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O-Zone: The envoy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

I'm as excited as anyone else for the new season and surely hope we see an improved team. However, where are these astronomical expectations for the offense coming from? I hope they're better than last year, but the offense revolves around the quarterback – and as impressive as that second half against the Los Angeles Chargers was, Trevor Lawrence was also the quarterback in that first half. He's also the quarterback that led a flat outing against Kansas City, not to mention the luck needed to make the postseason. Help me understand why the offense this year is expected to be the best ever?

The expectations around the 2023 Jaguars' offense are pretty logical and easy to understand. The unit ranked ninth in the NFL in yards and 10th in points last season, improving in the second half of the season. They were becoming more consistent and explosive as the season continued and quarterback Trevor Lawrence was improving rapidly during that same span. Because Lawrence is still young, it stands to reason he will improve. Perhaps the biggest reason for the overall optimism is that Lawrence and this offense are entering their second season in Head Coach Doug Pederson's offensive system. The continuity and cohesion that comes with experience should help the offense improve significantly. The team also added wide receiver Calvin Ridley, running back Tank Bigsby and tight end Brenton Strange. I don't know where the Jaguars will rank among "best ever" offenses. I do expect them to be improved and really good offensively.

Marcus from Jacksonville

Do you think the team not voting outside linebacker Josh Allen as a captain is a story, or is it nothing?

The Jaguars voted middle linebacker Foye Oluokun and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris as 2023 defensive captains. This is a team of veteran leaders. It wouldn't have surprised me if Allen had been named a captain. Or cornerback Tyson Campbell. Or a number of other players. I expect Allen received many votes. That he didn't receive as many as Oluokun or Robertson-Harris isn't as much a reflection on Allen as on the other two players.

JOE from Living in St. Johns, down by the river

Hey, John. I'm excited for Sunday like everyone else, but I can't shake the memory of the Indianapolis Colts' upset of the Kansas City last season. I hope our Jags are laser focused!

A couple of thoughts. While the Colts finished poorly in 2022, they were competitive early. Most NFL teams compete well early because professional players typically play together – and play hard – until they're realistically eliminated from the playoffs. Also: It's the NFL. Great teams lose to struggling teams all the time. It's always a possibility.

Bill from Bostwick

Before the team leaves for Indiana, can you please slip a note under Doug Pederson's door when no one is looking demanding that they take the ball on offense if the Jags win the coin flip and then throw a bomb to wide receiver Calvin Ridley or wide receiver Zay Jones on the first play of the game, just like Utah did to Florida last week? Please.

Pederson coached the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl title following the 2017 season. He coached the Jaguars to a remarkable turnaround in 2022 – both offensively and as a team. I'll therefore leave the coordinating and game-day decisions – and the process of sifting through and lifting ideas from collegiate game plans – to him.

Steven from Orlando, FL

I'm not saying he is them, but with similar size of Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson to former Big Ben and Cam, do you foresee getting him down being a problem?

At times.

Adam from Allentown, PA

Here's a silly question: do you think the NFL owners would ever vote to shorten the game, say ten-minute quarters, then just add more commercials to the broadcast?


Bren from Jax, FL

Do you think the quote "It was always the Jags" will stick around for this year, or do you think that rallying cry ended after last season? I hope it stays #IWATJ

"It was always the Jags" seemed a rallying cry as much against the "naysayers" as for the Jaguars in 2022, and it was very much of its time as the team won its final five regular-season games to win the AFC South championship. As more people believe in this team, perhaps it will ring less true and be heard less. At the same time, players and coaches – and fans – have a knack for creating "haters" even if they don't exist. In that sense, perhaps "It was always the Jags" will remain a rallying cry long after otherwise might be the case. I sort of hope it does. It's sort of cool to say.

Don from Marshall, NC

People keep talking about Trevor Lawrence taking the next step and if that happens. I say it happened after the ninth game of last year. Doug Pederson if he can keep his team healthy is going to make fools out of any defense. This offense will be breaking some records. Opening for Kansas City has got to be The Boss by James Brown. Go Jaguars!

When it comes to Lawrence and Pederson – and the Hardest Working Man in Show Business – Don remains "all in."        

Dorf from Jacksonville

Can you please stop saying: "The Jaguars figure to contend for the AFC South." They are EXPECTED to win the AFC South. Not contend, win. And not figure to, EXPECT to. Even if you had Steve Harvey ask 100 people in Nashville who is going to win the AFC South, the No. 1 answer on the board would be the Jaguars for like 70 pts. Every sports outlet expects us to win the division. Stop pussy-footing around it, man.

I could do that. What I'll probably do is keep doing what I've been doing, which is pretty much what I want to do.

David from Oviedo, FL

KOAF - In a few of the preseason games, I saw a new wrinkle in the Jaguars' offense. There were a few successful runs that included a receiver in motion that at the snap would be in position to be an additional blocker. It seemed like every time they tried this play, it worked like a charm. This offensive is going to leave defenses with their head spinning.


Nathan from Sacramento, but Duval first

John, I'm interested if you have a comment on the Deion Sande... excuse me "Coach Prime" media situation after his game this past Saturday. As I saw it, Coach Prime Sanders was confrontational in his media availability and pointedly asked media members if they "believed" in his team. I make the assumption here that the man is very much concerned with the perception of his team and its "branding," but it does irk me a bit when he is asking people whose job it is to remain neutral (seemingly more difficult in these times of editorializing news, but I digress) to take a side. Also, I'd like a beer.

Coaches on occasion do this to create or foster an us-against-the-media attitude with their teams. I'm sure Sanders, who has been in the, dealt with – and manipulated – media for three and a half decades knows this. Sanders has created a phenomenal brand. He clearly is a great motivator. He's doing what he's doing in the best interest of his team. If that means misrepresenting the media's job, I suppose it's whatever.

Robert from Moorpark, CA

I know you're not a big stats guy, but I think having two 1,000-yard receivers says a lot about your offense. Who is the second receiver most likely to catch 1,000 yards. Zay, Kirk, or Evan? Also, could we see this team having three 1,000-yard receivers this season?

You're projecting wide receiver Calvin Ridley as a 1,000-yard receiver, I assume – and that's a fair assumption. I suppose I would rank wide receiver Christian Kirk, wide receiver Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram as the next most likely, though I don't know that I would be surprised if any of that list surpassed the mark. Yes, the Jaguars could have three 1,000-yard receivers this season.

Mike from Azores

Hey John, I was just thinking and wondering what you think? Where would Trevor and the Jags be had Pederson been hired a year earlier instead of the disaster that was Urban?

First, this never would have happened. While Pederson was dismissed as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach following the 2020 season and therefore available for the 2021 "Urban Meyer" season, Pederson has said he would have given no consideration to coaching that season. What if they had started here together in 2021? Lawrence presumably be a year ahead in his development and therefore a year improved. We'll never know.

Mike from St. Johns, FL

Enjoy every sandwich John. Peace be with you.

I didn't have to come to Maui to be treated like a jerk.