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O-Zone: Dirty deals

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Richard from St Augustine, FL

I don't understand your continued references to drafting a running back. Didn't our rookie undrafted running back James Robinson perform well by your standards? Statistically, he was at the top for the league. We just picked up a veteran running back. So why would Jags use a highish draft pick on a running back? Why not try to catch lightning in a bottle twice?

Robinson absolutely played at a high level as a rookie in 2020, but my "standards" have nothing to do with my "continued references to drafting a running back." The references are because the Jaguars under Head Coach Urban Meyer want a balanced, explosive running game – and it often takes more than one running back, or even two, to have a balanced and explosive running offense in the NFL these days. The references are also because General Manager Trent Baalke recently said the team wants to add explosiveness to the backfield this offseason. And while the Jaguars did sign veteran Carlos Hyde as an unrestricted free agent last week, he seems similar to Robinson in style – so it makes sense they could still add that explosive element via the young legs of a rookie running back. For that reason, it makes sense they could add a dynamic rookie early in the draft. But could they address the position later in the draft, or via collegiate free agency? Sure. That's possible, too.

Don from Marshall NC

Would you trade the 25th and the 33rd pick for the fifth overall? Would that be enough to move up? Just thinking that might work at getting someone you like for some reason. Let's hope having hired Urban Meyer that the curse of bad players drafted from Florida ends. Go Jaguars!

I expect it would take one more second-round selection to make such a trade happen. I probably would do it if it were just trading the No. 25 and No. 33 to move to No. 5. If it took more, probably not. Not that I wouldn't like to have Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. But now you're talking about giving up three potential starters for one. That would probably be where I stopped and said, "No more." But I'm conservative by nature. The Jaguars might be more aggressive. I doubt it, but we'll see.

Jags Fan from Melbourne, FL

How low would Kyle Pitts have to fall for the Jaguars to seriously think about trading up to grab him?


Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL

Could you please clarify on the notion that Josh Oliver is exactly the kind of player that new regimes move on from (ending with a preposition?) Is it a machismo thing? Oliver for getting injured is perceived as weak or lacking heart to fight through injury? I've never held injuries against a player, it just seems like statistics to me. Any player on any play could have the unfortunate happen. Just because a player has the unfortunate experience of getting injured twice early, it doesn't make sense to me mathematically to give up on them – especially on a rookie deal. If anything, I think he is due for a good stretch of not getting injured. So, all I can think is this is a machismo thing, which seems like a foolish enterprise at this level of sophisticated sport. I just still don't get it, there was everything to gain and nothing to lose. What makes Oliver the kind of player that new regimes move on from?

There's little to clarify, and I have no idea how machismo entered the discussion. And it's more about circumstances than the specific player. Former Jaguars tight end Josh Oliver, who the team traded to the Baltimore Ravens last week, was a third-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2019 NFL Draft who missed all but four games in his first two seasons because of injuries. Because of those injuries, he had very little NFL tape. And a track record of injuries. The Jaguars are now being run by Meyer and Baalke – a new regime that didn't draft Oliver and therefore have no attachment to him. Perhaps Baalke didn't see as much in Oliver as former Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell. Perhaps the new coaching staff didn't see as much in Oliver as the old one. Whatever the specifics, regimes often move on from players with whom they have little-to-no attachment. I'm not defending the move. I probably would have kept Oliver another year. At the same time, I don't know how the Jaguars feel about his potential to stay healthy. The only point I've made is it's not unusual for new regimes to part ways with players who haven't stayed healthy and who they didn't draft. That's it. That's the clarification.               

Pat from Duval

I get the feeling training camp is gonna be special. I love all our free agents, and nearly all our incumbent players earned my respect with the grit they showed last season. I'm ready for a little friendly competition.

Pat is ready for 2021 Jaguars Football.

Steve from Wallingford, CT

Every time I read the daily O-Zone and it mentions fullback, I instantly get sad and sigh as I mutter out softly "Greg Jones." Maybe I'm old school, but I look forward to the day when we have another Greg Jones at fullback.

You indeed are old-school, and you're far from alone among Jaguars fans who love the idea of a fullback such as Jones. A couple of thoughts, though. One is there aren't a lot of fullbacks such as Jones – and there sure aren't many built like him. There never really were. Another is fewer and fewer teams carry true battering-ram fullbacks these days. As the game gears more toward the pass, teams continue to succeed offensively using tight ends and H-backs in the fullback role. That's a trend I expect will continue. For better or worse. Sigh. "Greg Jones."

Matty from Saint Augustine, FL

Do you think we should add another veteran pass rusher to our arsenal? Say Justin Houston? I think it would make sense. We could use him as a rotational player for a decent price.

Something along these lines would make sense this offseason, though it wouldn't be surprising if the Jaguars wait until after the draft to make any such moves.

Mike from Orange Park, FL

Percentage chance Gardner Minshew II is on the Jaguars' roster next season.

Sixty-two-point-eight-seven-three. Six.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I heard you say Malcom Brown is the most important addition of the offseason. I would say Shaquill Griffin, but whatever…

Both are important. Griffin, a cornerback who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Seattle Seahawks, dramatically improves the cornerback position; he and CJ Henderson are a very capable starting duo, and the duo of Sidney Jones IV and Tre Herndon gives the team legitimate depth. I went with Brown as the most important offseason acquisition because he's an experienced, capable nose tackle who should immediately help significantly against the run. That's an area the Jaguars must improve if they expect anything else to matter next season.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I can't wait to see Josh Allen take a big jump this year. Healthy and being led by a guy who is notorious for drawing up schemes to consistently hit the quarterback, is it outlandish to think he could threaten the 15-sack mark? He is an all-world talent and the solid additions in the middle of the defensive line sure point to higher sack totals. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see him in that upper level of sacks.

I expect Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen – a Pro Bowl selection in 2019 and the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft – to be more of a factor in 2021 than he was in 2020 for several reasons. Most obviously, a return to health should help; he missed eight games last season with a knee injury and the season overall just felt incomplete for Allen. Also, I do expect the additions on the interior of the defensive line to help the Jaguars stop the run more consistently. That should get opposing offenses in more obvious passing situations, which is key for any pass rush. I also would expect the Jaguars to have leads late in games more often than last season, and it's those situations where pass rushers often compile large sacks numbers. I don't know about 15 sacks for Allen because I don't know how much those areas will improve and get him opportunities, but I would be surprised if Allen's not really good for a long time. And I would be surprised if he's not much more productive this season than last.

Warren from Chicago, IL

I'm proud to be a glutton. I don't have time for sloth.

I'm greedy and I'm angry and I don't care who I cross.