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O-Zone: Oh well

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, Tis the offseason, or should I say the speculation season. In that light … I saw one of the sports sites say the Jaguars will win 8.5 games this season. To me, that means they have no idea; 8.5 would not win the AFC South and that is the primary goal (each season). The Jags' schedule is difficult and the good teams they will play appear (today) to be improving. No one asked, but I believe the key to the Jags' 2024 season is to beat the Houston Texans at least once, better yet twice. The Jags would then be in good shape to win the AFC South. I have been a Jags fan from the beginning, so I have learned not to be overly optimistic about the Jags. What say you?

I'm not surprised national observers would project the Jaguars winning 8.5 games in 2024. They have won nine games each of the past two seasons. Given most national observers' comparatively limited feel for local teams, it makes sense they would project about the same record for the Jaguars this season. Same head coach. Same quarterback. A few personnel losses here and a few personnel gains there. As I have previously said this offseason, I think the Jaguars are in decent shape to win double-digit games in 2024 and therefore compete for the AFC South title. I think the keys are improving run blocking in need-to-run situations, reducing turnovers at quarterback and stopping the run more consistently. If the Jaguars are better in those areas, a lot of other key issues improve and they can – and probably will – win a few more games. And yeah … if they beat the Texans twice, that would be good. Stay tuned.

Brad from The Avenues

Several weeks back, John, I voiced my concern over the scenario where the kicker is the last man standing between the returner and the end zone. I get that carrying a kickoff specialist on the roster, one with enough meat on his bones to make the stop, is unlikely. I have high hopes that Cam Little will be the new Mikey or Josh, but at 182 pounds I have this image of him being carted off the field after getting creamed. I would think this happening to just a couple of kickers this season would likely bring an end to the new kickoff game. Anyway, here's my latest thought. What if teams were to take an existing player, say a defensive back or a linebacker, and teach him just to do kickoffs? I'm not saying that it would be easy to just drop it into the twenty-yard landing zone, but it would be teachable. I bet Jaguars safety Andrew "Dewey" Wingard, one of the best open field tacklers we've had, could do it. The new game is a drastic change. It may take some drastic maneuvers to make it work.

You seem quite concerned about the health of kickers, particularly Jaguars rookie Cam Little. My overall thought here is while it's an "issue," I don't know that teams see it as a huge "ISSUE." Kickers kicked off and participated on some level in coverage for years before rules changes reduced the number of returns in recent seasons. While there were some cases of kickers unable to make the tackle or getting blocked/run over roughly, it wasn't enough of an ISSUE to cause teams to teach linebackers or defensive backs how to kick. Could teams teach non-kickers to kick? I suppose, but this is a more difficult skill than your email suggests. A non-kicker could do it. Could they do it with the necessary consistency or accuracy? That's a difficult ask, even for Dewey.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Since Pederson arrived the Jags are 13-2 when Lawrence throws 30-39 times and he has 24 tds and 6 ints. When he throws 20-29 times he has 7 tds/ 6 ints and Jags are 2-4. Jags are 2-9 when he passes over 40 times and he has 17 tds and 10 ints. I noticed other QBs with similar W/L records did not show this sort of disparity and weren't even necessarily better in the 30-39 range. Coincidence or genuine sweet spot for Lawrence and Jags?


Thomas from Section 125 from Jacksonville aka DUUUVAL

How much do you think our mediocre secondary will hold up playing man against this schedule? I see a 9-8 at best and 8-9 at worst missing the playoffs with both records!

Is the Jaguars' secondary "mediocre?" Mediocre is defined as "of moderate or low quality." I don't know that we know this yet. Ronald Darby when healthy has been a very good press cornerback and there are those who believe cornerback Tyson Campbell can thrive this system. While I would say there are questions to be answered about secondary as a whole, I don't know that we can assume the answers are negative. I also don't think the Jaguars' record will depend on the secondary as directly as your question suggests. I expect quarterback, offensive line and defensive front will play the primary roles on that front.

Ken Roggen from St. Augustine, FL

Hi, John, I know a lot of things determine a team's final record. With that said, the Jags were 7-2 with Cam in 2023 and 2-6 without him. Based on that, I have two things I'd like you to comment on. I think Cam is more vital to the team than he gets credit for and is it more than just coincidence that our record is so much better with him. Do you agree or do I not know what I'm talking about? Last comment: I love the Ozone!!

Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson is valuable. The offense – and the team – often plays better with him in the lineup than without. This certainly was true last season. He's a very good left tackle. Though from this view he struggled a bit after returning from injury late last season, that seemed more a one-off than a trend. Here's what the Jaguars think of Robinson. Everything about his salary-cap situation entering the offseason indicated – on paper – that the Jaguars would release him. Because football isn't played on paper, the Jaguars retained Robinson. He's a leader. He's a veteran. His teammates respect him. He's the sort of player that helps teams win.

Scott from Lake Nona

Is Muma the new will linebacker? He seems to have a run and hit skillset that would make him a very good weakside linebacker like Telvin Smith.

I expect third-year linebacker Chad Muma in 2024 will have a chance to have a role in some packages in the defense and mostly to continue to be a key reserve. Remember: When we're talking about the three linebackers in the Jaguars' 4-3 looks in this year's defense, we're likely talking about what essentially will be a little-used subpackage. Teams aren't in the traditional base defenses often anymore and I anticipate most of the Jaguars' defensive packages to be four lineman with five defensive backs. I would expect the two "linebackers" in most looks to be Foye Oluokun and Devin Lloyd.

Tom from The Mean Streets of Nocatee

I think Travis Kelce knows better than to let Taylor Swift into the same building with Gene.

Good eye.

Don from Marshall NC

So, what's going to be the theme at the food courts in the new old Gator Bowl? What kind of food can Jacksonville claim as their own and be able to feature on the menu? Should be a contest held. The seafood and bbq places were always good but I don't think there is any identifying city foods. Since we are the Jaguars, we should stick to chicken and of course a smash Korean burger and tacos got to have tacos. Go Jaguars!

When it comes to whatever the hell he was talking about in this email, Don remains "all in."

Brian from Round Rock, Texas

Do we know what the stadium is really going to look like post-renovation? I keep seeing the artist rendering that has this unrealistic, metallic, glass, aerodynamic, bubble thing exterior. You can tell this is supposed to indicate a futuristic fantasy of some sort. Let's get real, right?

I expect the Jaguars' "Stadium of the Future" to look comparatively close to the renderings and vision. It's a long time between 2024 and 2028. I don't know precisely how to define "comparatively close." Having seen most of the recently-built NFL stadiums, I don't know why the Jaguars' stadium wouldn't have a futuristic-fantasy feel. That's certainly the trend.

Brian from Greenwood, IN

Have you seen Tom Brady's take on the "Myles Jack" play from 2017?

Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently said he believed then-Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack wasn't down on the infamous would-be fumble return for a touchdown in the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 season. Yeah, he was right. Jack wasn't down. The Jaguars should have won the game and gone to the Super Bowl. It sucks it didn't happen. There's little more to say.