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O-Zone: Slipping and sliding

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Evan from Tampa, FL

As a Jags fan now living in Tampa, I have been fortunate to experience the preseason optimism and successes from an elite quarterback. Like Jaguars Nation, I am excited by the prospect of drafting a player like Trevor Lawrence and what the future holds. Having said that, with no noise of Lawrence pulling an Eli Manning or strong desire to shop the pick, I'm confused as to why the organization and its coaching staff have been non-committal about solidifying what the fan base and media have all come to expect? Similarly, when the Indianapolis Colts held the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, they made it clear quarterback Andrew Luck would be the guy months before the draft. Interested to hear your take O-Man, and I look forward to making the trip up I-10 this year.

First, don't forget to take I-75 to I-10. Then go right. Can't miss the 'Bank after that. I mean, I could miss it. But a lot of people couldn't. But whatever. As for why the Jaguars have yet to announce their direction with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the answer is that it doesn't matter what the Colts did in 2012. It doesn't matter what the fan base and media expect. And it truly doesn't matter if the Jaguars announced before the draft who they will select. All that matters is who they select come April 29. But remember: The Jaguars have made it pretty obvious what will happen. Head Coach Urban Meyer told Peter King of Football Morning in America that Lawrence is "certainly the direction we're headed" with the No. 1 overall selection. This was last week. Prior to that, though Meyer had said little specific publicly, he had been prominent at Lawrence's February Pro Day – and he had done nothing to indicate he didn't like Lawrence. Bottom line: This is a very good quarterback class, with multiple players at the position expected to be long-term NFL starters. Meyer and the coaching/personnel staff presumably spent the last two months doing their due diligence on all players. Meyer then made pretty clear last week that Lawrence will be the selection. Is that not enough? Why should Meyer or anyone else be concerned about committing or solidifying fans' expectations right now? It's April. They will select No. 1 later this month. All will be solidified for certain by then, if not before.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Do you have a writer's sense of something truly different and special in terms of the culture and organization from the interviews you have done with coaches and players so far? I tend to balk at the Coach/New Free Agent Speak because it's pretty much always the same thing said: "What we're doing is going to be special." Has anything thus far struck you differently than normal?

The feeling around the Jaguars is absolutely different then before -- and absolutely what you would expect given the situation. Meyer, as he wanted to do, has compiled a first-rate staff – and there's little question that the culture around the Jaguars is and will continue to be different. The new veteran additions also have added a different feel, and the draft class – and a certain quarterback – will change it even more. Everything feels different. Everything feels special. That's all real. That's all good. Now, the Jaguars must improve and win. That's when whatever feels different will matter.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Our starting offensive line is good enough to keep our shiny new franchise quarterback out of the hospital and not Burrowed?

Well, that's the hope, certainly.

Eliot from London, UK

This is how the O-Zone ends: not with a bang, but a whimper.

I don't want to grow old gracefully. I don't want to go until it's too late. I'll be some old man in the road somewhere kneeling down in the dust by the side of the interstate.

Fred from Jax

With the sheer number of signees, how many might you anticipate don't make the final roster?

Few. If any. Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke clearly believed this roster needed significant change at many positions. The players signed as free agents and acquired in trades have clear roles. Those roles may not always be as starters, but they were signed for a reason. Not as training-camp bodies.

Aqeel from Toronto, Canada

It's not fair to call Shadrick a clown just because his face gets real red when he is upset … and it wasn't really a fight … more like hand-slapping.

Let the record show that you said this. Not me.

Logan from Wichita, KS

I'm still, somehow, buying into the new coaching staff getting higher performance from the current offensive line. Is it fair to say the O-Line has underperformed compared to their potential? Left guard Andrew Norwell was an All-Pro, Brandon Linder is a top-level center, left tackle Cam Robinson has flashed at sporadic moments, right guard A.J. Cann is coming off his best season and right tackle Jawaan Taylor should be capable of getting over the sophomore slump. Still a lot of problems with depth, uncertainty and the defense though...

Sure, it's fair to say the Jaguars' offensive line in recent seasons at times as a whole has underperformed compared to its potential. Some of this can be attributed to inconsistent quarterback play and some long stretches when pocket presence wasn't great; looking good as an offensive line is tough if the quarterback makes the wrong decisions about when to throw, run, dirt the ball, etc. The Jaguars also have trailed – a lot – in recent seasons and any offensive line is much better when leading or in close games; offenses are less predictable in those situations, which allows the offense – and offensive line – to better dictate flow of the game. This isn't to say the offensive line hasn't had its share of rough moments in recent seasons, but those two factors do make a line look worse than necessary. As far as depth … offensive-line depth in the NFL is a myth. Few teams have five good, experienced starters – much less two or three more good, experienced reserves. Yes, it's a common theme and worry among fans, but few – if any – NFL teams have real offensive-line depth.

Donny from Lake Mary, FL, Section 35, Day 2

You nailed it, Mr. Oehser! If I get vertigo at my lofty high moral ground and fall, I will land on many others, including Coach Cullen and Coach Meyer, and they landed on Alualu! Please tell Jason that being a ticked off Jag fan isn't a morality play … it's the NFL and fans gonna fan!

You tried. It was a good swing. Don't give up. You'll get it.

KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF. Do you think we may see more of Shenault in the backfield and utilized like Alvin Kamara?

I imagine we'll see Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. utilized in various positions and looks moving forward. I don't know that we'll see more. He did it quite a bit last season as a rookie.

Daniel from Johnston

Bonus? Did they get you the jelly of the month club?

It really is the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hello John. There is currently no contract between Jacksonville and the NFL to host an international game in London. According to NFL sources, the NFL wants to introduce a rotation principle. What is the probability that the Jaguars could play a game in Wembley/Tottenham next season? Provided that spectators are allowed to return to the stadiums by then. Also, how realistic is it that a long-term contract between Shad Khan and the NFL for games in Europe will be agreed either in England or in Germany in the future (taking into account the planned rotation)?

A lot of this is to be determined, particularly in the long term. I would say there's always a good chance the Jaguars will play a game in London if the league is playing games there because the Jaguars want a presence in London. Stay tuned.

Tom from Jax

I have serious concerns about Trevor's hair getting in his eyes. Losing sleep.


KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF - are we in line to get compensatory picks next year? Unless my math was off, it looked like we lost more players than we added in free agency. When do they stop counting to determine compensatory picks? Keep it funky. Go Jags

I doubt the Jaguars will get a compensatory selection in 2022. The league determines compensatory selections not only by the number of free agents gained and lost but by the quality – based on salary, etc. The Jaguars did lose players such as wide receivers Keelan Cole and Chris Conley this offseason, but they also signed players such as cornerback Shaquill Griffin and wide receiver Marvin Jones. My guess is that formula will keep them from having a compensatory selection next offseason.

Fred from Naples, FL

What is "Chutes and Ladders?"

Just the most awesome game … ever.