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O-Zone: Straight truth

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from Jacksonville

It seems the Jags' offseason goals were to No. 1, win ... No. 2, fix the cap. These are two goals that every NFL team should have entering a season or offseason. In your opinion, Zone, do you think it was best to place "fixing the cap" as the higher priority? I mean there is no way General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone believed they could win fielding a team of inexperienced, albeit talented, players. If they did believe they would win, then isn't there a fundamental problem with their understanding of "how to win in the NFL?"

A couple of thoughts on your thoughts. First, I don't know that it's true that every NFL team should have a yearly goal of fixing the salary cap – certainly not to the extent that the Jaguars had to fix theirs this past offseason. There are times a team is in a situation to have to do major work on the cap – usually after several offseasons of big spending on either their own players or free agents from other teams – and the Jaguars certainly were in one of those times a few months back. There are other times teams are in a more logical position to spend closer to the cap – and even to create some future cap issues – because the team appears closer to contending for a Super Bowl or a deep postseason run. How could Marrone and Caldwell have thought they could win with this team? The hope was that quarterback Gardner Minshew II might take a step in Year 2 and outplay his physical shortcomings – and that free agents such as Rodney Gunter and Al Woods might strengthen the interior of the defensive line. I don't know if the Jaguars would have been Super Bowl contenders if those things had happened. But those things for multiple reasons clearly did not happen, which has contributed mightily to the 1-6 start.

Steve from Woodbine, GA

I can understand keeping the current coaching staff around until the end of the season, because firing the head coach rarely – if ever – drastically changes the inevitable outcome. But why is Caldwell still employed during the bye week? Why not get a new general manager in here immediately or at least start the GM search and get a head start on the head coach search for next season? I'm surprised you guys still let Caldwell get free coffee in the building. None of this makes sense to me…please explain.

First: there has been no official word, indication or hint that there will be any changes at any point – general manager, head coach or otherwise. If a change theoretically were to take place at general manager, it's not unusual for such a search to begin either late in a season or immediately thereafter. A person being considered for such a major position would have ample knowledge/contacts to make necessary hires in time for free agency, the draft and the offseason. Time is currently not "a wastin'" on this front.

Cliff from Everywhere with a Helicopter

You make some of this stuff up, right? You've GOT to be.

Maybe I do – and maybe I DO! (I don't.)

Nic from Raleigh, NC

Three weeks ago, I would've argued that we have one of the top groups of receivers, but I've noticed quite a few drops on balls that hit players in the hands (including Chris Conley and DJ Chark Jr.). Is this something to be concerned about? Or is it just a fluke/few bad days from the receivers?

All receivers drop passes on occasion. The Jaguars have four receivers on the roster relatively likely to be with the team next season – Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr., Collin Johnson and perhaps Keelan Cole. Drops aren't typically a major issue for any of the four.

Douglas from Toronto, Ontario

I know we are a long way from the next draft and knowing exactly where the Jags will sit in the draft order, but it does look like quarterback will be a position of interest. Prior to the start of college season, it appeared there was a consensus top-three quarterbacks. Now that seasons are underway, there appear to be several quarterbacks rising quickly in the draft rankings. One of those is Alabama's Mac Jones. I have noticed in the past the Jags many times seem to lean to drafting players from Florida. Do you think the fact Mac Jones is a native of Jacksonville would have any effect or influence over whether the Jags might draft him or not?

No.

Andy from Jacksonville

Zone, while you've technically never answered the question as to whether you still think defensive tackle Taven Bryan and quarterback Nick Foles were a better use of draft capital and free-agent monies than Lamar Jackson plus $50 million for free-agency, it would appear that Baltimore doesn't feel the contract for defensive end Calais Campbell is "cumbersome," and that achieving an amicable extension for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue will be very possible under competent management. It would seem the Ravens believe those players can contribute to their continued success, and at 5-1 coming off a 14-2 regular-season record in 2019, I would think it hard to argue their approach to best use of draft capital and free agent monies as compared to the Jags. Most importantly, though, I'm wondering whether you still feel the same about our approach to roster construction versus theirs?

With the benefit of hindsight, of course you can't say drafting Bryan or signing Foles were good moves – and no one can sanely believe that the Jaguars have done a better job on many fronts than the Ravens. As far as another question in your email … I wouldn't necessarily hold your breath on an amicable extension for Ngakoue with the Ravens. Maybe they'll get one done. Stranger things can happen. But until a long-term extension with Ngakoue is done, it's not done.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Do you see the Jaguars getting another win this season? Looks like that might come down to how much you like their chances against Indianapolis. Looking at the schedule, I think they could finish with one or two wins.

Fair.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Dear, John: If Caldwell and Marrone are given walking papers, will their '21 salary count against the cap?

No. NFL coaching staffs and front-office personnel do not count against the salary cap. Only players count against the cap.

Ryhan from Solihull

Hey, Mr. O: You recently said only in the preseason do you see first-team offense versus first-team defense – and that during the season, they tend to practice against the scout team. Don't you think that to be the best, you should practice against the best people in your team? It seems odd that teams practice against people on the practice squad who could potentially be a fourth- or fifth-string player for their position.

It's not really odd at all. NFL regular-season practices are about preparing and game-planning for the upcoming opponent. That means working the starting and front-line players – both offense and defense – against the looks and schemes that teams expect from the upcoming opponent. If the Jaguars' first-team offense were to practice against the first-team defense it would be working against the scheme run by the Jaguars instead of the scheme run by the upcoming opponent.

John from Jacksonville

Could Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence decide in January not to enter the draft because he doesn't like who has the first pick in the draft?

Of course.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

It would be great to have the NFC/AFC Central again. Not only would the Jags get to play Pittsburgh and Baltimore on a regular basis again, it would help minimize these weak divisions sending bad teams to the playoffs. Only having to be better than three other teams isn't enough. I know the current division set up is all pretty and "uniform," but realigning the league would be great for the game. Your thoughts? And do you believe the league would ever entertain the idea?

I get no sense that the league would realign any time soon because the 32-team, eight-division format actually is very uniform in terms of schedule and actually is as fair as possible. But realigning the divisions wouldn't minimize weak divisions. Strength of divisions is a cyclical thing. The NFC East happens to be down right now, but there was a time it was the NFL's strongest division. Someday, it will be strong again. Realignment or not.

Johnny from the Neighborhood

Zonio, there is no game on Sunday, ya wanna hang out? I have all this year's Jags game recorded, we can binge watch, commercials and all. But I have an idea, we will watch the games in reverse order so we will feel like we're getting better and it have a happy ending? What time you coming over?

I do not wanna hang out.

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