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O-Zone: Major difference

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Joe from Living in St. Johns down by the river

Awesome first drive. We are loaded. The fumble is irrelevant. We will win many games this year.

This email was sent immediately following the first drive Saturday night – and it's a fair way to view the Jaguars' 31-18 victory over the Miami Dolphins at EverBank Stadium in the 2023 preseason finale. The game wasn't perfect for the Jaguars, and there was so much happening that it's tough to analyze everything in one answer. But the 2023 Jaguars largely will be defined by whether their first-team offense is one of the best in the NFL. If that's the case, they have a chance to be a postseason team and perhaps make a deep playoff run. And make no mistake: While it was an imperfect performance, you saw a lot of what you wanted from that unit Saturday in its most extensive action of the preseason. The offense moved easily on its first drive before a point-blank lost fumble by rookie running back Tank Bigsby. The unit drove out of the shadow of its own end zone on the ensuing drive and finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run by running back Travis Etienne Jr. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence spread his passes between a deep, talented group of skill players and Etienne Jr. was explosive early. Bigsby looked impressive throughout the first half, too, with the lone exception his red-zone fumble. This offense is loaded. It played like it often enough Saturday to make you feel really good entering Week 1. Bring on the regular season.

Shawn from the mean streets of America

Moodachay Moodachay Moodachay Moodachay, oops.

This described the first-team offense Saturday, but there was a lot more good than bad for that group in that game.

Ed from Boynton

Open competition for all positions ... tell that to Rourke, who clearly is having a better camp. I think Coach is making the wrong choice.

First, NFL roster spots aren't decided on statistics from preseason games. And it's unrealistic to think that starting positions and depth-chart positions are decided solely that way. While preseason games are what fans see, coaches see how players approach their daily preparation, how they interact with teammates, how they deal with injuries, how they deal with adversity in and out of games, etc. If Lawrence struggled in the preseason, or if wide receiver Christian Kirk had a few preseason drops, would coaches drop them in the depth chart? Or release them? Would fans think those were good ideas? Obviously not. Those players have a body of work and have established trust with the coaches that lets coaches know over the long haul they are right for their positions. The same is true on a less obvious scale with C.J. Beathard and Nathan Rourke. While Rourke has been impressive at times against mostly third-team players, the coaches trust Beathard's experience, knowledge of the offense and regular-season experience. This is why he will be the second-team quarterback. Remember, too: Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson spent his entire NFL career as a reserve. He then won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles with a backup quarterback playing throughout the postseason. If anyone has knowledge of what he wants from a backup, it's Pederson. Either way, wrong or not, it's his choice. I get no feeling he considers it a difficult one.

JR from Callahan

I still think Rourke is a better bet for No. 2. Beathard can't move and the throw that killed the serving half is a rookie mistake. I get the sentiment the Beathard is a vet, I just see Rourke making more plays and me cursing at the tv more if Trevor goes down and Beathard is in ... like at the end of the first half. Otherwise, Jags looked fantastic.

Beathard will be the Jaguars' backup quarterback this season. I would be stunned if that's not the case.

Dave from Jacksonville

So, the Jaguars are going without a pass rush this season. It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for them.

This is a bold take, and is perhaps more rooted in perception than reality. The Jaguars for the most part rushed the passer fairly well in three preseason games, and the first-team defense allowed a field goal in essentially four series. The Jaguars believe their front seven as a whole will be able to pressure the quarterback. The regular season starts in two weeks. We'll see how the pass rush looks with a larger sample size.

Steve from A.B.

The Jags are talented enough and coached well enough that if they don't play perfectly they'll still win games. It's a nice look!

The Jaguars are deep, talented and well-coached. They have the look of a team capable of making the postseason. If they continue to improve and stay healthy, who knows?

Bill from Bostwick

CBS Sports listed Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy as a player they feel could be traded prior to Week 1. Given DaVon Hamilton's new back issue, does the O-Zone think the Jaguars could make a trade to acquire another proven defensive lineman such as Guy (or another defensive line veteran) to add to the defensive line rotation before the start of the season?

The Jaguars have cap space to add a veteran via trade or free agency. If they execute a trade, I would expect it to be closer to midseason around the trade deadline. But that's a guess.

Clayton from Shawnee, OK

The first play of the game is so telling. Miami's corner is playing off a little, respecting Calvin Ridley's speed. So, Ridley turns it into a first-down catch on an out route. Going to be interesting seeing opposing defenses match up with the Jags' offense. Bring on the regular season! #DTWD

That's what No. 1 wide receivers with game-breaking ability do. They increase the number of easy throws a quarterback can make, they strain the defense, they produce big plays and they create one-on-one matchups for other skill position players. No. 1 receivers are cool. Quarterbacks like them.

_Roger from Houston    _

Ridley looks really good, doesn't he?


Michael from Mean streets of Arlington

I love Jamal Agnew, but I see him getting cut to make room for some of the young guys. After this year, we'll need the young ones to step up and replace Zay Jones and Christian Kirk.

Agnew will be the Jaguars' punt/kick returner and fourth wide receiver this season. I would be stunned if that's not the case. I also would be very surprised if Kirk isn't with the Jaguars in 2024, but that's a discussion for a later date.

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

Think back a little more than a year ago when there was so much angst from fans about the Jaguars not re-signing wide receiver DJ Chark? Would you trade any of the current starting Jaguars WRs for Chark today? DJ continues to have injury issues as well.

Chark was always a class act in Jacksonville and a talented player. I have no reason to criticize him in this space. That said, there seems little question that moving on from him last offseason was the correct move. The front office made the right move. Even when it angered fans. Imagine.

JJ from Savannah, GA

If the Jags trade Beathard, I'm going to laugh so hard at how much you downplayed Rourke's play this preseason.

I worry about many things. I am laughed at over many things. I don't worry about being laughed at over this.

Tyler from Fernandina Beach

Jacob Harris was listed as a wide receiver/tight end at the Los Angeles Rams. I don't see Luke Farrell offering too much to the jaguars with Evan Engram, Brenton Strange and Gerrit Prince on the roster. Would it be possible to stash Jacob Harris in the fourth tight end position in order to keep wide receivers Tim Jones or Elijah Cooks?

First, the Jaguars feel differently about Farrell than you do. They consider him a very good blocker at tight end who also can contribute when needed as a receiver. I can't imagine him not being on the roster. I don't disagree that Harris may be able to play tight end, but he hasn't worked there since joining the Jaguars and that transition probably wouldn't be made during the regular season while on the active roster.

Chris from Tampa

I meant to ask this when it came up before, but isn't the "new" third QB rule the way it's always been? Maybe there's some minor difference?

The new third quarterback rule isn't the way it always has been. The NFL implemented the rule this offseason to allow teams to keep a third quarterback among its gameday inactives and play that third quarterback if the starting and backup quarterback can't play because of injuries. Under previous rules, a third quarterback would have had to be active on game day to play.