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O-Zone: Rough cut

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bobby From Section 410 from Summerville, SC

Big O, could you please explain to me again what it is that the Jags coaching staff sees in backup QB Beathard? Everything he throws is either underthrown, overthrown, batted down or intercepted. If they ever have to rely on him in a real game situation, they are doomed.

Jaguars backup quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 12 of 20 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown with an interception in the a 25-7 Preseason Week 2 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., Saturday. The numbers refute at least somewhat the idea that all his passes are underthrow, overthrown, batted down or intercepted. He also threw a 48-yard pass to wide receiver Tim Jones in the game that led to an early score. The Jaguars like Beathard's experience, knowledge of the offense and ability to read defenses. Head Coach Doug Pederson said Saturday Beathard absolutely is the Jaguars' backup quarterback. He left no doubt on this. That's it. That's the story.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

I can tell you why Nathan will sooner or later be our No. 2 quarterback. Yes, Beathard has a whole year with this offensive scheme, he is the best choice for now. But Nathan has already achieved first name status (just like Trevor); Beathard doesn't even have a first name.

Pederson saying on Saturday that there's no competition for backup quarterback between Beathard and rookie Nathan Rourke as expected drew ire, angst and anger. It also prompted seemingly multitude theories about what Pederson "really" is thinking regarding this. Was this a smokescreen? Are the Jaguars trying to trade Beathard because they really love Rourke? Was Pederson just saying that because he didn't want to create controversy? I have no sense that Pederson was doing anything except stating facts. Beathard is the backup quarterback. Rourke is a young quarterback who fared really well in one preseason half and well in another preseason half. That's not enough to alter the quarterback depth chart.

Parker from Jacksonville

Are the fans seeing "fool's gold" or is the D-Line improving? In training camp, they look to have improved but then again, we are limited in what we see and most of the time it was no pads or not full drills. Thank you!

This is tricky because I'm unsure what every fan expects from the Jaguars' defensive line. The unit was good for the most part against the run last season, and looks to be good in that area again. The team feels very good about the "big guys" up front: linemen Foley Fatukasi, Roy Roberson-Harris and DaVon Hamilton. And while the Jaguars announced that Hamilton is out indefinitely with a non-football-related back issue, we'll assume for the sake of this answer that he will return comparatively soon and that the interior run defense again will be a strength. Outside linebackers Travon Walker and Josh Allen also were very good against the run last season, and there's no reason that won't be the case again this season. Observers wonder about this area in terms of the pass rush. The Jaguars rushed the passer well for the most part in a Preseason Week 1 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, with the first-team pass rush getting pressure on the first two series. The starters did not play Saturday in Preseason Week 2 against the Detroit Lions. Walker and Allen in particular looked good in this area on Wednesday in padded practice work against the Lions. The Jaguars overall believe they will be able to affect the quarterback with the front line, and there have been plenty of signs to support that in preseason and training camp. Are those signs real? Or "fool's gold?" Some things you can't answer definitely until regular-season games begin. This is one of those things.

Lenny from London

Do you think it's possible the Jaguars keep only three running backs and seven wide receivers instead? I can't see JaMycal Hasty getting any playing time with our top 3 three running backs being so good. With all the young receivers playing so well right now and not wanting to lose them all, do you see this as a possibility?

It's possible. I wouldn't consider it likely.

Justin from Jax

Yo-Zone. Do you see a scenario in which the Jags keep seven wide receivers on the active roster? I only ask because it seems we are deeply talented at the position. I know the practice squad is a real possibility for a couple of those guys, but I was curious if they maybe liked the depth so much that they felt keeping an extra one on the 53-player roster was worth it.

The Jaguars would love to be able to keep seven wide receivers. Players such as Seth Williams, Tim Jones, Jacon Harris, Elijah Cooks and Kevin Austin Jr. are essentially fighting for one spot – the sixth – and all the aforementioned players and a few more merit being on the regular-season roster. Keeping seven will be very, very difficult. It's not out of the question. But the numbers at the other positions appear to make it unlikely.

Fred from Naples, FL

You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just might be a lunatic you're looking for.


Derek from Middleburg

Johnny O, it sounds like Travon Walker has had a pretty good camp so far. From what you've seen or heard, has he developed some pass rush moves?

Walker, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, has had multiple good practices in 2023 Training Camp – and he had some very good repetitions in one-on-one pass rush Wednesday against the Lions. He appeared to be working on some inside moves and variations after primarily using his power/strength in pass rush as a rookie. It's an ongoing process. We'll see what the regular season brings.

Matthew from Townsville, Tropical Australia

Hi O, I know it would not be nice to say "I told you so" about Yasir Abdullah, but ... where do I sign up to be a Jaguars scout now that I have such an outstanding CV?

I suppose you can sign up on your own website and sit with all the other fans who have offered such opinions then crow about your "hits" while forgetting the "misses." Insider tip: Get in line early. It's a crowded section.

John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF. "It wasn't perfect." "Did some things well." "There are some things to clean up." These are just a few of many statements that coaches and players repeat over and over. Need some new stuff like. Cooks was running downfield with a tail, or our special teams can't return kicks or cover kicks or why does Prince seem to always be hyperventilating.


Andrew from DUUUVAL

Re: the Ravens preseason win streak, what causes a certain team to have more success in preseason than others? Obviously, the players on the field in preseason games are all playing their hearts out trying to earn their spot on a roster but do some coaches care more than others about the end result of the games? Or do you think the streak is just an anomaly?

The Baltimore Ravens have won 25 consecutive preseason games. It's a little bit of an anomaly and a little bit because the Ravens evidently take the preseason seriously. It's mostly pretty meaningless, enough so that I haven't given enough thought to the matter to have a decent answer.

Roger from Heidelberg, Germany

It's good to see we have some solid depth on various positions, but man let's just hope that Lawrence stays healthy because if we have to rely on Beathard we're in trouble. That guy is a bust and Rourke should actually be the backup given what we've seen from him.

Pederson feels differently. Most teams – contending and otherwise – in the NFL are in trouble if they play their backup quarterback plays for a significant stretch. One team that overcame such a situation was the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 when Pederson was the head coach of a team that won the Super Bowl.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island

O, Promising! It appears to me that our backups and rookies are better this year than in a long while. How well the Jags do this year still depends, in large part, on avoiding injuries. However, it is promising that all of the Jags players appear better than in the past. Agree?

Of course.

Adam from Fort Cavazos, TX

Jeremiah Ledbetter was an absolute force to be reckoned with! Any idea to where he'll fall on the depth chart? I'll be the first to admit that I don't get overly hyped for pre-season football. However, as of late, the depth of this team is exciting!

Defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter indeed was impressive Saturday with a sack, two pressures and a forced fumble. He could be very difficult to keep off the 53-man roster.