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O-Zone: Simple things

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Two weeks into OTAs, assess the offense. How do they look?

I'll begin this answer with my oft-used, time-tested, too-worn caveat that there's a limit to how much you can "assess" during Organized Team Activities. A team or a player can only "look" so good or bad to an observer when working out in a baseball cap in late May or early July, as was the case on Day 4 over Jaguars 2024 OTAs Tuesday. What we therefore have seen at the Miller Electric Center during the first two weeks of 2024 OTAs is essentially what we have seen this offseason on paper – an offense with a developing quarterback, two reliable receivers (tight end Evan Engram, wide receiver Christian Kirk), a very good running back (Travis Etienne Jr.), two intriguing new receivers with big-play ability (wide receiver Gabe Davis, rookie wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr.) and an offensive line that re-signed guard Ezra Cleveland and added veteran free-agent Mitch Morse. I'm constantly asked "Did the Jaguars 'Do Enough" in the offseason. I can't answer that definitively. We'll only know definitive answers when the regular season begins. From what we can tell from OTAs, that developing quarterback – Trevor Lawrence – looks comfortable and looks like he is progressing in terms of his knowledge of the offense. While Davis is still returning from a late-season knee injury sustained with the Buffalo Bills last season, Thomas looks fast and smooth – so I suppose the wide receivers have looked good. This offense – on paper and on the field thus far – looks like it has the potential to be potent and good. Much depends on the continued development of the quarterback and the (fingers-crossed) health of the offensive line. Stay tuned.

Philip from Jacksonville Beach, FL

I know you must hate the new OTA rules, but I don't see the big deal.

You're referencing a recent report that the NFL Players Association may soon push for changes to the NFL offseason, with the highlight being the elimination of OTAs. The absence of OTAs would be countered by an extended training camp – with players reporting for camp in late June or early July. The reports are that the NFLPA is pushing for such a change as early as 2025. My first thought is we're really early in this discussion and that such a change to the NFL calendar would be dramatic; as such, I would expect great resistance because many people – read: myself – believe change inherently evil. My second thought is that the early part of "training camp" in this scenario likely would resemble the non-padded, low-key work we currently see in OTAs. A third thought is that if the NFLPA is pushing for this it's likely to happen because the owners can give it to the players without it costing the owners much money – and owners usually will give players things that don't cost them much money. I'm sure we'll discuss other thoughts on this moving forward. It's intriguing. I don't love it because of the aforementioned aversion to change, but I'd learn to accept because of the whole no-choice thing.

Bob from Sumter, SC

Jaguars Owner Shad Khan's sinister plan to move the team from Jacksonville doesn't fool this guy. The Miller Electric Complex, new stadium, new hotel - it's all part of the plan. Wake up, people.

He's a crafty one, that Khan.

Andrew from Bluffton, SC

Purely speculative with the 18-game schedule, but 'tis the season of speculation, so … how would adding a game impact player compensation? Is it safe to assume players total compensation would be regulated to 18 games and they'd receive less 1/18th less for each game check? Also would be interesting to see if incentive-based contracts would have to be recalibrated. If 1,000 yards rushing equates to a bonus, do teams have the ability to change that to 1,058 yards for an 18-game schedule? Hope those contracts have some form of exculpatory clauses for such events or players might get a good end of the bargain with an extra game to hit their numbers!

When the NFL moved from 16 to 17 games, players were compensated with an extra game check. It would be shocking if the NFLPA agreed to an 18th game without similar compensation. Incentive-based contracts would depend on the wording of contracts, with future contracts negotiated based on the new schedule.

Rob from the Duuu

I liked your response, but the real question is why would anyone project our fifth-round backup kick returner to have five touchdowns? He would probably be a special teams Pro Bowler with those numbers, which is extremely unlikely. That is a pretty generous comparison and of course it is less than the best receiver prospect in the last decade. I never heard of the writer, but he sounds like he is pretty Jag generous. That would be a godsend if Leilani Robinson somehow gets five touchdowns and we haven't lost all other running backs for the season. Moodachay.

Jaguars 2024 Training Camp is scheduled to begin in late July.

Don from Marshall, NC

You have to congratulate C.J. Stroud for his great rookie year. One thing to remember, though, is he doesn't like to be hit and there's probably a good reason for that. I will take Trevor thank you very much! Go Jaguars!

When it comes to unsubstantiated thoughts on Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud, as well as an unending loyalty and commitment Lawrence, Don remains steadfastly "all in."

Sam from Orlando, FL

What are you going to do when Don is standing at your door waiting to give you a "what for" for all your snide all-in responses to his e-mails. Even Eugene "Clancy" Frenette won't be able to help you.

Don knows where to find me.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

Plot twist: There is no John. It's an AI and that AI has bots writing questions so that the AI can then answer. There's just one single person in here submitting questions and he knows who he is. Or does he?

I suspect this isn't true, though I admit I don't know for sure. I mainly don't know that an AI could quiiite perfect my blend of incompetence, laziness and jackassery. I also don't know that an AI could make up Gary from St. Augustine. And if it could, why would it?

Eric from Jacksonville Beach

I know it's hard to learn much during the OTAs with players running around in T-Shirts and shorts. One thing I wondered though is whether or not you could learn about someone's work ethic. Are they showing up early, staying late, and do they seem to be putting in the work at home to learn the playbook and "getting it." Are those things you can glean, to an extent, from OTAs? Can you think of anyone you've covered that you noticed anything, positive or negative, based on that at this time of year?

I've been around many players who have impressed with their offseason workouts, though I can't say any stand out from others. What mainly stands out is how quickly all that happens in May becomes part of the fuzzy, grainy past once late July comes around.

Fred from Naples, FL

The Texans are a prime example of a team building solidly around a star quarterback on his rookie package. We had that opportunity with Lawrence and didn't seem to do much with it … starting with a terrible hiring decision for a head coach by an owner who was hoodwinked by a college head coach whose own ego kept him from any chance of success with NFL grown men. I hope I am wrong but I am not sure we did enough this off season to turn it around. Here's to hoping I am wrong.

I suppose we can look back all we want, just as we can crown the Texans with whatever crown we choose all we want. No, the Jaguars haven't won a Super Bowl on Lawrence's rookie contract – and it's fair to consider the 2021 Urban Meyer Era very much a lost season. Still, it's also true that the Jaguars on Lawrence's rookie contract have built their way from the NFL's worst record in 2020-2021 to back-to-back winning seasons with a division title. Did they do enough? Perhaps not. They also have not done "nothing."

Marty from Jacksonville

Hi, John. I see the article on this esteemed website that has a national writer saying the Jags want to make the offense "as tailor made for Lawrence as possible." Meaning, ask him what pass patterns he likes the best, and so on. I would submit that the best thing the team can do for Trevor would be to run the ball better. If we can reliably run for a first down on 3rd-and-2, or if we can reliably pound the ball into the end zone from 1st-and-goal on the four-yard line, that would do more for Trevor and our passing attack than anything else we can do right now. Don't you agree?

Pretty much, yes.