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O-Zone: Great expectations

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Benjamin from Jacksonville by way of Upstate, SC

I'm not in the group that thinks Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson has lost the team, but I get where those people are coming from. It was obvious to anyone watching that the offensive play-calling was a problem with Press. The fact it took until the offseason for him to make a change is fairly egregious and contributed to last year being a lost season. What are the key differences that you see between Doug and Press as play callers?

Perspective remains everything in life, I suppose. While many Jaguars observers thought offensive coordinator Press Taylor's play-calling was a problem last season, Head Coach Doug Pederson didn't think so – and I never got the impression Pederson was remotely considering "taking back" play-calling. The thought here was that turnovers along with a downturn in run-blocking in big situations, particularly along the line's interior, was a far bigger factor in the Jaguars' offensive "struggles" in 2023 than Taylor's playcalling – and I absolutely think Pederson saw it that way. The reality was the Jaguars' offense was very similar in 2023 to what it had been in 2022 until the final six games of the season – which was, perhaps not coincidentally, when wide receiver Christian Kirk was lost for the season and when quarterback Trevor Lawrence dealt with multiple injuries. The biggest reason Pederson didn't change play-calling during the season? He and Taylor work together constantly to prepare the offense – and are therefore essentially of one mind. That was true when Pederson called plays in the first halves of games in 2022 with Taylor calling plays in the second halves and it was true last season when Taylor called plays the entire game the entire season. The difference between the two as play-callers was minimal in 2022 and it was minimal again in 2023, perception to the contrary notwithstanding.

GP from Savannah, GA

I still think Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke should have signed outside linebacker Josh Allen to a long-term contract – which was his intention all along according to what he has said – and tagged wide receiver Calvin Ridley. This way you get both – and Allen will most likely get the same deal now or later. Poor move by GM and now we have a new receiver who wasn't as productive as Ridley last year.

This opinion is shared by many. I expect it will be the narrative until next season. The Jaguars must succeed and win to change the narrative. This is how narratives in the NFL work.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: I realize this is a good problem to have and the Jags haven't had this for a long while but ... Josh Allen, Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne Jr., outside linebacker Travon Walker, inside linebacker Devin Lloyd and right tackle Antoine Harrison. Can the team re-sign all of them in the era of the salary cap?

I think the Jaguars will be able to re-sign all the players from that group that they want to re-sign.

Zach from Jacksonville

Defensive tackle Arik Armstead signing feels a lot like former Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson anchor of the middle of that defense. Throw in another pass rusher with the duo of outside linebackers Travon Walker and Allen and dare I say … quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the "Return of Sacksonville."

Armstead if healthy has the potential to make a major impact on the defensive line. This Jaguars defense doesn't seem to have quite the playmaking ability – or quite the depth – of the 2017 Sacksonville defense. But with Armstead, Walker and Allen this front absolutely can generate disruption.

*James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville     *

Just curious, Mr. O do you think Calvin Ridley was worth the third-round pick. For only having him for one year. And we didn't even make the playoffs. Seems like a pretty steep price we paid. Plus after having the year under his belt, I'm sure he'll probably be better next year.

Would you trade a third-round selection for a player if you knew beyond doubt you would only have him for a season? Probably not. When trying to build a roster, would you risk a third-round selection for a player you thought might be a WR1? I suspect most people would.

Jason from North Pole, AK

You stated that you don't see wide receiver at Pick 17 happening. Doesn't the push for using our limited cap space on Ridley and the rumors (if true) that we were kicking the tires on a trade for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Ayuik trade demonstrate that the Jaguars still see wide receiver as an immediate need? Both of these things took place after wide receiver Gabriel Davis was signed.

I indeed have said and written often that I don't see the Jaguars selecting wide receiver at No. 17 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. I expect I will waffle a bit on that stance between now and the April 25-27 draft because there could be a really good receiver available there – and because the Jaguars could use a really good young receiver. My thought in saying I don't expect receiver at No. 17 is more because I expect the selection to be cornerback – or perhaps offensive line – than thinking the Jaguars wouldn't like a good young wide receiver. That's still the thought here. Stay tuned.

Crash from Glen Saint Mary, FL

OZ! So, Christian Kirk, Gabe Davis and Zay Jones at wide receiver for the Jaguars. Those dawgs can hunt. By the way … anybody notice that Jaguars tight end Evan Engram's and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce's 2023 stats are roughly the same?

Apparently at least one person did.

Marlin from Greenway Palms, FL

Hi Zone, I appreciate reading the mock draft tracker each week, and have for years, but why don't you report Mel Kiper and other ESPN analysts' mock draft picks?

I strive in the weekly mock draft tracker to provide readers a glimpse of what analysts are thinking about the Jaguars' first-round selection. The idea is to give a representative sample size of respected analysts without including so many that they're overwhelming. I have nothing against Kiper and other ESPN analysts, but their work is often behind a paywall. It's therefore often not included.

Andy from Canmore, AB

Do you think Tim Jones, Parker Washington, Elijah Cooks or any other of the young options from the practice squad have a chance to earn some more opportunities and quench the need for drafting a wide receiver in the first round? I think cornerback is by far the biggest need and would wonder what the Jags think of their younger wideouts perhaps taking a bigger step this season to fill the WR5 and WR6 spots on the roster behind Kirk, Davis, Zay and Devin Duvernay. Any chance those young wide receivers could step up with extra years under their belt? What do you think?

I would be surprised if Washington gets significant reps unless Kirk is injured, and Jones from this view seems like a special teams player. Cooks showed potential and the thought here is this is a critical season for him to show if he can fit into a receiving rotation or be more of a career-practice-squad/backup option.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

Why don't we just draft a star receiver? Wow. I don't think the jaguars have ever drafted a top tier receiver. Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell were free agents, if I recall correctly. Then we had an entire decade of misses that included Matt Jones and Reggie Williams. Justin Blackmon looked the part, but we all know that story. Then Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson – and a whole bunch I can't remember in between. From a Jaguars fan's perspective, receiver is the most difficult position to draft. I will say that missing on Justin Jefferson is one I can't forget. That one stings especially considering what they did with the following selection and the selection after that.

This is a good rundown of the Jaguars' difficulties selecting wide receiver. To be fair when considering the Jaguars' current situation, the current regime hasn't focused on the position in the last three drafts – and the last Round 1 receiver indeed was Blackmon in the 2012 NFL Draft. Bottom line: It's silly when analyzing the wide receiver position to say "the Jaguars can't draft receivers." The team has drafted one – Washington in the sixth round in 2023 – under current football management. There's no reason they can't draft the position successfully moving forward, particularly with more good players increasingly developing and entering the NFL.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

So, draft picks are supposed to be starters that make immediate impact, right? That's what everyone expects all year, except right before the draft. Everyone is talking about talent to develop over the long term right now. Personally, I don't expect much from rookies.

Me, neither.