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O-Zone: Maybe someday

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

The only word to describe the Jags as an organization at this point is "rudderless." There doesn't seem to be any consistent plan for how this team is going to play or be competitive. This is now at least four straight years that we've been building in completely different directions. First, we were doing whatever Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin wanted, then it was General Manager Trent Baalke/Head Coach Doug Marrone in control, then we became a "coach-centric" organization under Urban Meyer and now it's a "collaboration" with Head Coach Doug Pederson/Baalke. It's just a mess since we can't ever establish a single direction as a team. To me, this falls on Owner Shad Khan. It starts at the top. He needs to set the direction for the team so that direction doesn't completely change every time we switch regimes. Which has become every season.

You're correct in one sense – that there indeed has been a lot of change around the Jaguars in recent seasons. There has been so much change, in fact, that you even neglected to mention former General Manager David Caldwell in your leadership list. Is it too much change? Of course. Would stability be better? Of course. Does it fall on Khan? Of course. It's his team, and it's his responsibility to get the front office right. The reality is the Jaguars aren't different in this sense from a lot of NFL organization that have struggled over an extended period. When you're in that situation, you keep looking for ways to improve. Sometimes, you stay the course. Sometimes, you change. You hope eventually to improve. With improvement comes winning. And in the NFL, winning has a funny way of bringing stability along with it. Khan seems confident in the Baalke/Pederson regime. There indeed is a good feeling around this organization these days. Critics will say that that's easy to say in April, and that it has been heard before to the point of being tiresome. Those same critics will also say the good feeling only matters if the Jaguars improve and win. Those critics would be right. Obviously.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

So much for helping Trevor …

I heard this a lot throughout the weekend, and I did expect the Jaguars to select a wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft. But here's another way to look at the Jaguars' approach in the draft/this offseason when it comes to quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They moved boldly in free agency in this area by signing offensive guard Brandon Scherff, wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram. Their approach in retrospect clearly was to put veteran help around a young quarterback rather than surrounding Lawrence with young, developing players. The idea clearly is to have veterans around Lawrence now, then draft and develop in future seasons and allow Lawrence to help those young players as he gains maturity. So, no … the Jaguars didn't build around Lawrence in the draft. From their view, they already had done so in free agency.

Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL

Fun pageantry. Glad they had fun on the stage. Go get the quarterback with relentless intent. Change games.

Fair.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John. If Walker doesn't have the best season of all edge rushers picked this year, this is a terrible pick. if Walker turns not to be the best rookie drafted from Georgia's defense this year, it will be a historically embarrassing pick. That 'potential' better show, and it better show immediately.

Your opinion, though impressively bold, isn't particularly true. Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker obviously must turn out to be the best player in this draft for the selection to be universally viewed as The Right Pick. That's the nature of the No. 1 selection. But what if he has 12 sacks and Detroit Lions edge defender Aidan Hutchinson has 13? Is the selection terrible? Or what if Walker struggles a bit as a rookie and as 15 sacks in Year 2? Is it still terrible?

Bob from Sumter, SC

I know this sounds crazy but I'm going to wait to see Travon Walker play a few games before I decide if he was the right pick at No. 1.

Bob, meet Unhipcat. Unhipcat, meet Bob.

Keith from Saint Augustine, FL

This was a bad draft not because bad players were picked but because good or better players were not. Players that could have been and never were: Aidan Hutchinson, a double digit sack guy and odds on favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year; Christian Watson, a true X-receiver who could have given Trevor Lawrence another valuable weapon; and Perrion Winfrey, an interior defensive lineman who could have provided a much needed interior pass rush.

Yes, if those players are a lot better than the players the Jaguars selected it will be a bad draft. If the Jaguars' players are better than those players, that won't be true.

Chris from Jax

What do you make of the fact that Travon Walker is the first player selected as No. 1 overall in the common draft era that never made an All-Conference or All-American team in college? Seems like the definition of a "reach" to me and not the sure thing that you'd expect to be taken at #1. This just seems like more and more of the same terrible talent evaluation by the Jags (Taven Bryan, K'Lavon Chaisson, CJ Henderson, etc. – the list goes on and on) – why should we have any confidence this time will be different?

Walker was pretty much a consensus Top 10 selection since the end of last season and a consensus Top 5 selection after the Scouting Combine. If he is a miss, and if the Jaguars evaluated terribly, they're far from alone. I'm not saying there's not some risk here. But the notion that Walker didn't deserve to be selected early in this draft has gotten overblown to the point of being ludicrous.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville

Trade question and I know you love those. If the possibility arose, would you trade running back Travis Etienne Jr. and wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel? The logic to me seems easy that you get a proven talent for two players that could be great. But one has just not produced and one was injured with what could be a performance-limiting issue. It would just be sweet to give Trevor a weapon like Deebo to help this offense get productive.

Trade machine!!!!!

Garrett from Jesup, GA

Look, O. I understand that you have to try and be optimistic about the Walker pick for your job. However, it is intriguing that you changed tune after he was drafted. Before Walker was drafted all I read on the Zone was how Hutch was the safer pick. Now all I hear is that every pick is risky and Walker wasn't that much riskier than Hutch. Can you provide some insight into what changed your mind on Walker vs. Hutchinson? Did you watch some tape and decide Hutch wasn't as safe as you thought? Do you just align your opinion with the Jaguars' decision-makers because you trust their "expertise"?

I don't actually "have to try to be optimistic" about the Jaguars selecting Walker, and I have written and said multiple times I probably wouldn't have gone that direction with the selection. But that doesn't mean having to hate the selection the team did make. Yes, every pick in an NFL Draft is risky; those believing otherwise don't understand the draft. And yes, Hutchinson was the safer pick. Both of those things are true. I understand if people wanted Hutchinson. But many observers and fans are acting as if it was completely outlandish and negligent – and some sort of out-of-left-field, willy-nilly move – to select Walker over Hutchinson. And they're acting as if the Jaguars passed on players who were universally viewed as bona fide, lock-down franchise players. That's not what the top players in this draft were. Any of them. They just weren't.

Al from Fruit Cove, FL

Quick question, Mr. O: Is Travis Etienne Jr. eligible for rookie of the year honors?

No.

Cindy and Kevin Hoang from Georgia

Will the Jaguars beat the Rams?

Well, considering the Jaguars wouldn't play the Los Angeles Rams until the Super Bowl, it would be a pretty cool season even if they lost.

Tommy from Fernandina Beach, FL

The guys in the comments section really don't like you, the owner, or the general manager. Just thought I'd let you know since you don't know about the comments section.

I've never been liked that much. I suppose it bothered me once, as such things do when one is young. I'm far from young now. Now, I only care much if my wife, family and a few friends/acquaintances/coworkers like me. Perhaps they will someday. What's a comments section?

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