Jags fans, he clearly was not around during the "In-Gene-We-Trust" era of the organization, in which it felt EVERY player he drafted was a small-school "diamond-in-the-rough" prospect that never seemed to pan out. We understand that this is a new era and the past does not dictate the future, but we get triggered sometimes. The wounds have healed, but the scars have never left.

I guess, but it has been seven years now. Maybe it’s time to move forward?

Mr. NFL from Unfortunately Jacksonville

After moving to Jacksonville two years ago, I can easily see why this team is laughed at on a nationwide basis; a hooligan, uninformed fan base; a grandpa vice president that has no concept of a modern NFL offense (he refuses to understand the concept of a passing-threat tight end), a head coach that uses pressers as a way to showcase his dull humor with the often-used phrase “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him … YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?”, a President who holds annual State of the Union events in which he constantly reminds fans the revenue isn’t good enough (hint: we’re slowly building a case to relocate), an organization as a whole who wants to keep the stadium in one of America’s ugliest cities – and finally – the Jags’ own media writers (website and videos included) that produce team news at a snail’s pace (see other teams’ websites). This year? 5-11 - because the offense is grossly outdated, other than the quarterback. Good luck, Grandpa.

Wow. You apparently drew the short straw when Happy Outlook, Inc. was passing out job assignments and transfers. I’m surprised the Executive Vice President of Superiority couldn’t get a better gig. It does stink for you that you’re forced to watch and read the website. Perhaps your browser’s broken? (Hint: Turn your laptop off and on. That fixes a lot of techy things.) I would offer more suggestions, but I’ve got to go. I have a story to write. It’s really good. You can check it out on jaguars.com in June.

Steve from Nashville, TN

John, is your mind right?

Yes. As long as I’m allowed to write very, very slooooooowly.

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