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O-Zone: Getting better

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from St. Augustine, FL

Hey, Mr. Oehser. I was just curious if you think Travon feels he has a little chip on his shoulder. I feel like not a lot of people feel he's deserving on No. 1 overall. I just hope he doesn't put too much pressure on himself to prove himself. What say you?

I would expect Jaguars rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker to indeed have a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He was perfectly worthy of being a top selection in the 2022 NFL Draft out of the University of Georgia, and he is being portrayed by some observers as anything but. I wouldn't expect him to discuss it much, or even acknowledge it that much. He said last week he didn't worry about such things, and he seemed at first glance to have the personality to make that true. But considering all that has been said about his selection at No. 1, a chip – at least a small one – would only be natural.

Bill from Jacksonville

No offense to Travon Walker, but I couldn't care less how well he stops the run or sets the edge. If you're drafted with the No. 1 pick, your job is to sack the quarterback … often. If he has the career of Jadeveon Clowney, that will be a massive disappointment and a miss at first overall.

Clowney, the No. 1 overall selection by the Houston Texans in the 2014 NFL Draft, has played in three Pro Bowls and was a disruptive force on a very good Texans defense for four seasons. The 2014 draft in some ways was similar to the '22 draft – with no "elite" quarterback at the top of the draft. That was the year the Jaguars selected quarterback Blake Bortles No. 3 overall. The best player in that draft was defensive tackle Aaron Donald, selected No. 13 overall by the St. Louis Rams. Second-best? Maybe defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack (Oakland Raiders, No. 5) or wide receiver Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers, Round 2) or wide receiver Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 8). I would take all those players over Clowney. Does that make Clowney a miss? I suppose. But I just have a tough time calling a player who did have a real impact – and a player for whom offenses had to account – a massive disappointment.

Lloyd from Jacksonville

Based on a recent question about the Jaguars' best offensive linemen, I think I tend to forget just how good some early players we had were. I thought Leon Searcy was a good example of what made our offensive line so good with Hall-of-Famer Tony Boselli on the other side.

Yes, he was.

Jerry from Yulee, FL

Zone, it looks like we have improved our defense mostly through the draft along with two good pickups in free agency. On offense, it looks like that was our focus in free agency. I thought a wide receiver was needed for that NUMBER ONE guy that everyone clammers for, but during Head Coach Doug Pederson's five years in Philadelphia, he only had one 1,000-yard receiver and that was tight end Zach Ertz. As a matter of fact, Ertz was the leading receiver for four of the five years Pederson was the head coach. Every year, Pederson had at least four players with at least 330 yards receiving. So maybe they have a plan that will spread the ball around and not target just one or two of our skill players, ya think?

Yes, I do.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

I notice some NFL team's official sites publish their 2023 known opponents (14 out of 17 games are known). Why does Jaguars.com not do this?

There's no real reason jaguars.com doesn't do this. The information is pretty readily available. The Jaguars' known '23 opponents are the Indianapolis Colts (home and away), Tennessee Titans (home and away), Houston Texans (home and away), Cleveland Browns (away), Baltimore Ravens (home), Cincinnati Bengals (home), Atlanta Falcons (home), Carolina Panthers (home), New Orleans Saints (away), Pittsburgh Steelers (away) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (away). They also will play a team from the AFC West, NFC West and AFC East.

Abel from Westside

Yo KOAF! Moodachay!

Moodachay.

Marlin from Lottieville, FL

Hey, Zone. All this talk of finding a true No. 1 receiver reminds me of the 2000 draft where we were desperately looking for a true No. 3 receiver to play with Jimmy (should be in the HoF) Smith and Keenan McCardell. That didn't work out so well, but OH! to have those problems today.

The Jaguars that season selected wide receiver R. Jay Soward of the University of Southern California. The Jaguars indeed selected him to be a dynamic slot receiver/punt returner. He absolutely had the talent to be that. His off-field issues were well-documented. What might have been.

Al from Orange Park, FL

Lately, I've read often that the Jags will use multiple defensive packages and schemes under defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell. Seems to me that in the last 10 years, we've heard about similar concepts early in the year, only to have the schemes "simplified" a few games into the season so that the players can "play faster." Is this going to be different this time?

Simplifying so players can play faster is the smartest, most time-tested response if a team is struggling. Teams often simplify for a game or two, then reintroduce some wrinkles once things get reset. The Jaguars probably will make some level of these sorts of adjustments; most teams do.

Mike from Neptune Beach, FL

I read a statistic that said that only 11 quarterbacks had more time in the pocket before pressure or release last year than Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Six quarterbacks had less time than him. And 15 quarterbacks had the same amount of time as him. His average time in the pocket before pressure or release was 2.4 seconds. I know the naysayers want us to believe our offensive line was not good but the numbers seem to say the issues were not time in the pocket before release or pressure.

The Jaguars' offensive line could have been better at times last season. It has not been a "dominant" offensive line in recent seasons. It was not atrocious compared to the rest of the league last season. The Jaguars would like it to be better moving forward.

_Jeff from Orange, CA                                                              _

Do you think the Jaguars may utilize two-tight-end sets more in 2022 given we may actually have two decent receiving options at the position? Having Dan Arnold, Evan Engram and Travis Etienne Jr. on the field with a couple of respectable wide receivers seems to give Lawrence a wide array of options to spread the ball around.

I expect the Jaguars to utilize tight ends extensively in 2022. Pederson has a reputation for using the position creatively and productively. That was an offseason emphasis, and it was why Engram was one of the team's critical offseason acquisitions.

Garrett from Edgewater

Zone, with defense as improved as it is, and the veteran help on the other side; we flirt with respectability this year, yeah?

I think the Jaguars can win four or five more games in 2022 than in 2021. That would get them to seven or eight wins. That would be flirting with respectability and would be a lot damned better than what has happened around here in a while.

Aaron from ALDIE

Mr. O - I know we can't evaluate drafts until a few years out. Which draft classes would you rank as the Jaguars' best? I guess the Ramsey/Jack stands out but not sure after that?

The 2016 draft class that featured cornerback Jalen Ramsey/linebacker Myles Jack/defensive end Yannick Ngakoue stands out. It is the unfortunate reality that other really good draft classes in franchise history are tougher to find. The 2014 class that featured center Brandon Linder, wide receiver Allen Robinson (and Bortles, wide receiver Marqise Lee and cornerback Aaron Colvin) flirted with being a really good class. The 2004 class produced linebacker Daryl Smith (Round 2), fullback Greg Jones (Round 2), kicker Josh Scobee (Round 5) and defensive end Bobby McCray (Round 7). The 1996 class produced linebacker Kevin Hardy, defensive end Tony Brackens and cornerback Aaron Beasley – all key players on four playoff teams. And don't discount the 1995 class. The No. 2 overall selection in that class was Boselli. Any time you draft a Hall of Famer, that's a good class.

Tom from Shanghai, China

You state without reservation that the signing and drafting of a lot of new defensive players will make the defense better. In much the same way we shouldn't be calling 2022 draft picks busts or Hall of Famers right now, isn't it better to wait for a game or two to be played before making such declarations?

Fair, but it's hard to imagine the additions not making the defense at least somewhat better.

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