JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Funk from Murray Hill
I was reading an article that mentioned Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's offense led quarterback Carson Wentz to being an MVP candidate with the Philadelphia Eagles. How much of that was due to his coaching and scheme getting the most out of an offensive line to protect the quarterback? Does he have the staff and talent to replicate that with the Jags?
It's impossible to know precisely how much of any NFL player's success or failure stems from scheme and coaching; the nature of the NFL is players and positions depend on one another as much as – if not more than – any other sport. Though the primary factor in a player's success or failure typically is the player, players of course are influenced by factors around them – and a quarterback naturally benefits from an offensive line as strong as Philadelphia's was during Wentz stellar 2017 season. Pederson's play-calling approach, guidance and ability to create an atmosphere conducive to success also undoubtedly played into Wentz's success. This is not everything. If it were, the Eagles would have been a postseason team every season of Pederson's tenure – and Wentz would have had MVP seasons every season, too. But Pederson's scheme and approach can work given the right circumstances. Can the personnel and staff here replicate that success? We'll see.
Lawrence from West Jax
Thanks as always for your column. I think we are in a good situation in the backfield assuming James and Travis are both completely healthy. I see an Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram type of backfield we saw a few years ago. I see a lot of upside. Love Travis, but happy to see James back. Your thoughts.
The Jaguars' running back situation could be very good. James Robinson in two seasons has shown he is a productive back who consistently gets offenses in positive down-and-distance situations. Travis Etienne Jr. showed signs in the preseason of being the explosive, big-play back the Jaguars envisioned when they selected him No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. They indeed could complement one another and form a good, young backfield. Much depends on health. Etienne during the preseason appeared fully recovered from the Lisfranc injury that cost him his rookie season. Pederson said Monday Robinson should play against the Washington Commanders in the 2022 regular-season opener Sunday after missing the preseason while returning from a torn Achilles last December. Those are two serious injuries. The signs around both are good. The Jaguars' offense needs that to continue.
Big on Blake from Philly
I gotta say, I'm digging Andre Cisco's homage to Blake. Wear that No. 5 with pride, young man. I always appreciate when the youfins can appreciate the greats who came before them. Speaking of, when is No. 5 being retired and added to the ring of honor?
I'll stay out of this.
Jess from Glen Carbon, IL
Zone, a couple weeks ago someone asked how you thought last year's Jaguars team would have done if Doug Pederson had been head coach and you said maybe six wins. You have said you expect this year's team to have six to seven wins. If there are numerous players on this year's team that are upgrades over players at those positions from last year's team, and the Jaguars only have six to seven wins this year, then a conclusion could be made that it's always coaching. I don't believe that's the case, and that with a better coaching staff along with better players at multiple positions, this year's team could be much more improved than many are predicting. The 2017 team went from worst to first and the AFC Championship game. This year's team could have similar success. I even put my money where my mouth is and bet on them to win, just like I did in 2017. The official that blew the whistle on Myles Jack owes me a few grand.
I have been asked often how many victories the Jaguars would have gotten last season under different circumstances and how many they will get this season. This is understandable because people want to know things NOW – and in the case of sports, they just as often want answers before events take place. I have been consistent this offseason saying I believe the Jaguars will win six or seven games. That has disappointed some people who want faster and more dramatic improvement in Year 1 under Pederson. Remember: While that projection represents "only" a three- or four-game improvement, I also believe the Jaguars will be much more competitive in their losses than was the case last season. There were many games last season in which the Jaguars just didn't feel competitive at all, games that you knew from the first quarter they had little chance to win. I expect that to be the case far less often this season. The Jaguars were really bad at times last season and finished as the NFL's worst team for a second consecutive season. They can improve a lot and not be a playoff team.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, are the starting quarterbacks of all teams always captains?
Al from Orange Park, FL
Is there really a competition between linebackers Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma to start? Or, is some sportswriter just looking for something to write about?
Pederson addressed this Monday. Lloyd is healthy, but he missed the first three preseason games with a hamstring injury. That time missed could prompt coaches to start Muma in Week 1. I expect Lloyd to move into the starting lineup soon.
Terd Ferguson from Richmond Hill, GA
Are you a fan of Slipknot?
Nick from Annapolis, MD
Pederson said something in Monday's press conference that I personally loved, but I know can be a "fine line" or "trigger" for some fans, and probably football people. He said something about caring about the process and not so much about wins and losses. I have always said something to this effect. You can't worry about the end result, as the end result isn't always something you can control. On the flip side, you hear a lot of coaches talk about a "winning mindset," "win at all costs" and other such terminology. What's your take on the difference of philosophy here? I feel like the previous regime was much more in the vein of "all that matters is winning" mindset. I know quite a few of your readers probably cringed when they heard Coach Pederson say he doesn't care about wins and losses.
I was with you until the last sentence. Pederson didn't say he didn't care about wins and losses. He said he doesn't FOCUS on wins and losses. What he means is he doesn't focus on wins and losses every day to the point that it's all that's discusses with players every day of every week of every month. Pederson absolutely cares about wins and losses, but when trying to create an atmosphere in which players can develop and thrive there's nothing wrong with focusing on the process and trusting that that process will yield desired result.
Brandon from Louisville, KY
I find myself nervous, John. Nervous because I have such high hopes for the team this year to really improve. Not playoffs … just improvement. Anything you can do about the nerves, Dr. O?
Care less. Or not at all.
Sam from Orlando, FL
A very disingenuous answer not mentioning Jimmy Smith's litany of off-the-field problems. You could argue that it doesn't matter, but to not mention it is disingenuous. Even if he had 100 touchdowns and an extra 2-3,000 yards, the league would not enshrine him with serious prison time on the docket.
Wow. Thanks for the feedback – and for the bold, if not necessarily accurate, "take." Not mentioning Smith's off-field issue wasn't disingenuous; I just don't think about that much when I think about Smith and his legacy with the team/NFL. The "league" doesn't control who gets enshrined. That's the role of the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters, and there are Hall players who have had off-field issues. I don't doubt that Smith's prison record would get discussed were he a finalist and therefore in the "room" for discussion, but I doubt many voters would vote against him for that reason.
JT from Palm Coast, FL
Much like yourself, my expectations are tempered in terms of wins this year. Las Vegas has our over/under at 6.5. I took the over, but I can't see this team winning more than seven or eight games. If we win that many games, then I'll absolutely consider this season a success.
Peter from Duplek, Slovenia
I see there is a special section on the jaguars.com site dedicated to Tony Boselli. Is it just a temporary feature or is it there to stay permanently?
I expect it to be permanent. If not, I expect the subject's reaction to be violent, public and difficult to digest.