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O-Zone: Different guys

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dave from Jacksonville

Would Walker Little be able to pull at right guard? Are we still looking to put the best five on the field? Does that make us stronger?

Offensive line not unexpectedly remains a hot-button topic here in the O-Zone, and I'll address a couple of issues in that area here. One is the line as a whole was not awful Saturday in a 23-13 preseason-opening loss to the Cleveland Browns – and the line as a whole is not in crisis mode. I defer to former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli on matters of the offensive line when possible. His assessment after Saturday is that the line's interior is fine – and that includes right guard A.J. Cann, who was very good last season and who played well Saturday after allowing pressure on the first play that turned into a sack when rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence held the ball too long. The bigger issue, as many observers believe, remains with the tackles. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor struggled a bit Saturday, according to Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer – and Meyer said Monday left tackle Cam Robinson was OK Saturday. The overall question moving forward appears to be whether to move rookie tackle Walker Little to one of the tackle positions. While many observers are clamoring for that move, it's not as easy a decision as many observers would have you believe. While Little has big-time ability, Meyer on Monday said he struggled against the Browns – particularly with hand placement. Boselli had the same opinion Monday. The guess here is Little will get repetitions with the first-team soon. I don't know that that will happen this week. I don't get the idea it will be on the interior because Little hasn't worked much there.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Looks like Walker Little is about to force himself into the starting lineup. Who's getting kicked inside to guard? Also, he seems to be worth far above his draft slot. That was a great selection.

If Little indeed works his way into the starting lineup at one of the two tackle positions, I don't know that it's a given that one of the two tackles automatically will get "kicked inside to guard." That's not a given.

Nick from Palm Coast, FL

How is Herndon doing with his knee? How do you find Jags injury report??

Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon missed practice Monday with a knee injury sustained Saturday against the Browns. There's really not an official "injury report" in the NFL during the preseason. It's more news reports and what team announces via the head coach.

Antony from Columbia, SC

Zone, I wasn't expecting as much single-high safety from the defense. Do you see that being as much as a staple for the defense as it has been in years past?

The Jaguars indeed ran more basic defense – and more single-high safety – against the Browns than I would have expected. This wasn't the regular season defense. You'll see much more creativity and many more looks – and much more blitzing – once the regular season begins.

Bruce from Winter Haven, FL

After watching C.J. Beathard play, I think it would be a good idea to play him with the starters in the next game. Next to Trevor it seems he gives us the best chance to win. Sound reasonable?

Beathard, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Jaguars this past offseason, indeed looked like the second-best quarterback on the Jaguars' roster Saturday. He did so while starting the second half of that game, with Gardner Minshew II playing extensively in the second quarter behind much of the first-team line. Meyer didn't really get into this when he spoke to the media Monday, but it would make sense to get Beathard an earlier look – and perhaps some snaps with the ones. I wouldn't be shocked to see that Monday in New Orleans.

Clint from Jacksonville

When does AJ Cann get cut? First game last season he does the O'le move that gets Nick Foles injured and then this season first play for Trevor Lawrence it is the same thing causing a strip sack that luckily Trevor is able to recover.

I would be very surprised if Cann is released this season. Shocked, actually.

Taylor from Columbia, MD

Considering that our defense is likely to be predicated on movement and mixed coverages/blitzes - the vanilla nature of preseason play calling makes me think we will see something very different in Houston on Week One. Our 2017 defense (not saying this one is as good) didn't show any signs of being what it became until we stunningly ate the Texans in Week One of that season. Agree?


Jonathan from Jacksonville (retired in Idaho)

Hey, John. I keep reading articles stating our defense will once again be bad. Honestly, I do not get it. I know I wear thick lensed teal glass and I always take a sip of the Kool-Aid but what gives? The defensive line isn't bad, the linebackers are actually pretty good, and the secondary doesn't have any alarming holes. If the offense is functioning like we hope, I can see this defense finishing in the 15-22 range. What's your prediction for the defense?

I expect the Jaguars' defense to be improved – perhaps to about the level you project. And while I can't keep track of the articles you're reading, it's easy to understand why people wonder about the defense. The unit has a lot of potential to improve, but it still must do so. No one had really seen these players execute this scheme until Saturday against Cleveland, and the Jaguars are relying on a lot of new parts to operate effectively. A lot of new parts can mean time to jell. The secondary will be pretty much entirely revamped, as will much of the defensive line. The unit needs a lot of unproven and young players to produce. Those things can happen. The Jaguars believe they will happen. The talent is such that it could happen. But until it does happen in the regular season, it's a pretty big unknown. One thing that is a very, very good sign here: The defensive line looked really good against the Browns. The unit allowed 41 yards on 26 carries. That was only one preseason game, but the coaches liked how the unit played and they liked the initial stoutness there. That was probably the most positive takeaway for the Jaguars Saturday. They need that to be a trend and not a one-off. Stay tuned.

Michael from Hartsville, South Carolina

Will they start Trevor again in the next preseason game? I have followed him his whole college career.

Meyer said Monday there's a "decent chance" Lawrence will start Preseason Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. I would be surprised if Lawrence doesn't start the game. Stay tuned.

Royce from Jacksonville

Mr. O who has the best chance to make the roster Tim Tebow or Taven Bryan?

This writer's guess: Taven Bryan.

David from Oviedo, FL

Zone - I'm not crazy about the move to trade Joe Schobert, a productive and capable player. It appears this move will open the door for linebacker Damien Wilson to play a more prominent role. Are there any other backup linebackers on the current roster that deserve our attention?

Wilson indeed will start in base situations alongside Myles Jack; the Jaguars particularly like his physicality. The Jaguars also like how second-year veteran Shaq Quarterman has played in 2021 Training Camp, and young players such as Quincy Williams and Chapelle Russell have played there.

Derk from Austin, TX

Collin Johnson would/will not last on the practice squad. A smart team would pick him up in a heartbeat and it will be Allen Lazard 2.0. He will go off and ball, become elite and the Jaguars front office will play stupid and pretend they didn't just lose an elite talent.


Logan from Wichita, KS

Didn't you witness the Gabbert years? He was not a panic quarterback in college, but playing with a bad O-Line made him a major bust in Jacksonville. It's hard to get knocked around like a rag doll every play and have the confidence to stand in the pocket. Also, why risk Golden Arm retiring before 30 like Andrew Luck? Start someone else till the line is better. This season doesn't matter, no one goes from 1-15 to the playoffs in a year. We need Golden Arm healthy for our regularly scheduled fluke year in 2027.

I did witness the Blaine Gabbert era in Jacksonville. I understand he was not a panic quarterback in college. But Gabbert is not Lawrence, Lawrence is not Gabbert – and Lawrence will not be playing with a "bad O-Line" in Jacksonville. And the Jaguars aren't going to sit Lawrence this season "till the line is better." Lawrence will play this season and I suspect his confidence will be fine – this season and into the future.