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O-Zone: No going back

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

P Funk from Murray Hill

KOAF, what is the football philosophy Trent Baalke has shared with you and others? What actions as general manager have been taken to back that up? What might be done this offseason to fall into that philosophy?

Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke believes in drafting big players early – and he believes big people who are disruptive on defense near the line of scrimmage are very important. He also appears to believe it's very important to get as close as possible to proper value in free agency, and he seems to understand that free agency is a very difficult – and sometimes inefficient – way to build a team. I don't believe that understanding will preclude the Jaguars from aggressively participating in free agency this offseason, but I do sense that Baalke sees it more as a necessity than the ideal way to build a roster. A lot of fans feel differently about free agency and want to see their teams aggressively pursuing every big-name free agent. I like when a general manager and coach view free agency through a cautious, wary lens. It makes me believe they know what they're doing. Free agency can be used to strengthen a roster. And the Jaguars are in a position where they must use it. But it's better to be in a position where you can use it judiciously when you want to use it rather than having to use it. As far as Baalke "backing up" those philosophies … we'll see. He has been the Jaguars' general manager for a little more than a year. The weirdness that was the Jaguars under former Head Coach Urban Meyer makes it difficult to judge much from 2021. I expect the Jaguars to be more aggressive in free agency this offseason. We'll see how they navigate that aggressiveness. And we'll see how Baalke's tenure is viewed in a year or so. He's still very early in his time here.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

If the Jaguars were to use the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson would that be any indication on what direction they are going with the first overall pick in the draft?

It would seem unlikely in that scenario that the Jaguars would select an offensive tackle No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. It therefore would seem likely that the Jaguars would select an edge rusher because edge rusher and left tackle are generally considered the two positions likely to be selected No. 1 in this draft. If the Jaguars retain Robinson, I therefore would guess the Jaguars would select edge defender Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan No. 1 overall. That's a guess. It is only a guess.

Seamus from Sioux Falls, SD

I wonder if anyone else thinks it is a pretty cool factoid that No 71's first game was the HOF Game in 1995, and that was also the only other time we've played in the HOF game!

Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli did not play in the 1995 Hall of Fame Game. He was out with a knee injury and didn't play until Week 4 of the regular season. It's cool that he's getting into the Hall of Fame this year, though. No doubt about that.

Chris from Mandarin

How present is Jaguars President Mark Lamping around the Jaguars' business side of the facility on a day-to-day basis from what you know?

Quite.

Don from Marshall, NC

You're doing a fantastic job of being the voice of reason for most of the fans! Some fans do not want to listen and that's fine but blaming Jaguars Owner Shad Khan is really misinformed Ignorant behavior. Fans are blaming you. They act like you're inside the huddle and if you do not respond the way they want it's a conspiracy. I have yet to see anything wrong with Baalke's performance here or his past. Everyone needs to calm down it's going in the right direction. I know it has to bother you and you do a great job of not showing it. There is lots of blame to go around for last year but none of it will determine what happens next. The future is bright and Go Jaguars!

I stopped reading at "You're doing a fantastic job." It sounded at that point as if you were on the right path.

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey, Zone. Are coaches' salaries part of the salary cap? Let's go Jags.

No.

Mark from Archer, Fl

John, if you could sign either DJ Chark Jr. or Allen Robinson this offseason, which would you pick? I think I would go with Robinson because he has shown year after year he is a top-level receiver. But I am curious who would be your preference.

This is tricky, because I believe Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. will be a better – and more productive – player in Years 5-8 of his career than in Years 1-4. But because the Jaguars need to improve around quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and because they need to be as sure as possible in their offseason acquisitions, I would take Chicago Bears and former Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson in your scenario. I know exactly what Robinson is and what I'm getting. There's a little more of an unknown when it comes to Chark.

Andy Boy from Halifax

As it relates to last year's media circus and brand recognition, do you believe "all press is good press?"

Not all sayings are accurate.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I am starting to have a bad feeling about the draft this year. No top quarterbacks or skill position players. A bunch of offensive and defensive linemen with question marks. Are we about to draft the next Luke Joeckel?

There are some similarities between the 2022 and 2013 drafts at the top of the draft in the sense you reference. And there indeed don't appear to be any can't-miss prospects. This draft is considered much deeper throughout the draft than 2022. As far as drafting "the next Luke Joeckel" … it's up to Baalke and Pederson to avoid that. There will be good players in this draft. It's possible to be the team that finds them.

Matt from Houston, TX

What are the chances of Jags trading the No. 1 overall selection and a third rounder to the New York Giants for Picks Nos. 5 and 7 in the first round?

Probably minimal.

Tucker from Gallatin

Hey John, the Jaguars can't draft. That's why we have no core players or compensatory picks. People talking like the players we cut sign big contracts elsewhere? Do you see Viska being used more at running back with the injuries we have there? Viska could be our Deebo Samuel.

You're correct that the Jaguars overall haven't drafted well enough – and that has contributed to them having too-few second-contract core players. That has caused them to have to be neck deep in the free-agent market, which has prevented them from having compensatory selections. As for wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. playing more running back … yes, I could see him continuing to get repetitions there. He hasn't yet shown he is at Samuel's level in that role.

David from Ada, OK

I liked the days before they televised the draft. Now, fans seem to need to have opinions on every move a franchise makes. Personally, I don't get too worked up about something that might happen in five months. It really doesn't matter what people think about the new hires. We will either improve or we won't. I tend to believe we will improve regardless of the complexity of the management structure. It's possible no move we make is the best possible one, and the team has a great season. It could be we make all the right moves and we fail. There is a certain element of chance in football that plays a bigger role than most people believe. Having the right combination of guys healthy on the field at the same time does not depend on an executive vice president of football operations. That's all I care about. Winning. The draft, in my opinion, is boring. It's people getting excited about players who are years away from proving they were a good pick. Why not just watch the games and see it on the field?

There's some truth in what you say. The year-round, 24/7 analysis of the NFL that seems to heighten over time indeed has changed how fans and observers follow teams. And it absolutely has – rightly or wrongly – allowed far more instant analysis by fans and other "experts" to every offseason move. Is that bad? Good? Neither, necessarily. I suppose the solution for those who tire of instant analysis every second of every day of the offseason to not pay attention to that analysis. Those who enjoy it can partake as they wish. Either way, we're not going back to how it was. And that's OK. Besides, what the hell else would I do March 20?

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