O-Zone: The finest prose

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Alan from Jacksonville

I am baffled at the national media's lack of respect for what Gardner Minshew II accomplished in his rookie season. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the third-best quarterback on balls thrown more than 20 yards downfield; all he did was put up a league-high passer rating of 129 with a 49 percent completion rate. Of the 49 times he flung it downfield, none of them were deemed turnover-worthy. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, the guy who is purported to have the strongest arm, finished 32 with a completion rate of 24 percent and a passer rating of 64.4 with the highest rate of uncatchable throws. Give me Minshew's "weak" arm any day. How well will Gruden's West Coast offense take advantage of the 'Stache's abilities?

The national media perception of Minshew generally seems to be that he's not as good as Drew Lock of Denver or Kyler Murray of Arizona when it comes to the 2019 rookie quarterback class. The statistics don't support that view. Neither do the players' records as starting quarterbacks. The reality is that while Minshew has areas he must improve in Year 2, he absolutely showed enough positive traits that he should be discussed as a potential long-time NFL starting quarterback – and there's no evidence yet that he's not as good as any other rookie quarterback from last season. That doesn't mean he will be a franchise quarterback, but the possibility in no way should be dismissed. Here's the good news for Minshew: the national media's perception on this issue matters not a whit. He got his opportunity last season as a rookie and earned another opportunity this season. That's a huge accomplishment considering where he started. How he plays now will determine his future. Not the perception of national media. As for how Gruden's West Coast-offense will take advantage of his ability, the thought here is Minshew will fit into it well. He will make quicker decisions and get the ball out quicker, and that should allow him to win from the pocket more. That's the hope, anyway. Stay tuned.

John from Jacksonville

Hi KOAGF - What is more likely of the two very improbable scenarios? The Jags and Los Angeles Rams both finish last in the league, setting us up with the No. 1 and No. 32 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Or, both the Jags and Rams compete in the Super Bowl, rendering our first-round draft picks mostly useless equivalent to high second-round picks?

I think both teams are closer to being under .500 than making the playoffs, though I admittedly am judging the Rams from afar.

Jim from Jacksonville

A lot of your readers seem to be obsessed with whether the Jags will play a 3-4 or a 4-3. What is the big deal? A good defense is a good defense and a bad defense is a bad defense no matter what the scheme right? What is the deal with this silly obsession?

The Jaguars feel similarly about this issue. Much of what they have done schematically in recent seasons on base downs is essentially the same whether they run a 3-4 scheme or a 4-3 scheme, and what they do typically depends on the strengths of the players on the roster. They are also in nickel schemes far more than they are in base schemes, so a lot of the 3-4/4-3 thing is more offseason talk than it is in-season reality. The Jaguars believe they must get better against the run this season and they believe their offseason additions will allow them. That's far more their offseason focus than the specifics of how they will line up on first downs.

Johnny Karate from Pawnee, IN

I'm swimming in the deep pool of adulthood, and the lifeguard's in the bathroom pooping. Also, I met Andrew Luck once.

Is that a goose that just flew by the window? Oh, it's a plastic bag.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

If you believe in Minshew then you take another position. So, first thing is, it will be very lucky if we somehow land the first pick in the draft. The next thing is this, how many times have we seen the Jaguars "double down" on a quarterback they believed in who was marginal at best. Blaine Gabbert? Blake Bortles? Byron Leftwich? Seriously time to stop trying to make a steak dinner out of a pack of hot dogs. Sometimes players are what they are. If the opportunity comes up and we get a chance to draft Trevor Lawrence from Clemson, we need to take it. Because we haven't taken the sure thing quarterback ever in a draft. None of the ones we drafted have ever been top quarterback or projected sure things. The only caveat to this is if Minshew somehow surprises all the critics and we go 12-4 winning the division with an explosive offense, sure. But if it is more of the middle of the road, limping along, marginally winning 3-6 games? No draft Trevor if you have the chance.

If Minshew is good, they won't have the opportunity to take a quarterback early. Also: sure-think quarterbacks are rare, if they exist at all. I was going to answer more about your question, but I'm hungry. Not for steak or hot dogs, though. Weird.

Bradley from Orange Park, FL

So I did, at your advice, begin reading William Nack's "Pure Heart" piece. After about four paragraphs - the most notable one Nack explaining Secretariat's heart was medically sound, just enlarged compared to the regular horse heart - my YouTube curiosity got the better of me  and I searched 'Secretariat', which brought up the Belmont Stakes '73 race. Secretariat took the announcer from "their on the back stretch now, Secretariat by a head" to "Secretariat hits the finish 25 lengths in front!" I've always despised how horses become so disposable immediately once the horse can no longer race, or that the horse can no longer live a quality life because of injuries sustained because of horse racing. But word up Secretariat, William Nack & John 'KOAF' Oehser for bringing attention to those who were unaware of a great memory of a great horse who accomplished such a great (and unmatched to date) sports feat.

Leave me out of it. Finish the story. It's worth the read.

Bill from Jacksonville

John, if you I told you that Minshew's career ceiling was Andy Dalton's time in Cincinnati, would you try to win a Super Bowl with Gardner or would you be looking for another franchise quarterback? Thanks! Go Jags!

The problem is you don't know a player's ceiling until his career is played out, so the only way to answer is in the vein of the theoretical – and the answer you want doesn't reflect how teams think. Yes, if you knew for absolutely certain that Minshew would ascend "only" to Dalton's level you probably would continue searching for a franchise quarterback – because he was always a hair away from what you actually wanted from a quarterback. At the same time, he quarterbacked five postseason teams and therefore showed that he could get a team to the postseason if surrounded by a good roster. The reality is that if a quarterback plays as well early in his career as Dalton did early in his career with the Bengals, you're probably not trying overly hard to replace him. If you're winning and making the postseason –as the Bengals were doing – it's rare to change gears at the quarterback position and risk going backward.

Robert from St. Augustine, FL

Head Coach Doug Marrone said earlier he was moving Will Richardson over to left tackle. He also added he was trying to create more versatility in an attempt to elevate the value and performance of the O-Line. This all sounds good. But is it possible the coaching staff are having serious reservations with Andrew Norwell? At some point if Richardson competes and secures the left tackle spot, Cam Robinson in turn could be moved over to the left-guard position. Of course Norwell becomes an expensive backup this season, but in 2021 he could be released with a $9 million savings.

I don't think moving Richardson to left tackle or putting rookie Ben Bartch at right guard has much – if anything – to do with left guard Andrew Norwell. People recoil at this though, but it bears repeating: The Jaguars like Norwell much better than observers and fans. I understand that people hate that's true. I understand if people don't believe that it's true. But true it is nonetheless.

Marty from Jacksonville

"The gift of reverie is a blessing divine, and it is conferred most abundantly on those who lie in hammocks or drive alone in cars." Wow, you were right about William Nack. Have you ever written anything that good?

Well, there was once this answer to Johnny Karate I was pretty proud of.

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