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O-Zone: Spreading the wealth

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Randy from Way Up North

This is what happens when you forget about getting an offensive front line.

I'm always "fascinated" by questions about the Jaguars – or any team, for that matter – ignoring or "forgetting" about a certain position group. The Jaguars' starting offensive line against the Kansas City Chiefs at EverBank Stadium Sunday is expected to be: left tackle Walker Little (Round 2, 2021 NFL Draft), left guard Ben Bartch (Round 4, 2020), center Luke Fortner (Round 3, 2022), right guard Brandon Scherff (unrestricted free agent, 2022) and right tackle Anton Harrison (Round 1, 2023). Left tackle Cam Robinson (Round 2, 2017) was serving the first of a four-game suspension Sunday. I'm not sure the exact definition of forgetting about getting an offensive line, but the Jaguars have spent more than their share of draft/free-agent equity on the unit. It has not been forgotten.

_Bob from Sumter, SC    _

The defense seemed to play noticeably faster in Week 1 than last year. Receivers for the most part were not able to turn up field and get eight-to-10 yards out of a three-yard pass. Also, the safeties weren't having to make as many tackles on running plays. The D just seems more cohesive.

This lines up with what many Jaguars coaches and players believed before the season – that the continuity from playing in the same scheme under the defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell for a second consecutive season would allow players to play more instinctively and faster. Remember: All 11 starters returned to this unit from last season. It stood to reason that players would be more comfortable in the scheme. It looked that way against the Colts. The Chiefs are a dramatically better offense than the Colts. Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs is a dramatically better quarterback than rookie Anthony Richardson of the Colts. Mahomes can make cohesive, experienced defenses look bad. The defense will get a real test Sunday. Stay tuned.

Brad from Jacksonville

I don't care what Owners Shad and Tony Khan, Head Coach Doug Pederson, General Manager Trent Baalke or quarterback Trevor Lawrence say about you. There IS a chance you're one of the 31 best senior writers for an NFL team. Thanks for all you do, man.

I am the king of all funk.

Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

Last year Doug's play calling was so good that it felt like a real weapon. Is Press really going to be able to do that?

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson called plays in the first halves of games last season, with offensive coordinator Press Taylor calling them in the second halves. Taylor is calling them for the entire game this season. The Jaguars' offense was very good in the second half of games last season, particularly late in the season. Pederson was widely praised by fans last season when the Jaguars won and the offense scored a lot. He was criticized and questioned when the offense struggled and plays didn't work. I expect that pattern will play out pretty similarly with Taylor calling plays.

Bill from Palm Beach Gardens

Hi John, I'm surprised the New York Jets haven't considered the idea of signing Nathan Rourke off the practice squad. He's a player. Your thoughts?

I have no idea what the Jets do or don't consider. I'm not surprised an NFL team in Week 2 isn't rushing to sign a practice squad quarterback with three games of NFL preseason experience as the solution to an injury at their quarterback position.

Thrill from The 'Ville

Changing the interception statistics for quarterbacks to account for receiver deflections seems like a good idea, but where does it stop? What if the line didn't block effectively and the quarterback was hit as he threw? What if the receiver ran the wrong route? And how would the stat keepers know? Knowing how many interceptions were attributed to something other than a bad throw or bad decision making would be interesting for discussion or other analysis but wouldn't be great for modifying official stats.


Marcus from Jacksonville

Do you think Doug's handing over the play-calling to offensive coordinator Press Taylor is really about his desire to take a more holistic approach to the game by taking his focus off play-calling? He's not new to this head coaching thing, so it's not as if he realized after last year that it's too much to do both, so that reasoning seems unlikely to me. I think he's giving Press a chance to build his resume so he doesn't end up like Eric Bienemy, who couldn't land a head job because he's always in Andy Reid's shadow. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, especially if the team functions effectively. Doug seems like a good dude who would be genuinely interested in seeing his coaching staff succeed and climb the ladder. I'm cool with it, so long as Press doesn't call any plays I don't like, then he's dead to me.

Many issues factor into decisions such as these. But focusing on managing the game absolutely is a priority for head coaches. I also think Pederson has great faith in – and respect for – Taylor and believed him ready for the job. I suspect the big reason was comfortable with Taylor calling plays is he has worked closely with Taylor for long enough that he knows they share philosophy and approach. I doubt Pederson thinks there will be a major difference in calls or results. If he did, I doubt he would have the move.

Al from Orange Park, FL

Mr. O, I want to be optimistic about Sunday's game, but I don't think we have an edge in any position group. Am I wrong?

I think the Jaguars are really good at running back and wide receiver. At minimum, I think they're equal to the Chiefs at those positions. Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce are all-time greats at their positions, so the Chiefs pretty much have the edge against any teams there. Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones is probably the best player on either defense when he's at his best. Is there a major difference in the two defenses beyond that? Meh. Bottom line: The Chiefs have been the NFL's best franchise for five years because of Mahomes. He's perhaps the NFL's best matchup advantage.

Cael from Duval

O, what are your thoughts on this coming offseason? I realize it's a little early, but do you foresee re-signing outside linebacker Josh Allen and Lawrence, or just one?

I expect the Jaguars to sign Lawrence to a long-term contract extension following this season and before the 2024 season. The Jaguars' approach with Allen is less clear. If he has a dominant season, I expect the Jaguars to sign him to an extension or use the NFL's franchise tag on him. Sixteen games remain in the 2023 season. It's not a little early for this topic. It's a lot early.

Jim from Jagsonville

The Pride of the Jaguars is incomplete without Tom Coughlin. Thank you for stating it so clearly. Even you, as a dispassionate observer, recognize the greatness of the Godfather to this franchise. King of all funk, indeed.

This isn't difficult. You needn't be the king of all funk to understand.

Fred from Naples, FL

I believe our key to victory on Sunday will be the play of the offensive line. We faced a good, but not great, Colts d-line last week and we got pushed around. Now we have two offensive line starters with bad ankles facing a better defensive line than the Colts WITH Chris Jones. If we don't get them blocked up front, we are in for a long day.

I believe you're correct. The Jaguars' offensive line was too inconsistent in a Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. If the group plays better against Kansas City and can give Lawrence time, the Jaguars' skill position players are capable of creating big plays against pretty much any defense in the NFL. One thing to remember: The Colts' defensive line with DeForest Buckner is very good on the interior. Jones makes the Chiefs' defensive front good, too. Really good. But it's not as if the Jaguars' offensive line struggled against a weak opponent in Week 1.

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, BUF, CIN, KC, LAC, all 0-1. JAX, 1-0. Just sayin'. What say you?

I say the Jaguars are 1-0 through Week 1. I say the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Chiefs are all 0-1.

Mark from Sobieski, WI

Maybe I missed this, but why did Kirk not play much last week?

Wide receiver Christian Kirk played 60 percent of the team's offensive plays last week. The Jaguars played a lot of multiple tight-end sets last week, which cut into Kirk's plays. That was what the Colts' defense and game circumstances dictated. The Jaguars have a lot of good players on offense. Not everyone can play every play.