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O-Zone: Codeword

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mark from High Springs

I'm absolutely stunned at Doug's responses in Monday press conference. He doesn't seem to see any issues with our team this year save for injury. Every team in the playoffs is dealing with injury. He doesn't see a problem, even with our O-line graded worst in the league. Are we as fans supposed to just be grateful for a "winning season" and move on?

First, fans aren't supposed to be grateful for a winning season – and considering the Jaguars lost five of their last six games to miss the postseason, fans are supposed to be angry and disappointed. And they're supposed to expect more. But I wouldn't necessarily use Head Coach Doug Pederson's season-ending press conference Monday as the end-all gauge for what to expect from the Jaguars' 2024 offseason in terms of personnel. Remember: Pederson spoke to the media shortly after three p.m. Monday, less than 24 hours after a brutal end to a disappointing season. The hours immediately after the season are about decompressing and gathering information, and head coaches gain nothing from making public declarations about players so quickly after a season – particularly one that ended as the Jaguars' season ended. The coming weeks will be spent reviewing the season and putting together a plan for the '24 offseason and season. Tune in around the NFL Scouting Combine in late February. That's when coaches and general managers know the organizational plan moving forward. They won't always share specifics, but they're at least confident about what they're saying.

Mike from Omaha, NE

Hi, John. Isn't it obvious now that Trent Baalke made a mistake in not trying to improve the roster more during the last offseason, as well as his draft choices over the last two years? Shouldn't accountability start there? Thank you.

This is a common sentiment among Jaguars fans – and considering how the season played out, it's more than understandable. Remember, though: When the Jaguars spent a record amount of guaranteed money in the 2022 offseason, Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke made clear that the following offseason wouldn't feature the same sort of aggressive spending. The hope is to build a long-term contender and it's hard to build a long-term contender if you push the salary-cap envelope with guaranteed money every offseason. Baalke because of the state of the roster in 2020 and 2021 had little choice but to overspend in free agency during his first offseasons as general manager, and the result of that overspending was a roster improved enough to lift the franchise from 1-15 and 3-14 to 9-8 the past two seasons. That's not "good enough" because in the NFL nothing short of a Super Bowl or serious Super Bowl contention is "good enough." As for the last two drafts, we're getting a clearer idea as time continues. I don't yet know about the 2023 draft class because I believe it's too soon to project draft classes based on rookie seasons. As for 2022, I consider No. 1 overall selection outside linebacker Travon Walker a very good selection. The rest of the class from this view hasn't yet come close to Walker's level. I expect Baalke to return as general manager next season. I have no reason to believe otherwise. I'm aware that many fans don't like this. When judging him thus far, it's fair to wonder about the drafts. But it's also fair to realize that he helped get the Jaguars from one of the NFL's worst teams to one that has performed far better during the past two seasons than any two-year period in a long time.

Kevin from Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada

Six weeks ago, it looked like the focus of the offseason (draft and free agency) would be on improving the offensive side of the ball. Given the collapse of the defense down the stretch and the fact that there's only so many draft picks and dollars to go around, where do you see the primary focus now being?

Offensive and defensive line.

Josh from Lakewood

I'm sure guys like outside linebacker Josh Allen and tight end Evan Engram won't take it this way, but the team's performance on the back end of the season feels disrespectful to the players who accomplished awesome individual milestones. Seems like they'd feel a little hollow knowing the team didn't accomplish its goals.

I don't know that respect had much to do with it, but Allen and Engram indeed accomplished impressive milestones this season. Engram had 114 receptions. Allen had 17.5 sacks. Neither expressed any satisfaction in those accomplishments Sunday or Monday. Did they feel hollow? Without question.

Biff from Jacksonville

I've read, and heard, a lot of opinions related to corrections needed for the Jaguars to be better. My dad's a TV repairman. I can fix it.

Suh-weet. Have him text me. But I thought your dad was in the Navy.

Ken from Northport

After three seasons, do you think we have to accept the fact that Trevor Lawrence is just a good QB and not generational?

I think after three seasons we know Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence must improve his decision-making and reduce turnovers. I don't think we have to "accept" anything.

Gerry from Jacksonville

Bring former Tennessee Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel in as defensive coordinator and give Titans running back Derrick Henry a one-year contract! Let's start fixing the team! What say you?

I say I expect Vrabel will be a head coach and I doubt Henry will have to settle for a one-year contract.

Jim from Orlando, FL

You stated that very little surprises you in the NFL, certainly the Vrabel firing was a shock, wasn't it?

I can't say I was surprised the Titans parted ways with Vrabel, but that's only because I have long since realized that "Black Monday" often happens without regard to reason or the quality of the coaches who get fired. I wouldn't have parted ways with Vrabel. I consider him an outstanding NFL head coach. I expect he will be an NFL head coach again soon.

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

O, Doug really is mad. Do you believe some of the coaching dismissals were going to happen regardless of the outcome of the final regular-season game against the Titans?

One would hope.

Rob from Fleming Island

No gripe this time, but a true question. If all the players have left the building, do the head coach and general manager require them to all come in over the next few weeks to review the things they individually need to work on during the offseason, including maybe attending special camps for, say, Trevor?

Once players leave the building the day after the regular season, they are not required to do anything until mandatory minicamp in mid-June. The time for reviewing what players need to work on individually is for the day after the regular season. After that, they are not allowed to talk football with coaches until the offseason program begins in April.

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

The Texans arrow is clearly pointing up. The Colts arrow is pointing up. The Titans, who knows. But the Jags arrow is clearly pointing down and that's not a good thing for a franchise that has been utter disappointment for the better part of two and a half decades.

There will be Jaguars observers who feel this way. The team earned this sentiment by playing poorly in the final six games of the regular season. But the arrow doesn't have to be "pointing down." The Jaguars still went 9-8 and missed the playoffs by a game. It's up to the team now to point the arrow back up.

Chris from Columbus, OH

Not a Jags question per se, but wanting to get your take as someone who has covered teams for a long time. What has to break down on a team for them to completely ignore the instructions from the head coach?

I wouldn't say the Jaguars "ignored" Pederson's instructions this past season. I think what he wanted to see happen this season often didn't happen and I do think the performance on the field didn't match his vision. I don't know why. I don't know that Pederson knew all season. I think he wanted to know. I think he tried very hard to know. I think he's working to make sure he knows, and I think it's his top priority to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Jeff from Jacksonville

It seemed to me that Trevor was under too much pressure from not enough O-line protection. Do you think that the O line will be a major part of off season upgrades? Thank you.

I do think the offensive line must improve, particularly along the interior. I don't have a real feel yet for how that area will be addressed, though I would be surprised if it's not addressed.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

The Jags are cleaning house. Your codes still work?

So far, so good. Every day's a new day.