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O-Zone: Halfway there

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

_Jordan from Mandarin _

Will the best offensive linemen on the team, Walker Little, now be on the bench?

This has become the Question of the Week among Jaguars observers. The Jaguars on Tuesday traded a reported sixth-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft to the Minnesota Vikings for offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland and released offensive lineman Ben Bartch. After giving this some thought since the trade, I would project Cleveland starting at left guard with Cam Robinson at left tackle, Anton Harrison at right tackle, Luke Fortner at center and Brandon Scherff at right guard. That's a projection and its accuracy is to be determined. Little played well at left tackle before Robinson returned from a four-game suspension and Little also played well in his brief lone appearance at left guard in a Week 5 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Has Walker been the best offensive lineman on the team? Some would say yes, though I don't know that that's a consensus. But it's an odd situation because Little is a starting-caliber player who has played well given his opportunity. I don't know that Robinson-Cleveland-Fortner-Scherff-Harrison would be the permanent line moving forward. But that might be the first one the Jaguars try coming out of this week's bye. Stay tuned.

Nate from St. Pete

O, anyone who doesn't appreciate the move to bring Ezra Cleveland in is missing the big picture: this offensive line is maybe the deepest in the league now. If Walker Little, Tyler Shatley and Blake Hance are hanging out on the bench for you, those are three starting-caliber offensive linemen. A lot of teams can barely field five of these guys on a week-by-week basis, yet we potentially have eight. #BaalkeMasterclass

One fer Baalke.

Daniel from Johnston, IA

I like the Cleveland trade for depth. I was surprised though that the Jags went ahead and released offensive lineman Ben Bartch? I would have thought someone else on the roster would maybe have been dropped? Are they sure it's enough of an upgrade?

Stay tuned.

Howard from Homestead

I am old enough to remember what it's like to see what could have been a perennial Super Bowl contender decimated because the team decided to swing for the fences (and miss) on over-priced players. It's not worth it to go through years of losing just to slightly increase one's chances in one year. One for Baalke.

… another fer Baalke.

Tatsuya from Kanagawa, Japan

Hi. This winning streak is a bit strange. There were bunch of mistakes and stupid penalties, and still the team has been winning. This can be both good and bad, but at least I hope the young team improves by learning from the mistakes. Do you see such a sign of learning and improvement?

The Jaguars have won 11 of 13 regular-season games and their five-game winning streak is the longest in the NFL. They are absolutely learning and improving.

Jonathon from Jacksonville

Given the Chiefs, Dolphins and Ravens schedule, what would it take for us to make number 1 seed?

Winning more games than the Chiefs, Dolphins and Ravens.

James from Socorro, NM

Why is the Jaguars defense so good this year?

Multiple reasons. The Jaguars' defense is really good against the run. And at forcing turnovers. It's a better pass rushing team than most observers realize. The players play together well after a year in defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's season. There are a bunch of good players. The communication in the secondary is much better than last season.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville

Ok let's roll this back a moment. Zay Jones is the reason the red zone offense is ineffective? I thought that is why we have possession receiver Christian Kirk and tight end superweapon in Evan Engram. Not to mention using running back Travis Etienne Jr. in the flat or as a decoy (which resulted in a touchdown). There are TOO many weapons on this offense to have it hinging on one down offensive player. Unless that player wears 16. THAT I could get, but the variety of ways they should be able to score is a bounty compared to most teams. I think offensive coordinator Press Taylor needs to start getting realistic about what this team does well and stop trying to fit the square peg in the round hole. One more thing: my friend was watching the game with me and kept asking "Why isn't Tank running the ball?" He got the ball and three plays later fumbled said ball. I looked at him and yelled "THAT IS WHY TANK DOESN'T GET THE BALL." I get it was wet, I get it was football. Dude, learn to protect the ROCK!

Wide receiver Zay Jones' absence because of a knee injury isn't the only reason the Jaguars have struggled in the red zone at times this season. But it is a reason. Jones is a reliable target who has good chemistry with quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He's good in the red zone. His presence also makes it more difficult for defenses to focus on wide receiver Calvin Ridley. He isn't everything to the Jaguars' offense. No player is everything to the Jaguars' offense, though Lawrence perhaps comes close. But Jones matters. As for running back Tank Bigbsy, he had both hands around the ball when he fumbled against the Steelers. A strong human being ripped the ball from him on a wet, sloppy day. It happens.

Michael from San Diego, CA

With nine sacks so far and nine games to go, what do you think is Josh Allen's ceiling this season for sacks? 17-18? What is the franchise record for single season sacks? Thanks KOAF and go Jags!

I expect Allen could reach the high teens this season. The record for most sacks in franchise history is Calais Campbell's 14.5 in 2017.

DuvalJag95 from J-ville

John, did they forget to tell you it's a bye week?


Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

After the start of the season and setting of the depth chart, how is a backup supposed to compete for more playing time? Does he have to get lucky with an injury to a starter? I'm looking at our defensive linemen and wide receivers at the bottom and wonder how they can prove to be in the rotation at this point. Do players get show improvement during weekly practice?

It's difficult for a player to "earn" his way up the depth chart during the regular season. It usually won't happen during practice because regular-season practices are more about preparation for the opponent. In the case of offensive linemen, defensive backs or linebackers – who often don't rotate – it often takes an injury to get an opportunity. At positions that rotate, a player can play well enough to earn larger spots in the rotation.

Jason from Jacksonville

There's no denying these Jags are good. The offense has been great at hitting big plays when they are needed most and seems they haven't even reached their full potential yet. This is the season us fans have been waiting for and I'm definitely enjoying the moment.

Good eye.

Big on Blake from Philly

This is weird, zone: 6-2 is a good feeling, a new feeling. Playing good defense and scoring when it counts. I don't want to get too comfortable with this feeling because of past experiences. The reality is the Jags have played well enough to be 7-1 and the 1 seed in the AFC. It's good to see. Now the Jaguars have a bye before playing the 49ers. Go Jags!

I somewhat disagree. I would say the Jaguars have played well enough to be 6-2 and tied for the best record in the AFC. I didn't really think they played well enough to beat the Chiefs or Houston Texans in the games they lost in Week 2 and 3. No matter. They currently have the NFL's longest winning streak. They're playing like a team with a chance to win its division and make a playoff push. That's good stuff.

Ray from Vernon

Mr. Zone Man, as a fan since the first Jags game, I join our fans in being happy that we are looking solid on both sides of the ball. Winning is indeed everything. My question is do you think that because our defensive pressure is so great, that we can continue to be disruptive enough to overcome the lack of sacks, or does sacks really matter so much, and still get us into the postseason?

Sacks matter. When sacks really matter is when the pass rush isn't good enough to pressure the opposing passer. This defense has pressured opposing quarterbacks consistently. It has done so well enough so far to help create 18 takeaways. Will it continue to do so? We'll see.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA

O, So on to the Super Bowl! Oh wait, it's only halfway into the season. Encouraging that the Jags record is the same now as the "so-called great" teams. On the way to the promised land?

We'll see.