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Big Cat Country - All Posts Stand United, Duval Til We Die

  • BCC Q&A: Will the 2020 NFL season start on time?
    by Ryan Day on May 29, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images Make sure you subscribe to our Keep Choppin’ Wood newsletter! We’ll be talking all things about this team as well as Q&A’s with readers, editorials, opinions, stuff you won’t see on the homepage, and more! Subscribe to the Keep Choppin' Wood newsletter Let’s answer some Jacksonville Jaguars questions as we head into the dead zone! Josh from St. George Island, FL Q: Do you see the NFL starting the season on time and do you think having packed stadiums is realistic or not? A: I think the NFL starts on time. The wheels are in motion for just about every major sports league in America to begin in the next two months, so the NFL will have the luxury of seeing what works and what doesn’t and planning accordingly. Baseball would be the first back if not for a major labor dispute. But the second part of your question is where I think you’re going to be disappointed, Josh. I don’t see packed stadiums. In fact, I don’t see fans in stadiums at all. We’re just too far behind this whole thing as a country to realistically expect it. South Korea, one of the countries who best quarantined and fought their first wave off, has seen repeated waves days or weeks after trying to get back to normal. They just shut down schools for a third time after another outbreak days after re-opening. It’s debatable if we’ll have socially distanced crowds at sporting events later this year, but one thing I think is a sure thing is that we will not have stadiums at full capacity until a vaccine has been developed. Esteban from Munich, Germany Q: My bold prediction is that Josh Hammond makes the final roster and that Keelan Cole does not. What do you think? A: Guten morgen, Esteban! I think that’s a fine prediction. Keelan Cole hasn’t matched his production since his breakout 2017 season. He’s had a great career so far considering he was an undrafted free agent going to a bad Jaguars team three years ago, but he has steadily declined in doing well with the opportunities given to him. I don’t know if it’s a coaching staff thing or a talent thing or what... but those WR5 and WR6 positions are primed for young talent to come in and give them a boost on special teams as well as weapons for a more West Coast offense approach from Jay Gruden. C.J. from Lakewood, CA Q: Do you think it was good to trade Tom Brady? A: Yes. What I don’t think was a good idea was siding with Tom Brady in 2017 when Jimmy Garoppolo was a rising star and a steal of a Day 2 draft pick. If you remember, Bill Belichick foresaw Brady’s decline and wanted to keep Garoppolo... but owner Robert Kraft sided with the best quarterback that franchise had ever known. It extended their window another year or two, but now they’re in a mess. Always trust Belichick. Joe from Jacksonville, FL Q: Do you think the Jaguars are being underrated by the national media? If yes, why? A: Slightly, but only because they think they’ll be absolutely terrible when I just think they’ll be bad. Will they end up with the No. 1 overall pick? No. Will they have double-digit losses this season? Yes. Dylan from Mesa, AZ Q: Which UDFAs has/have the best chance to make the final roster? A: Well, we already named one in WR Josh Hammond. I think CB Luq Barcoo has a good chance as well. If I had to pick a third, it’d be a tight end. Maybe TE Ben Ellefson. Having a 250 pound receiver or extra blocker in the red zone wouldn’t be a bad thing. Gray from Jacksonville, FL Q: With the Jaguars having all the draft picks necessary to stay on a rebuild path, how feasible would it be to get rid of a couple in exchange for Jamal Adams? Or potentially drop Yannick Ngakoue in front of the Jets with a mid-rounder attached and see if they bite? A: I’d love to see them go after Jamal Adams but the Jaguars just don’t historically trade for marquee players. Sure, they went after guys like Carlos Hyde and Marcell Dareus, but those were in response to injuries or under-performing play midway through a season. Trading for a player months before the season just isn’t in Dave Caldwell’s nature. John Shipley over at Sports Illustrated’s JaguarReport has a good breakdown on the arguments for and against going after Adams. You can read it here. David from Maplewood, NJ Q: What would convince you that Gardner Minshew is the man either in record, stats, or both? A: I would need to see better passes over the middle from the pocket and fewer fumbles. Chevin from Jacksonville, FL Q: Do you think Jay Gruden will be good here in Jacksonville with this offense and, if so, why? A: I do, Chevin, but most of the reason for that is that the Jaguars offense has been abysmal as of late. I wrote more about it here in detail, but in each of Jay Gruden’s nine seasons as a head coach or coordinator, his offenses have outperformed what the Jaguars did last year. Granted, some of those were with better rosters in Cincinnati, but you can’t tell me Washington’s roster last year was better.

