JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Don from Marshall, NC
Gardner Minshew seems to be a tough, smart, scrappy quarterback who lacks arm strength? A lot of quarterbacks came into the league with no arm strength, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. If he gets better, which seems to be the case, you could have something in that guy. Go Jaguars!
Minshew played better against Philadelphia on Thursday than he did in a preseason-opening loss to Baltimore, showing the resiliency and football intelligence that prompted the Jaguars to draft him. Few quarterbacks who enter the NFL with weak arms go onto big success, and Brady hardly came into the league with "no arm strength." Either way, it is long since past time to stop citing Brady as an example of why every late-drafted quarterback could turn into an NFL star or starter. Brady is the ultimate outlier. Minshew provided hope on Thursday that he can be a capable option if Jaguars starting quarterback Nick Foles is injured for a short time. That's good enough for now.
Jason from North Pole, AK
Minshew looks like he is going to be alright. He had some really nice touch on some of his passes, particularly that ball that wide receiver Michael Walker dropped. He seemed like a quarterback that could play well if he had things going right around him. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone also seems to be really high on him. The most refreshing part about watching him play is that even though he has been under pressure both games, we haven't seen any bone-headed interceptions. He always seems to know where to go with the ball and hasn't made killer mistakes. From what you've seen of his arm strength, do you think he has enough to succeed at this level?
It will take time to determine if Minshew's arm is strong enough for NFL success. It's borderline enough that it will be an unknown until he has extended regular-season looks against starters; for the Jaguars' sake, you hope that doesn't happen soon. But the trait you mention – avoiding killer mistakes – is part of his football intelligence, which is why the Jaguars believe he can fill the backup role for now. He faced plenty of adversity the last eight or nine days and had ample opportunity to falter. He instead showed poise and improved in difficult circumstances. That doesn't make him Brady (sorry, Don), but they're good traits for a young quarterback trying to earn a spot as a backup.
Tony from Richmond, VA
As we stand now, the NFL season is 21 weeks long (four preseason, 17 regular season). What do you think of reducing it to 20 total weeks? Two preseason and 18 regular season with two bye weeks.
I'm opposed. I'm old enough to remember 1993, which was the only previous season in which the NFL had two bye weeks. There were weeks during the season that the schedule felt diluted. It also created the feeling of being unsure when a particular team was playing. Perhaps I was alone in that feeling, but that was my feeling.
Brodie from Pensacola, FL
This is a deep hypothetical, but if linebacker Quincy Williams has the rookie season that they think he will i.e., shows enough to be a starter in the league) and Telvin Smith decides to play football again next year, can one of those guys move over to play the strong side? That would probably be the fastest linebacking corps in the league, but would it be stout enough against the run? Thanks O.
I would be surprised at this point if Smith plays for the Jaguars again. If he does, it won't be at strong-side linebacker. He's simply not big enough for the position, and the player needs to be strong at the point of attack against the run. That's not Williams' strength and it's darned sure not Smith's.
Don from Macclenny, FL
Their third-string quarterback looked better than our second-string quarterback. Is the team seriously considering going into the season with Minshew as the backup? Has Foles ever finished a season where he was the starter on Day One?
I don't know that your premise is correct. Yes, the Jaguars are considering going with Minshew as the backup quarterback; I would be surprised at this point if they went another direction. No, Foles never has played 16 regular-season games.
Robert from Oneonta
ROFLMAO - "I'm exhausted from wondering why people don't understand the difference between NFL starters and backups." This is your circus John, they are your monkeys.
Is it? Are they?
John from Jacksonville
I know it's preseason ... but seriously? The challenge for pass interference in the end zone was bogus and the Eagles' coach threw the challenge flag as a "why-not" move while laughing at himself. If every missed catch in the end zone is challenged when a defender is touching the receiver, we'll have a problem. I thought the new rule was to resolve blatant missed calls ... not to nitpick.
I wrote often throughout the offseason that challenging pass interference would cause far more problems than it solved. I didn't fear being wrong then, and I don't now. The reason it's a bad rule is that while the intent is to avoid an obvious missed call such as the one that likely cost the New Orleans Saints a chance to go to the Super Bowl last January, you can't put a rule into place for just one situation. A rule must cover many situations. Coaches are going to challenge pass interference a lot, and it's going to lead to a lot of unsatisfying reviews. The call that was overturned in the Eagles' favor Thursday is exactly the problem with the rule. Jaguars fans thought it was not interference; Eagles fans thought it was interference. It was not clear and obvious. The rule in the instance simply switched a judgment call and left as much disagreement after the review as existed before. Welcome to the 2019 season.
Donald from Jacksonville
Hey, Zone: You asked, "Why would what the second team does reflect on what the starters will do?" Let me answer for you. Coaching. Because, you know, that's what it's all about.
You're right. I forgot.
Christopher from Jacksonville
We all know they didn't start our starters and we know they didn't game plan. I think most of us are frustrated because they owe us something to be excited about. They should have put together one drive from the playbook to give Jacksonville a reason to be hopeful. Sometimes you just have to do something for the public perception and to hell with the old way of doing things. Nobody cares anymore about the reasons teams have done things the way it's always been done. We lose a lot. So maybe we should do it all differently this time?
I assume you're serious because you wrote many sentences and seemed passionate about your point. But you're saying that rather than doing everything to win as many regular-season games as possible, coaches instead should concern themselves with exciting fans during the preseason. Maybe more fans than you feel this way. To someone trying to win games in the NFL, it would be the height of absurdity.
Tommy from Fernandina Beach, FL
Mighty O: I get why Marrone is hesitant to not play starters, especially his QB1 that has never played a full season in his entire NFL life. But as a season-ticket holder, why do I have to pay full price to watch guys that won't be around when the regular season starts? I earn my money the hard way and don't like throwing it away on an inferior product. The team might want to start not charging us if the frontline players don't play a single down. Just saying it doesn't really seem fair from a fan's perspective...
It's not fair. I don't have an answer for this.
Royce from Jacksonville
Mr. O, I won't criticize Taven Bryan no matter how often he gets knocked on his back in camp or knocked on his back and trampled in a preseason game. I am sure the coaches are far better at knowing his talent level than me. His production during the regular season will be the best indicator for me. Thanks for your insightful O-Zone info.
Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan has been inconsistent; the criticism he has received from many fans and media is fair. And you're correct that coaches and personnel officials indeed are far better knowing how to accurately evaluate a player's play; this is in part because of experience, but mostly because they know what a player is being asked to do on specific plays. Even so, you and any other fan are free to criticize anyone whenever you want for whatever you want. Unless I'm missing something, that never has been questioned in this forum.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington
My football knowledge is more finite than yours. Wait. What?
No, you got it right.