JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Scott from Jacksonville
Geez, John. You're really pushing the narrative that defensive end Calais Campbell wasn't as good last year as the previous two years as justification for getting rid of him. Problem there is that he was one of the top two defensive players in the league in 2017 and 2018. And, he was the best player on the field for stretches of a number of games last year. Suggesting that he had become ineffective is going way too far and discredits his contribution last year. He was still a bargain at $15 million.
I get many, many questions asking why the Jaguars traded Campbell. They're fair questions considering his popularity and his level of play while he was here. The answer to the questions is he was not as good in 2019 as he was in 2018 and not nearly as good as he was in 2017. He also was not going to be a bargain at $15 million in 2020. That doesn't mean he was bad. That doesn't mean it's wrong for fans to feel an affinity for him. It does mean that it made sense to trade him this offseason while he still had value, and it means it's unlikely he will play at an elite level in his 13th NFL season. I also don't know that he was the best player on the field for a number of games last season; evidence suggests that wasn't the case. None of this discredits Campbell, who I consider one of the most important and significant players in franchise history. If you feel differently, that's fine. Either way, Justification isn't the aim here. Just explanation.
Doug from Jacksonville
Tanking for a college player is not going to happen. What happens when two teams tanking for the same player play each other? Keep snapping the ball out of the end zone for safeties? How many can't miss college player turn out to be good NFL players?
Keith from Palatka, FL
Yannick Ngakoue wants to "go to a team with a winning culture." I agree that we should not trade him for peanuts, but I also would like to say to this legend in his own mind, "Toodle-Loo Stromboli, adios amigo, sayonara sucker, and don't let the door hit your arse on the way out," or "Go lightly from my doorstep; leave at your own chosen speed."
More and more Jaguars fans seem to feel this way about Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. This makes sense, because he has been quite vocal – and not all that tactful – about his desire to not play for the Jaguars. This won't influence the Jaguars' actions regarding Ngakoue. Nor should it. They want Ngakoue playing for them next season and always have felt that way. They believe he should do just that. If they get an offer that makes sense to trade him, I'm sure they would consider it. But they won't be forced into it. Nor should they be.
Bill from Jacksonville
"I do know his primary error was missing on quarterback Blake Bortles..." Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell's biggest mistake wasn't drafting Blake, it was doubling down on him. The Chiefs had a playoff quarterback and moved on. The Jaguars saw what Blake Bortles was, and signed up for more of it. That's when Dave Caldwell lost the fan base.
Jimmy from Jacksonville
I know you are probably tired of Ngakoue questions. But, how can you fault him when he says that he would like to be on a team with a winning culture. I have been a season-ticket holder for the past 10 years and I would feel the same way. It would be nice to sit in my seat and see a team with a winning culture. I am still deciding if I am going to pay to watch another losing season?
I don't know that many people fault Ngakoue for wanting to be part of a winning culture. Do they fault him for how he's going about it? Perhaps. Should they not?
Scott from Gilbert, AZ
Zone, I know NFL.com's power rankings weren't enough for you to agree with the outside world believing the Jags are "squarely" at 32, so wanted to make sure you know Sports Illustrated has us there as well. Just wishing the organization would reconsider our roster assessment in relation to the perils of drafting with a win-now mindset as opposed to rebuilding for the future. I realize that need will meet value for several positions in the first couple rounds, but selecting players that will have a higher upside two years from now while fortifying depth with later round jars on the shelf would produce far greater results moving forward than would trading later-round picks for a couple mid-round guys that can maybe contribute some as a rookie this year … which is what Caldwell will ultimately do if there is a real belief inside the building (based on what Dave would've had to tell Mr. Khan to keep his job this year) that we currently have more talent on the roster than everyone else sees.
Scott … you're right that little concerns me less than rankings; they mean nothing and that's not going to change. But what most strikes me about your question is your grand confidence in your own opinion, and how it flies in the face of what actually has happened around the Jaguars this offseason. While you boldly predict that the Jaguars will approach the draft with a "win-now" mindset, every move Caldwell has made this offseason – stockpiling draft selections and clearing salary-cap space in 2021—have reflected precisely the approach you say you want. And while your last sentence indicates that you know exactly "what Caldwell will ultimately do," the reality is you don't. And nothing has happened this offseason to remotely indicate that you're correct.
Ed from Danvers, MA
My feeling is that Ngakoue has disrespected ME. I have had eight season tickets for years and decided to cut to four because of Jalen Ramsey and now to 2 because of Ngakoue. Where is the players respect for fans?
You're not wrong to want that. You're probably not going to get it very often. Respect for fans is about perspective. That often only come with experience. For some players, it doesn't come at all.
Justin from Quarantine
Maybe it's being inside that's getting me crazy, but Blaine Gabbert being Tom Brady's backup quarterback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gives me hope of UFA Blake Bortles returning to Jacksonville on a paltry deal that gets him the love from this town that he deserves. What say you?
I would be shocked – nay, stunned – if that happens.
JimJim from Eugene, OR
Sorry if I missed this question somewhere else on your blog, KOAF. With the draft coming just a couple weeks away, there's talk of moving minicamp dates, etc. due to COVID-19. My thought is that since we have the "DEAD ZONE" just prior to the start training camp, why can't the clubs move these minicamps closer to the start of training camp? So instead of taking an entire month off, take a week or a week and a half?
I suppose that's possible, though any sort of schedule change would have to be agreed upon by both the NFL and NFL Players Association.
Moshe from Mexico
Yannick was No. 33 in sacks last year and isn't good against the run. I used to like him, but he's been a disappointment this offseason. Happy Passover!
Sascha from Cologne
O, I know you think the Jaguars go defensive line and cornerback – and I think so too. But is there any chance they go heavily on offense in the first round? What's your opinion to go with offensive tackles Tristan Wirfs of Iowa or Mekhi Becton of Louisville with No. 9 overall selection and wide receiver Justin Jefferson No. 20?
I will be surprised – not shocked – if the Jaguars select offensive line with one of their first three selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they used one of them on a wide receiver. I would be really surprised if they don't use two of them on cornerback and defensive tackle.
Andrew from Mattoon
Fans looking for good news? How about the following: we just signed a new offensive coordinator (Jay Gruden) who has had much success in the past? How about we have an exciting new quarterback (both on and off the field)? How about we have an embarrassment of riches of draft picks leading up to the Draft? How about we will probably have more when Yannick is traded? We are also in a division that has no dominant team. I see a lot to be excited about. How about we get on board and be excited for the football year to come!
Hey … one fer Andrew!