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O-Zone: Any given moment

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from St. Johns, FL

I've been "all-in" since Doug Pederson took over as the Jaguars' head coach. I was skimming around the website and stumbled into Quick Thoughts from after the season-ending Colts game. Initially, I skipped it, then returned to read it again. We know the Jags won, but reliving that postgame really emphasizes why we now feel something special is about to begin! This year may have some ups and downs, but I believe the future is so bright … I gotta wear shades!

I'm always cautious saying late-season momentum one season influences the following season. Such momentum can feel very real, but momentum in the NFL is usually the previous week or the latest key injury. The one reason the Jaguars' season-ending victory last season over the Indianapolis Colts might matter entering 2022 is that quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked better in that game than in any other game last season. My sense is that game gave Lawrence confidence and it had to have shown him he was more that quarterback than the one who struggled in brutal circumstances much of the season. If that sense is correct, then yes … that particular season-ending victory could matter a lot. And something special may be about to begin. I would expect it to take a year or so to get as special as many want, but this season could be a step toward that.

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, your posting of Johnathan's from Jaxsonville got me thinking. Aren't we out of the dead zone? My question is do you see "our" Hall of Fame Game as a tone-setter? Or more of the same injury-preventer?

Yes, we're out of the dead zone. That ends when training camp begins. But I still answer whatever questions I choose and I am easily distracted by silly questions and shiny objects. I expect some fans and observers will try to interpret Thursday's Pro Football Hall of Fame Game as a tone-setter. The reality is the starters likely will play a series or two, if at all. The tone starts getting set when the regular season begins. You want to play OK when the starters play in the first preseason game, but staying healthy is paramount.

Chris from Jax

Can you explain why Guardian caps are used in practices but not in games? It seems that if they really are effective in reducing concussions, it would make sense to wear them all the time, not just in practice.

Change comes slowly sometimes. It wouldn't be surprising to someday see a version of the padded, "Guardian" helmets used in games. It likely will take a few years of using them in practice and determining their effectiveness/game feasibility before we see them in games.

Doug from Jacksonville

Concerning the "funny man" who said you didn't have to go to FSU to work at Chili's, this is of course true. I remember the dishwashers with their degrees from Gainesville always bashing the managers about their degrees from Tallahassee.

I worked busing tables at Godfather's Pizza in Gainesville my final summer there in 1987. The most popular song on the juke box was Club Nouveau's "Lean on Me." I would work late, go back to my apartment smelling of pizza dough, crawl up on the roof and drink wine while listening to Bob Marley's "Legend." I don't know if that made me cool, but it didn't suck.

Tyler from Belfort Road Jacksonville

Were you a victim of a kicked ball on Sunday?

Not on Sunday, no.

Kevin from McGavock High School

I have a schedule conflict during the HOF game. Will any of the top draft choices play or mostly undrafted free agents?

We may not have a final answer on this until kickoff, because coaches like to be vague on preseason playing time and who exactly will play. My guess is starters will play about a series(ish), and you could see the early-drafted rookies play a series or so beyond that. I expect Head Coach Doug Pederson in future seasons to play starters sparingly in the preseason, but considering this is his first year – and therefore, new systems all around – front-line players could play a bit more this preseason.        

Steve from Nashville, TN

With last year's draft class having a good camp (safety Andre Cisco, cornerback Tyson Campbell, running back Travis Etienne Jr., right tackle Walker Little and of course, quarterback Trevor Lawrence) and assuming the progress is sustainable throughout the upcoming season, does that help validate Trent Baalke as the Jaguars GM going forward?

A really good 2021 draft class would be a good thing for how people see Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke. So would a good 2022 class. So would a bunch of victories.

Rich from Dacula, GA

Do you think Pederson will fly back with the team from OHIO after Thursday game? Or is a visit to a famous bar now a norm?


Derek from Brookings, SD

I was watching the 2017 AFC Championship game highlights the other day, and the speed of Corey Grant is something that's been hard to replace since. Makes me excited to see Travis Etienne Jr. this upcoming season! Thoughts?

Grant and former Jaguars wide receiver Alvis Whitted are perhaps the two fastest players I recall covering. Etienne doesn't seem to be quite as fast as Grant, but he's a better overall player and it appears during 2022 Training Camp that he has more than enough speed, explosiveness and missability to make a bigger impact than Grant.

Jay from So-Cal

I have read that Luke Fortner has been taking reps with the first team at center and Tyler Shatley has been moved to left guard. Then you hear about left tackle Cam Robinson, right guard Brandon Scherff, and Jawaan Taylor and Walker Little at right tackle. I don't hear anything about Ben Bartch, though. Do you know if he is competing for a spot? Is he showing promise?

Bartch, a third-year veteran, is working at left guard – though it appears Shatley is the likely starter there. Bartch's presence, along with the competition at right tackle, gives the Jaguars at least seven capable starting offensive linemen. That's significant depth.

Not Richard from Jacksonville

O'Man, They are going to break a few long ones on the Sheriff's side this year, aren't they?

That's the plan.

Larry from West Jac

Sir I am hearing all kinds of great things about Travis Etienne, which is great to hear! I am concerned about James Robinson coming off the injury last year. Any news? Any plans to swing a deal for a solid kicker? Thanks so much!

Robinson, who sustained a season-ending Achilles injury in December of last season, is working mainly on the side early in Jaguars training camp and is beginning to take some repetitions. The Jaguars currently have Ryan Santoso and Elliott Fry at kicker. We don't know yet if they are "solid." If one of them is, that person will kick. If neither are, the Jaguars will look for another kicker.

Dwight from Naples, FL

King of Gridiron…Tennessee Derrick Henry, Buffalo Josh Allen, Kansas City Patrick Mahomes, Indy Jonathan Taylor…if you shut these guys down you probably win. Who do you think will establish the Jags identity? Are the coaches coaching an identity? Are we 60-40 pass or 60-40 run or maybe just an average offense and a stellar defense like Ravens used to be? This would be a question to weigh in on and then look at midseason to see how this team has developed.

Lawrence needs to be the Jaguars' identity. He's a generational player selected No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. When you select a quarterback like that No. 1 overall, he must define the franchise.


OKI John, obviously my wording regarding Matthew Wright was poor. I wonder if you knew that, or if the pedantry of being a worthsmith was just too great and you couldn't resist the temptation to answer the question purely on a grammatical basis. If so, that's pretty lame. Oh well, I don't expect improvement at this point because you're already pushing 60 and the words, they keep a coming … so I'll ask again. Do you think the Jaguars made a mistake by releasing Matthew Wright so early in the offseason. Obviously, he wasn't cut. That would be a horrible way to lose your job, sounds painful.

Matthew Wright is a free agent and free to sign with any team. If the Jaguars made a mistake, it's easily fixable.

Rob from San Antonio, TX

KOAF, I don't know what you'd call it: Irony, funny, whatever. But I found it somewhat amusing to hear Dougie P talking about how he hasn't decided how much time each player would spend on the field for the Hall of Fame game yet (meaning that he is personally weighing in on the matter), only to remember that our previous couch didn't even know who was on the field in any given moment of a regular season game.

It's important to be nice. That's not nice.