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O-Zone: Tipping point

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Lawrence from Omaha, NE

Johnny-be-good … Listening to your podcasts with Bucky, reading The Athletic article, and listening to the players interviews this last week, it seems like the judgment on this team being a three-win team last year and getting the No. 1 draft pick is too harsh. I think it's fair to look at last year's results as a team that likely would have had at least five or six wins with a good coaching system around them and without all of the disfunction. Shouldn't that mean they are better aligned for a solid "jump" in performance this year? Also, I really appreciated your perspective on the hypothetical, good eye. ;)

Thank goodness you mentioned NFL Network Analyst Bucky Brooks; JP Shadrick and I enjoy working with Brooks on the Huddle Up Podcast – which the strikingly egoless Brooks nevertheless contractually insists we call Bucky Brooks' The Bucky Brooks Show featuring Bucky Brooks. As for your question … I can't say that people judge the Jaguars' 2021 season too harshly; it struck me as a well-deserved 3-14 season. I do agree that a more professional structure around the organization and less "learning on the job" would have benefitted this team greatly – and perhaps resulted in a few close losses going the other way. Maybe the Week 4 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and the Week 12 loss to the Atlanta Falcons fall into this category; I honestly haven't spent much time breaking down each loss of what in retrospect was as lost a season as is possible. I do expect Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence to take a second-year jump in 2022, and I expect this offense not to be last in the NFL in scoring. I expect Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson to handle in-game situations better and for players to believe in this coaching staff much more than was the case last season. Can those elements get this team four or five more victories? I don't think that's unreasonable.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey John, now that Cam has signed the tender does that mean the Jaguars maybe think about drafting offensive line now and trade Cam Robinson? It seems there will be no long-term deal. If they don't draft Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu they maybe have no left tackle next year. What would you do?

I think you're perhaps misreading the situation. Robinson signing his franchise-tag tender this week doesn't mean there won't be a long-term deal – and I've yet to hear anything that makes me think the sides won't agree to a long-term deal. I expect Robinson to be the Jaguars' starting left tackle for the foreseeable future.

Jason from North Pole, AK

You recently posted a question about Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker's lack of productivity. I don't agree that it is a concern, because sack numbers are misleading. Walker was asked to do a lot of different things in that scheme, including dropping into coverage and two-gapping as an interior defender. He often rushed against interior double teams rather than spending most of his time one on one off the edge against a tackle like Aidan Hutchinson. I think we have to take the player with the highest upside to be a disruptive force and I'm beginning to believe that's Walker.

So, one fer Walker …

Jonathan from Jacksonville

Really with the Jalen at No. 1 questions? Yes, the most overrated player in the history of the game would be considered No. 1 for this year's draft – even though he was drafted at No. 5, played average, cried like a baby and got traded to a team where he continues to get burned but now on national TV. If he were thrown 10 balls right at him in the heat of the battle, he would drop nine of them. That's his ratio. I'm not going to say he sucks, because his mouthy tactics work against 23-year-olds with massive egos, but everyone else just beats him. He is not a playmaker and has already made a business decision to stop bringing wood on tackles and/or just making a tackle. He and all these people under the age of 35 buy into the Deion Sanders references, which is laughable. Deion was a playmaker. He changed the game. He caught every ball coming his way and took most of them to the house. He also would have been a Hall of Famer just from being the best returner in his era. The only things they have in common is the school they went to and neither like tackling. That's it. Stop the madness. Never wanted him and good riddance. We took him at No. 5, he would have kept falling because nobody else wanted him that high considering his lack of impact on the game and his baggage. Hope you print this.

… and if I'm reading this one correctly – and I'm almost-but-not-quite sure I am – I kinda, sorta think one notfer Ramsey.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

On the issue of officiating, I respect your opinion that you don't believe there is any conspiracy or deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of games. Maybe you are right, which only speaks larger to the need for adjustments to the ref process of the game. While having the New York review option is great, there needs to be something done when gross misses and aberrations begin to occur. The Super Bowl being a prime example of how things going on the whole game aren't seen/called until the last three-to-four minutes when it clearly impacts the game's outcome. It really does put the NFL reputation in question if this many people are talking about it. You said the NFL has too much to lose. So ... is that the reason there has been so much corruption and lapses in integrity exposed the last 15 years? Between the Patriots taping practices, Bounty gate, WFT continual embedded battles with misconduct, accusations of racially influenced hiring in defiance of the Rooney rule, there is no shortage of evidence the NFL is not above reproach anymore. So I ask you again, you absolutely certain there is no chance the refs aren't influencing the game? Much respect to your continued efforts KOAF.

A league as high-profile in the NFL is going to have controversies. The question that began this discussion was whether the league dictated that officials favor big-market teams over small-market ones. I wrote that the league does not do this because it would be absurd to do so – and impossible to do so without getting caught. You're talking about there being a leaguewide edict involving an extraordinary number of people. It defines logic and reason to believe it could happen. Why would the nation's dominant professional sport risk such a thing? I can't control if people accept this reasoning. But am I certain of that reasoning? Certainly.

Richard from Jacksonville

But I don't feel fine.

Who does, Richard? Who does?

P Funk from Murray Hill

Speaking of hypotheticals, if the Jaguars didn't have quarterback Trevor Lawrence on the roster and had the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft would our draft strategy change?

Perhaps, because the Jaguars in that scenario might feel forced to take a chance on a quarterback at No. 1 overall. Or they might be compelled to trade up from No. 33 overall into the first round to get a quarterback.

Jonathan from Jacksonville

For the record, I'm thinking the first pick will not be for Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson, Oregon edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux, Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal or North Carolina State offensive tackle Icky Ekwonu.

If it's not one of those four, I'm guessing it will be Walker. That feels like the list. We'll see. It sounds like you're leaning Walker. We'll see about that, too.

Clint from Jacksonville

Shad Khan purchased the Jaguars in 2011 for $760 million. Current value of the Jaguars is $2.8 billion with a B. What does one home game in London have to do with the viability of the franchise? I get having to grow the brand of the NFL internationally, but we should only have to give up a home game at the same equitable amount as every other franchise.

Value is one thing. Year-to-year financial stability is another. And a business must have the latter to make sense and to be – as you put it – "viable." A London home game nets significantly more than a home game at TIAA Bank Field and therefore a London home game as it stands now is important. Also: Jaguars Owner Shad Khan wants to grow the Jaguars' brand internationally, not just the NFL's brand. A home game in London is important on that front, too.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, if whoever we draft first this year asks you for some "tips" when he arrives, what will you give him?

This is impossible to know without knowing the bill.