After an ugly first half to the season, the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars are now sitting at their bye week with countless questions surrounding the present and the future direction of the team.
From an injury to the starting quarterback to frustrating developments on offense and defense, the last-place Jaguars have a long way to go to finish the 2020 season.
To answer a few of those questions, we have taken to social media to gather submissions for this week's mailbag. Who will start at quarterback in Week 9? Why can't DJ Chark get going? We give you our thoughts on those topics and much more.
Q: Is Jake Luton going to start the next game?
A: My gut says yes, but that is just me assuming following the news of Gardner Minshew being injured, which ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Thursday. Minshew hypothetically entering a game without proper strength in his thumb wouldn't exactly be a winning scenario for the Jaguars, but we won't know until Doug Marrone talks next week and reveals how serious he believes Minshew's injury is. If the choice is between Luton and Mike Glennon, the Jaguars would be wise to go with Luton to see what the rookie quarterback has. Glennon is on his fifth team for good reason, and the Jaguars never seemed overly enthused with him during training camp like they were with Luton.
Q: With the clear presence of Shenault as a playmaker, and the potential for Colin Johnson to step up, do they let Keelan Cole walk too?
A: I don't think whoever is making decisions for the Jaguars will let Keelan Cole walk after this season, but only as long as Cole wants to stay in Jacksonville. If Cole is willing to re-up with the Jaguars, then there is no real reason to not re-sign him. He is a solid No. 3/No. 2 receiver who can win on the outside and the inside and he has continued to get better with experience. Jacksonville would be hard-pressed to find an upgrade over him via a rookie, and there is no real reason to think it would even take a lucrative deal to sign him.
Q: While the obvious question is whether or not we will see a QB change, I’m curious as to if the staff will do more to get the ball in Chark's hands? His 2-touchdown game it felt like they had a lot of designed plays for him but since then, not so much.
A: The Jaguars absolutely need to do more to get DJ Chark the ball. His average depth of target is over 13 yards, which means he is getting few easy targets. Most of his targets have come downfield or in highly-contested situations on the sideline, so the Jaguars should use the bye week to figure out a way to manufacture him some easier touches closer to line of scrimmage such as slants or screens. With that said, Chark has gotten targeted 21 times in the past two games -- the ball just isn't getting there as consistently as it used to.
Q: Do you think the report about Minshew having torn finger ligaments (or whatever the specifics were) is just a front to try and bench him?
A: I do not. In fact, I emphatically do not. Minshew is one of the toughest players one will come across in terms of gritting it out despite injuries, so I doubt it would be floated he had an injury unless it was legitimate. Plus, ESPN reported that X-Rays showed the injury. If the Jaguars wanted to bench Minshew, it is likely they would just do so. They did it with Nick Foles, and they had more reasons to protect him than Minshew.
Q: Josiah Scott saw a little action but why no Luq Barcoo? What other younger players should we expect to see get some playing time moving forward?
A: I think Luq Barcoo isn't being made active because he isn't a slot corner, which means he falls into a numbers scenario with CJ Henderson, Tre Herndon, Sidney Jones and Chris Claybrooks that he just hasn't been able to pull out of. The Jaguars never have more than three cornerbacks on the field under Todd Wash, so the Jaguars simply won't make seven cornerbacks active. If Jones misses time, Barcoo should see the field, however. As for other younger players, I think Daniel Thomas and Collin Johnson will each see their snaps increase a healthy amount over the second half of the season, especially with in Thomas' case since Josh Jones has struggled so much.
Q: Did the players who opted out just have their contracts pushed forward a year? As in they’ll still be on the team? Mainly wondering if Woods will be a presence here next season.
A: Essentially yes, the contracts were moved forward a year. This means Al Woods and Rashaan Melvin will still be on the roster for the start of the 2021 calendar season, but in terms of whether they will have a presence it is unlikely. Woods especially is a veteran player who was already nearing the end of his career, so there is no reason to have him take snaps away from DaVon Hamilton next year.
Q: Given our current arsenal of draft picks, what would you give up for Trevor Lawrence today? What is your opinion of Trey Lance?
A: I would trade both firsts, both seconds and a future first to move up from any spot in the draft to select Trevor Lawrence. It is almost impossible to overpay when it comes to acquiring a franchise quarterback, and that is exactly what Lawrence is. Since Lawrence is such a star prospect, though, it would likely take a massive bounty of picks to actually acquire him.
As for Lance, I think he has maybe the best physical tools of all of the top quarterback prospects, but his rawness and inaccuracy at this stage of his development means he would likely be better sitting for a year before he hits the field as a team's starting passer.
Q: Will the Jaguars be active before the trade deadline? Either bringing in or shipping out? Could Myles Jack be on the move?
A: I do not think so. The two players who make the most sense to trade, Dede Westbrook and D.J. Hayden, are injured and can't be traded. With that said, the Jaguars would be wise to try to find a tight end during the trade deadline. Tyler Eifert has been abysmal this season while James O'Shaughnessy is better off as a second tight end. The tight end situation is bleak today but it is even bleaker moving forward. As for Jack, I don't think there is any scenario at all in which he is traded. He is the team's best player this year and his contract would be a hard one to move. The Jaguars shouldn't be in the business of giving up good players.
Q: Was this year a purposeful tanking year?
A: I really don't think the Jaguars entered this season with the intention of tanking. I do think the team likely knew this would be a year in which they would have to hit the reset button, which general manager Dave Caldwell alluded to in September when he stated how they had to manage the salary cap after years of spending.
"Shad [Khan] gave us a directive to put the best team out there and we feel like we did that with the players that we have. So, we had to do two things in this season and [that was] put the best team out there and get our salary cap under control," Caldwell said on Sept. 3.
"Those are two tough things to do initially, at the same time, but we feel like we did a pretty good job and we’ll just see where we stand."
So no, I do not think the Jaguars went into the season with the hope of starting 1-6 and falling to last place in the AFC South. I do believe, however, that they knew it was a realistic possibility, albeit one they hoped to avoid. That doesn't excuse them from any of the moves that have put them at 1-6, though, which needs to be remembered.
Q: What's the consensus on Jake Luton?
A: The book on Jake Luton leaving Oregon State is that he is a tall, accurate passer who works best in a rhythm. He can operate in clean pockets by throwing accurate passes to all levels of the field, and he has more than enough arm strength to get by. His decision-making got better as he got more experience in college, culminating in him throwing just three interceptions in his final season. With that said, Luton is much more immobile than Gardner Minshew and nobody will ever mistake his arm for Jay Cutler's. When it came to live reps during Jacksonville's defensive vs. offense scrimmage at the end of training camp, Luton showed good accuracy and a quick release but his ability to read the field was a legitimate question.
Q: Will Dave Caldwell survive?
A: I am not sure if general manager Dave Caldwell will still be calling the shots in 2021, but I do think there is a better chance of him staying than Doug Marrone. That seems a bit surreal to say considering how long he has been in Jacksonville and how much they have lost during the previous decade, but Caldwell could once again get the reigns if the ownership decides that he isn't the team's primary issue. They have fired a head coach and another executive before him already, so there is reason to believe this could always be the case.
Q: Who, if any Jaguars, will be extended this offseason? (Chark, Robinson, etc.,)
A: I think Cam Robinson gets a mid-level extension because I do not think the Jaguars will want to enter this offseason with yet another hole to go atop all of their other countless roster issues. Robinson has played solid this season until he ran into the Chargers on Sunday. As for Chark, I would have said he would definitely be extended before the season but as of now I will say the assumption should be for the Jaguars to extend Chark closer actually during his fourth season, if at all.