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O-Zone: Toughest of tasks

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

I'm still very confused on your idea of tanking. Obviously, the players and coaches won't lose on purpose. That's not what tanking is. It's putting together a team with such a low talent level that a high draft pick is almost guaranteed. That's what we've done. No, it doesn't guarantee the first pick. But we certainly will be picking Top 5 at best and that's a success as a tank job. If we aren't tanking this season, then Caldwell would've already been fired for fielding such a talentless team.

I'm sorry you're confused. Confusion can be … well, confusing. I don't know that I have a particular idea of tanking – your conviction to the contrary notwithstanding. All I can do is tell you what the Jaguars believed entering the season, and how they're approaching this season. They believed their offseason moves put them in a better position to win this season than they were in at the end of last season. The exception to this was trading defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, which they did because the team/player relationship for whatever reason had been fractured beyond repair. Why did they think they could win? They believed quarterback Gardner Minshew II would take a step in his second season and that a talented young offense would be good. They believed a young, talented defense would play fast and well enough to win high-scoring games. Decision-makers such as General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone absolutely believed they needed to win, and that their futures with the organization depended on doing so. To reiterate: They believed they could win with this roster. From what I can tell from your email, this doesn't line up with your version of tanking. You therefore probably don't believe my answer. I can't help that. It doesn't mean I'm wrong. And I'm not.

Max from Jacksonville

Sir O, you were in Indy during the Suck for Luck season. Curious to know what the environment was like during that season: were there a lot of accusations of tanking? Did the Coach/GM believe they had a team that could win? Did you believe it was highly unlikely that team would finish with the first pick in the draft? Did each week feel like this wasn't the worst team in the league, yet they just kept losing?

I was in Jacksonville working for the Jaguars in 2011. That was the year the Indianapolis Colts went 2-14 to secure the No. 1 selection in the 2012 NFL Draft that they later used on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. I stopped covering the Colts in February of that year, so I don't have a feel for how team officials thought that season. I do know the Colts didn't enter that season wanting to tank. They went 10-6 the season before, then quarterback Peyton Manning was unexpectedly unable to play in 2011. The team fell apart after that. I can't speak to what went on during the season – not being, you know, there.

William the Contemplator

So, Jake Luton wins three games and we draft fifth taking Kyle Pitts. We also take Kyle Trask at No. 22. What do you think?

I think it's great to be a Florida Gator, huh?

Al from Orange Park, FL

As an undrafted rookie, Jaguars running back James Robinson winning Rookie of the Year would make a compelling story. Does "compelling" enter into the decision? Who determines Rookie of the Year anyway?

Many different organizations, publications and websites offer their own versions of many NFL end-of-season awards – including rookie of the year. In most cases, the decision is based on performance with compelling not often a factor.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

"The Jaguars easily could be 4-4 this season with better quarterback play." Possible, I suppose, but it would have to have been hugely better. The Jaguars are averaging 22.4 points per game on offense. The defense is giving up an average of 30.9 points per game. That is a two-score deficit. Statistics may not tell the whole story, but don't they point more to a struggling defense than to a struggling quarterback?

Better quarterback play likely would have given the Jaguars a very real chance to beat Houston in Houston, Tennessee in Tennessee, the Chargers in Los Angeles and Cincinnati in Cincinnati – and with apologies to this week's phenom, Jake Luton, it probably would have given them a better chance against Texans in Jacksonville this past week (Luton's lone interception was a rookie mistake that you wouldn't expect from a veteran). No one's saying the defense is good enough. It's not. But taking advantage of opportunities is the responsibility of the quarterback, and big-time play at the position shapes everything.

Eddie from Jacksonville

The solution is simple and replay is not needed. When the play clock hits zero a wrist buzzer goes off on the officials arm letting him know. Then the whistle is blown.

Yeah, that would be a solution to ensuring delay of game is called right. I just don't know if you want another piece of technology and a whole bunch more stoppages of play because of the occasional missed call.

Sean from Jacksonville

With kicker Josh Lambo out the rest of the year, I feel sorry for the guy. He has been superb for the team. When I saw that he was out, I almost said "I'm out too," but I kept myself in check, looked around the league at all the other teams decimated by injuries, coaching issues, disgruntled player and decided to stick around a few more games. So far, this season, who is the player who has been missed the most? I'd have to say the two defensive tackles that never played a down.

We'll never know the impact that defensive tackles Rodney Gunter and Al Woods might have made this season. I don't believe the Jaguars would be a great defense if they were playing. It's also unrealistic to think that the loss of two starting/heavy-rotation defensive linemen didn't hurt considering the level of play in that area this season.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, if it were up to you, is Luton your starter moving forward given how well he did in his first game?


Bill from Jacksonville

Is there a way to ban Jaguars general managers from drafting players from the University of Florida in the first round? Safety Reggie Nelson, defensive end Derrick Harvey, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., defensive tackle Taven Bryan and now cornerback CJ Henderson have greatly disappointed. Need to look elsewhere.

Eight games is waaaaaay too early to write Henderson off as a bust, and the Jaguars certainly aren't going to institute any sort of a ban on drafting players from any college – including Florida. Nor should they. Some players from Florida have failed with the Jaguars. Others such as former running back Fred Taylor and current right tackle Jawaan Taylor have not. Any thread of players from one school failing is coincidence – not an indication that a team shouldn't draft players from that school.

Matty from St. Augustine, FL

You hit the nail on the proverbial head yet again!! One for KOAF. Young quarterbacks often learn to vary touch on different passes in different game situations. That's an area in which Luton can improve. It's better to have arm strength and learn touch than to not possess the arm strength at all.

I am the king of all funk.

Neal from New York

You recently listed the positions that we needed to address in the off-season, and defensive End was not on your list. Besides the last game, I thought the pass rush was one of the worst parts on the team. Defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson is young but has not even shown potential pass rush ability so far. I think defensive end Josh Allen is great, but a complementary pass rusher on the end might take away some double teams and really help him excel. Why do you think other positions are more important?

Defensive end is important. You can never have too many pass rushers, and the Jaguars don't have nearly enough good ones. I didn't include it on the list because the Jaguars have Allen and I think he's going to be really good. There are plenty of other positions where the Jaguars don't have players who look like they're going to be really good.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

John, the Jets are horrible and figure out how to lose worse than the Jags. NOBODY is catching those bums to get the No. 1 pick.

The Jets lost on the final play of the game Monday. I have no idea if they will win this season or not. But to say they can't or won't is absurd.

Charles from Port St. Lucie, FL

I liked Luton's first start. What does he realistically have to do to make us not want to draft a QB with a high pick next year?

Play well enough that they don't have an early selection.