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O-Zone: Doing their thing

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Eric from New York

I've been listening to the audiobook for Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's 2018 memoir "Fearless," and it's a great insight into his coaching mindset. He has a long rant about the Jags kneeling out the first half in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, saying it "disgusted" him and he would never do that as a coach. He also said he likes to put in at least one tricky gadget play per game for funsies. What do you make of those? Have you read the book? Maybe we can do an offseason book club!

"Fearless," Pederson's book detailing the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl championship 2017 season when he was the franchise's head coach, indeed is really good insight into Pederson as a coach and person. The quality of such books depends on the writer's willingness to be candid, and it's in character that Pederson was very good on this front. I sort of like his approach of having a trick play in every game plan. Players and fans like trick plays, they keep defenses wary and they often work. In a league of close – often one-score – games, if a tricky play can give a team points or momentum, that can tip the game in that team's favor. As for Pederson's thoughts on the Jaguars' approach in the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 season, I didn't particularly agree because I thought Head Coach Doug Marrone was trying to get the most out of his team based on that team's strengths and style – and the injuries that team was dealing with – at the time. I still don't have a problem with the Jaguars' playing that title game against the New England Patriots conservatively considering the quality of that 2017 Jaguars defense. Either way, I'm fine with Pederson writing what he wrote. He's allowed to have an opinion, and Marrone mocking the comments when they came out provided a couple of days' worth of good stories. It was a little controversy, a little back and forth – and a little fun. This is sports. Sports are entertainment. It's OK to have fun, even if the participants often take it unnecessarily seriously.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

Looking at this year's schedule, I see 11 of the 17 games versus teams with significant quarterback questions or turnover from last year – including all the AFC South games, the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. With a bigger net you can add the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens to that list leaving just the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills on the schedule against seasoned franchise quarterbacks. I like our chances?

There are a few franchises in the NFL that can be counted upon annually to contend because of stability and production at quarterback. The Chiefs, Bills and Bengals are unquestionably such franchises. The Jaguars took a major step toward being such a franchise late last season. If the Jaguars and quarterback Trevor Lawrence again play as they did late last season, then, yes … I like their chances next season, with quarterback being the major reason. He seems he's getting there. The team seems like it's getting there. I like their chances of indeed getting there. The 2023 season will go a long way toward telling us if they indeed already have made it there.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, The Jags are probably going a different direction in the draft. However, I have watched Dawand Jones play at Ohio State and he reminds me of someone --- Orlando Pace. I agree with the Jags team needs at other positions. The Jags have also signed several offensive linemen. Do you agree that the Jags are not considering Dawand Jones?

I would not be surprised if the Jaguars select an offensive tackle somewhere in the first two days of the 2023 NFL Draft.

DuvalJag95 from Jville

Hey, John. I'm a longtime reader of your column and very seldom do I write in. But I just saw where Atlanta traded a fifth-round pick to Detroit for Jeff Okudah. Any reason why the Jags didn't make a run at him? Just seems it might have solved our cornerback problem.

Okudah, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, didn't play up to those expectations very often during his first three NFL seasons – and he also has dealt with injury issues. He reportedly played well to start 2022, then fell off fairly dramatically. He also has about a $5 million cap hit this season – which isn't huge by NFL standards, but it is a bit large for the Jaguars considering their short-term salary-cap situation.

Don from Marshall, NC

If you cannot see the player that Travon Walker will become, then you have to just keep watching. Big Time is coming. Go Jaguars!

Don, nothing if not a model of consistency, remains "all in."

Nick from Palatka, FL

Yo, KOAP(F). I know this is a morosely pedestrian question, but I haven't heard it addressed here. When a player has incentives incorporated into their contract, are they accounted for (for salary cap purposes) up front or factored in later (if paid) on the next year's team cap. I know the amount of money is probably small compared to the entire cap but it's just that time of year where there's not a whole lot else to ponder.

Incentives for NFL salary cap purposes are typically divided into two categories: Likely to Be Earned and Unlikely to Be Earned. LTBEs count toward the cap in the season they are earned; UTBEs count toward the cap in the season after they are earned.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

Do you remember when Zach Wilson had that awesome Pro Day and pundits and fans were actually talking like the Jags should/could take him over Trevor? How different would the feeling be around here had that happened. Thankfully, we got our guy!

I never, ever had any thought or impression from within the organization that the Jaguars wouldn't select Lawrence with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Considering all that went on that year – and considering all the organization has endured in many past drafts and many past seasons – was it a given that that selection would work out? No. All indications are it changed the team's future to the degree many expected possible. It doesn't always happen that way. Good for the Jaguars that it did.

Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL

OK. I am not a trade machine guy, but I saw Devin White has requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is playing on his fifth-year option. Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen is, too – and it sems it is not a given he would get an extension in Jacksonville. Is there a scenario that makes sense to IMy facilitate a trade based on an Allen-White swap? This would only make sense if the Jags knew they would give Devin White an extension – and be able to manage the salary cap from the extension. Thoughts?

This trade in one sense would be appealing to the Jaguars. White is one of the NFL's best players at his position and would upgrade inside linebacker – where veteran Foye Olulokun played very well much of the '22 season and where Devin Lloyd struggled at times as a rookie. Two questions would be how much better that upgrade would make the Jaguars' defense overall – and how much the loss of Allen would hurt a pass rush that already needs to improve next season. An even bigger question would be whether the Jaguars wanted to commit mega-salary-cap dollars it would take to sign White to a long-term deal at a position that isn't always considered as premium as other roster spots – particularly with Lawrence's contract extension looming. Probably the biggest reason I wouldn't spend much time on this topic is the Bucs reportedly have no interest in trading White. Either way, nothing indicates this will be a Jaguars story.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Dear John, If Hutchinson wasn't the obvious choice why did the Lions have their pick in at the blink of an eye?

I don't know how close the Lions Aidan had Hutchinson and Walker when they graded players for the 2022 NFL Draft. Reports were the Lions had Hutchinson No. 1 and Walker No. 2 – and that they would have selected Walker had the Jaguars selected Hutchinson. If true, that would have left the Lions no reason to delay – particularly once the Jaguars selected Walker.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, do you remember back in the day when we used to complain about "how" we won the game? The Zone lately feels a lot like that, which is great I suppose given we aren't needing to debate our #1 pick.

Fans fan. It's what they do. Time of year and on-field results matter comparatively little.