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O-Zone: Successful run

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Vanawsum from BLOUNTVILLE

I think we have put together a great deal of talent for the defense this year. I'm also really excited about the new DC. Do you think that the defense could be really good this year?

Potentially, yes. The Jaguars absolutely made significant moves defensively this offseason. Veteran Foye Oluokun (unrestricted free agency) and rookies Devin Lloyd/Chad Muma (2022 NFL Draft) represent a lot of added front-line talent at off-the-ball linebacker, and adding veteran nose tackle Foley Fatukasi potentially is a major piece to the run defense. Adding outside linebacker Travon Walker – the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft – obviously is meant to be a significant addition with relatively quick impact. Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell has a sound background having worked under Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles for the last decade. Caldwell never has been a coordinator, so how he handles the specifics of that role remain to be seen. If the pieces come together, if the rookie class has an impact – and if the Jaguars' offense plays well enough to put the defense in winning situations … yes, this defense could be significantly improved in 2022.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

Could it be that the source of Bruce Smith's rant is Tony saying that Michael McCrary gave him the hardest time. McCrary is not a Hall of Famer. Still Smith looks angry and not so classy.

My guess is that the source of Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith's much-discussed Instagram "rant" this week regarding former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli occurred for a few reasons. One is that it always has seemed to irritate him when people mention the Jaguars-Bills 1996 postseason game to him. Another is that Smith is a prideful person who perhaps wasn't criticized all that often while playing, so this is somewhat "unique" territory for him. I imagine the biggest reason Smith wrote what he wrote this week is that multiple media types have contacted Smith lately wishing to talk about Boselli. Smith seems to have interpreted that as Boselli's "advocates" emphasizing that game "as a large part of the campaign to promote Tony Boselli into the Hall of Fame." Boselli has been elected into the Hall of Fame. The people calling Smith to discuss Boselli aren't advocating for a "candidacy." There is no candidacy. They're just wanting to talk to one Hall of Fame player about another – and to talk about a game that helped catapult another player into the Hall of Fame. That discussion isn't about denigrating Smith – and no, Smith doesn't look particularly classy in this situation. But yes … it was McCrary, a defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens, that Boselli most often called his toughest opponent. I don't know how Smith felt about it, if he cared at all.

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hello, John. Is it possible that former Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack was released not because of his performance and the amount of cap space he had, but because Head Coach Doug Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke knew they were going to draft Travon Walker and he wore 44 in college and both had committed that number to him? Maybe that thought is farfetched but still a reality.

No. That's not why the Jaguars released Jack.

Kent from Saint Augustine, FL

If Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence doesn't play well this year or some wins don't stack up ... do you consider him a bust?

I expect Lawrence to play better in 2022 than he did last season. And I expect the Jaguars to win more. If Lawrence plays worse than he did last season and the Jaguars win fewer games, that would be cause for a concern. It wouldn't make him a bust yet, though there would be those who disagree.

John from Boynton Beach, FL

The days are longer. It's hot and humid out. Must be getting close to Moodachay season.


Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I've seen an unusual amount of Jimmy Smith HOF chat lately on the interweb. Do you think Jimmy Smith could really get into the official HOF conversation, and is something brewing about it now?

I avoid "interweb chat" as much as possible, so I'll trust you that there is more conversation than before about former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I certainly hope that's the case. Smith is deserving of Hall discussion and I believe he deserves to be enshrined. I believe that will be difficult because I have heard little discussion about this among Hall voters – and because he has yet to be a Hall semifinalist. "Difficult" doesn't mean there's no chance.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

Comes to mind that the Bruce Smith thing is so potent, that we still to this day, OWN Buffalo when they come into our house. To quote the legendary Ron Burgundy "Stay Classy Buffalo."


Antony from Columbia, SC

O, who do you believe will be a more productive offensive player this year if both are healthy: Shenault or Agnew? And why?

I expect wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. to be more productive on offense than wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew in 2022 because it seems more likely that Jaguars coaches seek a role for Shenault as a receiver/running back. If everyone is healthy, Agnew's role likely will be more as a returner than on offense. That's the theory, anyway.

Lawrence from West Jax

Sir, I really appreciate your column. I like listening to people who love the Jags like me. I just want to see progress this year. We deserve a decent, competitive team that we can be excited about for the city of Jacksonville. I am excited about Pederson and his staff; Lawrence's development; pieces such as running back Travis Etienne Jr., wide receiver Christian Kirk and tight end Evan Engram on offense; and Caldwell's defense. I like it! Trying to temper my expectations but hope to see some Ws this year for the morale of everybody. Thanks for the chance to comment.

You have cited some legitimate reasons for excitement around the Jaguars. The biggest reasons from this view are Lawrence and Pederson. If Lawrence develops into what is expected, he's an elite playmaker who can a difference-maker at key moments. Pederson appears to have done a nice job this offseason resetting the organizational tone and reestablishing belief/confidence direction among players. That's important considering the franchise's recent past.

John from Jacksonville

One more question on Bruce Smith's comments. How many people do you think he caused to go back and watch the beatdown he took from Boselli?

At least one.

Deven from Winder, GA

Hey O, is there a real chance we ever see some kind of roof or dome put over TIAA Bank Field?

I expect extensive shade to be a major part of the conversation as renovations for TIAA Bank Field near. I don't have a great feel for exactly what that means yet. I doubt it will be a roof or dome. I doubt even more it will be major swaths of seats in direct and brutal sun, either.

Seamus from Sioux Falls, SD

I have two questions: 1) Do players practice independently between now and training camp, and 2) do you think O-Zone will ever add a thumbs up or emoji reaction for your answers so we can celebrate you?

I have two answers: 1) Yes, players – mostly quarterbacks and skill position players – can and often do practice independently between now and training camp, and 2) My God, let's hope not.

Andrew from Halifax

A recent Next Gen Stats column ranked Christian Kirk as No. 2 in the league for Catch Rate Over Expected. That sounds promising. Do teams measure receivers by yards/TDs or is there some type of "impact on a game" category that is more valued?

Teams have access to petty much any statistic available, traditional and "next-gen" and otherwise. Statistics of all sorts are taken into consideration, with the eye test and how coaches/personnel executives feel a player impacts games – and players around him – also important.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

"…no head coach in NFL history has ever won a Super Bowl with two different teams." True, but there have been several head coaches who took two different teams to a Super Bowl: Don Shula (Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins), Bill Parcells (New York Giants and New England Patriots), Dan Reeves (Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons), Dick Vermeil (Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams), Mike Holmgren (Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks) and John Fox (Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos). Hey, I want to see the Jaguars win a Super Bowl. But I'd be darned excited if Pederson gets us to one.

I was asked recently what I would consider a successful tenure for Pederson as head coach of the Jaguars. Getting to the Super Bowl would qualify, win or lose.