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O-Zone: So bad

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tim from Jacksonville

Do you see Jags winning the AFC South?

I've received more of these questions recently, and I've seen some legitimate analysts suggesting that the Jaguars indeed could win the AFC South in 2022. These projections seem primarily based on a few premises. That the team was such a mess under former Head Coach Urban Meyer last season that the 3-14 record in 2021 doesn't reflect the Jaguars' potential. That quarterback Trevor Lawrence will begin developing rapidly in Year 2. And that Head Coach Doug Pederson will positively influence Lawrence and everything else around the organization quickly and significantly. These points all have merit and I indeed believe the Jaguars will be improved for these reasons. I don't think they will improve the seven or eight games likely needed to win the division. That's a mammoth leap. But I do believe they will be improved.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-Man, let's just say in some fantasyland that the Jaguars finally become a respectable Super Bowl contending team. Will we be looking back and crediting the turnaround on Pederson, or on Lawrence? Wouldn't it be fun to have such a ridiculous debate?

If and when the Jaguars contend, there will be plenty of credit to go around. Pederson and Lawrence would and should get most of the credit, likely in tandem with Lawrence getting a bit more because he's the quarterback. That's only fair, because if the Jaguars don't improve both will get much of the same share of blame. That's the nature of the NFL, fair or unfair.

Colt from Pittsburgh PA

Ryquell Armstead is still on the roster, although virtually no one is talking about him this offseason. How has he looked? Does he have a shot to make the roster, chart. Injuries and Covid really stifled his growth, but is he really the forgotten running back in the running backs room this year?

Armstead has a chance to be on the Jaguars' roster, and he certainly has a chance to be on the practice squad – and to be a guy who plays a role if injuries become a factor at the position.

Tom from Nocatee

Regarding when you realized that your childhood football heroes were mere mortals, was that also around the same time that you started working with Gene? Cause meets effect.

I began working with longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette around the fall of 1988. I began inching away from being an NFL "fan" about five years after that. I don't know if it was cause and effect. I do know that while football players may be more mortals, Gene most certainly is not. So perhaps the answer lies somewhere therein.

Jess from Glen Carbon, IL

I'm concerned with your memory, John. You may not be the "King of all 'Grizzled' Funk."

What was the question?

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

The "oldies" station (on the radio) is playing Britney Spears. I heard that people stop listening to new music around the age of 33. I remember when the oldies station played The Temptations. Which oldies albums from The Time Life collection did you listen to back in the day?

When you get to my age, oldies aren't oldies anymore. They're just the music on your playlist. Don't underestimate the Temptations. There are great lead vocalists and great stage presences, and then there is David Ruffin in his prime. He's a Rushmore Guy.

Adrian from Reading, United Kingdom

Would you be surprised if I told you that fewer than half of regular season games last year were within seven points at any time in the fourth quarter?

I indeed was a little surprised to hear this. It contradicts my many statements throughout the years that most NFL games are close games decided in the late minutes. But the reality indeed is that the NFL – unlike college – is a league were the great teams and good teams typically are separated not by double-digit margins as much as big plays and crucial moments late in games. If most games aren't decided by the final drive, late moments very definitely are the difference between also rans, contenders and champions.

Seamus from Sioux Falls, SD

Hey JOzone, I wanted to back you up on this chicken wing/on the bone matter. I, too, find eating chicken wings to be a too-much-effort-for-too-little-gain food. I prefer boneless or strips, though there is enough meat on the chicken breast to make that worthwhile. Well, that's all I have to say about that. Cheers!

Good eye.

Eric at the Beach from Jacksonville Beach

Since we're in the dead zone, I thought I would toss this out. I'm excited to see former Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson play with a real quarterback for the first time in his career. He always struck me as a class act and his numbers, considering his quarterbacks, are really pretty impressive in his career. Hoping he can flourish in the new system. Made me think of what Andre Johnson accomplished in Houston with similar bad quarterback play. Can you think of any other wide receivers that really outkicked their coverage in their careers as far as performance vs quality of quarterback play?

Johnson certainly excelled for a long time without elite quarterback play, though then-Texans quarterback Matt Schaub had some nice and productive years while playing with Johnson. Robinson perhaps stands out as a very good receiver who never has played with an elite quarterback. Others? You could discuss Carolina Panthers wide receive Steve Smith in this vein, as well as longtime NFL receiver Brandon Marshall. Maybe discuss A.J. Green, too – depending on how you feel about longtime Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. There are others. Maybe those are a start.

Jeff from Orange, CA

Where do you think Fred Taylor would be drafted in today's NFL coming out of school?

Taylor was a highly-regarded player coming out of Florida when the Jaguars selected him No. 9 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. Because the running-back position has been devalued since then, I suspect he would be selected around the middle of the first round if teams were judging him as a college prospect. If teams had the benefit of absolutely knowing for sure how good Taylor would be in the NFL, I imagine he would be a Top 5 selection.

Jim from Warrenton, GA

Two years ago, Daniel Thomas had some success when thrust into a starting role. Last year, Rudy Ford had success in a nickel role. Was this simply a case of each being the best available "at the time?" Or does either have the skill set to contribute to the Jags moving forward. What is the likelihood of either making the final 53 this year?

Both Thomas and Ford have the skill set to contribute to the Jaguars moving forward. There's a strong likelihood one – and perhaps both – will be on the 2022 roster.

Sierra from Jacksonville

So, while we're still in dead zone, let's talk Myles Jack. Any ideas why we let our star middle linebacker go like that after all he did for us? You've probably already covered this, but do you think he just didn't fit well into Dougie P's game plan? I like to think that he was cut on good terms and that he just wanted to spread his wings somewhere else. Regardless, it'll still be a little weird watching him play in yellow and black against us this year! I'm not saying it's like watching an ex you still have feelings for be happy somewhere else, but if he ever decides Pittsburgh isn't for him, I still think he looks real good in teal!

Jack, a second-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, was indeed a well-liked – and at times, a very good – player for this franchise for six seasons. My sense was that Jack was a case of a good player for one regime just not quite fitting into the next regime, with part of the reason being scheme fit. While Jack is a talented player, he's not really a prototype three-four outside linebacker. He's also not a true run-stuffing inside backer. While he can play the weak inside linebacker position in a 3-4 scheme, the Jaguars entered the 2022 offseason wanting to upgrade – be stouter and more disruptive – on the defensive front seven. They signed with NFL's leading tackler – linebacker Foye Oluokon – as an unrestricted free agent from the Atlanta Falcons. They also selected linebacker Devin Lloyd No. 27 overall in the '22 draft. This was more a case of the regime wanting a different direction than anything else, but yes … it still seems weird seeing Jack playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers next season. Professional sports are about change and transition, but that doesn't make these situations easy.

Tom from Jacksonville Beach, FL

My head hurts sometimes, Zone. Does your head ever hurt? It looks like maybe your head hurts sometimes.

You have no idea.