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O-Zone: Saying something

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Sean from Jacksonville

One fer Chris Smith. RIP, sir.

Indeed. Chris Smith, a defensive end from the University of Arkansas selected by the Jaguars in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, died on Monday at 31. Smith, who played three seasons for the Jaguars, played eight NFL seasons – for the Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Las Vegas Raiders and Houston Texans. Though I didn't know Smith as well as I have known some Jaguars players, I remember him as a likeable and approachable player who admirably carved out an NFL career as a late-round selection. Smith last played for the XFL's Seattle Sea Dragons a week before his death, details of which haven't been reported. One fer Smith indeed. Gone far too soon.

John from The land of Indian River

O-Zone, with Engram not showing up Monday, is there any concern about signing him to a long-term deal?

Tight end Evan Engram, on whom the Jaguars placed the NFL's franchise tag in March, indeed reportedly has not signed his franchise tender and is not participating in the team's voluntary offseason program that began Monday. Concern here is relative. A deal isn't "done" in the NFL until a contract is signed, so until that happens there is "concern." But the Jaguars want to sign Engram to a long-term deal and Engram wants to sign a long-term deal. With both sides wanting such a thing, an agreement is usually reached. Eventually. Either way, I expect Engram to play for the Jaguars in 2022 – either on a long-term deal or on the one-year "franchise deal." Him not reporting for voluntary work in April doesn't change that.

Don from Marshall, NC

Reading all the negative jive from the fans has got me thinking I am wrong about the Jags winning the Super Bowl this year. This is most likely the last of the good odds fans will have betting on the Jaguars to win a Super Bowl. You know after they win one the odds are Meh. Not going to stop me from getting baby a new pair of shoes. Go Jaguars!

Don remains "all in."

Nelson from St Augustine, FL

Besides Engram, are there any other veterans missing the voluntary portion of the offseason? Not that it matters all that much, but Engram's absence creates a bad optic for a player wanting to be a part of the Jags team.

The Jaguars haven't announced attendance for the offseason program. Considering the voluntary nature of the work, I wouldn't expect them to do so. But I fail to see how the "optics" are bad for Engram. Or for the Jaguars, really. He is seeking a long-term contract. While staying away from voluntary offseason work isn't a major deal, it's pretty much all the leverage the player has in this situation. It's pretty routine for a player in Engram's situation not to attend the voluntary program and I would have been surprised had he participated. Engram wants to play for the Jaguars. He is as "all in" as any player on the roster. But this is a business and Engram has every right to behave as such. I doubt anyone around the Jaguars expected him not to do so.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Kevin Greene, Chris Doleman, Michael Strahan, Richard Dent and John Randle are all in the Top 10 sack leaders for a career and all had fewer sacks than Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker as rookies.


David from Chuluota, FL

KOAF: From 2018 – 2021, the Jaguars' offense ranked 31st, 26nd, 30thand 32nd in the league in points per game. In 2022, the offense took a major leap forward when they went from 14.9 to 23.9 points per game, jumping from 32ndto ninth in the league. In Pederson's first year, that was a 9 point a game improvement. If this year, we jump at least seven points, it would put us at 30.9, we could actually lead the NFL in this category, with the last four leaders scoring between 29.2 and 31.9. Imagine if the Jags go from worst to first in scoring offense within the span of two years? It's easy if you try.

It's tougher to go from good to great than bad to good, and it will be more difficult for the Jaguars' offense to take your projected jump than the one they took this past season. Still, difficult doesn't mean unattainable. The Jaguars in 2022 averaged 21.5 points per game in the first eight games and 25.7 points per game in the last 11 games. That reflected quarterback Trevor Lawrence's growth in the offense, his familiarity with new teammates and an increasing knowledge of/comfort within Head Coach Doug Pederson's offense for Lawrence and his teammates. The offense should get more consistent in 2023 as the Jaguars continue to progress in those areas, with the addition of wide receiver Calvin Ridley providing an additional jump. What you're imagining won't be easy, but it should be the objective. How close the Jaguars come to attaining that objective may go far to determining how they fare in 2023.

Jason from Suffolk, VA

Why are some people so down on Devin Lloyd? He started the season strong making big plays despite missing time in training camp. What caused him to be benched in favor of Chad Muma in the middle of the season? I see a linebacker who started off strong in a rookie season who by the end of the year made over 100 tackles. Having a full offseason and coming into training camp healthy should do wonders for him. He's an athletic playmaker so I don't understand people who have already written him off. What does he need to do to improve in his second season?

The Jaguars moved Muma into the lineup over Lloyd in late November, with Pederson at the time discussing Lloyd benefitting from watching from the sideline with "calmer eyes." Lloyd, the No. 27 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, was struggling at the time with recognition and reading opposing offenses. While Lloyd as a rookie indeed showed a knack for making plays and creating turnovers when he was around the ball, those struggles often led to him a step out of position in a league in which a small misstep can lead to a big play. As for people writing Lloyd off, those people don't include Pederson. He said recently he believes Lloyd benefitted from rotating more with Muma late last season and that his confidence in Lloyd remains "high."

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire. UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King Off All Funk, I read that Daniel from Jersey City, said he once saw Hall of Fame Jaguar Tony Boselli do a 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle and three-cone in a single play. I'm pretty sure that was in fact longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette. Gene was live tweeting at the time, which made it all the more impressive.

Good eye.

CaptBob from Jax

When Google fails, please inform on if/when this year's camp will be open to the public. I promise I won't share. Fingers crossed.

Jaguars 2023 Training Camp is expected to be held at the Miller Electric Center and to feature dates that are open to the public. Details and schedule will be finalized at a later date.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

I can see how Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke and Pederson might think that the best way to win in today's NFL is with an elite, explosive offense and opportunistic defense. The pick might come down to a choice between tight ends Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) and Darnell Washington (Georgia), which would be a TE equivalent to last year's choice between Aidan Hutchinson and Travon Walker. Which one do you think they would select?

I think Baalke and Pederson would prefer an elite, explosive offense and an elite defense with a dominant pass rush. But I get your point that it's difficult in the salary-cap era do be great on both sides of the ball – and considering the presence of Lawrence, it's easy to imagine the Jaguars being all in on offense with a break serve approach on defense. I don't know that the Jaguars are as focused on tight end in Round 1 as your question indicates, but I would have to go Mayer over Washington in your scenario. He's generally believed the more complete prospect and is generally considered a Round 1 tight end and one of the top players available at the position.

John from Live Oak, FL

O Koaf, glad we signed Taco to mentor Walker and Allen on how to get the most out of their potential. (Sigh, I know. I hope I'm wrong and have to eat a large plate of crow).

I don't doubt that this means something. I do doubt I'm smart enough to know what that is.