Jaguars Mailbag: What Fundamental Changes Can Be Made?

In this week's mailbag, we take questions on Doug Marrone, the defensive scheme, the NFL Draft and much more.
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Another week, another Sunday in which the Jacksonville Jaguars struggled mightily. Through six weeks, the Jaguars now sit at 1-5 and in last place of the AFC South, and things may get even worse with the schedule stiffening over the second half of the season. 

To get a feel for where the Jaguars are now and where they can go from here, we take questions from social media. This week we cover Doug Marrone's job status, the NFL Draft and more.

Q: If Lawrence and Fields are off the board, who do you pick?

A: This is a tough one. If the Jaguars are picking within the top-5 or so, then they obviously need a quarterback. North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance is the next best passer available (yes, over Mac Jones and Kyle Trask), but he is a complete project who needs the right environment around him. If the Jaguars don't feel comfortable with developing Lance, the next best pick would be Penei Sewell, an elite left tackle prospect. Cam Robinson has had a good season but why pass on Sewell when you can take him and just shuffle the line?

Q: Is Minshew allowed to audible out of plays?

A: This is a fantastic question that I currently don't have the answer to. Let me see what I can do for you next time Jay Gruden speaks with the media. 

Q: Are there any trades the jags might make before the trade deadline?

A: As of right now, things are quiet on the Jaguars trade deadline front. They liked Robby Anderson last year but never pulled the trigger. This year, I don't think it is any more likely the Jaguars make a deal because they want to keep as many picks as possible. If the Jaguars were to make a trade, it should be for a tight end or a defensive tackle. Chris Herndon of the Jets makes the most sense.

Q: If they complete the tank and people get fired, who is the new head coach?

A: For the record, I still do not think the Jaguars are purposefully tanking -- I likely never will, either. It just isn't the nature of NFL teams. With that said, I think Jay Gruden, Brian Daboll and Todd Bowles are all logical options based on what the organization seems to value in a head coach. Joe Brady and Wink Martindale are interesting names as well, though they make less sense due to Brady's inexperience and Martindale's lack of head coach experience. Daboll also has no head coach experience but he makes more sense from a strategic standpoint. 

Q: Is there any benefit to playing anyone besides Minshew at QB in a lost season?

A: No. For the betterment of the organization and its young talent, the Jaguars need to play the best players possible each week. The Jaguars can't insert Mike Glennon over Gardner Minshew and expect their locker room to truly buy that it is the right thing to do. Maybe when the season is almost over they should put Luton on the field to see him in a real game situation, but that is about the extent of it. 

Q: Why do we still have Todd Wash running a 4-3 scheme when it feels like our personnel fits a 3-4 more so to create more pressure off the edge?

A: This is one of the questions of the year, but the simple answer is the Jaguars do not have the defensive line pieces for a 3-4 defense. They had those pieces when Al Woods and Rodney Gunter were set to play, but as of now they don't have a true 0-technique, while Taven Bryan would be completely lost playing five-technique. Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson would absolutely be better in a 3-4 scheme that allows them to stand up and roam the line of scrimmage, but they are the only two it would benefit. 

Q: If we don't get Trevor, do we stick with Gardner? Is there another QB in 2022/2023?

A: I think so. Minshew hasn't developed into a franchise quarterback yet, but he is a better quarterback than a lot of non-franchise quarterbacks. You can win with him with the right setting, so I could see the Jaguars sticking with him as a placeholder until they find a different solution. As for quarterbacks down the road, Sam Howell of UNC looks intriguing. 

Q: Who would you take with the #2 overall pick(let's say Lawrence will go to the Jets at #1)?

A: Justin Fields. Fields is far from a sure thing considering he has just one season as a starter under his belt, but he is immensely talented and has the best chance to be a franchise quarterback after Lawrence. You can make an argument for other players, but if you are picking at No. 2 overall, chances are you need a quarterback to build around moving forward. 

Q: If you had one draft in the last five years to change for the Jags which would it be? Players you would have drafted?

A: 2017, easily. Taking Leonard Fournette over Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes is one of the worst draft decisions in recent NFL history, and it is even compounded by the fact that Watson got drafted into the Jaguars' division. Add in the fact that only Cam Robinson and Dawuane Smoot are salvageable players from that class and the Jaguars could have done much better in round 1 and rounds 4-7. 

Q: Is the offensive line as good as people think they are or could they be the reason Minshew is not settled in the pocket?

A:How good do people think it is? It played well to start the season before struggling in a big way against Detroit and Houston. I think it would be fair to say the group is around average. With that said, I truly believe Minshew makes their job harder at times with his willingness to leave the pocket. Mobility is a big plus but it can also be a hindrance because it can force him into bad plays which makes the OL look worse. It is about an average group compared to the rest of the league. 

Q: Why do the Jags struggle with contract negotiations when a rookie is coming off their rookie deal?

A: There isn't any simple answer. It also needs to be noted that they have been able to resign several guys (Brandon Linder, Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Marqise Lee), so it isn't like they have never done it. They just didn't get it done with their three highest-profile free agents, and there is a different context for each situation. Allen Robinson was fresh off of an ACL injury when his rookie deal ended. Jalen Ramsey was a hothead who frequently butted heads with the team. Yannick Ngakoue is the one scenario the team needs to be heavily critiqued for because he did actually want to re-sign in Jacksonville, but Tom Coughlin didn't negotiate in good faith and helped ruin the relationship between the two sides.

Q: How large is the difference between Fields and Lawrence? It looks as if Jets won’t have a win for the rest of the year, and I’m wondering if Fields isn’t getting the attention he deserves.

A: I think it is a fairly large difference. Fields is very talented but Lawrence looks more and more like the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, and potentially even better than Luck was. With that said, Fields still has the talent and tools to be a top-5 pick as long as he picks up where he left off with Ohio State's offense last season.

Q: John, put together your dream HC/GM. For kicks, Jags get the 2nd overall pick and the 26th overall pick. Furthermore, what positions would you spend on in FA.

Mike Borgonzi (director of player personnel in Kansas City) and Brian Daboll. With the picks, I would take Justin Fields and Alabama defensive lineman Christian Barmore, while targeting a safety, cornerback, and veteran running back in free agency. Wait until the draft to bring in a tight end, though they need to get one sooner than later.

Q: Who is the correct person or group of people to blame for the Jaguars' current record?

A: The answer can only be on everyone involved. General manager Dave Caldwell had to clean up a cap mess but also made a few questionable moves by trading Calais Campbell and drafting K'Lavon Chaisson. Head coach Doug Marrone's staff has failed to put the team in the proper positions consistently, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Then, of course, you can point to the failed execution by the roster themselves in recent weeks. So, in summary, it is fair to blame the organization in general for the 1-5 record because all parties deserve some share of it.

Q: If the Jags don't end up with the #1 pick but we continue to lose. Do you trade up to 1 for Lawrence or go with Fields/whoever is QB2?

A: I would do everything in my power to attempt to trade up. Fields is a nice backup plan, but Lawrence is an elite prospect who is ready to walk into the NFL today and start for a franchise to help turn it around. The Jaguars have more than enough picks to move up, and the difference between Lawrence and Fields is great enough to make a move up for Lawrence. Picks are important, but a franchise passer is much, much more important.