  • Minshew to critics: ‘It should put a chip on everybody’s shoulder’
    by Demetrius Harvey on May 28, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images In speaking to the local media for the first time since the end of the season, Gardner Minshew II made it clear the outside criticism fuels him and the team moving into 2020. The Jaguars have been completely counted out this season; many feel as though they’re in first place for the No. 1 overall pick already. However, the team and its starting quarterback, Gardner Minshew II will only allow it to fuel them as they head into this upcoming season. In speaking to the local media for the first time in months, Minshew II appeared as confident as ever, answering many of the questions in a very matter-of-fact manner, and appearing just as one would expect a starting quarterback in the NFL to appear - confident. Over the past several months, the Jaguars have been near the bottom in all power rankings, and have even been placed in a period in which the team is expected to lose nearly every single game, counted as the underdog in all 16 regular season games by betonline.ag. Exactly what @GardnerMinshew5 said pic.twitter.com/HtRX18aMCM— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) May 28, 2020 “I think it should put a chip on everybody’s shoulder on our team, know being kind of counted out like that,” Minshew told the local media on Thursday when asked about the external criticism of the team. “I think we do have a lot to prove, prove that we are not what anybody says about us, the only people that really know, the only peoples whose opinions matter is who is in that huddle, who is on that team and I think we are going to set those expectations for ourselves and not worry about what anybody else has to say about us.” Minshew II has become one of the leaders within the Jaguars’ offense throughout the offseason. Multiple players and coaches, including tight end Tyler Eifert, running back Chris Thompson and, most recently, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden have complimented the quarterback for how he’s handled things during this very unorthodox offseason. “He’s accurate, he’s tough and obviously he’s a great leader so he’s got the intangibles you want in a quarterback.” Gruden said earlier this week. “Now he’s got to get to know the team, get to know the offense a little bit so we can all gel together.” Gruden also spoke on the quarterback’s ability to make plays from both inside and outside of the pocket. Last season, Minshew was known for his off-schedule plays made. Routinely escaping the pocket and making a play on the run, he was able to create when he needed to - something many quarterbacks in the NFL have struggled with at times. The one shortfall, however, was his ball security, particularly early on in the season. On the year, Minshew fumbled the football 13 times, tied for the fourth-most in the NFL in 2019. However, as the season progressed so did Minshew’s habits, particularly knowing when to go for the big play, and when to simply let the play occur naturally. “I think the biggest thing was just ball security and the fumbles that come with that,” Minshew said when asked about finding the balance last season about when to stay in the pocket or when to escape. “I think when I came back in I did a little bit [of a] better job. And just having that awareness, you know, when to call a play dead, when to keep pushing, try to make the big play. You know, it’s a credit to the coaches around me, teach me up. And, you know, I think that’s something I’ll just continue to strive for and find that balance. Minshew has trained throughout the offseason, weighing in at about 222-225 pounds now after being up to 230 after his rookie season, he told the media on Thursday, and appears to be heading in the right direction, doing everything necessary to put he and his team in a position to win next season.

