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O-Zone: Let the good times roll

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Brandon from Omaha, NE

Hey, O. Hypothetically, let's say left tackle Cam Robinson plays for the Jags next year. Do you think he returns with a new extended contract? I'm mostly curious if a two-to-three-year extension would allow his massive cap hit for next season to be spread out and give the team more flexibility. Cam isn't elite, but he is good. Rookie right tackle Anton Harrison got a lot better as the season went on. It would be nice knowing we have good players at both tackle spots over the next three-to-four years while the front office figures out the interior.

Conversations in the next few weeks will determine much around the Jaguars, with Robinson's future among likely topics. My sense last offseason and early in the 2023 season was that Walker Little would play left tackle for the Jaguars in 2024 with Robinson a salary-cap casualty. Robinson's three-year contract signed in 2022 made that likely – by design on the team's part. But the Jaguars' offensive line for the most part played better with Robinson than without this past season and Little never really "captured" the left tackle position, with injuries keeping him out of the lineup at various times in 2023. I think there's a chance Robinson returns next season. I would be surprised if the team extended his contract, though such a move is a possibility.

James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

Mighty O-man. I think it is funny that people say how could playing in pain affect your decision-making. These people have never tried to play sports in pain. It affects everything. You step in to throw the ball in that pain shoots through your ankles. Yeah, tell them to try it.

You're asking people to consider the possibility that perhaps Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence was negatively affected by injury late in the 2023 season. You're asking for logic and reason. This is not how many fans think about their teams.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Do you agree with Pete Prisco that, save for some wild change from left field, this is going to be basically the same middle-of-the-pack team next year as it was this year.

Not necessarily.

Rodg from Duval

Another reason to sign wide receiver Calvin Ridley. It's the Jaguars making the pick so what's the point?

The Jaguars by signing wide receiver Calvin Ridley to an extension before the start of the 2024 League Year would send a second-round selection to the Atlanta Falcons. They would retain a third-round selection in that scenario. If they don't sign him by then, they would keep the second-rounder and send the Falcons the third-rounder. You are suggesting the Jaguars should sign Ridley because they wouldn't use the second-rounder well. This is not a reason to do this.

David from Orlando, FL

KOAF – I was reviewing the current NFL salary cap hoping for some good news for my Jaguars, but unfortunately, it's not what I found. Three of the Top 5 healthiest salary caps in the league belong to AFC South teams. The Houston Texans are ranked second-best with $74,837,748 of cap space; the Tennessee Titans are third with $73,905,424 and the Indianapolis Colts ranked fifth with $66,350,395. Our mighty Jaguars are ranked 19th with $17,552,209 of cap space. So, what this tells me, while everyone else in our division is getting better in free agency, we will be spending $17.5 million to retain players and depending on bargain free agency to get better! I know, we can release some players to free up space, but so can others in our division. Are we in trouble?

I expect the Jaguars to make multiple moves before the start of the 2024 League Year to clear salary-cap space. These moves likely will involve veterans who signed as unrestricted free agents in 2021 and 2022, with many of those contracts intentionally structured so that the players would be released this offseason as the team transitioned to younger players at some positions. This was a necessary part of restocking the roster in those '21 and '22 seasons; the alternative would have been to move forward with a less-talented roster. The projected moves involving the players signed in '21 and '22 would get the Jaguars cap space to address certain areas of the roster this offseason.

Richard from Jacksonville

The biggest thing "fans" don't know is the NFL doesn't care how you feel as long as you feel something. The best day of your life is when you become an observer.

My life has been extraordinarily common. I long ago became an observer. It was not the best day of my life.

Paul from LAKE CITY

I'm old enough to remember seasons where Jaguars fans would have gladly traded their grandmothers for a quarterback with the promise that Trevor shows. Yes, he needs to improve, but anyone who thinks moving on is appropriate at this point in time has apparently forgotten what it's like to rest a season's hopes on a move like the Nick Foles move.

This is a fair statement, though perhaps not particularly kind to grandmothers.

Rob from the duuuuuu

Why would our running backs coach get fired? Does offensive line coach Phil Rauscher still have his job? It's very odd the defensive coordinator and running backs coach get fired when it is obvious the offensive line was the group that held our team back from winning. We thought we had the horses, and even got more help at the trade deadline with guard Ezra Cleveland, and the group still couldn't perform at all. I don't think I have ever seen a Jaguars team be more ineffective in the run game. If you thought one position group's coach should be fired based on his squad's performance, who would you pick? For the record I always thought Rauscher was a good coach, I just think it makes no sense to fire Bernie Parmelee.

I wouldn't pick any position coach to be fired based on his squad's performance – mainly because it is my experience that assistants aren't singularly responsible for the performance of their players. Can position coaches positively affect players? Sure. Can they negatively affect players? Sure. But do assistant coaches affect players to the point that the coach is solely responsible? Seriously? If that's true, why scout? Why select players? Why bother with any player procurement beyond tossing darts at a board? A coach can tell a player to block. He can show a player how to block. If the player can't block, is the coach to blame? Many believe so. I'm not in that group. A coach is part of the equation. A coach is not the entire equation.

Dan from Jax

Since we're not in the Dead Zone phase, would you say we're in the What-the-heck-happened phase?


David from Oviedo, FL

Zone - I've identified one big reason for the Jaguars' decline that isn't often cited, strength of schedule. In 2022, we played a last-place schedule and played just seven teams that ended the season with a winning record. In 2023, we played a first-place schedule and played 13 teams that ended the season with a winning record. In 2022, the Texans and Colts had a win-loss record of 3-13 and 4-12 respectively. In 2023, the Texans and Colts combined for 19 wins, so what we thought were teams in a rebuild actually added to a difficult schedule. Thoughts?

The Jaguars' schedule was tougher in 2023 than 2022. Their reality was that they won a lot of games against decent teams and went 2-5 against the six division winners they played. Seven of their eight losses were to teams that finished with winning records. You generally had to be pretty good to beat the Jaguars in 2023 because the Jaguars for the most part were an OK-to-good team in 2023. The outlier came in the regular-season finale when they lost to a Titans team that finished 6-11. The Jaguars weren't good enough to make the postseason against a pretty difficult schedule. That means they weren't good enough.

Clay from AB FLA

Why not a positive question? What was the best game of the season? Or to ask a different way - if you had a game tomorrow, you would want the Jags team that showed up against ___ to show up.

This could be any number of games in the first three months of the season. While detractors might say the Jaguars were flawed even while starting 8-3, they had winning traits during that time that enabled them to take a two-game lead in the AFC South despite well-documented shortcomings. They were stopping the run, forcing turnovers and making clutch plays late in games. They did versions of this to beat three teams bound for the playoffs: The Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and Texans. Let's go with the victory over the Bills in London to answer this question, though. That Jaguars team took an early lead on what ended the season as a very good Bills team and made clutch plays on offense and defense to earn what at the time seemed like a signature victory. Those were good times.