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O-Zone: Broken spirit

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Ross from Mechanicsville, VA

I saw a good, short article on Marcedes Lewis. He is trying to break the record for playing for 18 seasons as a tight end. I was thrilled with him as a Jaguar and am rooting for him to play two more years then retire; he has earned his rest!! Any great memories of Mr. Lewis as a Jaguar?

I missed the first five seasons of former Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis' career, then covered him his final seven seasons with the organization. He now is entering his fifth season with the Green Bay Packers, so he would need to play two more seasons to reach his goal. While playing 18 NFL seasons at any position – particularly one as physically demanding as tight end – is phenomenally difficult, I wouldn't bet against Lewis doing so. In addition to being as impressive physically as pretty much any player I ever have covered, he always has been high end in terms of physical preparation and doing whatever is necessary to achieve that sort of longevity. I really don't have any singular memories of Lewis' time with the Jaguars as much as just remembering him as a mature, class act who worked hard and approached his profession professionally. He has earned his career – and his longevity. Here's hoping he gets the record.

Troy from Dover, PA

Who are some of the quarterbacks Doug Pederson has successfully groomed?

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson worked with Michael Vick as the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterbacks coach from 2011-2012, then worked with Alex Smith as the Kansas Chiefs' offensive coordinator from 2013-2015. He worked with Carson Wentz – and Nick Foles/Jalen Hurts – as head coach in Philadelphia from 2016-2020. I don't know how much "grooming" was done in those situations aside from Wentz because many of the others were veterans, but Pederson has had some significant success offensively with many of those players.

Earl from Middleburg, FL

I really have to commend Owner Shad Khan and Jaguars' organization for their focus on charitable endeavors such as disabled children, veterans, homelessness. The list goes on and on, whereas MANY other pro organizations are squandering time and money on political hot-button issues. This is where the Jags' show true class with "real" needs being their agenda. I am the king of some funk.

Well said.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Now that we are further down the road and regimes have changed, can you shed some light onto why Marcedes Lewis was released? I tried to ask at the time, but then-Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin had just returned and I think everyone was scared to speak against the football czar. Was it TC? Was it General Manager David Caldwell always thinking his magic low draft pick could replace a proven vet? He had so much left in the tank, was an elite blocker, didn't cost very much and could have been in the pride. One of my all-time least favorite personnel moves and I would just like to know a little more about who made that decision and why?

I never got the impression Lewis' release was any one person's decision as much as a thought of many decision-makers that Lewis – then entering his 13th NFL season – was nearing the end, and that the team could be better and younger at the position for cheaper. It was by definition ultimately Coughlin's decision because he had final say on football decisions. In retrospect it wasn't a good decision.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Shut up.

You go, girl.

Steve from Nashville, TN

It appears that it takes a prolonged period of futility for you to call a drafted player a bust. Do you consider Taven Bryan (a first-round pick from the 2018 draft) to be a "bust" or because he started 17 games over his four-year Jaguar career he was not that bad?

I don't really spend that much time trying to define "busts." Defining a player's career is typically more nuanced than the word suggests, but no … former Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan never lived up to his draft position. Even considering that the No. 29 overall selection in a draft has a different level of realistic expectation than a Top 10 selection, Bryan clearly did not live up to that selection.

John from Jacksonville

Hi KOAGF - You were serving potatoes for quite a while and I was wanting meat. You are starting to serve meat. Keep it up.

Give it time. I'll disappoint you again soon.

John from Section 206 since 1995

If Pro Football of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith's career was comprised solely of games like he had in against former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli, we wouldn't be discussing it now.

This is correct.

Steve at Work from Jax Bch

"A single losing Super Bowl appearance in his or Coach Pederson's tenure would not count as successful."... I guess Dan Marino was a bust then.

Getting to the Super Bowl is hard. The Jaguars have been in the NFL 27 seasons. While they have struggled more often than not, they have had some good teams. None made the Super Bowl. Making one would be success. Absolutely.

Scott from Jacksonville

Something really jumped out at me in your defensive breakdown. Myles Jack, Damien Wilson and Chapelle Russell are the only players who contributed at middle linebacker last season? Is that really right?

Dakota Allen also played 43 plays defensively and Shaq Quarterman played 142 snaps, but yes … Jack and Wilson played the vast majority of snaps at inside linebacker for the Jaguars last season. Russell – the only player to start there aside from Jack (15 starts), Allen (one start) and Wilson (17 starts) – played 92 snaps.

Fred from Naples, FL

So seven different Jaguars "experts" in the media select six different position as the one position group that must improve the most in 2022. All of a sudden I don't feel very well.

You're referencing a recent jaguars.com story in which seven Jaguars experts indeed had widely varying thoughts on what position group needs to improve the most in 2022. But I don't know why that's a surprise, or why there's anything "sudden" about the idea that many position groups must improve. The Jaguas won three games last season. They won one in 2021. There obviously are many areas to improve from last season. That doesn't mean they won't improve. There's every chance they will. But it shouldn't be a surprise that it needs to happen.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John. Busy day Wednesday, so I didn't get to o-Zone until 3:47 (pacific time, no less). Didn't want you to worry. Going to go read it now. See ya tomorrow.

Hmm Unhipcat. Thanks for letting me know. Text later.

Rob from Ventura

Pretty sure you have been saying you think the defensive front seven will be improved, particularly against the run, but that you are not so sure about the pass rush. I have not read that you thought the pass rush would be improved. You have indicated that that is the question mark. Our No. 1 draft pick is an outside linebacker in a pass rushing position. That should be an improvement but it's a question mark because he is a rookie. Would it be as big of a question if we had drafted the other guy? I like our guy better, just asking.

I think the Jaguars' pass rush has a good chance to be improved in 2022 for a number of reasons: More and better pass-rushing situations because of more leads, more and better pass-rushing situations because of an improved run defense … and yes, because of the additions of rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker and veteran defensive lineman Arden Key. At the same time, I do consider the pass rush a question mark entering the season. And yes … one reason is because Walker is a rookie. The NFL is an adjustment for all players, and it's often a big adjustment for pass rushers. It can take young players time to make that adjustment. I would feel the same way about Aidan Hutchinson as I do Walker. That said, I am confident that Walker will make an impact as a rookie because I believe he will contribute in a big way in many areas as he adapts as a pass rusher to the NFL.

Cole from Jacksonville

It was widely reported that the US Navy denied permission to Tom Cruise to pilot the F-18s used in "Top Gun: Maverick." Any truth to the rumors that Cruise threatened to scrap the movie entirely when he allegedly saw Eugene Frenette doing aerial acrobatics in those aforementioned F-18s during breaks in filming?

Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette's feats of skill, strength and courage have broken the spirit of many a man. Cruise wouldn't be the first. Or the last.

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