JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Michael from Orange Park, FL
Million dollar question: With all the defensive improvements, can this be a Top 10 defense? Top 5? Can it match the 2017 defense?
That may not be a million-dollar question, but it's a good one. I don't know how to predict a "Top 5" or a "Top 10" defense, because I don't know how good other defenses will be – or where other defenses will rank. What I can do is project whether the Jaguars' defense will be improved – and it's hard to imagine that won't be the case. I expect the secondary to be improved because of the addition of veteran cornerback Darious Williams and because second-year cornerback Tyson Campbell played well enough – and improved enough – as a rookie to expect a productive Year 2 jump. I also expect the off-the-ball linebacker play will be improved with the addition of veteran Foye Oluokun and rookies Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma; I would expect Lloyd to have a big-play impact because off-the-ball linebacker is a spot where rookies can contribute fairly quickly and Oluokun's NFL production has been enough that he should play well immediately. I expect the run defense to be good for multiple reasons, including the aforementioned linebackers and the addition of free-agent defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi. The area I'm perhaps watching most closely is pass rush. If that is improved, it will improve sacks and turnovers – the two biggest areas where this defense must progress to make a difference in victories and losses. The improved stoutness of the run defense should help on that front and provide more pass-rushing opportunities. With more pass-rushing opportunities, I expect outside linebacker Josh Allen to make more of an impact. Will rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker be polished enough as a rookie to make an impact on this front? That's a fair question and one we won't know until the regular season. Those two pass rushers could make the difference between the Jaguars' defense being better and a lot better. Either way, I expect notable improvement. Stay tuned.
Ricky from Mandarin
I think Devin Lloyd will be the best rookie. What say you?
I say there's a good chance that's the case – or at least, there's a good chance Lloyd will have the most easily recognizable impact among the Jaguars' rookie class. Lloyd, the No. 27 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, is expected to start as a rookie. And as I mentioned in the previous answer, off-the-ball linebacker is a spot where a player can have quick impact because it's sometimes about running and chasing – and Lloyd has enough athleticism that it can make up for some natural rookie mistakes as he learns the game. He also has a knack for interceptions and sacks as a blitzer that could make quick impact statistically. Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, could have a trickier time making a huge statistical impact because he will be judged in that area on sacks and pressures. I expect he will need to develop pass-rushing techniques and I also expect offenses will key on him at times, both of which could keep his statistics down initially. But I do expect Walker's presence overall to help the Jaguars' entire front – whatever his statistics. That's my early thought. No one in the Jaguars' 2022 rookie class has practiced in pads in the NFL, so those early thoughts are … well … early.
John from Jacksonville
Why are you this way? Who hurt you?
I don't know. I can't remember.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL
Excited about the free-agent acquisitions, the freshly drafted (and undrafted) rookies and the veterans. The process of preparing the team for the upcoming season, however, is not so exciting. It all seems rather routine. Just like most other NFL franchises. No controversy. No scandals. No collegiate practice methods. Just a competent set of coaches prepping a pretty good collection of players. So, tell me, John – who is this team and what have you done with the Jaguars?
This is a fair point. It has been a calm, uneventful 2022 offseason for the Jaguars. There is no loudspeaker at practice and no talk of learning on the job. We've covered that enough here in the O-Zone that I think most readers are familiar with the differences. And it absolutely feels more professional. That professional approach doesn't guarantee results. This is sports and not scripted television, so there are no guarantees. But this approach of Head Coach Doug Pederson has shown it can yield results – Super Bowl-winning results. That should inspire confidence in players, and that's a good start. It's a good foundation. All a head coach can do in the offseason is establish those things, and Pederson appears to have done that. It has been a good April, May and June for the Jaguars. That matters. July through January matter much more. Onward.
Jason from North Pole, AK
Did the loudspeakers feel gimmicky and ridiculous at the time last year or are they just easy to poke fun at in hindsight knowing how things turned out?
Marc from Oceanway
Zone, Are you able to, or allowed to, reveal which veterans remain in attendance this week?
Wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. was there; he had been slowed in practice with an unidentified injury issue late during organized team activities. Running back James Robinson was there working on the side while rehabilitating a season-ending torn Achilles sustained late last season. Wide receiver Jamal Agnew participated – perhaps somewhat limited – while returning from a season-ending hip injury sustained late last season. Those were the notable veterans I saw Monday. There may have been one or two more I didn't see.
Crash from Glen St. Mary, FL
Will Gene Frenette and his band be touring this summer?
I've heard tell of this. Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette sometimes tours with his band, "Soggy Hood." He sometimes does solo, acoustic stuff. He also has been known to "pop in" at clubs and bars around the Northeast and do impromptu jams to stay in touch with his people. It's hard to know where he's playing for sure because Gene eschews online promotion, instead believing in word of mouth and what he calls artistic karma. Gene's a purist, equal parts unpredictable and dedicated. He's "a lot." No doubt.
Marcus from Jacksonville
Weren't the Jags docked an OTA practice for something that happened last offseason? If that is the case, is that essentially negated by getting extra practice time for having a new coach? I just haven't heard anything about it.
The league indeed initially took two 2022 Organized Team Activities practices away from the Jaguars for offseason practice violations under then-Head Coach Urban Meyer. That penalty was rescinded when the Jaguars changed head coaches this offseason.
Kevin from Section 113
The whole uproar about the veterans getting the mandatory minicamp off reminds me of my days as an IT consultant. I used to go to small and medium sized companies to look over their systems to offer suggestions and plans to improve operations. Usually if we were called there was a problem that needed to be addressed. Often these businesses were paying significant amounts of money for the knowledge and experience we provided. I am still amazed at the number of times that the business would ignore or pushed aside our findings/solutions because it didn't fit their own ideas or assumptions about what was actually wrong. I look at the fans, fanning over this just like these clients from back in the day. We are paying Pederson large amounts of money because he has a qualified background and we trust that he knows what he is doing. So no question here, just let the coach do his job. The job we are paying him to do.
JR from the Squatchlands
O-man: A quick Google search reveals that no head coach in NFL history has ever won a Super Bowl with two different teams. This leads me to two questions: No. 1, how likely do you think it is Coach P will be the one to break that threshold while coaching the Jags?; No. 2, Assuming he doesn't make his way into the history books, what would you consider a successful tenure in terms of seasons, wins, postseason appearances, etc.?
It's hard to ever call a Super Bowl title "likely." Winning the Super Bowl is phenomenally difficult and really good teams and coaches don't always win one – though the presence of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Pederson give the Jaguars a foundation to make it seem possible. What could success be short of that? Consistent relevance. Meaningful games December and January. Multiple playoff appearances. Victories once there.
Charles from Savannah, GA
If John Oehser 2022 could go back in time and speak with John Oehser 1985, what advice would he give?
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