JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Justin from Jax
Hey, Zone. Seeing as how Travon Walker is seemingly manhandling his competition already in many situations, isn't it safe to say it's only going to get worse for opposing offensive linemen in the coming years? He's a rookie and typically rookies come in needing to beef up a little to handle the manpower of the NFL. But if Walker gets even stronger, then wouldn't you say the league is in trouble?
I'll go along with your theme – to a point. Walker, a rookie outside linebacker selected No. 1 overall by the Jaguars in the 2022 NFL Draft, appears to have matched up physically very well with the linemen he has faced to date. He hasn't seemed remotely overwhelmed, and appears to have won a lot of one-on-one matchups. At the same time, we're two games into his first preseason. He has yet to face the best and strongest linemen he will face. All indications are Walker is going to be good. As he learns more about pass rushing, gains experience and gains further strength, he has a chance to be very good. There are many of big, strong, good players in the NFL. Let's wait until we see Walker in the regular season, and until he has big games consistently, before worrying about the safety of the rest of the NFL.
Bradley from Sparks, NV
Twenty-six quarterbacks have been selected No. 1 in the Super Bowl Era and only Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts led his team to the playoffs as a rookie. But 10 of those quarterbacks made the playoffs in their second season. The Jags play in arguably the worst division in the NFL. Are the Jags a decent dark horse pick to sneak in or am I being an overly optimistic idiot?
This email isn't why you're an idiot, but you perhaps are a touch optimistic. I expect the Jaguars to be improved in 2022 and for quarterback Trevor Lawrence to have the feel of developing into a franchise quarterback by season's end. But I don't see the AFC South as being all that weak. The Tennessee Titans had the AFC's best record last season, and the Indianapolis Colts looked capable of a postseason run before losing to the Jaguars in the regular-season finale. Picking the Jaguars to be a lot better makes sense. Picking them for the postseason? That's a big ask from 3-14.
Austin from Atlanta, GA
Is it surprising you that Jawaan Taylor continues to be rolled out with the ones first? Walker Little is still rotating, but Taylor has been the first guy with the ones in games and practices. What more does Little need to show to win the right tackle role?
The Jaguars have played two preseason games, and Taylor missed one of those games and a week of practice. I get the idea Little will win the right tackle job, but it's not as if the coaches are exactly waiting an odd amount of time before making the decision.
Marcus from Jacksonville
Out of curiosity, how many preseason games have the Jags played, and how many series have the starters played in those? Just wondering.
I laughed at this.
Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA
Do the starters play the first half next game? Starters need to stay healthy for any improvement.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said Monday he would like to see starters get more time Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers than they did against the Cleveland Browns this past Friday. The starters played three series against Cleveland, leaving early in the second quarter. I expect they will play pretty close to the entire first half Saturday, perhaps a touch more.
Josh from Atlanta, GA
Soo the NFL asks for illegal contact to be looked at more than it had. What ensues? Fifteen penalties in the preseason week, while 36 were called all of last season. Is this going to be another ticky-tack call that happens every game, and makes it that much harder to rattle a quarterback? They're professional athletes, not babies. The five yards is meh, but those auto first downs could be HIGHLY frustrating with an aggressive front seven.
It is common for the NFL to emphasize a rule in the offseason and have that rule be highly called early in the preseason – and even into the regular season. The calls typically subside a bit as players change their tactics to avoid being penalized – or as the league eases its enforcement of the rule a bit as the season continues.
Devin from Richmond, VA
Does the "Fragile Freddy" moniker haunt his Hall chances?
You're referencing the ridiculous and unfair "moniker" some many uneducated observers used to describe former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor. The man played 153 NFL games and played at least 13 games in eight of 11 seasons while with the Jaguars. He rushed for more than 1,200 yards six times and had just one season in which he played fewer than 10 games. That was the 2001 season when he missed 14 games because his groin was essentially torn off the bone. No, I don't think the moniker will hurt him. I think voters will soon began reexamining career and I believe that reexamination will steadily begin meaning more support for Taylor's candidacy. I think his play on the field will help him – and eventually be the reason he gets enshrined.
Jonathan from Jax
The Baltimore Ravens have a 21-game preseason winning streak going back to 2016. In that same time period, they have made the playoffs three times, played four times and won only one game. Hopefully this helps keep things in perspective for those who determine success in the preseason by wins and losses. We should be looking for individual wins and losses and personnel groups. I doubt this will help but thought I'd give it a shot.
You're correct about preseason, and I think most educated fans know not to put much too much into who wins or who loses – though some do tend to panic a bit too much over how a team or player plays. But I sense perhaps a bit of "disrespect" in your email toward the Baltimore Ravens. They may have "only" made the postseason three times in that six-year span, but they have won at least eight games every season and they're always a threat to make the postseason and play well. Their preseason winning streak may or may not have much to do with that, but let's not paint the Ravens as an unsuccessful franchise.
Mattie from Mataoka, WV
How do you think the Jags will stack up competition wise within an improved AFC South division?
I think the Jaguars will improve in 2022, and I think that improvement will show in the division. They went 1-5 against the AFC South last season, getting handled pretty easily by the Tennessee Titans twice, getting swept by the Houston Texans and losing to the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis before beating them in the regular-season finale. I don't think the Jaguars will win the South. I would be surprised if they're not much more competitive and I wouldn't be surprised if they split in the division.
Gero from Wenden, Germany
Hello, John. There are four players named Jones on the current roster of 85 players. With Marvin and Zay there are two men who will probably make the team as starters. But Jamir and Tim have also performed well in the last two games. Do you think all four athletes can make the final team? If so, are there any difficulties because of the names on the jerseys or does it not matter in the NFL? Are different numbers enough otherwise. Okay, Marvin has the addition of Jr.
I, too, expect wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Zay Jones to make the Jaguars' 53-player roster – and to be starters. Jamir Jones and wide receiver Tim Jones would be more surprising. If all four make the team, the equipment staff would simply sew the players' first initial in front of the last name. Problem solved.
Frank from St. Augustine, FL
Johnny ... you talk a lot about the Doug Pederson effect within the locker room. Although I don't have much of a sophisticated football eye, I feel like the team is working hard and excited to play football. But, on the horizon (within the next couple of years) I see an issue ... keeping this young talent in Jacksonville for second contracts. What a good problem to hopefully have to deal with.
If the Jaguars are good and draft good players, they will sign some of those good players and lose some of those good players to unrestricted free agency. It's the nature of being good in the NFL. Insider's tip: Let the Jaguars get good for a while and enjoy it before worrying about what will happen after they're good. We know from experience around here the "getting good" part isn't guaranteed.