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O-Zone: Pretty close

BRASELTON, Ga. – Let's get to it …

Boxcutter Bill from Google

I know there is a perception about General Manager Trent Baalke, but can we all admit he builds some good defensive lines who get after the quarterback? You pair that with a generational quarterback, a professional Super Bowl-winning coach, and what seems like a couple good drafts … am I wrong to feel like we're on to something? I have this feeling like we're arriving. Am I wrong? Cuz it feels good. What say you, O?

It's tricky analyzing a general manager after a season or two – and it's darned tricky analyzing moves that involve players who have yet to play for a team in a regular-season game. But it appears at this early stage that Jaguars 2022 free-agent moves such as wide receiver Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, offensive guard and defensive lineman Arden Key – to name a few – could be have immediate impact. It also appears '22 draft selections such as outside linebacker Travon Walker and center Luke Fortner – to name a few – could have immediate impact. And yes … Baalke's reputation is that he knows how to build good defensive lines that can pressure the quarterback, which this Jaguars defensive line appears capable of doing. Will Baalke deserve credit if these projections become reality? Well, sure will get the blame if those players aren't good, so yeah … he would deserve credit if they're good. Are the Jaguars arriving? There's a lot of reason for optimism. There are a lot of good early signs. We'll see. The regular season begins in 19 days.

John from Sebastian

John O, with the Jags bringing back Jake Luton, are they going to rest Trevor and CJ against ATL? Also: Who do you see being put on the practice squad that we've had in camp already?

The Jaguars re-signed quarterback Jake Luton Tuesday. Head Coach Doug Pederson said a major reason for the move is that backup quarterback C.J. Beathard on Saturday against Pittsburgh did not appear fully recovered from the groin injury sustained in June. With most Jaguars starters – including quarterback Trevor Lawrence – not expected to play in the preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons Saturday, that left rookie E.J. Perry as the Jaguars' lone healthy available quarterback. Luton's signing therefore gives them two available quarterbacks. With practice squads now being at 16, the list of potential players from the roster who could be there Week 1 is pretty much any "bubble" player on the roster. Perry, cornerback Benjie Franklin, wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr., tight end Gerrit Prince, wide receiver Jeff Cotton Jr., wide receiver Tim Jones, running back Mekhi Sargent … if any of those players aren't on the active roster, they could be on the practice squad. And always look for an offensive lineman or two (or three) on the practice squad. Teams want those guys available to "call up" in case of a slew of injuries.

Paul from Columbus

I think Devin Lloyd will be a bust, I mean if he can't participate in full contact practice, how will he survive a regular season game?

I assume you're kidding. I hope you're kidding. Maybe you're kidding. (You are kidding, right?)

Steve from Nashville, TN

After a completion the Jaguars receivers seem to seek out our center and hand him the ball directly. Is this tactic designed to save clock and or increase available time in the huddle?

It depends on the situation. It can be to save clock if it's late in a half or game. It can be to increase time in huddle in other situations, and it also can be to allow the offense to operate faster in no-huddle/hurry-up situations.

Alex from Apex, NC

I think the "Doom and Gloom" you referenced are from people who watch the Cincinnati Bengals go to the Super Bowl in Year 2 of Joe Burrow. I think some people feel that should be the expectation of Trevor and the Jags this year, which is completely unreasonable. I am on the Jaguars optimism train and some of you Negative Nancys need to get on board!

You're probably right that the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals created this expectation – and you're definitely right that expectation probably isn't reasonable. It's perfectly understandable to hope for such a remarkable turnaround. But not to achieve it isn't the same as failing. The Jaguars look better. They look like they have a better roster with an improving young quarterback. Let's see where that takes them before we start criticizing.

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hello, John. Any idea how the Jaguars are going to handle the quarterback situation? Luton and Perry have been waived and re-signed several times. Now we currently have four quarterbacks on the roster again. Doug Pederson said he was very excited about the learning and execution during the preseason. Do you think there will be three quarterbacks on the roster after training camp and one on the practice squad? Or will they cut one more, possibly even C.J. Beathard?

I expect Lawrence to be the Jaguars' starting quarterback this season and Beathard to be the backup. I would be stunned if that's not the case. I expect Perry to either be the third quarterback or on the practice squad.

Jason from North Pole, AK

You know what we didn't see for the first time in years? Stupid procedural and holding penalties in bunches. In fact, it was the other teams doing those things throughout the preseason.

You're right.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Dear, John. Yes, fans fan or whatever, but we also remember being told Blaine Gabbert is the guy, Blake Bortles is the guy and now we're being promised that Trevor Lawrence is the guy. I'm a bit taken aback that you're taken aback by this development.

People who analyze the NFL do the best they can with what they see. What you see right now in Lawrence is a quarterback making throws and looking better at this stage of his development than any quarterback in franchise history. He's not looking perfect, but he darned sure isn't doing anything to indicate he's not going to be good. He has missed a few throws while playing seven preseason series. He also has made some big-time throws on those series. What has taken me "aback" is the worry and angst of some emails. It just seems extreme considering what we're seeing.

Nick from Palatka, FL

You know, Zone: Peyton Manning's career completion percentage was about norm for a franchise quarterback, about 65 percent – and it wasn't until his sixth season that his QBR was anywhere near 100. Just sayin'.


Brian from Round Rock, TX

I feel optimistic. Like I do every year. Is Lucy going to pull the ball again?

I'm optimistic the Jaguars will be improved. I'm optimistic that they're going to make observers feel really good about the future by season's end. I don't know that that means double-digit victories or the postseason. If Lucy pulling the ball away means the Jaguars not making the playoffs, then yeah … maybe you'll be disappointed. If you like feeling better about your team, then maybe you will kick the ball this time you blockhead.

Scott from Jacksonville

Didn't the cut-down rules change so that teams didn't have to cut anyone else until after the last preseason game? I understand guy's fates with the team this year are already decided, but I got the impression they needed as many bodies as possible for the last game and typically give the bottom of the roster guys one last chance to put some plays on tape. Why cut early?

The Jaguars have one roster exemption because of defensive back Ayo Oyelola, who is eligible for the NFL's international player practice squad exemption. The Jaguars trimmed the roster from 91 to 86 players on August 15, a day before the league's mandated date to get to 85. They trimmed the roster to 81 players on August 22, a day before the league's mandated date to get to 80.      

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, when a team picks a player up from the waiver wire, do they assume whatever contract that player already had or does a new contract need to be negotiated?

A team claiming a waived player assumes the team's contract. It's why teams sometimes wait for players to "clear" waivers before pursuing a player as a free agent.

Lawrence from Omaha

Here's something bold, maybe not QUITE true, but I still think it's close. All this angst about Trevor Lawrence … his worst days are better than any quarterback play I've seen for the Jaguars in my 20-plus years of being a fan. Essentially, Trevor's worst day is better than the best days of Blake Bortles, Gardner Minshew, Nick Foles and others in my opinion. Do you agree? It has to be close.

I tried to think of reasons you're wrong. There are probably reasons you're wrong. I couldn't think of many.