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O-Zone: Just read, baby

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bill from Bostwick

Keep it real with this question for the O-Zone: IF the Jaguars start the season 0-for-September, might the team be psychologically finished and Head Coach Doug Pederson be in danger of losing the team? That's a brutal way for any returning playoff team to start a new season, let alone a team that crashed and burned at the end of last season.

Wow. So much for Positivity Day in the O-Zone. Still, I understand the premise here. The Jaguars indeed have a difficult September stretch to start the 2024 regular season: At Miami (11-6 last season) in Week 1 on September 8, home against Cleveland (11-6) in Week 2 on September 15, at Buffalo (11-6) on Week 3 on September 23 and at Houston (10-7) in Week 4 on September 29. I suppose the Jaguars theoretically could go 0-4 against those teams and that indeed would be a tough blow psychologically. It would be the sort of start that tests a head coach's ability to keep a team together. That's possible anytime a team loses two or three consecutive games. And while that's not necessarily exclusive to this year's version of the Jaguars, it would be particularly difficult considering the 1-5 finish to the 2024 season. At the same time, there's no real reason to think the Jaguars can't win a lot of those games to start the season. This is a team that has won more games than it has lost the last two seasons. Because of the way the team finished, people tend to forget that. What would happen if the Jaguars lose all of their September games? Here's hoping we don't have to find out.

Marcus from Jacksonville

Even though we already knew the opponents, it seems now that the schedule has been released, fans are experiencing angst about the difficulty. I looked at last year's preseason strength of schedule, based on opponents' previous year's record. The Jags were No. 23 in SOS preseason (.477), but the actual SOS at the end of the season would put them at No. 7 (.542) – much more difficult than anticipated. The Philadelphia Eagles, on the other hand, started at the top of the list at .566, but in the end their actual SOS was .492. Don't you think the whole strength of schedule thing is a bit overblown? There will be easy opponents that turn out to be hard, and difficult opponents that don't live up to expectations. In the end, it's the NFL. Every game is difficult. Ifou're a good team, you find a way to win enough to make it to the playoffs.

There are many overblown statistics in the NFL. There is a lot of misplaced analysis. Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know that I long have believed that strength-of-schedule is among the most overblown and misplaced statistics. This is largely because of the reason you cite.

Zach from Jacksonville

A good number of fans I see on social media constantly have a negative outlook on the team. Last year, I would have to agree the team returned nearly every starter, was conservative in free agency, and outside of right tackle Anton Harrison, drafted a lot of backups that didn't integrate well in their rookie years. This year I can't defend the Negative Nancys. A new defensive coordinator, spent a lot on free agency, they went and drafted quarterback Trevor Lawrence a guy they think is a No. 1 receiver (Brian Thomas Jr.) and got a lot of depth linemen who are big and nasty. This is a new look team. I don't know if they'll be better or worse, but I don't have to watch them stagnate and stay cozy at 9-8 with the same team again.

One fer doing a lot in the offseason.

Shawn from The Mean streets of Palatka, FL

Where do you see Buster Brown fitting in this upcoming season? I thought he flashed his talents pretty well in his limited use on the field.

Jaguars cornerback Montaric Brown indeed played well at times when given the opportunity in his second season in 2023. I expect him to be a reserve corner this season.

Scooter from St. Augustine, FL

If Jaguars are in a 4-3 defense, who do you think will start in the 4? The 3?

This is a fair question. It's not all that easy to answer in an NFL era when teams often rotate personnel and packages. My thought before seeing this team on the field is that Josh Allen and Travon Walker will start on the outside of the defensive line with defensive lineman Arik Armstead and either Roy Robertson-Harris or DaVon Hamilton starting on the inside – perhaps depending on the matchup in a given week. I don't expect the Jaguars to play a pure "4-3" scheme with three linebackers very often. I expect Foye Oluokun and Devin Lloyd to start at linebacker and play in most of the packages.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Do you really play FIFA? What's your Premiere team?

I don't have a particular team. I play FIFA 15 on Xbox One. I play World Class level. I choose a team in Football League 2 and play career mode until I get fired. Sometimes I reach Premier League. More often, I get fired. I get fired a lot.

Jerry from Italia, FL

Zone, I think I asked this question last year around the time of the first game on a streaming service It wasn't answered, so I figured no harm in asking again. With the NFL and other professional sports being exempted from US anti-trust laws and therefore subject to additional government oversight, is it going to take Congressional intervention to prevent at least the NFL from acting like the greedy monopoly it is?

I expect it indeed would take something extreme to get the NFL to stop signing contracts with streaming services. Would Congress ever intervene? I've heard very little to make me think that would happen. I would guess it will take more than the number of games that are currently being streamed each year. Never say never, I guess.

Brian McD from Wheeling, WV

I personally don't mind the schedule. Seems to me that we've usually played our best ball against the better teams and choked on the easier ones. We got a dang good shot at a Super Bowl run if we can make it to the playoffs. Plus, we would have an idea of how to game plan since already facing them earlier in the season. How do you feel about that John?


Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

Assistant general manager Ethan Waugh has been the public face for the Jaguars' front office lately. What will be the balance between General Manager Trent Baalke and Waugh in terms of public engagement? How are Baalke and Waugh allocating general functions between themselves?

Waugh indeed has been a bit more high-profile in recent weeks. He spoke to Kai Stevens of Jaguars Media after various selections in the 2024 NFL Draft. He also spoke to the media before 2024 Rookie Minicamp. I expect moving forward Baalke will speak to the media when warranted and Waugh will do so at times. Waugh is the assistant general manager and Baalke is the general manager, as has been the case since Waugh joined the franchise in 2022.

Thomas from Section 125 from Jacksonville aka DUUUVAL

Why is Trevor "BUST" Lawrence generational talent is not getting the same criticism as Blake "BOAT" Bortles? And Trevor offense is better than what Bortles had ! It doesn't take long to identify a bust when you were called a generational talent. Patrick Mahomes is a generational talent and possibly will be the Goat once his career is over. Our organization and fans need to stop being in denial with false hope when spend to much of our hard earned money to see a bust at quarterback.

Wow. One not fer Lawrence, I suppose.

Nicholas from Fort Cavazos, Texas

KOAF: I am way behind on O-Zones (March 26th) but I am slowly catching up by reading four-plus O-Zones a day. What's the recommended maximum O-Zones per day to maintain good health? Second question: With all the graphics on screen during NFL games how about a graphic with the players salary so fans can better understand that blaming a guy making $800,000 per for losing the battle against a guy making millions per year is a bad idea. Do you think having more perspective on player salaries would make fans less critical on "cheap" players if they made a bad play?

First question: Read 10 O-Zones a Day, always. Even if that means reading the same one repeatedly while taking your daily constitutional. You'll find that your day can't possibly get worse after that. Second question: I don't think it's a good idea to post player salaries in the graphics. People who care about salaries usually know them. People who don't would find them horribly annoying.