O-Zone: Time of intrigue

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

David from Oviedo, FL

Yes, Jalen Ramsey is a stud cornerback, but he had a stretch of games last year where he didn’t look that way. My eyes told me there were games where Ramsey played “lazy,” lining up 20 yards off the line of scrimmage. If I recall, Ramsey’s best game came after one of his worst – as if he can “bring it” when he wants to. Should coaches be concerned that Ramsey seems to check out now and then and doesn’t always bring his A-game?

Coaches are pretty much always concerned about everything, so I’m sure Jaguars coaches will find some reason to worry about Ramsey. But, Ramsey is among the Jaguars’ smaller worries. Yes, he had a few games last season he would like to have back. After his worst game – a loss at Indianapolis – he played at a high level the rest of the season. He appeared to have been humbled by his performance in that November game, and appeared to have learned from it as the season drew to a close. As far as Ramsey playing lazy, that’s not really not something that concerns coaches. He sometimes has tried to do too much or do it in a less-than-ideal way, but Ramsey not giving effort when it counts is not a concern.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

With Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals getting suspended for using PEDs, Jalen is now officially the best corner in the game, right?

Ramsey is as good a corner as there is in the NFL no matter who’s suspended and who isn’t.

Dylan from Aurora, OH

I haven't heard much about Saivion Smith so far this offseason. He was projected as a third-to-fourth-round talent but went undrafted, and I was excited to see the Jags pick him up. Have you heard any buzz about him from rookie minicamp at all, and what do you think his chances are of making the team when cornerback is already a position of strength for the Jags?

Smith will be among the undrafted players I’ll be watching during organized team activities – for precisely the reasons you cite. He was a five-star, elite talent entering college and is talented enough to have been considered a possible mid-round selection. But he also struggled enough at Alabama that teams shied away from him in the draft. There hasn’t been much buzz from the rookie minicamp about any player, but that’s mainly because not a lot happens at rookie minicamp to generate buzz. It’s very much an orientation-type event to get players acclimated for the rest of the offseason program. I expect buzz about players to begin next week when OTAs begin.

Mike from Hull, England

Are we going to pay Ngakoue?

I expect the Jaguars will eventually sign defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to a second contract, but I expect it to be a difficult process.

Dylan from Danvers

Cody Kessler has been released and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Jaguars still have Tanner Lee, Gardner Minshew, Alex McGough – and Nick Foles as the obvious starter at quarterback. Due to the perceived need at tight end, even with Josh Oliver joining the team via the draft, what would you say the chances are that Lee becomes a camp arm, and whichever quarterback between McGough and Minshew doesn't get the backup job plays tight end?

Well done, Dylan. When you swing, always swing for the fences.

Jedi from Houston, TX

Wassup O, just looked at some highlights on the two undrafted free agent safeties we signed – Zedrick Woods and Andrew Wingard. Looks like Wingard has more of a natural feel for safety and being around the ball. Just wanted your opinion on who you think is better or has a chance of making the team?

They’re free-agent rookies who have yet to be on the field with NFL veterans in anything like a real practice. I’ll have a better idea of the answer to this question during OTAs.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

I never got around to watching Minshew highlights until recently. What I saw impressed me. Not with arm strength – he seemed to lack in both distance and zip. Not in size at 6-feet-1. But he appeared to have good field awareness, decent movement in and out of the pocket, and pretty good accuracy. I also saw fades to the end zone with exceptional touch. I can see him competing for the backup quarterback spot. Having said that, he is a rookie, and is smaller than the prototypical NFL quarterback. What are the odds the Jaguars will pick up a veteran quarterback between now and the start of training camp?

Slim to none.

Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee

I pondered whether Gene could step in at weak-side linebacker, but then remembered that Gene would never associate with anything involving the word “weak.”

You have a remarkably keen sense of the greatness – and versatility – that is longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette. I applaud you.

John from Seattle, WA

All the Yannick and Ramsey contract talk has me thinking: The current salary cap rules are a bummer. Even if you have a great draft, you probably can't keep all your players. I really want to see Yan, Ramsey, Myles Jack, Josh Allen, etc. grow together for several years, but that's not likely to be the case. It has to be a bummer for kids buying jerseys to see their heroes shipped off to another city because the team can no longer afford excellence at said player's current position. What's your thought on working a deal where when you re-sign a drafted player only a percentage of their contract goes against the cap? Or what other system could we do to reward a team for drafting well and enable them to get their nucleus together longer?

I never have gotten any sense that the NFL will have a system that weighs anything about contracts to favor the drafting team. The league tends to favor rules in this area that push the league toward parity. This rule would seem to push the other way. Remember: if you’re going to have a system that helps struggling teams, it must force the good ones to sacrifice something.

Josh from Harrisburg, PA

While it is fair to say a weak-side linebacker will not singlehandedly win you a Super Bowl, a strong-side linebacker that wasn’t down will get you there. ;).

Fair.

Chris from Nashville, TN

After reading that you anticipate Leon Jacobs to start at weak-side linebacker, I had to go back and watch Derrick Henry demolish our defense last season – including that 99-yarder. Any chance that he repeats again this season? That would be ... as you say, frustrating.

I didn’t write that I thought Jacobs would start at weak-side linebacker next season, though I did write that there’s a good chance he could start at strong-side backer. If so, he would play almost exclusively in base situations. I also wrote that there seems a possibility rookie edge rusher Josh Allen could start at strong-side in base situations if he’s far enough along learning the defense at defensive end. As far as watching Henry demolish the Jaguars’ defense last season … yes, that obviously was a bad game. But let’s not use one game to paint the entire picture of the Jaguars’ defense. It played at a very high level much of last season. It was better against the pass than the run, but it wasn’t bad against the run. It had a bad game when the Jaguars were long out of the playoffs. That wasn’t in any way the entire season.

John from Daytona Beach, FL

Hey, John: I was watching Mr. Magoo’s highlights from last preseason and I thought he looked phenomenal. It seems like all you media folk aren’t giving him any real chance at being the No. 2 guy. I tend to disagree although I am not a quarterback guru. Mr. Magoo was drafted in the sixth round. So, my question is do u think that Mr. Magoo is going to win the backup job in his second season and if Nick Foles gets injured will Mr. Magoo pull a Tom Brady and lead the jaguars to the promised land and never give the job back. And become the next Tom Brady. I will take your answer off the air thank u. U rock.

Sure. Why not?

David from Orlando, FL

O-Zone - I think, fans are going to have a greater interest in the preseason games this year. The quarterback position holds a lot of intrigue. We get our first looks at Foles, Minshew and McGough. We haven’t had any real excitement in the backup quarterback position in a long time. This should be a lot of fun!

There are times the second half of preseason games have a smidge of intrigue. I expect this preseason to be one of those times for the Jaguars.

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