JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Michael from Orange Park, FL
Calvin Ridley, free at last.
Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley indeed was reinstated by the NFL Commissioner's office Monday, officially ending his indefinite suspension for violations of the NFL's gambling policy that cost him the 2022 season. Ridley, acquired by the Jaguars in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons on November 1, now is eligible for all team activities. The Jaguars' offseason program begins April 17.
Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA
Here we go, John. Jags skill positions for '23: quarterback Trevor Lawrence, wide receiver Zay Jones, wide receiver Christian Kirk, Ridley, tight end Evan Engram, wide receiver Travis Etienne Jr. On paper, that group seems to have the potential to be pretty explosive in the passing game. Now that it's official, what are your impressions on how Head Coach Doug Pederson will best use Ridley's skill set? What is your overall expectation of how Year Two of Doug Pederson's offense will look?
The offense will look similar in style to the 2022 offense – with more explosion and an improvement at wide receiver. I would expect Ridley's presence to improve the Jaguars' effectiveness offensively for multiple reasons. One, he is an elite route-runner, so he will be open in big situations – which should improve the passing offense on all downs and distances, but specifically and very importantly on third-and-manageable situations. I would expect Lawrence to have great comfort with Ridley very quickly, perhaps similar to the comfort level he had with Kirk early in the season and that he increasingly had with other receivers as the season continued. Two, Ridley's presence should allow Zay Jones and Kirk to play their natural roles – outside, stretch-the-field receiver and slot – more often and to be more effective in those roles. While all receivers essentially play all roles in Pederson's offense, those two players – and Engram, for that matter – could have slightly more defined roles if Ridley plays to his potential and assumes the No. 1 receiver role. Three, if Ridley indeed performs like a No. 1 receiver, that should draw double teams and shaded coverages in his direction. That will help every other Jaguars receiver – and Lawrence – immeasurably. I would have expected the Jaguars' offense to improve significantly in 2023 simply because Lawrence and the returning players should be better – and more consistent throughout the season – in their second season in Pederson's scheme. Adding Ridley should make the offense more explosive and balanced than otherwise would have been the case.
Gary Sr from Wesley Chapel
Hey, John. Now that Calvin Ridley has been reinstated by the NFL and is a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, what do the rules state about when he is able to receive a playbook to start learning the offense and working with teammates on their own?
He can receive a playbook immediately. He also can have contact with – and work out – with teammates on his own away from the facility. I don't know realistically how much Ridley or any player will get out of either situation before meetings and football conversation with coaches begin April 17.
John from Jacksonville
Hi, KOAGF. Do you expect teams to copy the quarterback sneak play that the Philadelphia Eagles mastered into huge success gaining a couple yards each attempt? It essentially changes their first-and-10s to first-and-eights knowing they can easily get a first down if they get a fourth-and-two. Or, do you think defenses will adapt to stopping this? It was almost comical watching them make it look so easy.
NFL teams almost certainly will copy the Eagles on this if the league continues to allow the play, which currently feels like a pretty big "if." The Eagles indeed this past season were stunningly effective on quarterback sneaks, converting 29 of 32 into first downs. They did this by using what has been termed as a rugby-scrum approach, with multiple players lining up behind quarterback Jalen Hurts and essentially pushing the pile forward for a first down. While there once was a rule prohibiting players from pushing a ballcarrier forward, the league abolished the rule – presumably because it was tricky to officiate. I expect the NFL to revisit the rule – and likely prohibit the "scrum" play – for a couple of reasons. One is that it has become too easy to convert short yardage using the play. Another is that it almost certainly will become a safety issue. This is because the logical way to defend the play is by stacking defenders opposite the quarterback and have defenders blast the line of scrimmage. This is the sort of play that could cause the NFL to change a rule – quite possibly before next season.
Don from Marshall, NC
I do not know if it's true, but I heard Jawaan Taylor could get $17-18 million a year in free agency. All I can say to that is fair winds and following seas. The Jaguars cannot do that deal for that kind of money!
I don't have a great feel for whether the Jaguars will be able to re-sign right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on the March 15 start of the 2023 NFL League year. But this franchise does want to re-establish itself as a team that drafts, develops and re-signs its own players. If you're going to do that, it's going to be pricey sometimes.
Bill from Jacksonville
John, let's not get ahead of ourselves. That being said, it sure looks like the AFC South is the Jaguars and three teams in complete rebuild. Not winning the division the next few years would be seen as a disappointment, no?
I have no doubt many fans would see it this way. The reality is nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. Should the Jaguars win the AFC South in 2023? They won it in 2022. They return their head coach, quarterback and the core of the roster, so sure … call them the favorite. Remember, though: A team such as the Tennessee Titans may look like a rebuilding team, but the Jaguars needed a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the final three minutes of the regular-season finale to finish ahead of the Titans in 2022. An injury or two here. A break or two there. Many, many factors can change things in the NFL. Very quickly.
Katharine from Kentucky
I read where the possibility of the non-exclusive tag maybe used to judge market on Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. If they don't match the offer, then they will get two first-round draft picks. Can this be done with Taylor and would we get any picks from it?
Most players who receive the franchise tag receive the non-exclusive tag. The difference is that a player with the non-exclusive tag can negotiate with other teams whereas a player with the exclusive tag may not negotiate with other teams. If a player with the non-exclusive tag signs with another team, the player's former team receives two first-round draft selections. The player with the non-exclusive tag plays for an average of the Top 5 salaries at his position for the five previous seasons whereas the exclusive tag plays for an average of the Top 5 current salaries after the end of the current offseason's free agency period. That means a player tagged with the exclusive tag typically earns more. The Jaguars theoretically could have done this with Taylor before they placed the franchise tag on tight end Evan Engram Monday. Now, it is no longer an option for Taylor.
Seamus from Sioux Falls, SD
This is not necessarily meant for printing with the rest of O-Zone musings, but I was amused by your analogy of an old house with an upgraded kitchen; I happen to live in an older house with an upgraded kitchen. "Lol" for what it's worth!
I'm a delight.
Bradley from Sparks, NV
A year ago, you and other experts projected Walker Little as the opening day right tackle, but Taylor pulled it together in his contract year and played up to his potential and now will be rewarded with $35-to-40 million in guaranteed money. The Jags probably don't trust him to maintain the same level of play, they have Little, the draft and will get a 2024 compensatory pick. General Manager Trent Baalke wants to be the Kansas City Chiefs rather than the Los Angeles Rams. We wish you well, Taylor, but hard pass bro.
I don't sense the Jaguars' approach here is "hard pass." They like Taylor very much. They believe his improvement last season was more about playing around right guard Brandon Scherff, maturing as a player and playing under offensive line coach Phil Rauscher than the whole "contract-year" thing. This doesn't mean the Jaguars will be able to re-sign Taylor. But if they don't, it won't be easy for them to see him sign elsewhere.
Sean from Jacksonville
I'm a man of very few words...
And it was written. And it was good.