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O-Zone: Good dog

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Mitch from Jacksonville

The D is clearly regressing. Is one offseason enough to bring it to respectability?

People keep using the word "regressing" when referring to the Jaguars' defense. I just don't know that it applies. This unit shut out the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2 when the Colts were without multiple key offensive players and held the Los Angeles Chargers to 10 points the following week when the Chargers also were without key offensive players. They also held the 1-10-1 Houston Texans to 13 points. Those are the only three games this season in which the Jaguars have held their opponent under 20 points. They have major issues in the secondary and their pass rush isn't good enough to hide those issues. They're not regressing defensively. They're just not very good defensively until they prove otherwise. Can one offseason "fix" it? If they improve at corner and if young players along the front seven develop, then yes … the unit absolutely can improve.

Rob from Duval

The defensive investments in the draft and free agency seem to have missed the mark. How long are we stuck with these contracts and what savings can we get in the next year or so?

We won't know if the 2022 NFL Draft class has "missed the mark" for a while – at least until next season – though we have a better idea about players selected before then. Deciphering exactly what savings might be available this offseason is complex and would make for a long answer with many ifs and buts. Generally speaking, the Jaguars can move on from multiple free agents signed in the 2021 offseason next offseason – players such as cornerback Shaq Griffin, defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris and safety Rayshawn Jenkins. They would have much more trouble moving on from players signed this past offseason such as linebacker Foye Oluokun, defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi and cornerback Darious Williams because of the salary-cap ramifications of releasing those players. Players such as Griffin, Robertson-Harris and Jenkins total about $10 million dead money if released and would cost about $38 million if retained. Players such Oluokun, Fatukasi and Williams total about $49 million in dead money if released and would cost about $43 million if retained.

Jason from Green Cove Springs, FL

With five games left to go this season the Jaguars 2022 rookie class is looking pretty bad. Outside linebacker Travon Walker struggles to get pressure, inside linebacker Devin Lloyd has been benched and inside linebacker Chad Muma gave up some big plays Sunday. Center Luke Fortner is pretty solid. Do you think this draft class will turn things around and become the elite players this team desperately needs?

I don't know. I do know that you can't draw a final conclusion about a draft class during a rookie season.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Would the players in this defense, namely Josh Allen, be better off in a 4-3 versus a 3-4? And if so, why did we draft him in the first place? If we were running a 4-3, why switch to a 3-4 without having the proper personnel. I'm not assuming anything. Genuinely asking.

The Jaguars were running a 4-3 when they selected Allen No. 7 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. They switched to a 3-4 last season, at which time it was generally believed Allen would fare well as a 3-4 outside linebacker because he had played the position at Kentucky. The Jaguars switched to a 3-4 last offseason because it's what then-defensive coordinator Joe Cullen believed was best. They continued to run the defense this season because they believed they had the proper personnel to do so and because defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's background is in a 3-4.

Marcus from Jacksonville

The problem with the blowout to the Lions Sunday is that it changes the perspective on the gutsy, close win over the Baltimore Ravens the week before. At the time, that game looked like two good teams going toe to toe with the Jags grinding out a victory. Now it looks more like a bad team playing their best game and beating a good team that had an off day. In the end, a win is a win and a loss is a loss, but getting blown out last Sunday makes the Ravens game feel more like the Bills game last year.

I imagine many fans feel as you do. Losing stings in the short-term. The Jaguars for the most part have played far better this season than they played against the Lions, and I would expect that to resonate with many in the long-term.

Adam from Bryan, TX

I wonder if CJ Henderson could help this secondary out because tight end Dan Arnold sure ain't doing much on the bench. What a great trade by Urban, smh!! What do you think, John?

Henderson not working out for this franchise hurts – just as Jalen Ramsey not working out still hurts. When you draft a position No. 9 and No. 5 overall as the Jaguars did those players you do so with the idea that they are going to be core players for a long time. And make no mistake: The hole at corner is a real thing. It's hard to say trading Henderson was the wrong move, though. It's not that they couldn't use a really good corner. I don't know if he's consistent enough or reliable enough to make the trade a big regret.

Dan from Munich, Germany

Zone. in your column recently you said that the expectation before the season was that the defense would be a strength for the team, but then you mentioned that there is and was big hole in the secondary. Didn't they pay ridiculous contracts to Jenkins, Griffin and Williams to solve the problem?

Yes. When you participate in high-profile free agency you run a high risk of paying premium money for less-than-premium players.

Troy from Dover, PA

Will either outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson or Griffin be back this year to help the defense?

Both players are on injured reserve, Chaisson with a knee injury and Griffin with a back injury. The Jaguars placed Chaisson on the designated-to-return list on November 23 and they now have one more week to activate him. Griffin has not yet been designated to return.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Now that the Jags odds of making the postseason are about the same as Andy Dalton being accepted into a PhD program, do you think they will experiment with Lloyd at OLB?

A bit. In spots. Likely not full-time.

Ryan from Duuuval

Josh Allen is emblematic of the reason the Jaguars are perpetual losers - we keep spending top end draft capitol on players that end up being good, not great. Our roster is devoid of true difference makers at any position. I'm not willing to cast final judgement yet on Trevor or running back Travis Etienne Jr. yet (and certainly not this year's rookies) - but Josh Allen has proved that he is not elite. I doubt Chaisson is on the roster next year. Henderson and defensive lineman Taven Bryan are already off the roster. Running back Leonard Fournette and Ramsey were actually good, but we signed neither to second contracts. Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and quarterback Blake Bortles didn't make it more than five years with the team. Left tackle Luke Joeckel and wide receiver Justin Blackmon are both out of the NFL. That's a whole decade worth of first round picks (most of them Top 10 picks) that did not turn into a single core/foundation player for this franchise.


P Funk from Murray Hill

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is developing. Etienne looks great but has to eliminate fumbling issues. The rest of team is a result of underperforming players on second contracts, free-agent rentals (which you often point out are players other teams let walk), missed draft pick opportunities and players that haven't proven much. The poor talent evaluation from years and years past is hurting and anchoring progress. How do we get out of this cycle?

This is a bit too broad a generalization. Wide receiver Christian Kirk was a very good free-agent signing –and it's inaccurate to say in general that wide receiver Zay Jones, cornerback Tyson Campbell, Jenkins, guard Brandon Scherff aren't productive players. But you're right that free-agency generally is not the best way to build a roster, and that it often leads to paying premium money for less-than-premium plays. What's the way out? Have Lawrence continue to develop and raise his level, draft well around him, let drafted players develop. That's not always an easy way. It's always the best way.

Chris from Niagara Falls, Canada

Hey, Zone. Ever since Owner Shad Khan bought this franchise it's been awful. The training wheels are off and it's time for him to make better personnel hiring decisions. This team has a great fan base and deserves so much better. For too many years now we have picked early and failed to select enough impact players, and I'm not talking Trevor, my dog could've picked him. Merry Christmas!