JACKSONVILLE – It seems we're neck deep in the dead zone.
That's to be expected on July 9 of any NFL offseason. But expected or not, it means a lot of theoretical, hypothetical O-Zone questions that aren't based all that much in any sort of NFL reality – and thusly, sometimes not all that pertinent to anything. Or something to that effect. Either way, it makes answering a lot of said questions with clarity and insight difficult, which makes today … well, pretty much an O-Zone like any other O-Zone.
Let's get to it …
RG from Middle Earth
What did the 1999 St. Louis Rams do to create such an epic turnaround that the Jags haven't done/can't do this year?
This is a little tricky to answer with insight, mainly because the '99 Rams – the first of the franchise's famous Greatest Show on Turf Teams – accomplished their turnaround 22 seasons ago. Two decades is a couple of lifetimes in NFL years, so what the Rams did might currently not be all that pertinent to what the Jaguars in 2021. But in the interest of answering your question … The Rams went from a 4-12 team in 1998 to elite in 1999 for a few reasons. They traded with the Indianapolis Colts for running back Marshall Faulk, who was in his prime and quickly became a Most Valuable Player-level offensive weapon who was equally dangerous as a receiver and runner. They elevated quarterback Kurt Warner from reserve to starter in the wake of a preseason injury to starter Trent Green, which gave them the surprising element of an MVP-level offensive weapon at the most critical position. They also selected wide receiver Torry Holt in the draft, adding a future elite receiver to a receiving corps that already had a Hall-of-Fame player in Isaac Bruce. They also had an offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, who geared the offense to that talent and helped moved the game more toward the pass-oriented, fast-break style that foreshadowed more of the same in the last two decades. The end result was a Super Bowl season that was as memorable as it was unexpected. Could the Jaguars have such a turnaround? Anything's possible. But the Rams had a lot of lightning-in-bottle things go right that season. It was historic and few teams ever have come close to such a turnaround. I do think the Jaguars will improve and be more competitive in the short term and build toward being really good in the long term. That's easier to predict and more reasonable to expect. And it would be a good thing, too.
Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA
O, may the Dead Zone end ASAP! However, Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer has had a history of running quarterbacks in an option pass/run. It seems to me that Gardner Minshew II would be a good choice for such plays. Do you agree?
Not if it means taking Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence off the field. At least not very often. This is not to slight Minshew, but you want Lawrence on the field – taking advantage of his passing ability, his threat as a runner, his everything – far more often than not.
JR from The Squatchlands
O-man, just close your eyes and imagine: You did it. You won the greatest trophy in sports: Lord Stanley's Cup. Now you only have one decision left to make: how do you spend your one day with her? Go Bolts!
Hanging out. Doing stuff.
Gary from Suffolk, VA
Good Morning!!! I am really looking forward to this upcoming season. Being a Clemson and Jacksonville fan, it has been a great few months since the draft for me. My question is this: Do you think the team will be able to take the AFC South this year or will the Tennessee Titans keep a stronghold on it? I feel like we could realistically win 9-10 games this year. Thoughts?
I expect the Titans to win the AFC South in 2021 because they were the best team last season, and nothing has happened to make me think they won't be the best team in the division this season. I believe the Indianapolis Colts are also very good, with the outcome of their season and short-term future of their franchise very much depending on the development of quarterback Carson Wentz. I expect the Jaguars will win six-to-seven games in 2021 and be competitive in a lot more than they were last season. I hope you're right and I'm wrong – and that the Jaguars compete for the division title with nine or 10 victories. That would be cool.
Matt from St. Augustine, FL
Would you say because of the cost just to get there – and the fact that you must pass through an intensive security screening before entering even the range of its intoxicating aromas – that the post-security Sbarro's at the airport is the most exclusive, poshiest and highest-brow Sbarro's in all of Jacksonville? Do you wear a top hat and monocle when patronizing that location?
I haven't flown commercially since before the pandemic, but the establishment to you which you prefer … let's just say I remember it fondly.
David from Oviedo, FL
KOAF. Former first-round pick/Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert has been a free-agent ever since the Jaguars released him in February. He's still younger than Rob Gronkowski and has been healthy the last couple of years. Before his release, he was due $5 million this year, which probably played a role in his release. What would you say to bringing him back on a one-year $1 million prove it deal and roll the dice that he can resurrect his career with Lawrence? I'm willing to spend Jaguars Owner Shad Khan's money, if you are!
I don't know that this is a horrible idea. I also don't know that it moves the needle at tight end for the Jaguars all that much. It also doesn't seem something the Jaguars are inclined to do. If they wanted to sign Eifert, they pretty much could have pursued that option the entire offseason.
Joseph from Acworth, GA
Who cares what the Jaguars win record is this year! I'm surprised people are still so focused on this. We have a lottery ticket we think is a winner with Trevor; we get to watch the numbers get called out each game this season to see if we have a winning ticket. If we go 4-13, but he's established himself as a franchise quarterback, I'd be thrilled with that outcome. If we go 10-7 but he's a dud...
Steve from Nashville, TN
The two-minute drill at end of each half might be one of those things Coach Meyer did not practice much during his collegiate coaching days. Is there someone on his coaching staff with NFL experience that will handle those duties in game?
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has 14 years' experience as NFL offensive coordinator. Passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has 12 years' experience as an NFL offensive coordinator. While Meyer certainly will influence how the offense looks, Bevell will be the play-caller. There is ample NFL experience on staff to handle the two-minute duties.
Jim from Jagsonville
Maybe just read it and enjoy the offseason? What are you talking about, John?! This is the Dead Zone! It's like the OTAs for us fans, the armchair quarterbacks and assistant coaches who know way better than any paid professional! We gotta take this seriously, O-man. No time to enjoy anything, Funkmeister, we gotta get pumped for the training camp anxiety attacks! Then the cardiac arrest that is preseason! Maybe then we can start to think about enjoying ourselves ... maybe. Go Jaguars!!
Jaguars 2021 Training Camp begins July 27.
Dave from Jacksonville
OK Zone, I hear the Jags are fast. Who is the current self-proclaimed fastest Jag? Fred Taylor always claimed he was the fastest on his team. Who are you lining up in training camp for all the money?
There undoubtedly are multiple self-proclaimed "fastest Jaguars player." You will rarely speak to a running back, defensive back or wide receiver in the NFL who doesn't believe himself the fastest guy in his own locker room – and many other locker rooms, for that matter. As for who I would guess is the fastest Jaguars player … I'll go with running back Travis Etienne Jr. – though many, many players absolutely would disagree.
Keith from Soon to be St. Augustine, FL
I believe that Cam Robinson would be better suited to play right tackle than left tackle. Since college, Robinson has struggled with balance issues which leads to him giving up inside moves. I would hope that Walker Little could replace him at left tackle and that Robinson would move to his more natural position at right tackle thus supplanting Jawaan Taylor. I know what the coaches say about our offensive tackles, but in my humble opinion I think the aforementioned moves would give us our best offensive line to protect Trevor Lawrence.