O-Zone: Spot on

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dravis from Duval

I disagree with the store analogy. A store might have various factors that would cause underperformance, location being the prime example. NFL teams all work under the same salary cap, same rules, and are owned by billionaires that can pay up to that cap. That's what's supposedly great about the NFL: all teams are on an equal playing field. Maybe a team gets hit with the injury bug or the linebacker losing his marbles, but overall they are pretty equal. And after eight years I think most fans have enough information to form a reasoned opinion about the leadership of the team.

This refers to a recent O-Zone question in which a reader – innocently, we thought – noted that a wise store owner might not automatically fire a manager whose sales lagged. The reader – innocently, we thought – made the case that a wise NFL owner might also consider more factors than meet the eye when making decisions. As it turned out, these "innocent" analogies angered some O-Zone readers who bristle at any notion that keeping General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone after last season was anything but a betrayal of fans' trust. Reality: we're long since past the point where minds will be changed on this front by anything other than on-field results. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan clearly believes the duo can succeed without former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin in the equation. The biggest factor in whether they will be successful is the players they have acquired, and it appears they're moving in the right direction in recent drafts. The biggest factor within that biggest factor is quarterback, so if Garnder Minshew II is what the team hopes they're really moving in the right direction. Did Khan take a risk keeping the duo? Sure, but any general manager/coaching decisions involve risk. I have no idea if the move was the right one, but I will say I believe this duo has a decent chance to succeed – doubts of many observers notwithstanding.

Robert from St. Augustine, FL

With the NFL offseason entering the "twilight zone," can we expect to see more injuries this season than years gone by?

I would guess there may be a few more injuries around the NFL early next season, though injuries vary from team to team annually enough that it realistically will be tough to prove if this happens. I expect it will be a storyline, and I expect media to talk about it as if there are more injuries. That doesn't necessarily mean it will happen, but it will almost certainly be a "thing."

Mike from Atlanta, GA

There is a lot of consternation over the signing of the backup quarterback. I think I have an idea of how to satisfy those feeling unease over this. Have you considered signing Matt Scott?

Freemattscott

Steve from Nashville, TN

So, Tampa Bay gets five prime-time games because of Tom Brady but New England retains its five night games without Tom. The whole is not greater than the sum of the parts.

People tend to make figuring out why certain NFL teams get prime-time and national-television games and certain teams don't harder than should be the case. It's not about "merit." It's not even about favoritism. It's about games the networks and league believe the most people will watch. Tampa Bay is on television a lot next season because former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady now is the Buccaneers' quarterback, and the networks and league are probably right that people will watch the Buccaneers more with him there. The Patriots are on television a lot next season because they have been the NFL's most successful team in the last two decades. They have a polarizing head coach, Bill Belichick. They have a large following because of their success and a lot of people hate them because of that success. All those things lead the network and league to believe a lot of people will watch Patriots games next season, and the league and network are probably right about that, too.

Fred from Naples, FL

Be careful big guy … Jerell's playing you.

Jerell knows where to find me.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: What is the expected role for Quarterman? He seems particularly driven.

I expect Shaq Quarterman to be a backup and special teams player next season as a rookie. Depending on how he fares in those roles, his future role could expand. And you're right that he's driven. If drive is the key to success, I have no doubt he will succeed.

Chris from Space City, TX

Wait. Now we are comparing business execs running a department store to NFL franchises? Come on, O. That's a gigantic stretch even for this forum. There is no comparison. The NFL stands on its own as a 32-team juggernaut. Of course owners shouldn't sit back and let the same yo-yos run their billion-dollar commodity into the ground for nearly a decade. It's not acceptable and to imply that it is just confirms the fact this franchise is content with mediocrity to below average. And by the way, if I owned a department store and was at the bottom of the industry for seven years, you're darn right I would fire the general manager.

The spirit of the email to which you refer was that wise owners/manager often make decisions considering more than what initially meets the eye. It made the point that some decisions often are more complex than many people believe, and that sometimes observers don't grasp all that's going on. My answer was simply meant to say that just because Khan didn't fire Caldwell and/or Marrone after last season doesn't mean he's content with losing. It means he's going about things in a way fans don't necessarily like, but that's not remotely the same thing.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

The optimist in me sees a very manageable schedule with a really tough December and no crazy travel. The pessimist in me sees three or four wins, tops.

Fair.

Ryan from Alpharetta, GA

Fixing the salary cap was an obvious priority this offseason. How much cap room do the Jags have this year, and what is the estimated room for next year?

The Jaguars reportedly have about $21 million in cap space for 2020 and a projected $100 million for 2021, though the 2021 can change dramatically before the start of that league year.

Bruce from Zonerville

Gene Frenette would NOT need a lead or even a passing situation to pin his ears back and go after the QB.

True that. Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette is that rare edge player who can produce big-time sacks numbers and iconic photos without the benefit of opponent being in obvious passing situations.

Jason from North Pole, AK

Many fans have written in about national media outlets and even Vegas odds having the Jaguars finishing with four wins and ranked dead last. I guess what I am not understanding is how Minshew was a media darling last season, but apparently he sucks enough that they think we will be the worst team in the league? It just feels like there is some strange disconnect there. I try not to spend much time worrying about what the national media thinks, I just don't know if I have ever seen the Jags so unanimously projected to be awful. Is it the high-profile free agents that we lost? What gives?

How national media perceives teams in the offseason usually is based on a couple of things: how a team fared the previous season, and perceived offseason additions and losses. The Jaguars went 6-10 last season and lost a lot of veterans with whom national media were familiar. That's a formula for low expectations. And while Minshew was a media darling, there remains a perception – probably because of his draft position – that he's not as much of a franchise quarterback as earlier-drafted players such as Kyler Murray of Arizona and Drew Lock of Denver. The last part is very unfair to Minshew; while I don't know that Minshew is a lock to be a franchise quarterback, he absolutely played well enough as a rookie to be considered on part with Murray and Lock. And I agree with your premise that Minshew is good enough that the Jaguars won't be the worst team in the NFL. I don't know what heights he will eventually reach, but I don't think his depths are nearly that low.

unhipcat from carlsbad, ca

John. We know the NFL is out to get the Jags, so here's my theory. They know the early games won't be played, so that's when they gave us all our easy, sure-win games. Then they stacked the back end with all the playoff teams, just to keep us out of the Super Bowl. How sound is my theory?

Airtight.

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