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O-Zone: Throw to score

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

Does the NFL keep sacks/pressures stats on interior defensive linemen? Seems to me this was a major deficiency in 2023. Outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker did well off the edge, but not much help from the tackles. Good place to use first-round pick.

The NFL keeps official sacks statistics on all players, with pressures more of an unofficial statistic. Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike led NFL interior defensive linemen in 2023 with 13.5 sacks. Jaguars interior defensive linemen had 4.5 sacks in 2023, with Roy Robertson-Harris registering 3.5 and Adam Gotsis registering one. It's fair to note that Allen and Walker probably don't get their 17.5 and 10 sacks, respectively, without effective play on the interior. It's also fair to note that it's not incredibly unusual not to get huge sacks numbers from the interior. Either way, the Jaguars overall could be better there. If the right player is available at No. 17, an interior defensive lineman makes sense.

John from Jacksonville

Trent Baalke is getting ripped for his handling of Josh Allen's situation to the point of ridiculousness. Didn't he answer, "Josh will be a Jaguar?" Why does that instantly turn into he'll apply the franchise tag? Could it also mean we're committed to getting a deal done? I don't recall any animosity between the team and tight end Evan Engram last year. Didn't his deal get done eventually? Why couldn't that happen with Josh? Everyone needs to chill out.

It's vogue these days to criticize Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke, and him saying last week that the team had not yet began negotiations with Allen indeed drew criticism. Allen's representation reportedly didn't like that Baalke spoke to the media before speaking to them. I have no idea the seriousness of that "dislike." I do know six weeks remain to resolve this before Allen is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. That's more than enough time to get a long-term deal done.

Jason from North Pole, AK

Six weeks?? I seem to remember everyone getting worked up over signing Evan Engram, too. Did he get tagged, then negotiate a long-term deal later?


Craig from Ponte Vedra Beach

In contrast to Mr. Irrelevant (Purdy), who has not been given a new contract despite outperforming Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, why would anyone even consider giving Lawrence a new contract any time soon?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy is in his second NFL season. He will be eligible to sign a contract extension following his third season.

Brandon from Omaha, NE

Hey O, Would the Jags move Anton Harrison to left tackle if they let Cam Robinson go, or is he locked in at right tackle? He played left tackle virtually his entire college career. With nine of the top 20 paid tackles in the NFL last year being right tackles, it doesn't seem like the blind side is valued the way it used to be.

I expect there's a good chance the Jaguars would move Harrison to left tackle if left tackle Cam Robinson doesn't return next season. The team believes Harrison can play well there, with Baalke saying as much during his postseason media availability last week. Baalke also said he wasn't ready to commit to anything as far as players such as Robinson and other cap-heavy veterans returning next season or not. But yes … I would say moving Harrison is a serious option at left tackle if Robinson is elsewhere next season.

Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

Everyone seems to want to blame the general manager. I don't agree. I think he has done a fine job overall. He hits on the big picks like high-priced free agents and top draft picks. Furthermore, he has a financial plan and keeps us in good cap shape. I believe the issue is with the head coach. He did not set the right tone last year and definitely underperformed.


Zac from Austin, Tejas

How common is it for teams to have 1,000-yard rushers and not be able to rush the ball? Does this imply anything about Travis Etienne?

If a team has a 1,000-yard rusher, it suggests that on some level the team can rush the ball – but your point that the Jaguars overall struggled to run in 2023 is correct. How common is it for a team that struggles to run to have a rusher reach the milestone? It's more common now than in years past, with the 17-game regular-season meaning a back "only" must average 58.8 yards per game to reach 1,000 yards. Here's what rushing for 1,000 yards in 2023 said about Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. from this view – that he was very good at breaking long runs and being effective when given the opportunities. He just didn't have enough opportunities.

Robert from Fernandina Bch. FL

This whole going-for-it-on fourth down is driving me crazy. The San Francisco 49ers started the second half of the NFC Championship Game with the ball down 17 points, which is three scores. They kick a field goal and on the ensuing possession, the Detroit Lions have the ball on the Niners' 28-yard line facing a fourth and three. If they make a 45-yard field goal, they go right back up 17 points – which is three scores – well into the third quarter, sending a message to the Niners that you can score all you want, but we will match you and remain way up and you only have a quarter and a half to make up being three scores down. Instead, the Lions go for it on fourth-and-three and fail, losing all momentum; the Niners are still only two scores down, and the game completely changes in the Niners' favor. When the Lions went for it again on fourth down late in the fourth quarter – instead of attempting a 48-yard field goal to tie the game and failed – I turned the TV off and went to bed. It is just bad football.

I for the most part agree with you. We're old school, you and I. A lot of coaches and analytics people these days tend to agree with the newer-school approach that Detroit Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell used this past Sunday. Pederson leans in Campbell's direction, though I sense he may have taken the field goal in the third quarter Sunday when Campbell chose to go for the touchdown. The theory behind going was if you make it is it's a chance to essentially end the game right there – or at least come really close. If you fail …

Jake from Waynesville, NC

The looming Josh Allen payday has me thinking. What's to stop a rich guy like Jaguars Owner Shad Khan from telling Josh to sign a cheap deal against the cap that is very team friendly? But with a wink wink that he'll pay him $100 million to "mow his lawn?"

That would be circumventing the salary cap. An owner could try it. A team getting caught doing it would face significant penalties.

Jordan from Mandarin

Baalke implied that if we win one more game that we're in the playoffs and no one is complaining like they are now. Maybe there's truth to that for many fans, but not for all of us. This team's issues existed before London, during the five-game winning streak and during the collapse. The front office thought this team was good enough to just run it back and couldn't see the flaws. It was a complete misevaluation of the roster.

The Jaguars in the 2023 offseason added wide receiver Calvin Ridley to an offense that was Top 10 in the NFL in yards and points in 2022. Beyond that, they weren't active in free agency – primarily because they had been active the previous offseason and needed to get the salary cap at least somewhat under control.

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

So, there is a false assumption that all fans believed that the team that was 8-3 was great. While that's a great record, a lot of people pointed out that there were glaring issues with the team even early in the season. The team was more fortunate than good to get to an 8-3 record then reality caught up. That Jags personnel are currently a 9-8 team at best. I think we will be looking at a new GM in a year but here's to hoping I'm wrong.


Josiah from Plymouth, NH

Do you think that the Jaguars with an upgraded bigger and stronger offensive line will run the ball and have a more balanced offense despite having quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a head coach that was a former quarterback?

I think the Jaguars would run better and more often with an improved interior offensive line. I think under Pederson the Jaguars always will skew a bit more toward the pass than the run. He's a West Coast offense disciple who believes you throw to score and run to win. That means the Jaguars under Pederson never will be "three yards and a cloud of dust."