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O-Zone: Hit or miss

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Joe from Jacksonville

Hey, O-Zone. How do you see the Jaguars going about more improvement on the roster beginning next season, seeing as they are projected over the cap? Thanks!

The Jaguars already have taken one step toward improving next season by trading with the Atlanta Falcons for wide receiver Calvin Ridley. That's a significant addition. I expect them to part ways with a few veterans this offseason for salary-cap reasons, as is pretty normal for any NFL team these days. I expect relatively minimal participation in free agency, far less than last offseason, but I imagine General Manager Trent Baalke being willing to maneuver the salary cap a bit – if the right free agent is available. I don't expect major machinations in this area yet because the Jaguars project to be in a very good cap situation in 2023 as long as they keep their current contracts structured as they stand. I expect they will address cornerback early in the draft. Remember, too: A way to improve as a young team often is for your young players to continue developing together. This way often is overlooked, but it's sometimes the best way.

Andy from Halifax

When a defense is considered strong against the run, does that count how well they do against running quarterbacks? Do you see the Jags' stout run defense being able to contain Lamar?

How a defense is considered depends on who is doing the considering and how the considering is done. The Jaguars' defense has been good this season against the run. This has been true except when they have played offenses that heavily emphasize running quarterbacks – i.e., the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, with each team rushing for more than yards against the Jaguars. This makes next Sunday's matchup against the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson a major concern.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

The season is not over yet. The Tennessee Titans have a tough remaining schedule including two games versus the Jaguars. The Titans are averaging 18 points a game in offense compared to the Jaguars' 22 points. Since 2010 (when the NFL changed the scheduling process to force late season intradivision games) the Jaguars are 10-2 in the last AFC South Division home game each year (just ask the 2021 Colts) and this year we end the regular season versus the Titans at the 'Bank.

Sean remains "all in."

Matt from Philly

O-Man … on the Devin Lloyd struggles, is it fair to wonder if he is perhaps not being used properly? I watched Micah Parsons at Penn State as a traditional linebacker with some pass rush ability come into the NFL and become one of the top pass rushers in the league. It's not fair to expect Lloyd to be Parsons, but wasn't Lloyd supposed to have similar skills? Lord knows the pass rush could use some juice … why not give him some more pure pass rushing reps?

Lloyd in the last few weeks has struggled with recognition and assignments, as is common for some rookie NFL linebackers. It would be tricky adding more responsibility immediately, though having him rush the passer more makes sense in the long run.

Jay Pee from The Vortex

In an earlier question, someone mentioned Jaguars rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker's lack of pass-rushing techniques. How many different pass-rushing moves are there? Would you mind describing them?

There are various pass-rush moves, and many look slightly different depending on the technique and skill level of the player. The moves also can be combined. Some of the basic: bull rush (powering through and over an offensive lineman), rip (getting low on one side or the other of an offensive lineman and ripping up with the inside arm through the arm an offensive lineman), swim ("swimming" an arm over the offensive lineman after pushing the offensive lineman to a side with the opposite hand) and spin (making contact with the offensive lineman, then spinning around him). There are more, many of which combine elements of the above moves. These are very basic and admittedly poor explanations with longer articles and books from wise sources available to provide far better and deeper detail. Hand technique also is critical to many more advanced moves, with very few pass rushers skilled in this area upon entering the NFL.

Chance from Tecumseh, Canada

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence sits eighth in passing yards, 14thin completion percentage, tied for 12th in touchdowns and 15thin quarterback rating. These numbers are so much better than last season. People need to stop hating. Yes, he has made some HUGE mistakes and perhaps these numbers could be better, but he's a lot of the reason why we have three wins and have been close in every game.


Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

Aren't position coaches supposed to develop talent? If so, shouldn't the pass rush coach help players develop pass rush moves and strategy? In Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's presser, he indicated that the player needs to use the techniques they have developed. I don't get it. I don't understand why these players aren't developing and performing so poorly despite their athletic skill.

I confess I always struggle with this question. And I know my answers frustrate fan who want to assess blame and point fingers. I understand the instinct, but I just can't in good conscious write that it's a position coach's "fault" when fans are disappointed in a player. A position coach can coach. He can teach. He can cajole. He can do many things – even everything sometimes – right. At some point it's a player's league. A player must succeed, fail, win and lose – and a coach can only do so much. I've seen too many people I consider good coaches succeed with one group of players in one set of circumstances and fail in another to think that coaching should receive all credit and blame for everything. This is not to say coaches don't have value. They do. But at some point, players play. I know this runs counter to what many analysts preach and say, and it's quite possible they're right and I'm wrong. Probably it's like most things and the answer is somewhere in between. I do know it's always coaching in the NFL. I'm always sure of that.

Mike from Nocatee from Jacksonville

You missed the point on the Jeff Saturday question. It is beyond belief that someone with his lack of head coaching experience would have been hired if he had been black.

That wasn't the question. It's a legitimate topic and discussion point. You may not or may not be correct, and it will understandably continue to be discussed in that vein. But that wasn't the question.

Jason from Suffolk, VA

Percent chance the Jags put things together after the bye, go on a Cinderella run, and make the playoffs? Happy Bye Week!

The chances realistically are very slim. That's not because the Jaguars can't improve dramatically in the final seven games. I believe they will improve and that that improvement could mean winning three, four or even five (maybe) games. Winning five games would mean finishing 8-9, which probably wouldn't mean making the playoffs. The Jaguars realistically will need to win all seven games to make the postseason. While achievable, it's just difficult to predict any NFL team – even the best ones – winning seven consecutive games, particularly when five of those teams also are contending for the postseason.

Austin from Jacksonville

You say rosy but it wasn't long ago Sunday's game would have been 51-17. I remember former Jaguar quarterback Blake Bortles going up against the "best team in the NFL" in his second year. The game against the Chiefs, considering the power rankings was better than expected.

This 2022 Jaguars team is better than the 2015 Jaguars team that lost to the New England Patriots, 51-17. I would be surprised if this Jaguars team lost in such a fashion. I was not surprised they lost to the Chiefs last Sunday in relatively competitive fashion. I was a touch surprised that the game didn't feel a little closer. The Chiefs led at one point 27-10 and the Jaguars needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to make it tighter. I expected the Jaguars to be a little more efficient offensively and to make it closer in the third and early fourth quarters.

Howard from Homestead, FL

In a typical year, the best kicker in the draft can be obtained with a pick in the later rounds. Draft any other position in those rounds, and you're getting a backup. So why do the Jags prefer off-the-street kickers? Doesn't a fantastic kicker usually win or lose more games than a backup safety? Help me understand.

You can get quality kickers in the draft or off the street. You can also miss on a kicker in the later rounds of the draft just like you can hit on them.