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O-Zone: Not far off

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

JR from the Squatchlands

O-man, the Jaguars basically got Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz fired from the Indianapolis Colts after what they did to him in last year's season finale. Not to mention Coach P probably knows Wentz better than anyone in the league. Do you see these as advantages that will give us the edge in this week's matchup or is this the "modern NFL" and that is all moot?

The sorts of connections typically are a bit overrated in that they are great pre-game storylines that often don't matter much once the game begins. Yes, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson coached Wentz from 2016-2020 with the Philadelphia Eagles. And Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor has a similar background with Wentz, having coached him with Philadelphia and with Indianapolis last season. But as Taylor noted this week, those experiences came with Wentz playing in Pederson's offensive system. Washington does not run that system, so there's a limit to what Jaguars coaches will know about Wentz's tendencies – and his likes and dislikes – in his new situation. The same essentially is true about the effect of the Jaguars' victory over Wentz and the Colts in the 2021 regular-season finale. Wentz struggled in that game. And the Jaguars' defense dominated. And it did lead to Wentz's departure from Indianapolis. But there's little that translates from that game physically and I doubt Wentz is so weak mentally that he can't move past that difficult experience.

Michael from Henderson, NV

Am I wrong to think the AFC West is the best ever in terms of starting quarterbacks? Also: Some have said the AFC West may be the toughest division ever. I feel the NFC West was tough a couple years ago but not as strong offensively as the AFC West this year. Any other tough balanced divisions that might compare?

I hesitate to try to answer this because I'll sound like what I suppose I am – an old man who just can't accept that everything in this day and age is The Best Ever. The AFC West's quarterbacks are indeed very good – Russell Wilson in Denver, Justin Herbert with the Los Angeles Chargers, Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Derek Carr in Las Vegas. It's the best division of quarterbacks currently and it certainly ranks among great NFL quarterback divisions ever. Maybe it's even the best. But I also would offer the point that the NFL is far more quarterback-friendly now than ever, which perhaps skews our collective opinion of current quarterbacks. Think about it: Many, many teams have what they believe is a "franchise guy." For most of the history of the NFL, these players were incredibly rare. Has the human race suddenly started producing more of these players, or have the rules perhaps made the game just a bit easier for them to play? I also might make the point that the four aforementioned quarterbacks collectively have won one Most Valuable Player Award between them while two AFC South quarterbacks once shared the award in one season – Peyton Manning of Indianapolis and Steve McNair of Tennessee in 2003 – so perhaps there are different ways of judging best evers. As for best division ever, give me the NFC East between 1982 and 1995. The division played in nine Super Bowls during the span, winning eight. It was so good that a really good Philadelphia Eagles team was probably the fourth best team from the division in the era behind Washington (Super Bowl titles in 1982, 1987 and 1991), Dallas (Super Bowl titles in 1992, 1994 and 1995) and the New York Giants (Super Bowl titles in 1986 and 1990). Let's see if maybe a team from the AFC West wins the Super Bowl this season before comparing them to that. Now, about those dadgum kids on my lawn …

Bradley from Sparks, NV

I'm going big on this team for the first time since 2017 when I was knee deep in chicken dinners by the middle of November. I understand: A few injuries and this team is drafting No. 1 again. Maybe the football gods will hate this team but I'm going to be surprised if they can't get to seven wins and at +700 an excellent value to win the division. One fer occasionally going all in?

Bradley is "all in." One fer him.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

Fans do not have much access to information on assistant coaches, but I notice senior assistant defensive coach Bob Sutton has had notable success as a defensive coordinator for six years under Andy Reid at Kansas City. Have you any insight to Coach Sutton's impact to this year's team and coaching staff?

Sutton was among the assistants from last season's Jaguars coaching staff retained by Pederson. This wasn't surprising because of Sutton's connection with Reid, and because Sutton was the defensive coordinator in Kansas City from 2013-2018 with Pederson serving as the team's offensive coordinator from 2013-2015. Sutton since February has served as a defensive assistant to defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, and it reportedly has been a good relationship the with experienced Sutton able to advise and assist Caldwell – the latter of whom is in his first season in the position.

Scott from Jacksonville

So, what's David from Ada trying to say? If we win Week 1, it's all downhill after that? Maybe you should tell the team to just take the next couple of weeks off so we don't have to put up with the excitement and inevitable disappointment that comes with it?

It's football season – and all that that implies.

Daniel from St Johns, FL

Practice Jersey Patch? Glad to hear that because I had imagined NASCAR advertising covering players … yuk!

Sponsor emblems on in-game jerseys haven't come to the NFL. Yet. I don't know that they're imminent, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if they appear in the next decade or so.

Bobby From Section 410 and Summerville, SC

Hi, John. How do you see the workload being distributed between James Robinson and Travis Etienne Jr.?

This is among the Jaguars' main storylines entering the 2022 season, primarily because few – if any – outside Jaguars offensive coaches and players have a real idea about the answer. I expect the Jaguars' top two running backs to essentially share carries and touches, which means Robinson's workload probably will be a bit less than when he was healthy in 2020 and 2021. As for how that load will be split Sunday … let's say split, with a bit of an edge to Etienne because of coaches monitoring Robinson in his first game of any kind since a season-ending Achilles injury last December.

Steve from Nashville, TN

When a defensive lineman bats a pass attempt ball down at the line does that count as a stat anywhere for that player like pass defensed?

A defensive lineman batting down a pass indeed is a pass defensed.

Unhipcat b bar h, ca

Hi, John. Seeing the Buffalo Bills beat the Los Angeles Rams 31-10 Thursday, I wondered how that was even possible considering Buffalo has such a "trash" quarterback. I thought the quitter's back must have acted up and kept it from playing (again, I know, huh?!), but was shocked to read it did play, and allowed six receptions on seven targets for 124 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. I was also a little surprised it didn't punch any teammates in the face in the huddle. What happened?

Your taunting former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey – now with the Rams – for comments he made in 2018 about Allen. That Allen now is 3-0 against Ramsey perhaps doesn't sit well with the latter player, but it's not nice to make fun.

Levi from Huntsville AL

No question really, just wanted to say I've come to enjoy watching Jalen "Old Man Back" Ramsey getting burnt for touchdowns on national television.

I thought we just talked about being nice. That wasn't nice.

Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL

I'm really hoping the years of ineptitude, minus 2017, are over. If they're playing better in December than they play in September, if the season isn't over in October, and games aren't over halfway through the second quarter I will be ecstatic about the season. But hey, if they're playing well at the start of December and still alive in the playoff chase who knows?!

The "benchmarks" you cite are reasonable, and attainable – and yes, if attained, there will be plenty positive about the season. I expect the Jaguars to be technically "alive" for the postseason around Thanksgiving, then to progressively not be as alive through the final weeks of the season. If healthy, I do expect them to be better in December than September. I expect Lawrence to be the same. And that undoubtedly would qualify as "success."

Gary from Centerville, OH

Hey KOAF, thought I would just check in. Is the "Dead Zone" over yet?

Soon, Gary. Soon.