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O-Zone: Let the games begin

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Chris from London Town

KOAF, I'm pumped for this season. I think we will be very competitive but what happens if we lose heavy on Sunday, say … 35-10??? Not sure what I would do, but it wouldn't be good.

Week 1 is the hardest week to predict in any NFL season, and it often yields strange results. The reason: It's difficult to game plan for Week 1, because teams run schemes and plays they have yet to show in game situations. There is also a slew of annual roster and coaching turnover in the modern NFL that makes it tough to prepare for – and predict – early-season games. Players and coaching having this knowledge is why their reaction in your scenario would be different from that of fans. For players and coaches, I suspect the reaction to a difficult loss would be disappointment and resolve. I doubt it would define the season and I expect they would recover quickly. For fans? I would expect panic. With accompanying violence. And despair. And perhaps some mild bloodshed. Or, as this is better known in these parts … the usual.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

There are a surprising number of analysts and oddsmakers picking the Jaguars over the Commanders. Most cite Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (with more tools), a defense expected to be significantly better than last year and the coaching/mentoring of Head Coach Doug Pederson. Are you surprised the Jags are favored?

I pay little attention to analysts and oddsmakers when it comes to projecting the Jaguars or any NFL team. I get why fans care about such things. Interest and anticipation are high during the offseason, and there's little for fans to do as seasons approach except read predictions. They just don't tell me anything of interest or help me in what I do for this website. I do know the Jaguars are "officially" about two-and-a-half point underdogs Sunday. That means oddsmakers consider the teams "evenish," with Washington getting a few points for homefield advantage. That's a little surprising considering the Jaguars' record last season, but not perhaps surprising considering serious additions made by the Jaguars in the offseason. Kickoff is Sunday at 1 p.m. The lines and predictions mean nothing after that.

Josh from San Juan

O, I don't usually care about the uniform, but the Dream Finders Homes patch is bigger than the Jag –plus it just looks terrible. Tell me I'm not going to have to see it all year. At least tell them to do something to it to make it look more appealing. It may be bigger than the number on the shoulder for crying out loud.

Breathe, Josh. Breathe. Bre-e-e-e-ee-athe. OK? Good. It's a practice-jersey patch. I suppose if you watch midweek media availabilities you'll see it quite a lot. Otherwise, you should be good.

David from Chuluota, FL

Zone – I just want to give props to Jaguars running back James Robinson for all his hard work recovering from an Achilles injury. He suffered the injury in late December 2021 and – before he could walk – he set his goal to return to the playing field for Week 1 of the 2022 season. Congrats to James Robinson for this amazing accomplishment and here's hoping he stays healthy and has a monster season!

One fer J-Rob.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

How many NFL opening days will this be for you? Any memorable ones that stand out?

This will be my 28th season covering the NFL. I never have missed a Week 1 game of a team I've covered. The first Week 1 I covered stands out, I suppose. It was the first regular-season game in Jaguars history – against the Houston Oilers at what was then known as Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The Jaguars lost 10-3 and I covered the game for the Florida Times-Union. I was much younger then, but no matter your age you were struck that day by being a part of history. If you didn't grow up in Jacksonville when it didn't have an NFL team, I don't know if it's possible to understand the enormity and coolness of that day. What once seemed impossible was real. It was surreal.

CD from Fleming Island, FL

Hi, John. I get that people like to digest and discuss expectations, and understand why you/we discuss them here. But there's nothing more useless than predictions or expectations in sports. That's exactly why we're drawn to them. It's unscripted; anything can happen. I guess it's a symptom of our tribal, either/or comment culture. But I think it's fair to be pragmatic about a team's outlook, and still be positive and hopeful at the same time. I don't think those are mutually exclusive. Comments here seem to call you out at every opportunity when you say both of those things.

What's a "comments?"

Doug from Jacksonville

I, as a fan of this team, of course want the Jags to win Week 1. Week 1 is not the end all, however. Proven by ... the Jags 2020. They were victorious over the Colts, certainly a sign of things to come, 16 - 0 in plain view .... oops: 1-15.

The Jaguars' 27-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 regular-season opener doesn't rank with the aforementioned 1995 regular-season opener in terms of memorable Week 1s I've covered. But it was a remarkable victory for the Jaguars. They were outplayed early and rallied in gutsy fashion, and the way they played belied the mess that that season was to become for the Jaguars. The Colts were a pretty good team, so I wondered if maybe the Jaguars would find a way to be better than observers believed. They didn't.

Don from Marshall NC

All you have to know is if it's round it's a burger and if it's square it's fish. Go Jaguars!

The Jaguars open the 2022 regular-season against the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., Sunday at 1 p.m. Don is "all in."

Rizzle Dizzle fo Shizzle from Atop Artemis

Game time is a few days away! I have appreciated your writing this offseason. Do you have a sense if the Jags are actively pursuing a player to finalize the roster going into the regular season?

The Jaguars, like all NFL teams, are constantly trying to upgrade their roster. This does not stop when the regular season begins. I would expect the Jaguars to continue signing and releasing players at the "bottom of the roster." I wouldn't expect many eye-catching moves at the top.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

The defense says they're going to "hang their hat" on stopping the run, but actions speak louder than words. They only have six defensive lineman and at least one or two (like Arden Key) are pass rushers and not run stoppers. We cut defensive tackle Jay Tufele so we could keep two kickers, then we cut both kickers. Not "if" but "when" injuries hit, we're going to be really thin and wear down quickly, both within each game and over the course of the season. This has been the biggest issue on this team the last two years. And both teams were last place in the whole NFL so that's a high (low?) bar to clear. This coach wasn't here so I'm worried he's underestimating how bad we've been stopping the run. You wrote yesterday that you think the defensive front will be the strength of the team. What makes you so sure? And will you be the first one to make the excuse and say "the starters are hurt" when those injuries hit? Because that would ring very hollow when they've actively put themselves in this position.

I believe the Jaguars' defensive front will be a team strength because I believe that's where they have more good players than any other position. As for the Jaguars' approach to nose tackles, defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Pederson have discussed this extensively in the last two weeks – that because of more and more teams play more and more 11 and 12 personnel, there's less need to keep as many nose tackles as was the case in past seasons. The Jaguars parted ways with Tufele because they didn't think he was better than other players on the roster, and because they believed having players such as Mario Edwards and Israel Antwine on the practice squad – and Adam Gotsis on the active roster – was ample reserve at the position. There has been quite a bit of angst over losing Tufele, angst that perhaps is greater than Tufele's performance in his brief stint with the organization. As for what I will write when/if injuries hit … I don't know what I'll write about things that haven't happened yet. I have enough trouble writing in the present.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Wow. The regular season starts on Sunday and you still suck.

Let the games begin.