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O-Zone: Stark contrast

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. It looks like we have some longevity on the offensive line, with players working together for several years. Supposedly this is a bigger factor with the offensive line? Head Coach Doug Pederson appears to be satisfied with the front line he inherited. Sure looks good for the future?

This will be an intriguing season for the Jaguars' offensive line. The group enters the season having changed at least two starters – Luke Fortner at center and Brandon Scherff at right guard. While the Jaguars haven't announced a winner of the preseason right-tackle competition, my sense is Jawaan Taylor will be the starter over Walker Little, which means right tackle (Taylor) and left tackle (Cam Robinson) will remain the same as last season with Ben Bartch – who started 11 games last season – essentially moving from right to left guard. That's a lot of change, if not qui-i-i-i-i-i-the complete overhaul for which some fans clamored in the offseason – and there's not nearly as much continuity as was the case for this group in recent seasons. The Jaguars' offensive line in recent seasons hasn't been as bad as many fans believed. At the same time, it hadn't been dominant nor did it overall feel like a team strength. That's the task for this group this season – to feel like a reason the Jaguars are winning rather than a position that's not as bad as its critics suggest.

Jim from Boone, NC

Hey, John. I don't see all the angst about the 2020 draft. No superstars but one starter and five other contributors. Is that a bad draft?

It sure isn't great. The Jaguars no longer have cornerback C.J. Henderson (No. 9 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft) or wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (second round, 2020) on the roster. Linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson (No. 25 overall) remains on the roster as a backup. While guard Ben Bartch (fourth round) and nose tackle DaVon Hamilton (third round) are starters, and while linebacker Shaq Quarterman and cornerback Chris Claybrooks are reserves, it's hard to call a draft with practically no production in those first three premium selections good. Let's call it "undetermined," with Bartch/Hamilton/Chaisson really needing to develop and contribute in a major way to call it a success.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, when do we get to find out who the team captains are?

Early next week, perhaps Monday.

Richard from Duval

First offensive snap of the regular season, would you come up with an easy to execute a trick play if you were the head coach of the Jags with a very young quarterback? I can't think of a better way to go into the game with the fire that would ignite for the players. Especially if that trick play led to a score or a huge amount of yards. Not to mention it would get the crowd excited as well. Yes, there is always a "vut."

I seem to get a question every year about what I would do on the first play of the season. I honestly struggle with it every year. The frequency of the question tells me the subject interests people. I just don't have any compelling thoughts on the matter. Same as it ever was in that sense, I suppose.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA

O, I am a fan of Jaguars running back James Robinson (and all Jags). I heard recently that when a player has an Achilles injury, they never get back to their former skill level. What do you say?

I say it long had been the case that an Achilles injury was considered career-debilitating, with players rarely reaching pre-injury form. In speaking to people in the medical community since Robinson's injury in December, advances in technology and rehabilitation make that no longer the case.

Rob from Milton

How many of our Jaguars now were Jaguars last year? We feel very different. I know we were bad, but this really feels like a rip-it-down start over. Thoughts?

I counted 30 players from last season on the Jaguars' roster, which means 23 new players. That's a lot, but not completely astronomical in the modern era of NFL teams typically churning a third of the roster annually. But considering the number of new players – free-agent signings and draft selections – expected to contribute significantly for the Jaguars in 2022, it absolutely does feel like a rip-down to start over. But remember: The Jaguars were 3-14 last season and uncompetitive in a lot of games. They completely reconstructed the coaching and personnel staffs in the last two years. Why wouldn't it feel like a rip-it-down start over?

Bruce from Owensboro, KY

How do the cut downs go? Does the head coach say to the position coaches, "Hey, you have five spots for your group, who ya got?" And the position coach has considerable say that is then approved by the general manager? How much is it a collaborative process?

Assistant coaches are involved in the discussions. So are offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, special-teams coordinators, head coaches and personnel staff. Remember: Most bottom-of-the-roster players make teams as much for special teams as how they play a position. As for final cut-day decisions, this is typically a lot less dramatic than fans believe for this reason: Coaches and personnel staff meet constantly throughout preseason and training camp to discuss personnel, so there is a lot of time to come to agreement/understanding about who's making the roster. Is there some disagreement? Sure, but it's not as if there's a lot of finger-pointing and yelling in a 3 p.m. meeting an hour before a 4 p.m. roster cutdown.

Doug from Jacksonville

KOAF ... do you think it's possible that youth will cause some inconsistencies this season?

I'll check.

David from Chuluota, FL

Ozone - You recently noted that Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has had to learn three different offensive systems in as many years. If Lawrence has a monster year, Offensive Coordinator Press Taylor will likely be a hot commodity for open coaching positions and – if he leaves – Trevor will be learning a fourth offense in four years and back to square one. On the other hand, if the offense crashes and burns, it would also be time for a new offensive coordinator. Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for Tom Brady for 13 years. How can we give our young quarterback some kind of stability with the coaching carousel that is today's NFL?

By hiring a head coach with his own offensive system and having coordinators who run that system. This is the Jaguars' current situation under Head Coach Doug Pederson.

Don from Marshall, NC

Not only are the Jaguars going to make the playoffs but they are going to win the division this year and next year and the year after that! Go Jaguars!

Don is "all in …"

Gary from Fleming Island

My thought in sports has always been you play like you practice. In my view the preseason is practice games, and in that regard the first team has been okay but certainly nothing special. The backups, not so much. Translating this into the regular season does not inspire a lot of optimism.

… while Gary most certainly is not.

Howard from Homestead, FL

Will coordinators and positional coaches be available to the media during the regular season, or will it be just Pederson? Seems like previous coaches have gone both ways on this.

Coordinators will be available weekly, as has been the case in recent seasons. Position coaches typically are available less – and upon request.

Bo from Winter Springs, FL

Only one player on the roster that is top 5 at position? Don't forget about Logan Cooke.


Richard from St Augustine, FL

A recent question suggested Jag's will only win "when chunks of yards passing occurs." In your time covering Peyton Manning and in general the NFL, aren't most successful offenses mostly getting 5-15 yard completions with an occasional long pass completion? To my eye over the years that has been the rule. I might add especially in Peyton's case a very quick 5-10 yarder that is hard to defend against as well.

Consistency is good, and good teams completed short and intermediate passes consistently. But it's very difficult in the NFL these days to drive the length of the field with six-to-12-yard plays – either runs or passes. Most good teams these days can hurt you with big plays. The Jaguars struggled to an incredible extent in this area last season – hence, the thought in a recent O-Zone answer that improving here is a key to the team scoring more.

John from Playa Del Carmen

When assessing Pederson's impact as head coach, you used some form of the word professional six times in less than 50 words. I feel like you may been alluding to something that was lacking with the previous head coach who shall not be named. Stark contrast between the two, clearly, but it also brings to mind the old Chris Rock bit about fatherhood; "that's what you're supposed to be doing!".