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O-Zone: Say uncle

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Last year's defense had a lot of issues, but I think the most glaring was stopping the run (which you have discussed many times) and handling underneath crossing routes by opposing tight ends (which you haven't talked about much). How do you see the revamped defense turning those weaknesses into strengths?

Last season's Jaguars defense indeed had issues to spare. They clearly identified these issues this offseason and took clear steps to address them. They completely overhauled the linebacker corps with the exception of end/linebacker Josh Allen – signing off-the-ball linebacker Foye Oluokun as an unrestricted free agent then drafting outside linebacker Travon Walker and off-the-ball linebackers Chad Muma and Devin Lloyd, respectively. They also signed nose tackle Foye Fatukasi as an unrestricted free agent. There are few guarantees in life and there are none in NFL player acquisition, but the Jaguars essentially added five premium free agent/draft selections to be stouter and more disruptive up front – i.e., against the run. That's pretty close to the most a franchise can possibly do in one offseason to address an area. The addition of Lloyd and Muma also should make this team better against tight ends. Maybe much better. All of that is on paper. We'll see in the fall how it translates to the field.

Chris from London, UK

O, I know with the whole "it's always coaching thing" going on in the zone, but serious question here: How big of a negative impact do you think last year's coaching team had on the team?? Do you think the same players would have had a few more wins, or would we will still have failed to stop the run and drop balls and blow assignments?

This is tricky to answer with specifics. Does a wide receiver coach cause receivers to drop passes? Does a picture from a faraway college town cause a linebacker to not fill a gap two weeks later? Who knows? When I say sarcastically that it's "always coaching in the NFL," what I mean is observers and fans far too often assess knee-jerk blame on coaching during or immediately after a loss. This makes sense because observers and fans want to blame something, but there are many reasons for what happens on a football field and it's not "always coaching in the NFL" (even though it is always coaching in the NFL). That said, coaching – particularly a head coach – matters very much in the NFL in terms of setting the tone and establishing organizational direction. Whatever the specifics of a head coach's message or approach or schemes or game plans, it is usually essential players believe in that head coach. It therefore would be naïve to think last season's head coaching situation didn't have at least some effect on the team's overall performance. There seems a very real chance that element will improve under Head Coach Doug Pederson. It would be surprising if it didn't.

Jess from Glen Carbon, IL

Zone, your question: "What's "journalistic integrity?" The answer: an oxymoron.

I'll say this again: Be nice to Gene.

Brandon from Duuuval

John, do you ever think we'll see the owners push for a redshirt type year for injured rookies? Maybe first round?

NFL owners probably would like to see this. But it would cause players to have to wait longer to hit free agency, including a lot of high-profile players. That would have to be collectively bargained with the NFL Players Association, and that organization wouldn't want that – or allow it to happen.

Fred from Temporarily York UK

I've been in chilly England for over a week now, wearing a light Jags jacket due to the temp. No one has mentioned my attire and I can only hope we start piling up wins to enhance our presence.

Have a hot toddy.

Dean from Rochester, NY

Since OT rules are back in play, I'll say it again: OT should be just like the rest of the game, perhaps with a shorter period as the only change and whatever times out are deemed appropriate. The goal all game was to have more points when the clock hits zero. Altering that goal during OT diminishes the game and taints the performance for the prior four quarters. It's dumb.

This point has merit – philosophically. But to make overtime "just like the rest of the game" would mean saying the teams should play an overtime period with the team with the most points winning the game. That very likely would lead to multiple overtimes, thereby significantly extending games. NFL overtime rules always have had an element of keeping the extra time as short as possible while also striving for fairness. Therefore, there always has been an element of "sudden death" involved rather than encouraging extra periods. This is to reduce risk of injury. I can't imagine that approach changing.

Howard from Homestead, FL

It's Kirk Cameron, not Cameron Kirk. He's not "that guy," but he's most definitely "the man."

I hated that blonde kid.

Billy Joe from Jacksonville

The expectation prior to the 2022 season seems to be Walker Little winning the right tackle position. However, it's my understanding his entire playing career has been as a left tackle. The top offensive lineman entering the 2021 NFL Draft, Penei Sewell, said it's not that easy to move from the left side to the right side of center. Sewell said something like it's similar to writing your name right-handed your entire life, then being expected to write it left-handed just as well as you did with your right. I'm rooting for Walker Little as Taylor, who played right tackle in college, has been a disappointment as a pro thus far and not much to be optimistic about. So, O, please explain to us fans why we should feel OK about the right tackle position when the guy who has long played the position isn't very good at it as a professional and the guy you expect to be the starter at right tackle has never played the position as a starter before?

I never know how to make skeptical fans feel OK – and if you don't believe Little can make the transition comfortable, then you probably won't believe it can happen until it does. That's fine. Not everyone has to feel great about everything. I have talked to many offensive lineman throughout two-and-half decades covering the NFL who say switching sides is difficult. I've talked to many others who say it's very doable. Little has been working at both since being selected in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft –and when I spoke to him about it this week, he said he feels comfortable at either side. I don't know how that makes fans feel. I guess we'll just have to see how one plays out.  

Dave from Duval

How many defensive backs have been drafted in Round 1 with 1 career interception or less in college like Tyson Campbell? Round 2? Round 3? It's hard to start hat many games in college and not have more than one. Thoughts?

I have no deep thoughts on this except to say that Campbell was a second selection by the Jaguas in the 2021 NFL Draft, and that I don't know the statistics of all cornerbacks selected in Round 1. Or Round 2. Or Round 3. I could research it. I don't have the inclination do so. Interceptions can be a weird statistic. Some really good cornerbacks don't have many. The first job of a corner is to keep receivers from catching the pass; interceptions are a bonus. I saw nothing from Campbell as a rookie to make me think he struggles with interceptions – and he showed good signs in that area the second half of the season. He finished his rookie season with two, so I don't know that this is a major area of concern. 

Doug from Jacksonville, FL

O Man, KOAF, Man among Men…. What happened to the indoor practice fields?

The Jaguars still have indoor practice fields in the Flex Field at Daily's Place. They are practicing inside TIAA Bank Field and plan to hold training camp at Episcopal School of Jacksonville for a couple reasons. One is that there is just one field in the Flex Field. The other reason is as a team that will play home games in Florida, you ideally want to hold most of your practices outdoors.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

I love the Oxford Comma discussions in this forum. Don't you think these discussions make you realize how serial life can be?

What's an "oxford comma?"

David from Ada, OK

Gary from St. Augustine appears to be engaging you in psychological warfare by sending you daily hate mail. I find that slightly hilarious. It's kinda predicated on this huge assumption that you want Gary to be your pal. I mean, he's not like your uncle or something, is he?

What's a "Gary from St. Augustine?"