O-Zone: Truth and objectivity

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: Why are we panicking about the tight end position? Didn't Josh Oliver show a lot last offseason to give us some hope? Nick O'Leary played pretty well before the injury. Certainly we can upgrade, but why the panic?

Concern is high over tight end because the Jaguars got next-to-no production from the position last season after a Week 5 injury to James O'Shaughnessy – and because the position has been deficient in terms of receiving production for the Jaguars for too long. It's tough to be effective offensively in the NFL these days with as little production from tight end as the Jaguars have had in recent seasons. As far as what the Jaguars return at the spot next season … you're right that Oliver looked impressive in the offseason program after being selected in Round 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft, and the team believes he has a chance to be good. And O'Shaughnessy was productive in the first five games last season. General Manager David Caldwell spoke at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine about the team needing Oliver to take a Year 2 "jump" similar to that taken by wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. this past season. If Oliver does so, the Jaguars indeed could be in good shape at the position. But the Jaguars need production immediately from tight end and they can't take chances in the area. Assuming Oliver will look as good in the regular season as he did in non-padded practices may be too risky.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Looking at our roster today, do we have a young team or a middle-of-the-road team age-wise in the AFC South?

The Jaguars have a young team compared to the entire NFL.

Chris from Out There

Do players under contract get paid for preseason games?

No. Many players get paid signing bonuses, and many players also get paid workout bonuses and various other bonuses. Players are then paid a negotiated salary on a per-game basis for the regular season. They also get paid per diems through the offseason and training camp. But players do not get paid per game for the preseason.

Hunter from Jacksonville

Whenever I read the O-Zone these days I just hear Phil Collins singing "I Don't Care Anymore."

The Jaguars have lost a lot lately and when teams lose a lot they get surrounded by negativity. It's up the Jaguars to win and get rid of that. That's reality. That's their situation.

James from Jacksonville

Please explain to me how the state of the Jaguars is good. We were called out by the NFL Players Association as a place not to play. We now have had two players (Jalen and Yan) make public that they did not want to play in Jacksonville any longer. One player up and quit and yet no one seems to see a problem or a toxic culture. Running back Leonard Fournette's post pictures of being alone to Instagram all the time. What as fans are we missing that makes our Jaguars "all good?" Is this not a sign of a toxic culture driving away talent?

Who said the state of the Jaguars was "good?" It's not. It's uncertain at best. They're in a state of transition, and they're working to move forward from a couple of difficult seasons. But let's keep a couple of things in perspective. The NFLPA criticism last season was directed at former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, who is no longer with the team. And while both defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and former cornerback Jalen Ramsey indeed have expressed a desire to not play in Jacksonville, keep in mind that one of those players (Ramsey) seems predisposed to being discontent and the other (Ngakoue) is in a contract negotiation; it's fair to wonder if that minority speaks for the majority. And to assume that weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith "up and quit" last offseason because of anything to do with the Jaguars … well, it's also fair to wonder about the accuracy of that. Yes, the Jaguars have some work to do, but to paint the entire organization as toxic? That's an extreme version that doesn't give the accurate picture.

Stephen from 139 and Jacksonville

John, with regards to Yan and the franchise tag, can he sign the tag and then not show up until late in the season so that he gets credit for a year of service? Which week would he have to show up to get that credit? Thanks.

A tagged player can opt not to sign the tag; he then has until Week 10 to sign the tag, report and play. If he doesn't, he misses the entire season and foregoes his entire salary. If a player signs the tag before the season, he is under contract and must report on time to training camp or he will be in violation of contract just as any player who is under contract.

Ian from Ashland, KY

Is corner now a more pressing need than linebacker with the trade of cornerback A.J. Bouye? Is the No. 9 spot not good considering Okudah is gone?

Corner was always going to be a pressing need for the Jaguars this offseason, because there was little-to-no chance Bouye was going to be on the roster considering his 2020 salary and salary-cap figure. If Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah has been selected by the time the Jaguars select No. 9 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft … yeah, that might be a bit early to take one of the other corners available. If the Jaguars select a cornerback other than Okudah in Round 1, it's more likely it would be with their second first-round selection – the No. 20 selection overall.

Tom from Jacksonville

Perhaps Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone are supporting the O-line personnel because it would do no good to disparage them and as a ruse to confuse other teams prior to the draft.

Perhaps, though I get the sense that Caldwell and Marrone simply feel better about the offensive line as a whole and individually than many observers and fans.

Tyler from Jacksonville

If Bouye has been playing so bad the past two years, why were the Broncos not only willing to pay his full salary next year that the Jaguars deemed too much but also willing to pay a fourth-round pick? … The Jaguars are in the early stages of Caldwell's second full rebuild.

Different teams see players in different ways. Bouye wasn't as good the past two seasons as he was in his Pro Bowl season of 2017. That doesn't mean he was bad. It means the Jaguars didn't see him in their plans for what he was going to cost. They got a victory when they traded him for a fourth-round selection. You seem to feel differently. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm wrong. Stranger things happened, though not in quite a while.

Derius from China

If both Okudah and Clemson safety/linebacker Isaiah Simmons are on the board at No. 9 overall, which do we take? Thanks O!

I would lean to Okudah because he is widely considered the best player at corner, which typically is a more important position in the draft than safety/linebacker. But players such as Simmons – athletic players who can negate tight ends – are increasing in importance, so that lean toward Okudah? It wouldn't be a very steep lean.

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

Let's say that quarterback Nick Foles is not traded and is back in training camp competing. Most of training camp is "don't hit me redshirt" for quarterbacks. Mr. Foles is probably a better technician with more experience but when it comes to the real thing, I would much rather have Gardner Minshew III in the trenches any day because he is, in my opinion, much better warrior. Am I off in this belief?

It's trendy among many Jaguars fans to think that Minshew is grittier and more of a competitor than Foles, and that makes sense because that's pretty much what we saw last season. But Foles has been a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and has played very well during his career. Just because Jaguars fans didn't witness this first-hand last season doesn't make it true. To your point, though: Foles is more of a prototype quarterback who is likely to look very good in training camp. This was the case last preseason, when Foles looked much better than Minshew. It didn't play out that way during the regular season, and Minshew certainly played well enough last regular season to get the benefit of the doubt if he doesn't look as polished as Foles this preseason.

Spazman from Jacksonville

John - You sure put up with a lot of gratuitous abuse from many of your writers, simply because you tell the truth and try to be objective. There is not a lot to be optimistic about this offseason concerning the Jaguars, but that's on the guys whom own and run the organization, not on you.

Nah. I suck. Ask anyone.

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