  • Post Draft Q&A: Burnt Orange Nation on WR Collin Johnson
    by Ryan O'Bleness on May 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports The 10th entry in our post-draft Q&A series focuses on former Texas wide receiver, Collin Johnson. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Johnson in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft (No. 165 overall). To get a better idea of what Johnson brings to the table for the Jaguars, we spoke to Wescott Eberts, the team site producer for Burnt Orange Nation — SB Nation’s website for everything Texas Longhorns. So, what should we know about Johnson? Let’s find out: 1. Obviously, Johnson possesses great size, at 6-foot-6, 222 pounds. How did he use his size to his advantage at Texas, and do you expect him to be a red zone threat for the Jaguars (or another NFL team)? Wescott: Throughout his Texas career, Johnson was excellent at using his size to his advantage, whether it was using man-beater routes to win on slant routes or his ball skills to high point the football and come down with contested catches in the air. So he can play through contact if cornerbacks want to try to get up in his space and press him or simply outjump them. Johnson does profile as a red-zone threat because of his ability to win in the air, but he was also an excellent third-down target — 41 of his 49 catches on third down resulted in conversions, a rate of nearly 84 percent. 2. Outside of size, what traits does Johnson possess that Jaguars fans will like? What areas of his game does he need to improve upon? Wescott: Johnson was a strong blocker during his time at Texas, so he’s capable of helping to set the edge at the X position, but he’s also a guy who showed significant growth in using a variety of techniques to get his release at the line of scrimmage and flashed some strong route-running ability at times, including at the Senior Bowl. However, there are some areas like getting in and out of his breaks that are difficult for him due to his size. Those limitations may simply be a result of physics. The other major question mark is about his speed — he doesn’t have any testing numbers from high school, didn’t run at the NFL Combine due to injury, and missed his Pro Day because of the coronavirus pandemic. 3. Johnson has dealt with a variety of injuries during his college playing days — hamstring, knee, hip flexor, etc. — and also missed the majority of his senior year of high school with another injury. While he was able to play through some of these, should there be durability concerns regarding Johnson’s professional career? Wescott: There have never been any questions about toughness with Johnson — he played through the hamstring issue against LSU before the medical staff shut him down for several games. I’m not sure if there should be any durability concerns about him because of those injuries, but there’s no question that he has a lot of surface area for defenders to hit, so that could make him more prone to injuries at the next level. 4. The Jaguars are placing a heavy emphasis on young locker room leaders, and Johnson was a captain for Texas in 2019. What leadership traits does he bring to Jacksonville and would you describe him as a “high-character” guy? Wescott: Johnson wasn’t the most rah-rah guy on the team, but he was invested in leading by example and in tutoring the younger players. His father, Johnnie, was a two-time All-American at Texas and an All-Pro selection during his 10 years in the NFL, so Johnson was raised with a strong work ethic and understanding of what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of football. He’s the type of guy who isn’t going to self-sabotage his career. 5. Is the fifth round about where you expected to Johnson to go (why or why not) and do you like his chances of making the team and carving out a role in Jacksonville? Wescott: Given the lack of testing numbers on Johnson, I think the fifth round is about right — had he been able to put up strong testing numbers, I think his upside is somewhere as high as the second round. I do think that he’s capable of making the team and forging an NFL career, whether it’s in Jacksonville or somewhere else, but it will have to be in a role that doesn’t expect a lot of big plays from him — he profiles as more of a possession receiver, but it does say a lot about his ability that teams last year were really worried about him winning one-on-one battles if they didn’t provide safety help over the top. 6. Anything else we should know about Johnson? Wescott: When Oklahoma decided in the 2018 Big 12 Championship Game that they were going to take away Lil’Jordan Humphrey in the slot and not worry about Johnson, he nearly did enough (by himself) to help Texas win the game — he set a Big 12 Championship Game record with 177 receiving yards on nine catches and also scored a touchdown. Thank you to Wescott for taking the time to provide insights into Johnson’s career at Texas and for giving an outlook on what to expect from the big wide receiver. Be sure to follow Wescott on Twitter, and for all Texas athletics news, follow Burnt Orange Nation as well.

  • BCC Q&A: Submit your Jaguars questions!
    by Ryan Day on May 27, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Got any questions in the middle of the DEAD ZONE? Ask away! Got any Jacksonville Jaguars questions as we head into the DEAD ZONE portion of the NFL offseason? Every week (hopefully) we’ll be asking you for questions and then answering them in this Big Cat Country column! Submit your question by filling out the embedded form below. Or just click here. Loading...

