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O-Zone: Cause and effect

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Zone, you say you don't care if Pederson canceled minicamp. You say this team is ready. So then … it's playoffs or bust then, right? Right?! RIGHT!!!!

Sigh. No, I did not say this team is going to the playoffs. I didn't even say this team was "ready." But when discussing Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson canceling most veterans' participating in a "mandatory" three-day minicamp this week, I indeed made the point that Pederson has more than enough NFL head coaching experience to determine if the team had accomplished what it needed to accomplish in offseason program. And there indeed is every reason to believe the Jaguars did just that. Offseason workouts are about teaching, learning and preparing for training camp. The most important thing is for players – particularly new and young players – to understand scheme, roles and expectations so they can be ready when training camp opens. The time is particularly important in that sense for a young team with a new coaching staff, so the past few weeks have been important for Pederson and many Jaguars players. And to hear Pederson tell it, Jaguars players treated it with such importance. Attendance was high. Pederson said the work was good. He seemed pleased throughout. Pederson has been around the NFL for more than two and half decades as a player and a head coach. He was a head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles for five seasons. The Eagles won a Super Bowl in one of those seasons. If he believes the Jaguars are ready for training camp, then just maybe they're … ready for training camp. That doesn't mean they're guaranteed to be a playoff team. My guess is that's probably a year away. But that doesn't mean the team isn't ready for training camp and it doesn't mean the Jaguars didn't maximize the offseason. It just doesn't.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

You got me. I'm like Michael Corleone in the Godfather; I almost get out, then they pull me back in. Will it last longer than 4 or 5 games into the season?

I don't know your basis for staying "in." If it's a team that's unbeaten four or five games into the season, you're probably out. If it's a team that's about .500 at that point, my guess is it's a coin flip. But if it's a team that looks better, that has improved quarterback play, that looks like a professional team going in the right direction … yeah, after four or five games, I expect you will still be "in." It's true that I have thought that before. It feels very possible this time. We'll see.

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, for fans like me, nationally televised games are that one time a year I see my team on television. Watched my Jags live in AZ once. Any Jags fan that is not jacked for this upcoming season need not claim Duuuvall. OK. The Jacksonville Jaguars may not win the South this year. That's not to say they won't be battling for it late in the year.

Nathan is "all in."

David from Orlando, FL

O – Since it's a quarterback-centric league, let's use quarterback matchups to determine wins/losses for 2022. We're playing some elite quarterbacks this year, in my opinion 6, that I'm placing in the loss column: Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers), Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos), Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders), Patrick Mahomes II (Kansas City Chiefs), Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) and Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys). The remaining 11 quarterbacks are all good, but not elite. This list includes Carson Wentz (Washington Commanders), Matt Ryan (two, Indianapolis Colts), Jalen Hurt (Philadelphia Eagles), Davis Mills (two, Houston Texans), Daniel Jones (New York Giants), Jared Goff (Detroit Lions), Ryan Tannehill (two, Tennessee Titans). If we split these games, that gives us five or six wins. But, if 10 games gets you in the postseason, we need to win 10 of these 11 winnable games to make the playoffs.  Is that asking too much?

I don't know that Carr and Prescott are quite that elite, but I'm nitpicking a bit. Either way, yeah … I think it's probably asking too much for the Jaguars to win 10 or 11 games in 2022 In your scenario, they would have to be pretty close to perfect in the games you see as "winnable" to reach 10 or 11 victories. And Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence needs to take a dramatic step up quickly to be better enough that the quarterbacks you mentioned for the Jaguars to win all 11 of those games. I think he will be improved in 2022 compared to 2021. I think he will look like he's headed to elite status by season's end. But he will need week-to-week consistency to win all 11 of the games you're referencing. That sort of consistency is usually the domain of veterans. It's a lot to ask of a second-year player – even one as talented with as much potential as Lawrence.

John from Jacksonville

Didn't the Jaguars have nearly 100 percent participation in the voluntary portion of OTA's? I don't recall that happening very often previously. So what's the big deal in giving someone a day off when they volunteered to work when they didn't have to?

The Jaguars actually have very good veteran participation in voluntary OTAs most recent offseasons. There were no OTAs because of COVID-19 in 2020, but attendance was high in 2018-2019. Attendance also was high in the 2021 offseason, though that may have been because loudspeakers are cool and players like them. Either way, a coach giving veterans a few days off isn't a big deal. I doubt it will be treated as such for long.

Don from Marshall, NC

The question that needs to be answered is whether practicing in hot, polluted air is the right way to build anything. To think that somehow you have to expose yourself to that to gain strength, speed and endurance is stupid. Nobody gets use to playing in that crap. Work smarter not harder! Go Jaguars!

There may be validity in your point. I'm not smart enough to know and I'm too lazy to find out. I do know Jaguars trainers, strength-and-conditioning coaches and medical people work with coaches and front-office people to ensure the right balance of conditioning and preparation. This isn't a case of coaches standing on top of blocking sleds and screaming at players that water is for cowards. The Jaguars play and train in Jacksonville. It's Northeast Florida. It's going to be hot. They work hard – as smart as modern medical knowledge will allow.

Diego from South of Tierra del Fuego

I have known Diego for more years than you have been alive and you my, friend, are not Diego. Diego much funnier than you. Oops, Diego forgot to ask a question. Diego says he is sorry.

Diego can kick rocks.

Matthew from Townsville, Tropical Australia

Hi O, more and more I find individual NFL stats an illusion. Example: what we expect from Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk. If he's double-covered most of the season, and because of that has "only" around 800 total yards, lots in the media would jump on that number and say he's not lived up to the big contract. Ignoring that because he's been double-covered, all the other pass-catchers have found it easier to get open. So tight end Evan Engram and Marvin Jones have also each got 800; Zay Jones, Dan Arnold, Laviska Shenault and Travis Etienne have each got 500, and all others have totaled 600. That's 5,000 team yards, which with decent endzone work and a solid defense likely puts you in the playoffs. In that scenario, which doesn't seem dreamland to me, I would call Christian Kirk a big success, and worth every cent of his contract (if anyone can be worth that much money).

Many NFL players fall victim to this phenomenon. We live in a statistical, quick-judgment age and football – because of players' interdependence on one another – aren't always accurately judged by statistics. Your scenario isn't dreamland at all. It's very possible.


Who looked faster, more polished? The offense or the defense? On paper, I think the Jaguars' linebackers will be the strength of this defense. Is there any way you can gauge that in OTAs and training camp? Did it look like there were four 2017 Telvin Smiths and Yannick Ngakouges flying around sideline to sideline?

The defense looked faster than the offense during Jaguars 2022 OTAs. The defense usually looks faster in non-padded work because it's essentially no-contact – or very unfootball-like contact – and blocking really doesn't translate accurately into that environment. So … yes, the defense looked fast in recent weeks. I'm not going to compare the defense to 2017 until training camp. That's when practice in pads starts. You can start getting a better read then.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

If the Jaguars have a losing record this year, it's definitely going to be because the veteran players didn't run around in their underwear for three days.