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O-Zone: High and tight

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from St Johns

Et Tu, John? There's enough pessimism in your column without you helping! It's a new year, new people, new philosophy. Embrace it!

I repeatedly in recent weeks have said I expect the Jaguars to dramatically improve this season. I believe the defense will improve, and I believe quarterback Trevor Lawrence will look like a franchise – elite quarterback – by season's end. I expect this team to win three or four more games than last season, and I expect the team to continue improving for the foreseeable future –because of Lawrence, a developing core and the professionalism/experience of Head Coach Doug Pederson. I also expect the Jaguars to be more competitive in many losses this season than in recent seasons. None of that is "pessimism." I don't expect the Jaguars to qualify for the postseason; I expect the offense to have some inconsistencies because Lawrence and other offensive players will be playing in a new offensive system. Those inconsistencies could hurt enough to at times negate what I believe will be significant defensive improvement. It's difficult to improve from 3-14 to the postseason. Such turnarounds are historic. The Jaguars could do historic things this season. But it's not negative or pessimistic to acknowledge that doing so isn't expected – and that it's very, very difficult.

Greg from Section 122, The Bank, Jacksonville

Okay, settle this and clarify something. Some concern was voiced about the fact Trevor has been in three different offensive systems in the past three seasons. Does that really hamper a quarterback's development that much? The concepts don't change: Scan your field, find the best open option and make the throw. Maybe that is oversimplifying this a bit. From an outsider's perspective, it doesn't seem like it should be all that difficult. It is like being a professional chef, just cause you change venues you don't forget how to cook. The basics are all the same. Either you can cook, or you can't. Figures being a quarterback or football player is very much the same. Either you are the man, or you aren't.

Being in multiple offensive systems doesn't necessarily hamper a quarterback's development – and you're correct that if a quarterback is going to be "the man," he can work through difficult circumstances. But changing offensive systems can cause difficulties in Year 1. Pederson certainly realizes Lawrence likely will face such difficulties this season, and made it clear this week when discussing Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz and Lawrence. Wentz had a near-Most Valuable Player season in his second NFL season in 2016, doing so playing for Pederson with the Philadelphia Eagles. But Pederson reminded reporters this week that Wentz was then in his second season in Pederson's system whereas Lawrence will be in his first season under Pederson in 2022: "It's similar, but it's different because Year 2 for Trevor is a different staff — a different head coach, different coordinator, different position coach. Carson Year 2, it was the same guys, and there was consistency there. Although we've seen tremendous growth in Trevor, Year 2 for Carson with us, there was another step, another leap there. Those are things we're trying to get Trevor to, that level with Trevor in our system, and you're going to see it probably throughout the course of the season." Yes, if you're the man you're the man. But even if you're the man, it can take time to adjust to new circumstances. Particularly if you're a young man.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Quarterback Peyton Manning went from 3-13 his rookie year to 13-3 his second year with the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. Vegas had that team at 6.5 wins to start season. That year they added one good interior lineman. They replaced Marshall Faulk with Edgerrin James at running back. Wide receiver Marvin Harrison entering his fourth year went from OK to a monster. The main changes they made were defensively, which allowed Manning the opportunity to win games in the fourth quarter, which he did over and over again. I see a lot of similarities in the Jags. I believe Lawrence will have many good chances to win games with late-game drives. Lawrence has the ability. The combination of James Robinson and Travis Etienne can replicate James. The question is, Does Kirk have the ability to turn into that Marvin Harrison-like monster?

You skim over some details – and some questions. You're essentially saying Lawrence can be Manning, and that Etienne/Robinson together are as good as James in his prime. Manning, James and Harrison are all Hall of Famers who were in the Pro Bowl in that 1998 season. That means you're essentially asking if Kirk, Lawrence and Etienne/Robinson all will start playing at a Hall-of-Fame(ish) level this season. It's not a criticism of those three players to think that that's perhaps a reach. Perhaps let them play a game together before we enshrine them in Canton.

Todd from Section 124

All over the league, players who spent parts of the preseason with a team have been waived/released and subsequently signed by an early season opponent. What impact does this roster movement have on audibles, on field calls, etc. when you know some of the intel they possess has been shared? Is there an element of gamesmanship involved?

Players get waived and signed to new teams every week of every NFL season. Teams occasionally adjust audibles and on-field calls if there's a thought that another team might know verbiage or calls. But most teams have ways to adapt or disguise such things so that it's not a major issue.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, how is K'Lavon Chaisson still on the active roster of this team. It's not like they don't have ample data on the guy. They must know he's not it. Do you honestly think he's an NFL caliber player?

Chaisson is on the Jaguars' active roster because he's one of the best 53 players on the team and because he's a quality backup outside linebacker. He hasn't played to his status as the No. 20 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, but you don't focus on draft status when making roster decisions.

Dan from Munich, Germany

Hi, John. Can you please go one week with not answering stupid questions and concentrate on questions from people who support this team regardless? Getting tired of the vanilla fans this organization has built up over the years in Florida.

I've answered questions in this forum every day since August 2011. I'll probably take much the same approach to doing so this week as I have the previous 577.

Tommy from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hey Zone, if the Jags lose to the Commanders on Sunday should we put away our teal-colored glasses? The season would start off with a bad taste just like last year and the year before.

The NFL season is long – and Week 1 often is a poor predictor of end-of-season records. Many teams every season lose in Week 1 and recover to contend. Some teams win Week 1 and contend. If the Jaguars lose Sunday, it won't define their season. But will fans toss the teal-colored glasses? Will fans lose hope? Will the inbox be its old chaotic self? Sure. Fans fan. It's what they do.

Becker from the Bronx

"JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …" so goes the O-Zone. Maybe you could give it a little bit more zip - get your readers behind the Jags.

I've answered questions in this forum every day since August 2011. I'll probably take much the same approach to doing so this week as I have the previous 577.

Stuart from Cottonwood AZ

Zone, Mike Hollis was "the" kicker when it comes to the last line of defense on kickoffs. The problem is NFL Films produced a short about tackling by kickers, and it was right after Mike was destroyed in a nationally televised game by Herschel Walker when he was with Dallas. Of course no one cared about the six or seven times the brave young 5-feet-7, 175-pound Hollis stopped players that outweighed him by 60 or 70 pounds because it was so funny to watch him fly through the air like a rag doll. I'd like to see the NFL revisit the idea and actually look at the statistics when they write their copy.

Where would be the fun in that?

Scott from Jacksonville

The rules of Pro Football Hall of Fame voting are simple. Only on-field performance is allowed to be considered. Officially, Jimmy's off-the-field curriculars have no bearing on whether or not he gets into the Hall of Fame.

That's how it is – officially. Human nature is such that some Hall voters likely consider off-field issues. The thought here is former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith's off-field issues aren't the type that many votes would hold against him.

Daniel from Duval

I see you Johnny-O with the fresh cut on Drive Time!

When it's "go time," Zone goes.