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O-Zone: Aligning planets

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jami from Wye Mills, MD

It seems like the Jags and Evan Engram should have been able to complete a multi-year deal by now. Did the Jags sign him as insurance in case they don't draft the next great tight end? It seems he flourished in Pederson's system. Should we be concerned about the lack of action?

The Jaguars applied the franchise tag to Engram last month. There is no rush to sign him to a multi-year deal. Remember: The Jaguars placed the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson last offseason and signed him to a long-term extension May 2. They have until July 15 to get a long-term deal done with Engram. There's more than enough time.

Pookie from Panda City

I'm confused about the hierarchy in the 2021 season. Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke is now getting a lot of respect and "Sorry, I was wrong," comments from the fans, but weren't we told that then-Head Coach Urban Meyer made the personnel decisions in '21 and Baalke was support? I distinctly remember Meyer giving his rationale for taking running back Travis Etienne Jr. with the second first-round pick – i.e., he was the one making the calls. I hate to give credit to UM, but, to me the only thing Baalke gets credit for so far is using a ton of cap space last season to sign free agents with a reckoning for that somewhere in the future. As for drafting moves that you can claim are "his" alone, we have a first-overall pick with a gigantic question mark next to him, and another first-round pick that we traded up to get but who was so lost last season that he was benched. He drafted center Luke Fortner, so there's that, I guess. You can color me still skeptical about our general manager.

This is a fair question, and an inevitable one considering people's need to assign credit or blame. Still, the reality is very few NFL decisions truly get made by one person banging the table and yelling, "That's MY choice." The reality is such decisions usually are made after long discussions with input from coaching and personnel. My theory with the 2021 Jaguars is that it's probably giving Meyer way too much credit to say he knew the entire draft well enough to set the draft board, run the draft and be solely responsible for all selections – though he certainly had input and perhaps made the final call. I do agree that Baalke gets and deserves credit for the 2022 free-agency class. Yes, the class took a ton of cap space, but that's the nature of free agency – and they were necessary moves considering the state of the roster at the time. Either way, had the Jaguars finished 4-13 in 2022 with the 2021 draft class and 2022 free-agent class underperforming, he certainly would have received blame. It's only fair to give him credit for the success.

Boxcutter Bill from Mass

So crazy how the pendulum swings. Usually around this time of year I'm filled with anxiety because the Jaguars are picking at the top of the draft, and the pick is supposed to turn the franchise around. This year, it's different. I'm not even following draft coverage as much as I usually do. I'm just hoping some talented young men fall to us, and we continue building a solid roster to compete annually for the foreseeable future. I can finally enjoy the smell of baseball in the air before it turns to heartbreak and I give up and turn all my attention to the Jaguars. At least when I give up on my baseball dreams this season and turn to the cold football season, it'll be worth it for a while. DUUUUUUUVAL

Boxcutter Bill is "all in."

Mike from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

The Jags, like almost every other team, could use more depth in the pass-rushing department! Would we be so desperate if – and you know what I'm going to say now because it's obvious – if we had just did the obvious and drafted Hutchinson? There, I said it again!

The question of whether the Jaguars "got it right" selecting outside linebacker Travon Walker over defensive end Aidan Hutchinson – now with the Detroit Lions – in the 2022 NFL Draft is a fair one. And a persistent one. It will certainly remain a topic in these parts for some time. Assumptions and quick-trigger conclusions to the contrary, we don't know the answer yet. We'll know more next season.

Sean from Oakleaf

Is there a way the Jaguars could save meaningful cap space via the draft by trading out of the first round this month?

The cap saving wouldn't be significant enough to prompt the move.

Bo from Linwood, NC

I share the same views as you as far as not reviewing all penalties. But if they were to implement them in the future, why not have five officials in a command center look at the play? None of them could interact with one another and whatever the conclusion three or more came up with would determine the call. That would at least make it less subjective.

I just don't share the football masses' obsession on this topic. Would five officials in New York voting on calls produce a correct call? Sometimes. Would fans of the team on the "losing" end of the call be satisfied? Probably not. But many NFL types don't necessarily want more calls being decided by a centrally located "eye in the sky." People believe, correctly or not, that there's bias in the system. I doubt adding a few layers of officiating will convince people otherwise.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

Jaguars 2023 Training Camp begins in late July.

Morgan from SSI

I was thinking about Greg Jones the other day and it got me wondering – do you ever see the return of bruiser-style fullbacks making a comeback in a pass-heavy league? Unlike wildcat or triple option, it seems like a reasonable long-term offensive scheme in the NFL. Curious why it fell out of favor.

The decline of the fullback stems from two factors. One is that the most levels of football have veered so heavily to spread offenses that the position has little-to-no role. Also, when teams do want to go to bigger run-blocking package, many utilize a tight end as a lead blocker in the "fullback" role. I don't know that fullbacks ever will be extinct. I expect some teams always will employ them as part-time blockers who also contribute on special teams. I also expect there will be teams whose personnel encourages them to be more ball-control oriented as a way of attacking a league in which defenses are increasingly set up to defend against the pass. But I doubt you ever will see fullbacks prominent in the NFL again. For the position to return significantly, football would have to veer away from spread offenses. That's not likely any time soon.

CaptBob from Jax

Former Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon. When I think of him, I am overwhelmed by disappointment and bewilderment. I had the opportunity to observe him at a stadium scrimmage and his interaction with fans and then-Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny was trying to reel him in without success. I immediately thought Blackmon, despite his immense talent, was going to be a problem. His loss disturbed me the most of any player as he was the most talented, natural receiver I have ever seen. He always came back to the ball, caught with his hands, secured the ball and his first stride after was lightning fast. Predicting a Hall-of-Fame career was very easy. I wonder what Poz remembers about that scrimmage?

Perhaps pretty much the same thing.

Crash from Glen Saint Mary, FL

O Man! Fans are forgetting that former Head Coach Tom Coughlin had a hand in all three of the Jaguars AFC title game appearances.

This continues a recent discussion on Coughlin and the Pride of the Jaguars. I don't sense many readers have forgotten Coughlin's role in the Jaguars' AFC Championship Game appearances following the 1996, 1999 and 2017 seasons. I think many do remember the Jaguars' decline following the 1999 and 2017 seasons and blame Coughlin. That's understandable. As the top decision-maker in the organization at the time, he was responsible for the success and the issues. Either way, Coughlin merits inclusion in the Pride.   

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. Looking back on last year, one for Jaguars Owner Shad Khan. He has managed to bring in the Big Three: general manager, quarterback and head coach. I mean … how hard is it for an owner to just get one of those right? He has aligned the football planets. The man has not given up, and as a Day One fan, I really appreciate an owner that really, really wants to win!

One fer Khan.