JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
John from Jacksonville
Hi, KOAGF. I think expectations for the Jags' success this season need to be tempered a little. Last season ended with an amazing run of comeback wins (hard to exceed that excitement level), but that is not sustainable for long-term success. We now get to learn if the Jags can play more complete games start to finish, which will be needed now that teams have learned we are in it to win it again. Do you agree that the late success we had may not extend to how this season starts?
Many fans and observers understandably consider the Jaguars the 2023 AFC South favorites, and they have earned that status. They appear to be an up-and-coming team with most of their core intact, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence gave all signs late last season of being a franchise quarterback able to carry a team. There's every reason to believe the Jaguars can improve on that finish and become the team toward which they were trending. The caveat is that none of this is guaranteed – and you are correct that the Jaguars needed two or three miracle comebacks to win the AFC South last season. This included a defensive touchdown in the final three minutes of the regular-season-ending victory over Tennessee. So yes … this team absolutely has more to prove. It is not yet a perennial power. There are no guarantees. The Jaguars have a real chance to be really good in 2023. But they must win on the field to fulfill that potential – and part of that indeed is playing more complete games than they did last season.
Lawrence from Blair, NE
Here's a fun hypothetical for you, Mr. O. Let's say both wide receiver Calvin Ridley and outside linebacker Josh Allen have career years in their 2023 contract year. You only have enough cap room to re-sign one. Which do you re-sign?
This is tough. I probably would have to lean toward Ridley here, because a career year would mean he had turned in mega-successful years in his last two full NFL seasons – 2020 and 2023 – and because the Jaguars are going to be an offense-centric team built around Lawrence. A career year in 2023 would lead you to believe he can turn in such seasons consistently for the next two or three seasons. The reason this is a brutally tough question is it's hard to part ways with an elite pass-rusher who can disrupt offenses and close games. On a different day, in a different mood, I might choose Allen. Good question. I don't love the answer.
DuvalJag95 from J-ville
Hey, John. Forgive me if my memory fails me, but aren't the OTAs this week for rookies only? Can you please update the offseason for me? I would really appreciate it.
The Jaguars have a three-day minicamp for rookies May 11-13, with organized team activities for all players scheduled to begin May 22. There is then a mandatory minicamp in mid-June. All work is voluntary except for the June minicamp.
Sean from Oakleaf, FL
Can you explain in simple terms the significance of June 1st for players getting released and the impact to their salary cap?
The NFL's June 1 designation is essentially a salary-cap accounting tool. If a team releases or trades a player before June 1, the player's remaining salary cap charges – the current season and bonuses in future seasons – accelerate into the current year. If a player is released after June 1, only the current year's bonuses count against that year's cap with all future bonuses accelerating into the following year in terms of cap accounting. The overall effect on the cap is the same, but a June 1 release can give a team short-term relief and flexibility in the current year. Also: Whereas teams once had to wait until after June 1 to execute a post-June 1 release, the league now allows teams to make two such moves before June 1 and designate them as post-June 1 transactions. This allows teams to release players and give them more time to find new teams.
Sam from Orlando, FL
Somewhere in a dimly lit candle glowing room, Gene Smith is scoffing at our 2023 draft and bemoaning no players taken from William & Mary or Mount Union and then going back to his typewriter.
Smith was dismissed as the Jaguars' general manager following the 2012 season. Perchance it's time to move on.
Justin from Jax
Hey, Zone. Did you know the last two tackles drafted from the Oklahoma Sooners in the first round were Trent Williams (2010) and Lane Johnson (2013). If Harrison can keep the tradition rolling, we're gonna be sitting pretty for a long, long time. On a different note, I'm always game for adding as much talent as possible and drafting running back Tank Bigsby is doing just that, but I thought signing D'Ernest Johnson was a hugely underrated signing and now I fear he'll be buried on the depth chart, just as the Browns did behind Chubb and Hunt.
I wouldn't worry about the Jaguars' running back rotation much. Head Coach Doug Pederson likes a backfield with multiple skills and options. The idea is to get the most from the entire backfield and his history with a running-back-by-committee approach in Philadelphia suggests he will be able to do that.
Randall from Jacksonville
You improve your 27th-ranked passing defense the way you improved the 24th-ranked passing offense last year. You hope your first four picks (outside linebacker Travon Walker, inside linebacker Devin Lloyd, center Luke Fortner and inside linebacker Chad Muma) in the 2022 NFL Draft make a second-year jump with a full offseason much like quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne Jr., offensive tackle Walker Little (and safety Andre Cisco) – the Jaguars' first four selections in the 2021 NFL Draft – did last year.
Fortner as a center will have comparatively little effect on the Jaguars' pass defense, but overall … good eye.
Johnny from Howey In The Hills, Fla
Mr. O... Little and Cisco ending up being great choices even though they were injured as collegiate players. Do you see any steals in the '23 draft such as safety Antonio Johnson or wide receiver Parker Washington? They both seem to be really good athletes and class individuals. Any others you see in this draft class?
Those are possibilities. So are tight end Brenton Strange and running back Tank Bigsby. I'm also intrigued by the midround defensive front seven players – linebacker Ventrell Miller, edge Yasir Abdullah and end Tyler Lacy.
Travis from Ormond Beach, FL
Greetings O of the Zone … The schedule coming out on Thursday and everyone anxiously waiting to see what primetime spots the Jags may get got me thinking: Correct me if I'm wrong, but back in 2017 didn't the Jags not have even a Thursday night game? If so, was that because the London game counts as a "primetime" slot because it's usually the only game on at the time? Just trying to temper expectations as since I remember everyone being excited for 2018's schedule and then we basically got nothing since our lone Sunday night game ended up getting flexed.
The Jaguars didn't play on primetime in 2017 because they weren't good in previous seasons – and because the combination of not being good and playing in a small market made it easy to leave them off the primetime schedule. I don't know how many primetime games the Jaguars will play in 2023. I do expect them to play multiple primetime games in 2023 and play a lot of primetime games as long as they develop into the exciting, winning team they appeared to be becoming late last season.
Eric from Jacksonville
Why are the Jaguars always singled out for multiple games in London? Per Jaguars President Mark Lamping this season, we may have a "home" and "away" game in London. The NFL was pushing for two "home" games in London prior to COVID and it seemed to resurface this year. Why are the Jaguars always in the crosshairs to either be shipped to London permanently (something that is absurd) or play multiple games there? Khan is investing in Jacksonville but that fact seems to be lost on the national media who will only read two London games for the Jaguars must be looking to move the team.
There are no "crosshairs," and the Jaguars aren't moving to London. The Jaguars play in London because Owner Shad Khan wants to play a home game there once a season. It's important for the team's revenue. They're not playing two home games in London in 2023. There is a chance they will play a home game and a road game in London, which is dramatically different than two home games.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, do you remember when the Bermuda Triangle was a "thing?" Perhaps that's where Meyer is hanging around these days.