Entering Week 3 of the preseason, this edition of the Jaguars Monday Mailbag features questions about the new coaching regime, the offensive line and more.
Steve Moonly asks: Gus Bradley was Rah Rah. Maybe Doug Marrone too rigid. Does it matter as the team looks remarkably the same?
MK: I think the biggest difference is the focus. The Jaguars have a new sense of accountability under head coach Doug Marrone. You're seeing that specifically at the quarterback position.
I think adding urgency and keeping a focus on winning, as opposed to just improving, is something that is a big plus for this franchise.
I also wouldn't say the roster is the same. Sure, a lot of the starters are holdovers, but that happens in the first year of every new regime's tenure.
The team has added some notable pieces in Calais Campbell, Leonard Fournette, Cam Robinson. Barry Church and A.J. Bouye.
Sometimes, all it takes is new leadership and some notable roster additions to make a difference.
Randall Robinson asks: Quarterback and kicker seem to be the hot Jags topics, but what about left guard?
MK: Left guard seemed to be locked up until the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Incumbent starter Patrick Omameh had a poor performance, but so did the rest of the offensive line. While it seems like the Jaguars may consider other options, Omameh would be my bet to start Week 1.
Here is what Marrone had to say about the left guard spot Saturday:
"Patrick, I’d like to see come up and just take it. I think he struggled in the last game. That’s where we’ll look at a couple of things. For me, as a coach, I tell them, ‘Hey,’ -- the players know – ‘Hey, listen, you struggled last game. Listen, hey, I want you to do well. We’re going to see if this other guy can do well.’ I tell the other guy, too, ‘Hey, I want the best of whoever it is.’ For me, that’s what’s best for the team. I think it’s very simple like that. I think when you go the other way and you try to manipulate it, or to motivate in another direction – I think you’re going to have problems down the road. Same with the media. If I sit here and try to manipulate or try to get a message out, I’m not about that.”
The Jaguars do have some options at this point with Tyler Shatley and Luke Bowanko. Veteran guard Earl Watford returned from injury on Sunday. He could be an option as well.
Omameh is a veteran and has started in this league for multiple teams. I think of the four options, he remains probably the most sound at the position specifically.
I don't think the Jaguars will move Brandon Linder from center to left guard or A.J. Cann from right guard to left guard. It doesn't make sense to switch around two spots if you don't need to.
FearTheTurtle asks: How can coaches get a true evaluation of their final 53 when so many starters league-wide don't play in the preseason?
MK: That's a great question. I think it's a situation where you can't control who you play and you need your guys to stand out regardless of their competition.
The Jaguars sat their top three cornerbacks due to injury in the first two preseason games.
Let's say they sit them again against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday. That scenario does a disservice to both sides when it comes to evaluation. The Panthers can't test their wide receivers against starters and the Jaguars can't evaluate their starting cornerbacks for strengths or weaknesses.
However, it puts more pressure on the backup talent, which in turn helps you figure out if you have strong depth in case of injuries. I think there is a silver lining in evaluating the preseason, no matter who is out there.
Paul Martin asks: Which defense should we believe? How we played against the Patriots or the Bucs?
MK: I think the defense in the first game is probably closer to the truth from what I've seen in practice. I think the Buccaneers game was an issue because the defense was constantly on the field. The Jaguars' offense had very short series and that forced the Jaguars' defense to play a lot early.
The pass rush needs to be better and so does the coverage. However, the secondary has been missing its top three cornerbacks. The Jaguars' defense still held the Bucs to just 12 points.
The Jaguars seemingly created a lot more pressure against the Patriots, but again, that wasn't the normal group out there. Myles Jack was still at middle linebacker, Paul Posluszny was not at SAM, Calais Campbell wasn't in the game and the secondary was missing its top cornerbacks.
I don't think it's time to panic when it comes to the defense.
Kyle asks: Better to spend draft picks now in a trade for a quarterback or to spend them to move up in the draft next year?
MK: I think the ship has sailed for bringing in an outside talent at quarterback this offseason. It's hard to just shift a quarterback - no matter how talented - into a situation where he has a week or two or three to learn the playbook and build chemistry with his teammates.
You don't win games by forcing roster turmoil.
Sam Bradford was put in that situation last year and after a few wins on limited play calls, the Vikings' hot start faltered (4-8 in final 12 games). Bradford had a career year, but he also had the benefit of playing for Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in St. Louis and Philadelphia.
The trade was a win for Minnesota, but it didn't produce the playoff results they were hoping for.
I think the best course is to put your investment in the draft. Sure, there are big risks, but developing your guy long-term provides stability typically.
Blake Bortles was a third overall pick and the Jaguars followed the developmental strategy with him. In this case, there probably needs to be another attempt. The regime has grown and changed since Bortles was drafted. A new perspective can lead to better evaluations.
@Rufio904 asks: What QB (FA or trade) would the Jaguars have the most interest in if you were them?
MK: I would have an interest in Alex Smith.
For one, he is in a situation where he is already slowly being replaced while he still has a lot left in him. Secondly, he has two years left on his deal with Kansas City.
Smith has been a consistent game manager, who offers only the occasional turnover. He has made the Pro Bowl and the playoffs as a starter during his career.
With a good defense and a strong running game, a quarterback like that could take you to the playoffs in the AFC South. He is limited with his arm strength, but he understands the game and has shined consistently during his time with the Chiefs.
The remaining two years on his contract make him appealing because it still allows you to draft a quarterback next year and not force the issue like the Jaguars did with Bortles in 2014 and Gabbert in 2011.
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