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O-Zone: Not a chance

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

I was very impressed with what I heard from our new defensive coordinator at his presser on Thursday. I love the aggressive tone he portrays when describing his defensive philosophy. Do you like this change at defensive coordinator?

Ryan Nielsen, hired as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator on January 22, on Thursday afternoon spoke to the media for the first time since assuming that position. He spoke for about 15 minutes at the Miller Electric Center and indeed set an aggressive tone for the Jaguars' defense. That's in keeping with his defensive approach, which emphasizes attacking and playing aggressively. Nielsen indeed was impressive Thursday. He appears to be quite comfortable "in front of a room" – and that's never bad when running a defense, an offense or an entire team. A huge part of coaching in the NFL is creating a culture and getting "buy in" from players, and Nielsen certainly gives off a feeling of being a leader. As for his defensive philosophy … it sounds fine, though I don't honestly know how much different an attacking and aggressive approach is from the philosophy of most NFL defensive coordinators. He also said he and the coaching staff will work to make sure the scheme fits the Jaguars' players and enables them to succeed. Bottom line: If Nielsen's approach resonates with players and can get the most out of its young players, he will succeed. It seems from first glance as if he's capable of doing this. We'll see.

John from Jacksonville

How much is Trevor's cap hit in 2024? If they picked up his fifth-year option, would that cap hit be the same? Would it make sense to spend to the cap solidifying the roster over the next two years? Then, sign Trevor to a deal – even if it'd be more than extending him now. The cap goes up anyway, right?

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence's salary cap figure for 2024 is $11.7 million and will not change if/when the Jaguars exercise his fifth-year option for the 2025 season this offseason. Lawrence's cap figure under the fifth-year option for 2025 would be an estimated $22 million, and the Jaguars almost certainly will exercise that. As for when exactly to sign Lawrence to a long-term deal, that remains one of the unanswered questions of the 2024 Jaguars offseason. And it's a complicated storyline. Either way, I expect the Jaguars will spend in free agency – more than last offseason and likely not as much as the offseason prior to that. The salary cap indeed usually rises each year and it's projected to go from $224 million to $240 this year. It makes sense for the Jaguars to spend in free agency this offseason because after some roster moves in the coming weeks, they should have the cap space to do so. Within reason. Remember: The short-term salary cap impact of signing quarterbacks to long-term megadeals can be comparatively manageable because of how the contracts are written. It's the long-term hit that's a concern and must be managed.

Bradlie from Sparks, NV

The way Nielsen spells his name makes me very uncomfortable.

Does it?

Daniel from Johnston, IA

A friend and I were discussing that it seems like most of the "good" newer quarterbacks in the league these days most were NOT No. 1 or No. 2 overall draft picks and fell either later in the first round or even after. Should or does that change how teams might approach the draft? Particularly when it comes to mortgaging their future for the first overall pick? Seems like few of the best quarterbacks in the league right now were picked No. 1.

Should it change how teams approach the draft? In theory, teams could take the approach of selecting a quarterback in the second or third round and thinking they can develop him into a front-line player – and that's a legitimate theory. But I can't imagine teams changing how they pursue quarterbacks in fact. It's a quarterback league. It's hard to win in the short-term without a really good one. It's even harder to be a long-term championship contender without a great-or-near-great one. That's why quarterbacks historically have been "pushed up" the draft board and selected earlier than perhaps their resumes have merited rather than sliding down. And that's why I expect that will continue to happen. Quarterback always will be the highest-demand position in the NFL, and demand means taking the ones you think have a chance to be good earlier not later.

Joe from Hall Of Fame City, OH

Hey, John. Simple question. Can coaches meet during the offseason unlike players?

Yes. Rules limiting offseason contact are collectively bargained to prevent teams from mandating – or even strongly hinting – that players must practice, meet or otherwise devote time to football at certain times of the offseason. It's to protect players from the overcompetitive nature, which leads many to worry constantly that somewhere someone is outworking them – even in February. NFL rules allow coaches to pretty much meet any time of the year, which is why coaches on many staffs log a ridiculous number of days and hours.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

Turnovers always kills teams. Trevor has to work on his turnover issue in the offseason. Is it fixable?

Yes. A big part of Lawrence's turnover problem is lost fumbles. That's something that can be improved with two hands on the ball, better awareness and more willingness to take sacks when a play clearly is over. As for interceptions … Lawrence threw just nine interceptions in a 16-game regular-season span at the end of last season and the beginning of this season. He threw seven in the last five games of this season while playing through a rash of injuries. The thought here is Lawrence's late-season interception surge will subside somewhat if he is healthy next season.

Shawn from Moore County, NC

I know it's early and predicting which free agents will sign where is hard to do. All the predictions I see out there only have the Jags tagging Josh Allen and possibly keeping wide receiver Calvin Ridley. My question is with so many needs on both sides of the ball why doesn't anyone project any players to the Jags? Are we that tight on cap space? I would think at the very least we sign an O linemen, DT and corner.

I can't speak for what people "out there" do or don't project about the Jaguars. But it's always important to remember when reading national analysts' thoughts on a local team that those analysts are often skimming the surface and operating on assumptions. Someone taking such an approach in this case might not realize that the Jaguars can – and likely will – clear cap space by parting ways with veterans who signed contracts in the 2021 and 2022 offseasons that made it unlikely they would play past predetermined years of their contracts. If you don't realize this, you might assume the Jaguars can do nothing else this offseason but draft and re-sign pending free agents. This is not the case. I do expect the Jaguars to be at least somewhat active in free agency, possibly at one of more of the positions you cite.

Sal from Austin, TX

I'm OK with the minimalist uniforms, especially after the last ones, which were hard to look at, but did they have to keep the weak Jaguar that's on there now? The mid 90s was a cool era, and the previous Jaguar was a symbol of that. That's when Jacksonville became an NFL city. This current Jaguar sucks.

I don't expect the Jaguars to change uniforms this offseason.

Rob from Jax

Did it seem to you in the back half of the season cornerback Tyson Campbell was not a better option than Buster Brown? It may have been that he was still struggling with injury, but he just did not seem like the same guy from last year that I thought was working his way into one of the better defensive backs in the league. I thought Brown outplayed him and by more than a little but was still replaced when Tyson was healthy. Thanks O.

I don't think you can analyze much at all – if anything – about Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell's 2023 season without considering his hamstring injury. He sustained the injury in a Week 6 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, missed six of the last 11 games and never seemed right again. Was he a better option than cornerback Montaric Brown late in the season? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Hamstring injuries are tough. They can seem OK during the week, but it's hard to know how a player will play when playing through one until he actually tries to play at maximum exertion and speed. That can be tough to simulate outside of a game situation.

Devin for RVA

Not the dead zone, but you ever work/interact with Mike DiRocco?

Not unless things go horribly awry.