  • UDFA Spotlight: Jaguars CB Luq Barcoo, part two
    by Demetrius Harvey on May 27, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images A rookie undrafted free agent, Jaguars cornerback Luq Barcoo is ready for the challenge that lies ahead. Make sure to check out part one of our undrafted free agent spotlight on cornerback Luq Barcoo by clicking here. As tough as it already is for any rookie entering the NFL, having to make the journey through the undrafted process almost seems daunting. The lack of a ready-made plan for you coming in, unsure of circumstances surrounding perhaps the biggest decision of your professional career - it doesn’t appear ideal. For Jaguars cornerback Luq Barcoo, not being drafted wasn’t a big deal, however. An optimist person at his core, Barcoo took the process in stride knowing anything could happen and hopes to continue the positive momentum as he sets on his path in the NFL. “It didn’t matter to me honestly,” Barcoo told Big Cat Country last week. “Whatever the result was, I was gonna have the same mentality, same mindset towards just overcoming adversity, the same thing I’ve been doing my whole life. Going in there with a chip on my shoulder and showing them that I do deserve - I am a very talented player, and I just wanna prove that to everybody so I didn’t really care where I was drafted.” Barcoo was invited to the East-West Shrine game, however, he didn’t get a combine invite. During that week, he met with several team scouts, including two from the Jaguars. However, his performance, as he describes it, was “weak”. Having to learn new techniques on the fly was a little frustrating to the young cornerback, however he was thankful for the opportunity. “I wish I was able to have a better week of practice there and impress guys a lot more, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out like that but I still got a great opportunity and I’m excited to play.” While Barcoo was not disappointed with the outcome of the draft, he was a little surprised he wasn’t drafted. Not only was he a talented player, but “15-20” teams spoke to him prior to the end of the draft. Barcoo was the Jaguars’ number one target in undrafted free agency, and it showed given the record-breaking contract he signed which included a $160,000 guarantee. San Diego State corner Luq Barcoo @luqmanbarcoo, has signed with the Jaguars for a record-breaking $160K guarantee. Deal includes $20K signing bonus, per league source. Per NFLPA records, deal was negotiated by agent Josh Arnold of Synergy Sports International @SynergySportInt— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 26, 2020 Ultimately, it came down to the Jaguars and the AFC South divisional rival Indianapolis Colts, but Barcoo ultimately would side with the Jaguars, perhaps a better opportunity to compete for playing time, and the location was perfect, Barcoo said. No, Barcoo isn’t from Jacksonville, however, his family moved to the first coast just before the draft began, something Barcoo says made the decision “a no-brainer”. Luck, destiny, happenstance, whatever you would like to call it, it appears this was a match made in heaven. “I’m extremely appreciative of the opportunity the Jaguars gave me, and it does obviously feel great knowing that you have that type of support and somebody that’s rooting for you out there. So, I’m gonna give the Jaguars everything I got for giving me the opportunity.” With the NFL currently in a virtual-only setting, Barcoo has had to adapt, opting to train with his brother in the front yard of his new home, or training at an indoor facility with Jaguars offensive lineman A.J. Cann. Anyway to get the work in he ultimately misses without being on the field with all of his teammates. #Jaguars UDFA CB Luq Barcoo getting work in where ever he can during the on-going pandemic: pic.twitter.com/QpZsUlmCSx— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) May 27, 2020 “I just simulate what I’ve been learning in the film room with [Jaguars secondary] coach Walt[on] as far as body - and just the techniques that we’re gonna be using, I try to simulate those as best as possible on my own and I feel like I’ve been doing a great job of simulating that, so I should be able to adapt quickly once I do get on the field with the rest of the guys.” Working hard has always been the path to success for Barcoo, and that much was proven last season when he was one of the most productive defensive backs in the nation - leading the FBS with nine interceptions. As he described earlier, going through adversity has been apart of his life. Barcoo made the transition from wide receiver to cornerback, something he credits his ball skills to, however, that transition didn’t come easy. At his JUCO, Barcoo wasn’t used to the structure and the extensive playbook that comes with a division-I program like San Diego State. “My biggest transition was just like learning the system as far knowing where to be on time, being on time and just making sure you study the playbook on your own and just stuff like that,” said Barcoo. After playing on one side of the football and moving to the counter position on defense, Barcoo was able to take what he learned at receiver and translate it. “One of the biggest things that playing receiver has helped me with is having that instinct to go up and get the ball,” he said. “When I’m playing corner and the balls in the area it just feels like [inaudible] I just feel like it’s my ball, you know, it’s like I’m responsible for going up and get it. Like, the ball belongs to me like a receiver would feel.” With plenty of upside, the Jaguars recognized Barcoo’s ball skills, and likely his length and athletic ability which was put on display during his impromptu pro day he and his agent orchestrated. “That was one of the things that pretty much every team that talked to me was like, they like the way I can create turnovers and go up to get the ball,” Barcoo said about what the Jaguars liked about him. “I feel like I have a lot of upside to my playmaking ability. I feel like I’m able to go up and grab the ball and create turnovers and create big plays. So, there’s a lot of excitement as far as me creating turnovers and just making big plays on the field.” With a long road to go yet in his development, the Jaguars will hope it does translate to the next level. If so, the team has landed one of the most intriguing prospects in the nation, something that appears to be meant to be. “I’m going to work as hard as I can put myself in a position to be successful.”


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