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O-Zone: One giant leap

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

One prime-time game? Again? Year after year you tell us the NFL – the league, the officials, everyone – doesn't hate the Jaguars. When will you get it? When will you admit it?

The NFL on Thursday night released the 2022 schedule, and the Jaguars indeed yet again have just one prime-time game. That's a Thursday night game at the New York Jets on December 22. That's essentially the fewest possible, but I admit I am constantly intrigued when fans become upset about the Jaguars not receiving prime-time games. They're a small-market team, but that's not why they haven't been on national television often in recent seasons – and it's not why they are only on once during the 2022 season. The reason: They are a small-market team and they have been bad for a long time. They therefore are currently of very little interest to most fans around the nation. That's not necessarily "fair" or "right," but the NFL doesn't program its television schedule to be "fair" or "right." The league sets the television schedule with the idea of drawing maximum viewers to create maximum profile and therefore to create maximum revenue. The Jaguars absolutely can get more prime-time games in the future. Easily. They have a potential superstar quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. If they win more, they will be on prime-time television. Often. If not, they won't. It's that simple.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I for one see this schedule as brutal. Not so much because of how bad we have been, but the away stretches are tough, tough, tough?

I agree. The Jaguars play on the road in four of their first six games in 2022 and there is a stretch late in the season with four road games in five weeks. Tough, tough, tough? No doubt.

Steve from Nashville, TN

In your years of covering NFL players how important to them are the specific jersey numbers they wear and the lengths they will go to secure that number from the current owner?

Some NFL players consider numbers very important. And some will pay a lot of money – more than seems reasonable – to get the one they want.

Unhipcat from b bar h, ca

So, John, about the schedule. This isn't a conspiracy theory or anything, and I think the facts will pretty much confirm it when they come out. But I find it verrrrry suspicious that the Jags play the Colts twice in the first six weeks. I don't have sources, but I'm pretty sure ol' Irsay leaned pretty hard, if you get my drift, on "the NFL" to make sure the Colts didn't have to play those pesky ol' Jags late in the season again. Pretty solid, don't you think?

I don't know that Colts Owner Jim Irsay has quiiiiiiite the pull in league circles you indicate. I also think the Jaguars have beaten the Colts in Jacksonville pretty regularly whatever the time of year in the last few seasons, so it probably doesn't matter to Irsay all that much when they play the Jaguars.

JACK from the BRONX

I can't see how the JAGGS can do better than 3-14 this tough season. Looks like a THIRD STRAIGHT #1 pick.

JACK is not "all in" on the JAGGS.

D.J. from Conyers, GA

I'm a Duval native who has been living in Georgia since I graduated from Bishop Kenny in '89. I'm moving back to Duval this July and I bought season tickets today. Section 206 here I come. I'm ready for some Jaguar football.

D.J. is "all in" on the JAGGS.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I like a lot about what I've heard and seen about Lloyd. In fact, given how good he looks, what was he drafted so late (relatively speaking)?

Jaguars rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd indeed looks good. He is impressive. And he may well end up being a very good selection. Why was he drafted so late (No. 27 overall)? He plays a position – off-the-ball linebacker – that isn't considered as premium in the NFL these days as other positions. That can cause otherwise "elite" players to slide during the draft. And sometimes teams just like other players more. The Jaguars like Lloyd. A lot. He was a first-round selection. There seems a good chance other teams' losses in this case could very much benefit the Jaguars.


Following up on "John from Cape May Court House." If the Jags can't stop the run they will also have a hard time getting off the field on third-and-1.

You're referencing a recent O-Zone email in which the aforementioned John indeed essentially made the point that getting off the field on third down was more important than building up the run defense. Not to be mean to John, but you're very correct. Rushing the passer and stopping the pass is key in the NFL. But you must first be able to stop the run – on early downs and in short yardage. If you can't, you don't get the chance to do other things enough to play good defense.

Jonathan from Jax

Well said about still having to stop the run first. It's a passing league more than the past, but teams still run the ball more than 50 percent of the time. Especially in our division. Need to be strong up the middle on both sides of the ball to be successful.

You're right. It was well said.

Richard from Jacksonville

Zone. We've talked about the 3-4 hybrid in base defense, but what do you think the lineup or look will be in third and long against four wide receivers or three wide receivers and a true pass catching tight end.

You'll have more pass rushers on the field and more defensive backs. This is where it's going to be intriguing to watch new defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's defense next season. He worked for longtime defensive coordinator Todd Bowles – now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – for the last decade. Bowles is known for multiple fronts and multiple looks, particularly on passing downs. The idea is to look more complex to the offense while still being relatively simple for the defensive players. Stay tuned.

Nick from Southside

You keep citing Jadeveon Clowney and Mario Williams as decent outcomes for Travon Walker. However, didn't both players fail to get signed to second contracts with the team that drafted them No. 1 overall? Isn't that the definition of a major disappointment for your No. 1 pick? Said another way, if Trevor is not signed to a second contract, would that not be a major disappointment?

Williams had 97.5 career sacks, had five double-digit-sack seasons, was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and started every game seven of 11 NFL seasons. Clowney made three Pro Bowls. The last Jaguars player to make three Pro Bowls was running back Maurice Jones-Drew more than a decade ago. I suppose disappointment is in the eye of the beholder, but yes … if Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence isn't signed to a second contract it would be a major disappointment. But remember: Lawrence was generally considered a once-in-a-generation player. There was not a player in the 2022 NFL Draft considered as such.

Steve from Nashville, TN

With the Thursday Night game at the Jets before Christmas, would it be customary for the players to be allowed to fly home to enjoy the holiday with their families and be back in the building by Monday?

It wouldn't be customary, but it's doable and I expect there's a good chance that will happen.

Big on Blake from Philly

Zone, typically we get a bye after the London game, this year we get to circumnavigate the globe to Las Vegas. What happened?

Teams playing in London are given the choice. Head Coach Doug Pederson said Friday the Jaguars preferred to have a bye later in the season rather than after the London game. The Jaguars do play the Las Vegas Raiders the week after their October 30 game against the Denver Broncos in London this year, but that game is in Jacksonville. That means they will be circumventing the globe back home and not to Vegas.

Elvis from Port Charlotte, FL

Please tell Greg from Section 122 that the quote, "Oh, no … We suck again," comes from the Waterboy and not Major League. If you're going to quote a movie line at least get the right movie!

Good ear.

_Richard from Jacksonville         _

Looking at the new schedule, I have a hard time believing the Jaguars win more than six games, and frankly even six wins will require the passing game to take a GIANT leap forward. What sayeth you John?

I sayeth I think the Jaguars can win six or seven games and it will take a GIANT leap in a lot of areas to get more than that. Remember: The Jaguas have won four games in two seasons. Yes, a GIANT leap is necessary. At some point, it has to happen.