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O-Zone: Hunger pains

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

You keep saying the Jaguars' pass rush will be improved this season. I'm not seeing it. Where did we get better?

I don't know that I have said or written all that often that the Jaguars' pass rush definitely will be improved in 2022. Such things typically aren't definite. I have written that it could improve and that it needs to improve – and both of those are true. The Jaguars registered 32 sacks last season, 27th in the NFL – and that number is a big reason the team forced a league-low nine turnovers; pressure and disruption leads to interceptions and fumbles, and interceptions/fumbles as much as anything determine the effectiveness of NFL defenses these days. Will the pass rush be improved in 2022? I believe it should be – for multiple reasons. One is that the offense should be improved, which should mean more leads and therefore more pass-rushing opportunities – particularly late in games. The run defense also should improve with the additions of linebackers Foye Oluokun and Devin Lloyd, outside linebacker Travon Walker and defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi; an improved run defense should lead to better pass-rushing opportunities throughout games. Finally, players such as Walker and Lloyd in –addition to providing pressure – should help players such as Josh Allen and Dawuane Smoot be more effective. I don't expect the Jaguars to lead the NFL in sacks in 2022. I'm not sure they're ready to be a Top 5 defense. I do expect more consistent pressure than last season, which should lead to a few more turnovers. If that happens, this defense will be much more effective than it has been in recent seasons.

Vanawsum from Blountville

Any insight yet into how much Agnew might be utilized on offense this year? Seems he has potential to be very productive if given more opportunities. He definitely is a burner in the open field.

I would expect the Jaguars to use wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew as an added dimension in the offense rather an every-down option. I don't expect him to get more opportunities offensively than he did last season because injuries forced him into a starter's role last season. I expect the Jaguars to use Agnew primarily as a returner, but his speed definitely is an asset I would expect the Jaguars to try to use offensively at times.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

How are you? I am fine.

I'm good.

Bob from Bobsville

Do offensive philosophies dictate defense, or vice versa? It seems it would go back and forth but typically be the offense responding to the current defense. A case in point is most offenses are pass-oriented, which means defenses need cover guys and edge rushers. I would think against this defense with smaller ends and defensive backs that a power-rushing game could be very effective and a way for a rebuilding team to succeed quickly (focus draft on defense and pick up runners and blockers for this type of O cheap and as free agents as they are currently not in demand). It seems a "new" style offense itself is not the key, but rather having an offense that is effective against the current defenses being used.

You lost me a bit there, but the truth is probably in your second sentence. These sorts of things do go back and forth over time. If a defensive scheme or overall approach is effective, offensive coordinator are going to spend offseasons building rosters and scheming to beat that defensive scheme. If an offense is effective, defensive coordinators will do the same. My sense is right now offenses are dictating most things in the NFL because the league has gone so far toward offense-centric rules that teams must build effective offenses – and have good quarterbacks – to be successful. Defenses therefore generally seem to be scrambling to catch up and stay close. It's just hard to imagine a deficient offensive team winning consistently no matter how dominant the team's defense. In that sense, defenses are doing everything possible to get offenses off the field one or two more times a game to give their own offenses a chance. Defenses right now overall seem to be able to do less to confuse opposing offenses, but that's a general view of the league. The reality is all defensive coordinators and offensive coordinators are studying opponents this offseason looking for ways to build to beat trends. They'll keep doing the same until there is no NFL. And so it goes.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

When I watched T-Law last season, he looked indecisive, late on his throws and not all that accurate either. What do you think was his biggest on-field struggle last year and what makes you think those are going to be improved on this season?

I think Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence's biggest on-field struggle as a rookie in 2021 is difficult to define because the off-field issues were enough to influence everything. I think he'll be improved because he's in his second season and because there won't be as many off-field issues.

Greg from Orange Park, FL

How long will it take for the Jaguars to reach the Super Bowl.

I believe they can be in the postseason in 2023 if they develop well and grow in this new regime and with this quarterback. After that, we'll see.

Mike from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I'm excited and looking forward to the improved player talent the Jags have added since the end of last season. However, I believe the biggest difference and chance for success is in the overall hiring of a professional and successful NFL head coach and the staff he has assembled. What do you think?

I think Jaguars players will believe in the direction of the team under Head Coach Doug Pederson and I think Pederson will be a calming influence in what was a turbulent environment last season. If those two things are true, I think we'll get a chance to see the real potential of this team.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Do you think Lawrence has bulked up (muscle/weight) a little since last season?

Lawrence looked a little stronger physically during the offseason program, I guess. He said early this month he was down to around 212 pounds briefly following a stomach bug after playing around 221 or 222 pounds last season. I expect Lawrence to get naturally bulkier over the next few offseasons.

David from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Springsteen the best concert ever? LOL, you're showing your age, man.

So are you.

Nathan from Utah, US

Does the NFL have a ring of honor, a "Badge of honor" type of museum or enshrinement for players who were great but not famously popular. Players like Fred Taylor, Marcus Stroud, Marcedes Lewis.

The NFL has a Pro Football Hall of Fame. Teams and fans of teams can honor their favorite players outside that as they see fit. Or maybe they can just remember them fondly. Players such as Taylor and Stroud and Lewis, for example, clearly are meaningful and special to Jaguars fans. Those players resonate in individual and collective memories. That's cool. Not everything needs to be commemorated in a museum.

Tom from Nocatee

The highlight of a Gene show has to be his cover of Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Turkey" song.

Well done.

Jerry from Palatka, FL

Best five players in franchise history. Go.

Left tackle Tony Boselli (1995-2001), running back Fred Taylor (1998-2008), wide receiver Jimmy Smith (1995-2005), running back Maurice Jones-Drew (2006-2013) and defensive lineman Calais Campbell (2017-2019). The first four are easy. The fifth could be any number of players. I went with Campbell because he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a 2017 All-Pro selection – and the leader on perhaps the best defense in team history. If Campbell had spent two or three more years with the organization, he's an easy selection – and maybe higher on the list.

Chris from Sec 437

Big on Blake was also Big on Blake, I don't know that I would be reminding everyone of that moving forward.

That's not nice, either.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I'm a bit late getting to the Travon Walker Podcast, but I had to ask: How could anyone not pick him No. 1?

You're referencing the recent O-Zone Podcast with Walker. As I've said multiple times recently, it's worth a listen. He not only was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, he is an engaging kid with remarkable maturity, work ethic and singleness of approach. Those elements don't guarantee success. But they sure make likeable kid and give him a chance to be successful.

G-Dawg from Waycross, GA

Johnny O, all Gary from St. Augustine needs is a Snickers bar or two. People need to show some sympathy, because surely he's not acting like himself.

That's not nice, either. And don't call me Shirley. And you damned well better not call Gary "Shirley."