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O-Zone: Gotta go

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Do you think this defense has a legitimate shot to be the most improved unit in the league? I find it hard to see this unit not being pretty damn good.

The Jaguars' defense absolutely should be improved in 2021 The additions of players such as nose tackle Malcom Brown, defensive linemen Jihad Ward and Roy-Robertson Harris, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and safety Rayshawn Jenkins as unrestricted free agents were significant moves in that direction – and the additions of safety Andre Cisco, cornerback Tyson Campbell and defensive tackle Jay Tufele in the 2021 NFL Draft also should help. All three of those draft selections should contribute immediately. I'll continue to say this until the season begins – that the key for this defense first is improving against the run. That's why Brown's addition is so key. If the Jaguars get better up the middle of the defense, players such as defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen and linebacker Myles Jack will be freer to make the sort of impact plays of which they are capable. And the pass rush should improve because of more pass-rushing opportunities. I don't know if that would make the Jaguars the most-improved defense in the NFL. It sure would help them be in a lot more games.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

Laviska Shenault Jr. seems to have gotten a lot of love lately. A month ago, I figured that DJ Chark Jr., Marvin Jones Jr. and he were clearly the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 (in that order) receivers. Now it seems like any one of those three could lead the team in receiving this season, even if they all stay healthy all year. Is that a strong possibility, or do you think it's safer to expect Chark to really emerge as the top target?

If forced to project, I would guess Chark will be the Jaguars' leading receiver in 2021. But it wouldn't be surprising if any of the receivers you mentioned led the team in receiving. It wouldn't be surprising if any of the three finished the season with more than 1,000 yards receiving. It wouldn't be surprising if – on a given week – any of the three were the team's go-to receiver. The Jaguars haven't had that sort of depth at receiver in a while. It's promising.

B Keepers from Saint Augustine, FL

Hey, John, I really enjoyed watching the Shaq Griffin interview. You can really pick up on his confidence and personality when he speaks. Have you been able to see a noticeable difference in the demeanor of the defense since these news guys came in?

Yes. That doesn't ensure success, but there's little question the demeanor and confidence of this defense – and this team – is different this offseason.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, it turns out tennis is kinda interesting and fun to watch after all. Who were you rooting for?

Of course, it is. I was rooting for Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's French Open final, but I wasn't remotely surprised Novak Djokovic rallied from a two-sets-to-love deficit to win. I'm not a huge fan of Djokovic but he's an absolute beast and brutally difficult to beat in big moments.

Bill from Jax Beach

Hi, John. Ae you surprised Djokovic beat Nadal in the French Open? That was truly one fine match!! The final wasn't far off. Thank you.

I was surprised Djokovic beat Nadal in the French semifinal, though not stunned. Nadal's the best ever on clay, but Djokovic is so mentally and physically tough I'm never stunned when he wins.

Dylan from Aurora, OH

I don't understand the buzz about the Jags potentially trading quarterback Gardner Minshew II for a fifth- or sixth-round pick. Minshew is so cheap and would be a super-capable backup in the event rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence gets injured. It seems extremely unlikely that you could recoup that value with a late-round pick. What am I missing here? I would say keep Minshew unless you can get a third rounder.

I seriously doubt the Jaguars will receive a third-round selection for Minshew. As far as your question – why would you trade him for a fifth- or sixth-rounder -- … well, there's no guarantee the Jaguars will do that. If the Jaguars indeed trade him for such a selection, it's because they don't agree that he's as "super-capable" as a backup as many believe. Maybe they do agree. We'll see.

Kyan from Le Mars, IA

Laviska is getting a lot of praise from coaches, and many are comparing him to running back Travis Etienne Jr. I worry we will use Laviska too much as a gadget like last year. I think we line him out wide 95 percent of the time and let him EAT. No need to get cute.


Ray from Vernon

Zone, if Zach Ertz is really on the trading block, why have we not gone after him? Can Tim Tebow really be better than Ertz? I have faith in our leadership but if we are truly looking to get better at tight end, shouldn't we at least try to get Ertz? Just a loyal fan trying to understand.

If Ertz indeed is available for trade, then the Jaguars likely haven't pursued him either because of his age, because they believe the compensation the Philadelphia Eagles are seeking for Ertz is too high – or because they're not as concerned about the tight-end position as many observers believe. It feels extremely likely that the answer is a combination of all three.

Kerry from Bethesda, MD

KOAF, just a few quotes for Reuben, whose never heard an impactful post event quote……"practice, we're talking about practice?", "they are who we thought they were," and – of course you were probably in the room for – "playoffs? Don't talk to me about playoffs!" All came directly after the "heat of battle" and were said with passion and fervor that would likely not be present hours – let alone days – later. Press coverage plays a significant role in the huge sums of money available to pay the salary/prize pools for athletes. If they want the bucks, press availability is part of the cost. Want privacy, get a different job. No one is forced to be a professional athlete!

Hey, one fer media availabilities!

Seamus from Vancouver BC

It seems a bit bizarre (compared to years passed) that the media is getting so little access to this year's OTAs and minicamps. I guess I don't understand who/how media access is decided ... I assume it is the head coach, but why? Secrecy of the playbook? Avoiding public scrutiny of the players by media? I can tell you I was confused by the first articles this season from OTA No. 2, and there was absolutely no mention of No. 1 nor reference in the articles that it was closed to media. So, how then are these things decided?

The Jaguars during 2021 Organized Team Activities opened one practice per week to the media and held media availabilities on those days. The two scheduled minicamp practices this week – Monday and Tuesday – will be open with media availabilities following them. That's what the NFL mandates teams open to the media. While the Jaguars previously have had more open OTAs, their approach this offseason is one taken by many teams – so it's not uncommon. Such a decision is that of Head Coach Urban Meyer, but again … this is not an unusual approach, particularly for a first-year head coach. It's not so much "secrecy of the playbook" as a desire to have minimal distractions for maximum concentration during a key time for installing systems and culture.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

I want to underline the nuance of the issue surrounding journalism and athletes, because both sides and specific situations definitely have merit. If athletes need journalists, then making it voluntary shouldn't have catastrophic affects. Also, the salaries shouldn't even be part of the conversation, as that's just the same thing as the social justice argument with a different twist - they are elite athletes and thus special. I am one of those "over readers" and follow the ebbs and flows of life at the 'Bank way too closely ... but I think it is the mandatory nature of it that is my hang up. After all – it's a game and entertainment at the end of the day. Again, I think it's nuanced. What is the reverse of "now get off my lawn?" Come have a beer?

It's nice to say that athletes – and all people, for example – will behave logically with an eye on the big picture and greater good. In your scenario, that would mean athletes realizing that media access is good for the sport and therefore good for the athlete. In turn, it would mean all professional athletes speaking to the media without rules dictating they do so. I guess I would say this, too: Kids need school. It benefits them and society at large. If it wasn't mandatory, many probably wouldn't go.