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O-Zone: More than enough

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

David from Orange Park, FL

Zone, to me this offseason starts (and ends) with the offensive line. I don't get a feeling they're going to address this – and I'm scared of how it will look next season. This is not good.

Easy there, big fella. It's February 23 – and because we're not yet to the NFL Scouting Combine, the 2024 NFL offseason still is in very much a percolation period. The Jaguars have been meeting and planning, but not much talking – at least not publicly. I now expect the Jaguars' plan for their offensive line – and for other areas – to gain clarity as the March 13 start of the 2024 NFL League Year approaches, perhaps beginning when General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Doug Pederson speak at the combine next week. I do expect the Jaguars to address offensive line this offseason, and I expect it will look significantly different next season. As to specifically how it will look, that's tricky. There are multiple possibilities here, with the Jaguars having different options at pretty much every offensive-line position. They could retain Cam Robinson at left tackle and leave Anton Harrison on the right side with Walker Little as the swing tackle – or they could release Robinson, move Harrison to the left and start Little on the right side. They could re-sign Ezra Cleveland and start him at left guard, or they could go another direction there. They could leave Luke Fortner at center and trust he will improve in Year 3, or they could draft/sign competition there. I expect they will release veteran right guard Brandon Scherff because of his salary-cap figure, with second-year veteran Cooper Hodges a possibility there. Or maybe Little moves there. Or maybe there's a draft selection involved. Either way, this won't be left unaddressed.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, As you know, and have stated in your recent postings, the offensive and defensive lines are critical to the success of an NFL team. I believe the Jags have been rated poorly. What was the 2023 rating for the top four teams last year, and which teams?

I'm not sure what "ratings" you mean here. Pro Football Network ranked the Jaguars' offensive line No. 28 in 2023. The offensive line rankings for the conference finalists: Kansas City Chiefs (No. 14), San Francisco 49ers (No. 15), Baltimore Ravens (No. 2), Detroit Lions (No. 4).

Kevin from Jacksonville

I don't feel so good.

Get some help.

Marcus from Jacksonville

John, I'm not one to think that Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is a bust and that we need to move on. In fact, if it were up to me, I'd pay him today, because I think he's going to be great. But, is it really fair to continue characterizing his pre-injury performance last season as elite or close to it? The narrative around these parts lately has been that before his injury in the Cincy game that he was playing really well, and that injury plus all the others is what derailed the season. He definitely had a decline with the injuries, that can't be denied, but before the injury it's not as if he was playing lights out. If you take his stats from the first 11 games and project them for a full 17, it puts him squarely in the middle of the pack of NFL quarterbacks with 4,250 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 touchdowns. Is it possible that the record in the first 11 games was less reflective of Trevor's great play and more about the defense getting two or more turnovers in seven of those games? They had one such game in the final six. If Trevor had not been injured, odds are they win at least one more and go to the playoffs, but I still think it would have been an offensively disappointing season, given the expectations going in.

This is a fair assessment. If you look at Lawrence's performance from late in the 2022 season through the Cincinnati game, he overall was playing at a high level. If you just look at the first 11 games of 2023 season, he indeed was playing statistically good – though, as you note, hardly elite. My point in discussing pre-injury play and post-injury play with Lawrence is that he is not the awful quarterback that many Jaguars observers seem to believe these days. Still, he absolutely must improve from how he was playing in the first 11 games of this past season.

Keith from Duuuval by way of Miami

Do you know if Tony Boselli has ever considered a front-office role with the organization or even an advisor role? He seems to have a lot of knowledge of the organization, plus his experiences on and off the field as well as being the only Hall of Famer in team history, he would seem to be an asset for the Jaguars and I think he would be great in that type of role.

I think former Jaguars left tackle and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Boselli is an outstanding football mind and would be very good in various roles. I never have told him this and don't plan to tell him this. Low self-esteem is not among his many issues.

Shawn from Moore County, NC

I have a thought. Because I really want to know what we have in Lawrence, I built a plan to really see. I cut Scherff and let Ezra and wide receiver Calvin Ridley leave in free agency. I signed guard Robert Hunt as a free agent from Miami. I re-signed Robinson to lower his cap hit this year. Round One, I drafted Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson. Round Two, I draft North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker. Round Three, UConn guard Christian Haynes. Round Three trade up for Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton. This will give us a starting offense of Burton and Walker on the outside, and Kirk in the slot with Robinson at left tackle, Haynes at left guard left guard, Johnson at center, Hunt at right guard and Anton Harrison at right tackle. If my plan works, we focus on defense next offseason. What do you think of it?

I think you have been very busy this offseason.  


O-ZONE. If competition is good for player development, why isn't it good for the quarterback room, too? Backup C.J. Beathard, while a good backup, has no chance of beating out Trevor. Shouldn't Baalke be looking for the next Brock Purdy or even Nathan Rourke?

I expect Baalke to continue to work to develop the quarterback position behind Lawrence. It wouldn't be shocking to see a quarterback signed as a collegiate free agent after the 2024 NFL Draft. I expect Baalke will try to sign the best quarterback possible in that situation.

Chuck from Jacksonville

O, a lot of the conversation on the team free agents has centered on Ridley and outside linebacker Josh Allen. What are some thoughts on the second-tier guys: Wide receiver Jamal Agnew, defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot, outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, cornerback Tre Herndon, offensive lineman Tyler Shatley, kicker Brandon McManus, guard Ezra Cleveland and maybe a few more? We can't sign everyone, but give us some wisdom on these and maybe some others. Thanks.

I expect the Jaguars to want to – and to try to – re-sign Cleveland. On the others, I am less certain.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

Am I mistaken that this franchise blew every first-round pick for over a decade? I think the current guy is hitting on his top picks. Yet people hate on him. They love the head coach, though. That guy walks on water, even though he has done nothing.

One fer Baalke.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Would you say that considering the injuries, the left tackle being suspended, and how janky the interior played that the Jags O-Line was bottom 5 in the NFL?

The Jaguars' offensive line for the most part didn't run block well enough in 2023, which left it vulnerable at times while pass blocking. It must improve. I don't know specifically how they compare to all other NFL offensive lines.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I took a while off after the season. Good to see you still suck.


John from Jacksonville

You've explained compensatory selections are based on gains and losses in free agency. Is it strictly numbers of players or does position and salary figure into the equation?

The NFL figures compensatory selections based on a formula that is based primarily on performance and salary, though the league has not made the specific formula public.

Joe from Jacksonville

I understand where Bradford from OP is coming from. The world is ready for more O-Zone. O-Zone on music, politics, the economy, societal issues, philosophy. Even take a stab at O-Zone Meteorology. Could be a lucrative look at what's behind the O-Zone mask?

The world doesn't want more O-Zone.