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O-Zone: Give it time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from Azores

Hey, John. Curious if you've seen some recent comments about extending the NFL season? Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was quoted about adding an 18th game and a second bye week. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell quoted that the preseason games are unnecessary. Do you still think that it's just a matter of time before we see the season extended to drive up total revenue like no other option does! The Jags play in London, why? Revenue! The NFL is all about the money! Above all else, it's still a business!!

I think there's no question the NFL eventually will move to 18 regular-season games for precisely the reason you state. I don't believe adding yet another game is necessary. I don't believe it's a good thing. I don't believe it will lead to better play, a better regular season or a better postseason. I don't like the idea of adding a second bye week and I don't believe moving the Super Bowl deeper into February is a good idea. My thoughts on these issues matter not a bit. Get those kids off my lawn.

Mason from Jacksonville

Would you please rank the rarest to the easiest talent to draft? I'm guessing that a starting quarterback is the rarest.

I'm not sure how to define the scale from "rarest" to "easiest." I also don't know how to count from "ice cream" to "thirty-eleven." Also: Scouting college players at any position is difficult because the size, speed and strength of NFL players – as well as the different styles at the two levels – conspire to make college and football essentially two different sports. To (finally) answer your question, offensive linemen sometimes are considered easier to project than many positions, as are running backs and perhaps cornerbacks. Quarterbacks indeed are tricky, as well as edge rusher. Realistically, though, just examine how many first- and second-round selections in any draft at any position "miss." All positions are hard to evaluate. If it was easy, all the early-drafted guys would be stars.

Brian from Carlisle, PA

O, In my humble opinion fans should learn to enjoy the ride! So many factors go into a season, plan all you want, but every season can turn on a dime with a few bad injuries to starters and schedule timing. Let's see what the season will behold. I for one am excited for the improvement from being the worst team two years back-to-back to having a winning seasons back-to-back. Enjoy the week.

One fer enjoying the ride. And the week.

Bill from Bostwick

As OTAs begin, my mind is on Jacksonville's offensive line and its central role in the quest to recapture the AFC South title (and/or a playoff berth). In the short Head Coach Doug Pederson/General Manager Trent Baalke era, the Jaguars have typically kept eight offensive linemen. Nine at the most. Last year the Jags' O-line experienced suspension, injury and losing a depth piece to the Super Bowl runner-up after Ben Bartch was "stashed" on the practice squad. Heading into the 2024-25 season, the Jags have Cam Robinson and Walker Little at left tackle, Anton Harrison and Javon Foster at right tackle, Ezra Cleveland and (hopefully) Tyler Shatley at left guard, Brandon Scherff and (maybe) Cooper Hodges at right guard, and Mitch Morse and Luke Fortner at center. That's a pretty solid 10 and I personally would not want to risk losing any of those "second stringers" placed on the practice squad and subject to poaching by other NFL teams. Zone, as it stands now, wouldn't carrying any less than 10 offensive linemen be rather risky this season? I can see carrying less than 10 next year but isn't both Cam and Walker Little too valuable to not have both on the team this season?

I expect the Jaguars to carry eight-to-nine linemen on the active roster/practice squad. Remember: Veterans can be on the practice squad throughout the course of the season, which means rosters are really closer to the mid-60s than 53.

Zach from Jacksonville

I hope the team gives some of the young pass rushers like defensive linemen Yasir Abdullah or Myles Cole a chance this year. Last year, defensive lineman Adam Gotsis and edge defender K'Lavon Chaisson combined for 441 snaps and tallied three sacks. Abdullah played 45 total. Meanwhile it was obvious the team needed another pass rusher, but they rewarded the mediocre play and kept the young players on the bench. The NFL is an opportunity-driven league, without a single injury Tom Brady might've just become an insurance salesmen and Kurt Warner might still be bagging groceries. Do you think we will actually see the team let the young fellas get a chance if they don't pick up a veteran?

You refer to the Jaguars playing Gotsis and Chaisson last season as a "reward." NFL coaches don't play players as a reward. They play players who they believe are most capable of helping the team win.

Thomas from Jacksonville

In your answer to Collin, you mentioned your expectation of the starting offensive line and four backups you expected on the active roster. There was no mention of Luke Fortner. Even accepting he had an unsatisfactory year, won't training camp be where he can try to show improvement? Is it feasible he could be a backup guard?

This references a recent O-Zone question/answer in which my answer omitted third-year center Luke Fortner. His omission was an oversight, not a statement of a belief on my part that he won't make the Jaguars' 2024 roster. I don't know who will make the roster. I am not a coach or a personnel official. Rather, I am a senior writer capable of making errors of omission. It turns out I am not perfect. Granted, I am sooooooooo close that it's easy to assume I am without flaw. I am not. Damn.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

I just wanted to push back on the rookies don't really contribute narrative. I counted about 20 rookies (including Anton Harrison) that made heavy contributions to their teams last year. There were at least 40 more that made significant contributions. I'm guessing another 70 (including Antonio Johnson) contributed at least in some small way that they are thought to have some legit promise in the years to come. Sorry, me no understand the rookies don't matter argument.

Rookies matter. As your email suggests, some contribute significantly – and of course there are many that contribute in "at least some small way." My point when discussing this topic is that in the weeks leading and immediately following the draft, the discussion often takes a tone that the draft is going to dramatically change a team's fortune for the coming season. This is rarely true.


OZONE, Have the new draft picks settled on jersey numbers yet?

The Jaguars' rookies have been assigned numbers. I expect a few will switch before the start of the regular season as they negotiate payments for veterans' numbers or as roster moves make currently-used numbers available.

Jeff from Orange, CA

How much do you think general managers are judged by ownership for their efficiency with the salary cap? If a team is already under the salary cap, do they get some "credit" for cutting an overpaid player who will barely play, even if that player could contribute in a minor way or be an insurance policy for injuries?

General managers are judged by winning and losing, and by their ability to manage the roster for the short- and long-term. Cutting an overpaid player who would have been insurance saves money on the cap for the long-term, so that would be part of the above equation. I don't know that most owners judge or grade specifically on specific moves such as the one in your example.

Bill from Bostwick

What does the O-Zone think of the Buffalo Bills hiring former NFL official and rules analyst for Monday Night Football as an "officiating liaison? Do the Jaguars have an officiating liaison in its future?

The O-Zone thinks this is overkill and unnecessary. The O-Zone thinks there is an argument that there is enough "football staff" on most teams and an insane amount spent in some very obscure areas. The O-Zone thinks this trend will continue, so the O-Zone thinks many teams likely will follow the Bills' lead here – and that the Jaguars will probably at some point will, too.

Kevin from Alone in the cold

If the Jags perform well this season, do you think the attention they get would help get Fred his rightful place in the hall?

No. I think former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor eventually will get into the Hall of Fame. I think it will take a few years because I think there are voters who must be swayed and that can take time – and discussion. I don't think how the Jaguars fare in 2024 will have anything to do with whether he gets voted in this offseason or not.