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O-Zone: Getting comfortable

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Charles from Jacksonville

Hey, Zone. I understand the mindset (I think) of drafting running back Travis Etienne Jr., and wanting to run a dual-back type of style to take some pressure off rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Do you believe that we would have taken him if he hadn't had so much chemistry with Lawrence, or might we have tried to wait and acquire another running back in the second round? I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth, but with what we saw from James Robinson last year, was it maybe a little overkill?

I don't know that you actually do quite understand the mindset of drafting Etienne. To understand it, you must understand that they didn't select him No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft specifically to play "running back" as much as they selected him to be a big-play threat. You must also understand that they see him as an "H-Back" – i.e., a hybrid receiver/running back – more than they see him as a pure running back or as part of a "dual-back" style of offense. He therefore isn't as much "competition" for Robinson as he is a complement. Etienne likely will line up a lot outside the tackles and get the ball in nontraditional ways for a running back. And yes … I believe the team would have selected such a player whether that player had played with Lawrence or not; teams don't typically draft players for that reason. Head Coach Urban Meyer said after the draft they were eyeing former University of Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney with the No. 25 selection they used on Etienne. This was not meant to be an insult to Etienne as much as it was to make the point that the Jaguars wanted a high-impact, big-play, versatile player in this offense and they were willing to use significant draft capital to get one. That's the spirit of the selection.

Ralph from Columbus, OH via JAX

Meyer is like Lincoln; he is going to keep changing his staff until he finds his Grant. What is your overall impression of the staff he has hired, and can you tell what direction the program is headed from these hires?

It's a fine staff, and the teaching and preparation that needed to get done in the offseason appears to have gotten done. The coaches seem to be coaching the players well and the players seem to be buying into the message of Meyer and the staff at this point. Everyone – players and coaches – are pulling in the same direction and everyone believes in that direction. That's as much as a coaching staff can do in the offseason.

Fred from Naples, FL

Even though my dad used to always say to me, "Don't tell me about yesterday's hits in today's ballgame," if Aldrick Rosas and Josh Lambo are basically even through the end of training camp you have to go with the proven kicker in Lambo, right? I just think him not being on the team next year is a huge loss. Love the guy. He's money.

This is a new regime with new decision-makers. I expect the team will go with whoever those decision-makers believe is the best. And while Lambo indeed has been very consistent since joining the Jaguars in 2017, Rosas was an All-Pro selection for the New York Giants in 2018. I don't know what will happen regarding this competition in training camp. I do expect the competition to be legitimate.

Sean from Jacksonville

As long as Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson's play doesn't appear as backwards as his jersey, I think he will be fine.


Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

I have a different view of the press conference questions that I haven't seen discussed at all. I think there should be more required press availabilities, just not for the players. Every referee should have to be made available after every game. Also, there should be way more press conferences for decision makers at the league level (such as owners or the competition committee) and the team level (such as the general manager). You've made the point over the last week or two that the player's press conferences add a lot to the fan experience. I would say the same is true or even more true for these decision makers. For example, I would've loved for Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell to have a press conference every week last year. He said before the season that he liked the team and we should let them play some games before we judge them, then he went silent as we lost 15 straight games. I'm not saying he was hiding (he probably had the same amount of press conferences as past years and as other general managers), but hearing from him every week would've added more to the fan experience than all the press conferences the players had last year. You're part of "Jaguars Media" can you make this happen???

I agree that hearing from general managers during the season would be entertaining and informative. Most general managers defer to the coaches during that time. I could see the NFL requiring them to speak on occasion during the season, though I doubt it would be every week.

Larry from Boise, ID

John, I saw that there is a competition at kicker. I know Lambo is coming off a hip injury but why are we having a competition at this position when Lambo is one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history?

Because Rosas is good.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

Since we have been talking about interviews, can we please get more of them from Coach Warhop? that might have been one of the most entertaining and honest responses to questions I've seen. And on top of that, are these interviews outside? I've never seen someone sweat that much while answering questions.

Offensive line coach George Warhop indeed was candid and entertaining in his Wednesday media availability. I would love to hear more from Warhop, but I get the sense that Warhop prefers not to do too many such interviews. As far as why he was sweating so much during the session, he had just finished with a practice involving Jaguars rookies. It's mid-June. It's hot in Jacksonville.

Jake from Virginia

Can we get Warhop his own show?

I'd click on that. I doubt we'll see anything like that, but I absolutely would click on it.

Dave from Jacksonville

Zone, I remember double 00, former Oakland Raiders center Jim Otto. Used to live outside Oakland as a kid in the '60s. One of my favorite players. Tough as nails. My old man used to go to games; five dollars for a ticket, a bus ride and all the beer you could drink. Maybe we could use Shad's boat for our Super Bowl party. I got a brother that makes really good Bourbon in St Pete. They've been parting hard in Champabay. Sure like to bring that up here.

I had an Uncle Otto who liked to drink Fosters from the can while eating mutton sandwiches on a boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. He's not with us anymore.

_Bryce from Yulee, FL      _

Does it look like Lambo will beat out the other kickers?

Stay tuned.

Alan from Jacksonville

A recent report revealed the Jaguars were one of the four teams with the lowest percentage of players who have been vaccinated for COVID-19. I saw where linebacker defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson is out with it – and don't forget that running back Ryquell Armstead missed the entire season last year because of complications. This would seem to be one of those controllables that could negatively affect our team. Why on earth wouldn't every player get the "Fauci Ouchie" since it could possibly sink their career? I'm surprised Coach Meyer hasn't openly applied some pressure to encourage 100 percent compliance.

The COVID-19 vaccine is a personal decision that every person – and player – must make on their own. Teams indeed can encourage players to be vaccinated. They can't force them.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I think you are doing great but was wondering if you are planning to "take it to the next level" given this year's circumstances?

No. No, I am not.

Earl from Middleburg, FL

I understand being cautious with Trevor concerning hamstring tightness, sorta. Is it that millionaires are a protected species with twinges – i.e., "I think I felt something uncomfortable in my pinky finger" – or has the NFLPA sued so many times that coaches are forewarned any physical complaints by players must be handled with kid gloves? Like six-year-old kid gloves?

The Jaguars were cautious with Lawrence's tight hamstring during the offseason because it's mid-June, so there's no reason not to be cautious. He's the most valuable commodity on the team; should they not treat him as such? As far as finger discomfort, I have that sometimes. It's in the middle one. Extending it and showing it to people often helps.