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O-Zone: Plenty of time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

If the offense is a Top 15 offense and the defense is a Top 5 defense, where would that put them in wins and losses? The front seven looks very disruptive and they can send people in waves. And it seems people in their cynicism are missing what the Jaguars have in the backfield. I don't think it's far-fetched that the offense could finish in the top 15 in yards and first downs. The question is how many points they will convert those yards into.

I appreciate optimism, particularly considering the (oft-understandable) negativity that usually is the O-Zone. At the same time, I feel it is my duty as an experienced (and often crotchety) NFL observer to perhaps pump the brakes on the idea of the Jaguars' being a Top 5 defense and Top 15 offense. Such rankings are possible, but remember: The optimism you and some others feel about the Jaguars currently is based on speculation and projection. It's also based on seven or so preseason series on each side of the ball. I expect the Jaguars to be improved both offensively and defensively, but a Top 5 defense would rank them as a dominant unit – presumably one stuffing the run consistently and getting off the field equally consistently on third down. Is this unit there yet? Is it ready to not have the ups and downs of a young, growing team? We'll see. The same theme holds true offensively. While the Jaguars' offense and quarterback Trevor Lawrence appear improved, are they improved in the details enough to convert big third downs and be proficient enough to be in the top half of the league? We'll see. I do agree that a huge key for this season can be found in your last sentence – i.e., turning offensive production into points. That can often be the last area where a quarterback and offense develop. If the Jaguars are indeed a Top 5 defense and 15 offense, and if they're converting key situations, then they could contend for the postseason. I expect inconsistencies in these areas because I expect some growing pains this season. We'll see.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

The Jaguars traded wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. to the Carolina Panthers Tuesday? Why, Zone? This trade feels like yet another bad decision.

I can't control how you feel. Hell, I can't control how I feel a lot of the time. But this doesn't feel like a bad decision at all. Shenault, a second-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft, wasn't going to be part of the receiving rotation in 2022.That was clear from the preseason. The Jaguars' coaching staff wanted him to be a "Swiss-army-knife" weapon, but the skillset needed for that – game-changing speed – wasn't there. This wasn't going to be a fit. I assume the Jaguars got a late-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. That was probably all they were going to get considering the circumstance.

Holger from Zurich, Switzerland

I just rewatched the season opener in Houston last year. That was awful! Defense could not stop anybody, Lawrence inaccurate with bad decisions and penalties everywhere. I think we should be able to do better this year.

Good eye. Agreed.

John from Sebastian

Good morning, John. With what looks like the starting offensive line set, how many and who do they keep on the offensive line?

Nine(ish) on the active 53-man roster: Left tackle Cam Robinson (starter), left guard Ben Bartch (starter), center Luke Fortner (starter), right guard Brandon Scherff (starter), right tackle Jawaan Taylor (starter), center Tyler Shatley, guard Kyle Van Lanen, guard/tackle Will Richardson Jr. and swing tackle Walker Little.

Bo from Linwood, NC

Everyone wants to point to us losing every preseason game. When I look around at the rest of the league all I see is all the injuries sustained. To me, staying healthy for the most part feels like a huge win.

Good eye.

TCJagsFan from San Marco/JAX

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson clearly has strong goals for this team. He's a man of faith and purpose, he comes with a winning Super Bowl track record, and he likely has the ultimate goal of one day bringing the Lombardi trophy home to Jacksonville There NEVER has been an NFL head coach who has won multiple Super Bowls for two teams AND there has only been a handful of NFL coaches who have even been to the Super Bowl for more than one team (Bill Parcells, Don Shula, Dick Vermeil, Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren … ALL Hall-of-Fame worthy). Has Pederson ever brought up this being a goal for him and has he mentioned how rare or the significance of getting to the Super Bowl as coach for two teams? If he got to the Super Bowl, wouldn't you think that Hall of Fame is a lock once he retires? Tony Boselli, then Fred Taylor, and then Pederson? A man is entitled to his dreams…

Pederson has been asked about this. He answered as you might expect … essentially that, yes, he has thought about what winning the Super Bowl would mean historically because who wouldn't think about that occasionally? Pederson, after all, is human. He also has discussed what such an achievement would mean to the city of Jacksonville, because – again – who wouldn't think of such things occasionally? Pederson also made clear that while those thoughts are enjoyable there's a lot of work to be done to reach those goals. I imagine Pederson will be very eloquent on those topics should the Jaguars be in position to make them realistic. But yes … winning a Super Bowl with the Jaguars would make Pederson a lock for the Hall of Fame. Considering this town's thirst for a winner, it probably would make him a lock for a statue somewhere downtown. Probably a big one. And a cool one.

Sean from Jacksonville

The Turk says, "Coach wants to see you, and bring your playbook." You cannot run, you cannot hide, so be ready and brave, do not cry.


KC from New to Duval

Mr. O-Zone, I know this is a very young team learning new systems under a new coaching staff, but why can't they possibly compete for a playoff spot as soon as this season? I know a lot of things need to go right for them and they need to all click sooner than later, but they do have a Super Bowl-winning head coach leading them and some pretty damn good players on the team. Also, it's not like the other teams in the division don't have question marks as well. The Tennessee Titans have questions surrounding their offense, the Houston Texans are still rebuilding, with the Indianapolis Colts looking like the early favorite but look how they have faded towards the end of the season the past couple years. Maybe I've been drinking the teal Kool-Aid, but I don't see why this team can't compete for at least a wildcard spot.

You're not alone in these thoughts. And you're welcome to them. And perhaps the Jaguars indeed will contend for a playoff spot. I think they're a year away from serious contention based on a lot of new additions all needing to work out, and based on a young quarterback often needing a year in a new system to be elite in an era in which postseason contenders typically need elite quarterback play. I hope this comes together more quickly than I expect. It would be really cool for a lot of deserving people, Jaguars fans perhaps first and foremost.

John from Herndon, VA

Recent seasons indicate that there's plenty of talent, but utilization has been poor. I'm not expecting a full turn-around this year but hoping to get at least six wins. Is there any way fans can lobby to bring back Gardner Minshew II?

Fans can lobby for whatever they want, I suppose.

Taylor from Columbia, MD

Do you remember the fan uproar when Jaguars Owner Shad Khan wanted to allow then-General Manager David Caldwell yet another chance at a draft? This was why. Two years later and the 2020 draft class is already a complete waste. I have high hopes for General Manager Trent Baalke's two classes and admittedly like both, but the decision to keep Caldwell was asinine then and looks even worse now. Just wish we wouldn't keep kicking the "core draft class" thing down the road.

You're right that the Jaguars' 2020 draft class has been a disappointment. But what if Caldwell had repeated his other most recent draft as general manager in that draft? That was the 2016 draft, which featured cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in Rounds 1-3.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I don't care how Gary feels. I for one am glad you made it through this year's roster cuts.

The Jaguars have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. to reduce the roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players.