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O-Zone: The final countdown

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jim from Middleburg, FL

The D line appeared able to dominate and enjoy it.

You could be referencing the preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys – or perhaps the entire preseason. Either way, you would be correct – that the Jaguars' defensive line, and indeed the entire defense, looked very good against the run. Aside from rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, that may have been the most important storyline of the preseason. While the Jaguars struggled in many areas in recent seasons, perhaps no weakness was more glaring – or more defined those last two seasons – than the inability to stop the run. If you can't stop the run, then nothing else matters on defense because you never get the opportunity to rush the quarterback. The Jaguars focused big-time on run defense in the offseason – trading for defensive tackle Malcom Brown and signing linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward as unrestricted free agents. They also signed linebacker Damien Wilson as an unrestricted free agent and selected nose tackle Jay Tufele in Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Another key to this area: the offseason development of nose tackle DaVon Hamilton, who appears on his way to being a very good player. Are the Jaguars able to dominate in this area? Maybe. If so, this defense – and team – could be better than many observers may have expected.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Where was Aaron Rodgers drafted and what were the asterisks around him when he was? For years, he has been one of the only other quarterbacks I would pull for, but what were his draft issues? It's still so odd to me that 16's only issues were that he "won't know how to take a loss."

It does seem absurd in retrospect that Rodgers slipped to No. 24 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft – but many things in life seem absurd in retrospect, particularly when it comes to the draft. A couple of factors led to the slide. One was that many considered Rodgers a "system" quarterback. Another was that once the San Francisco 49ers selected Alex Smith No. 1 overall in that draft, a lot of teams didn't have what were considered glaring needs at quarterback – though pretty much every team that passed on Rodgers would have selected him given a chance to do that draft again. If I recall correctly, there also was criticism that Rodgers held the ball too high before his release – whatever that was supposed to mean. Some scouts also had concerns about arm strength. Bottom line: Rodgers had the ability to read defenses, throw accurately and navigate the pocket. He also had "it," and some of those attributes are tricky to scout. They also happen to be attributes that make quarterbacks great. Does Lawrence have all those things? That's what we'll learn in the next few seasons.

RG from Middle Earth

So, we have a Top 10 pick in the draft next year. You're the general manager. All prospects being equal and all positions available, what position do you pick first to improve the current team?

Much of this depends on how this season plays out. I assume the Jaguars won't be looking for a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft, but would they be looking for a pass rusher? That could depend on how K'Lavon Chaisson and Josh Allen play this season. Corner? How will CJ Henderson play this season? Offensive line and wide receiver are the same issue. We'll see.

James from Jacksonville

Kyle Lauletta is well known for being arrested for trying to evade the police in his Jaguar and throwing a bunch of incomplete passes and an interception. Do you think that the Jaguars saw him as an improvement over Jake Luton? Please explain this to me.

This was a numbers/roster-management issue as much as anything. The Jaguars waived quarterback Jake Luton Tuesday and kept two quarterbacks on the 53-player roster. When Luton cleared waivers, the Seahawks signed Luton to their 53-player roster as their third quarterback. Lauletta was signed to the Jaguars' practice squad. Had Luton been available to sign to the practice squad, perhaps this scenario might have played out differently.

Andrew from Bakersfield

In response to David from Ada's assertion that no team is going to win the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback unless that quarterback's name is Tom Brady, see Foles, Nick.

Thanks for bringing him up.

Will from Jaguarville

What four players are the Jaguars protecting on the practice squad?

Teams choose which four practice-squad players to protect on a week-to-week basis. The Jaguars' first decision in this area will be made early next week.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Receiver is getting interesting, specifically the four-to-six spots on the depth chart. Who will be the receivers on opening day? I'm guessing the Top 3 plus Dorsett and Tyron Johnson or Laquon Treadwell. When do you think they will put Tyron Johnson out there? He ran a 4.34, he adds speed.

I would anticipate DJ Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones Jr. will be active Week 1, plus … well, let's go with Treadwell at No. 4. Jamal Agnew will be active as a returner. I would anticipate Phillip Dorsett II being moved up from the practice squad if healthy. If not, OK, let's go with Johnson – if he knows the offense.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

_We are not a Farm System. We are a BACKUP QB FACTORY. Do not stop churning out elite backup QB talent until we have every pick in the 6th round.             _


John from Jacksonville

Why wouldn't a player's vaccination status be a consideration? Do they take a player's medical history into consideration? Seems pretty obvious the whole vaccination question is getting blown out of proportion.

Ya think?

Richard from Jacksonville

Who do you expect to lead the Jaguars in receiving yards after game one, eight, and seventeen? Is the touchdown leader different than the yards leader?

I confess I haven't thought about exactly who will lead the Jaguars in receiving yards at so specific intervals. Let's go with Jones to have a big game against the Houston Texans in the regular-season opener, and for Chark to have more huge games overall throughout the season. So … perhaps Jones will lead the Jaguars in receiving yards after Week 1 and Chark will lead after that? But yes … I would project the touchdowns receiving leader to be different than the yards leader, with Jones leading in touchdowns and Chark leading in yards. Good luck with your fantasy team.

Marcus from Jacksonville

I'm really intrigued to see how the addition of Trevor Lawrence helps or hurts James Robinson as a runner. It seems like the addition of a true threat at quarterback would keep teams from stacking the box, opening up running lanes for Robinson. But, at the same time, Trevor obviously thrives from the shotgun, which is perhaps not as suitable for a downhill runner like Robinson. Something's gotta give … either Trevor is going to have to play under center more, or Robinson is going to have to run out of the shotgun more. Hopefully neither of those options hinder the performance of either one of those players. What do you think?

You're right that it's something to watch. The Jaguars will – and must – lean toward doing what makes Lawrence more comfortable. I would expect Robinson to be fine running out of the shotgun. Yes, he's a downhill runner – but he also depends on vision to be productive. That will serve him well running out of the shotgun.

J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL

Johnny-O, Can you foresee the NFL/NFLPA making it so no other team can mine other team's practice squads? What would be the pros or cons of making this a rule at some point?

This won't happen. The NFL might be OK with it because it would allow teams to keep a reserve of players on hand in case of injuries – presumably at lower salaries than rostered player. The NFL Players Association wouldn't be OK with it – and wouldn't allow it to happen – because it would restrict opportunities for players, and therefore cost those players money. The NFLPA therefore – correctly and understandably – wouldn't allow it.

Kerry from Pasadena, MD

Hey John, in your response to several questions about the NFLPA "investigation" you failed to point out that the NFLPA is not the NFL. The NFLPA can take no action (fines, loss of draft picks, etc) against the Jaguars. I suppose they could issue another "letter" advising members that they disagree with the Jaguars. However, as noted, vaccination status is a medical issue – and all medical issues are relevant to player availability which should be an important part of roster construction. If two players are similarly capable a team should keep the one more likely to be available to play, be that because of injury history, age, or vaccination status … is it time to play the games yet?!

The Jaguars' 2021 regular-season opener is eight days away.