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O-Zone: Tiny tear

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Richard from Jacksonville

John, regarding your recent explanation of the defense, would you say the NFL's version of a "spread defense" would be the hybrid we are going to run? I try to spot trends before they become "trends" and I've recently been thinking that the difference between one or the other versus a hybrid is your linebackers' ability to rush and cover at a high level so the quarterback never really knows where the rush is coming from. This is intelligent design and something I'm glad we are implementing. It gives me hope that this is the base for long-term, sustained success.

I don't know that I would call what the Jaguars will run moving forward a "spread defense," but there is a correlation to the spread offense in the sense that it's something of a departure from the norm – and in the sense that the departure seeks to keep the opponent guessing. When current Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen was the defensive line coach in Baltimore the past five seasons, pressure often came from creative blitzing from the secondary; Ravens coordinator Wink Martindale is a big fan of mixing blitz looks and taking advantage of defensive backs who are effective blitzers. It remains to be seen if that will be Cullen's approach with the Jaguars – or if the current Jaguars defensive backs can be as effective rushing the quarterback. I do expect the Jaguars' defense under Cullen to be similar to the Ravens in the sense that the Ravens tend to have various packages for the front seven – and to emphasize versatility from those players. Those looks often will be based on the opponent, so you won't necessarily see the same looks – or even the same personnel – when the Jaguars play a pass-oriented team as when they play a team that plays more big, run-heavy packages such as the Tennessee Titans. So, no … I don't know that this defense is the "spread," but it's going to be interesting to watch. Remember, though: the personnel playing still must be able to execute. That's the basis for long-term, sustained success.

John from Cape May Court House

My concern with the defense are the pass rushers, or lack thereof. Do we have enough in the pass-rushing department? Outside of Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson, there's not a whole lot of depth of true edge rushers. It's nice that we have a secondary that appears to be able to cover, but that only lasts so long. If a quarterback has enough time, eventually a receiver will get open.

You're right that pass rush matters. A lot. I expect the area to improve in 2021 because I expect the run defense to improve, which should get players such as Allen and Chaisson in better pass-rush situations. This also is an area where players such as defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot must have impact, but you're right: On paper, Allen and Chaisson appear to be the front-line edge rushers with rookie Jordan Smith expected to develop into the role. Lerentee McCray and Aaron Patrick also seem likely to be competing for roles and roster spots in training camp. Stay tuned.

Keith from Palatka, FL

There is no shame in mental illness, or at least there should not be. I am glad that the NFL and people in the NFL – like Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. – are speaking out in an effort to destigmatize it. So many people struggle with mental health issues for fear of what others might say. Sadly, they suffer and others (usually family members) suffer as well as they fear getting help. I applaud the NFL and players like Chark for being courageous and honest enough to share their struggles and provide others with hope. Hopefully by being open and honest about mental-health issues, we can destigmatize it so that others will be encouraged to get the help they need. If you do not struggle with mental illness or have a loved one who struggles with mental illness, count yourself fortunate and for heaven's sake stop being insensitive to those who do.

Well said. Here's a link.

Jim from Callahan, FL

Are you, and all fans, humiliated at the signing of Tebow? His contract is a clear sign the No. 1 priority is to put fans in seats ... today. Build a winning franchise and the fans will be there. Good fans, generational fans, not fair-weather fans.

First, I'm not a "fan." Second, I'm not humiliated; my concept of self doesn't revolve around Tim Tebow or the Jaguars. Third, signing Tebow wasn't about putting fans in the seats; it was about Head Coach Urban Meyer believing Tebow might be able to contribute something to help the team win. He may or may not be able to do that, but that was the intention.

David from Broward County, FL

Taven Bryan to have a key big-end role? Really, O Man? He will not make the roster and won't be picked up by any team barring major injury issues on the defensive line. Enough with this guy. He clearly isn't good enough and won't be good enough.

David is not "all in," but it's incorrect to assume he's correct.

Andy from St Augustine, FL


Andy, in stark contrast to David, is "all in."

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, are the Jaguars practicing wildcat formations? If so, do you see the offense using the wildcat? And, how often would you say? Thank you

It wouldn't surprise me if the Jaguars use the wildcat on occasions next season. But you won't find information on what the Jaguars are or aren't practicing during organized team activities or minicamp here or in other media outlets. We can watch practice in the coming weeks, but reporting on specifics such as that are prohibited until training camp in late July and early August.

Rob from Jacksonville

Maybe Tebow could play center, snap it to himself, throws a backward lateral to Trevor, who then hits Tebow deep for the Jags first touchdown of the year. I am excited, I can see so many different ways this could work.

Go big or go home.

Mike from Jacksonville

Any chance the team goes after Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones just to prevent the Indianapolis Colts or Tennessee Titans getting him, so we don't have to face him twice a year? Feels like an old Tom Coughlin move, target your division opponents on and off the field.

I don't expect the Jaguars to sign a player "just" to prevent him from playing for another team. If they sign a player, it would first and foremost because he could help the Jaguars.

Alon from Malibu, CA

Pass-catching tight end has been discussed during free agency and draft. With Tebow signing, do you expect the Jaguars to trade for or sign another tight end (Trey Burton, Tyler Eifert) or just stick with what they got? I think they are done because the Urban Meyer wants to give Tebow a chance.

The Jaguars still absolutely could address the receiving tight end position. I don't see the signing of Tebow particularly influencing that.

David from Maplewood, NJ

No, no. I'm sure you are right. The 90thman in the roster with a slim chance of making the team now has the No. 1 selling NFL jersey. I'm sure it won't be a distraction.

A distraction. To who? You? The readers? The media? Sure. Inside the team, how much of a distraction can something be on May 25?

Tom from Shanghai, China

Is the idea of a distracted team or media circuses a media invention? Have you ever seen or been involved with a team that has been 'distracted' by outside events? What was the cause? I agree that it's overblown and that most players are too focused on their jobs to worry what the fifth-string tight end is doing. That said, players don't live in a bubble and there has to come a point where, if there is distraction and disharmony, it will have a negative impact on performance, right?

I wouldn't call "distractions" or "media circuses" a media invention. I would say their impact is dramatically overblown. It's certainly true that people like to talk about them. It's even true that coaches often worry about them. How much they actually matter in terms of how teams fare on the field? Well …

Eddie from Jacksonville

I appreciate the daily column and find that reading it is a nice break in my day. I wanted to sincerely thank you for the answer to the favorite player question. I immediately connected with the players you listed (both Jags and Colts), they all seemed to be down-to-earth guys who embraced the blessing of living their dreams. And like you, I some of my most delible memories of sports are connected to my parents and the fan legacy we shared when I was young. Tears all around today ... thank you, sir!

You're welcome.