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O-Zone: Tougher than it looks

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

We all want to see our team win, even in the preseason. But it strikes me that Head Coach Doug Pederson has done exactly what he wanted to do. He has worked and played the [apparent] starters enough to build some chemistry and confidence. He has thoroughly evaluated the entire roster. He has figured out where he has depth and where he doesn't. It appears that the players are 100 percent all-in. Team practices, joint practices and games have been run smoothly with minimum penalties, less confusion than I would have expected this early and what looks like excellent camaraderie. I suppose all this could be summed up with one word: Professionalism. I don't know what their record will be this season, but it sure feels like a vastly improved football team.

We're viewing this 2022 Jaguars team through the same lens. I have written and said many times I don't expect the Jaguars to be in the postseason this season. Some readers have taken that as me not believing in the direction of the franchise under Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke. Not so at all. I feel better about the Jaguars' long-term direction than I have since returning to Jacksonville as senior writer in 2011. A lot better. I believe quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be very good relatively soon, and I absolutely believe Pederson will get as much out of this team as possible. I believe that because of the reason you cite. Pederson is a professional coach who knows how to professionally work with professional players. That doesn't guarantee success. Professional coaches must have players execute properly and must have elements come together. It helps if the coach's professional quarterback can play a high level for an extended time. That professionalism makes me believe this team will win under Pederson, and Lawrence's potential makes me believe that the Jaguars can sustain whatever success they attain. I think you'll see steps toward that end this season. If so, this season will be a success.

Scott from Jacksonville

Doesn't a player have to actually play in the league before they can be considered a "comeback" player? It's really hard to come back to something that you haven't done yet, so I think ETN has a real uphill battle for that title. Robinson has a better shot, but he was injured late and barely missed time, so he probably won't be given much thought either.

If either Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. or running back James Robinson have huge seasons this season, I expect that player would get serious consideration for Comeback Player of the Year. Considering the nature of both injuries, both would be remarkable comeback stories.

Vince from Farmington, NM

Mr. O. We all saw the release/waive list Tuesday. Is the practice squad already staffed or will many of those guys get offers to the practice squad?

Teams can start signing players to the practice squad after they clear waivers Wednesday. The Jaguars have a list of players they want for the practice squad, and many of those players indeed were released/waived by the Jaguars Monday and Tuesday.

David from Oviedo, FL

Zone. Can players claimed off the waiver wire go directly to the practice squad?

No. A claimed player must go to the active roster. A team can subsequently release that player and try to sign him to the practice squad, but other teams can claim the player in that situation.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

Despite their words, I don't think some of these fans actually "understand this is the preseason."

Fair.

Richard from Jacksonville

O'man. Time for the defense to put paper on the field. The offense to be competent and sometimes outstanding. It's time to come close but to learn. I am so looking forward to the ride and if they surprise me? Even better. Here is to optimism at the end of the preseason.

This is a healthy outlook. I do believe the Jaguars' defense will have some dominant moments in 2022, though I doubt in this era of the NFL if a dominant defense is quite the factor as once was the case. I expect what you expect from the offense, which is to say some moments that give you real hope for the future but enough inconsistency to keep the inbox "entertaining" on a lot of Mondays. Can't wait.

Jimmy from Jax

Zone, I just looked at the schedule and it said Jags at Washington and both records are 0-0… how can that be with all this angst?

Fans gonna fan. It's what they do.

Jonesy from Jonestown

John, are you keeping up - what happens if half our receiving core is named Jones?

If the Joneses get a new car – or a certain kind of shirt – today, you know what you should say? "Hooray for the Joneses." Remember, it's their car and they're the ones that had to pay.

Earl from Middleburg, FL

John O, I'm missing something here, but why didn't Coach Pederson take an off-practice day to host a walk-on kicker tryout? Searching the waiver wire now for secondhand shoes feels like putting a patch on an already worn-out tire. I'm totally not comfortable where we're at all, because we couldn't find one consistent kicker. Too many games are decided on last-second field goals. It should've warranted a more exhaustive, relentless search sooner instead of week-long competition between two kickers which neither are even on the team now! I really think Coach P totally and obviously dropped the ball on this one.

The Jaguars have had five kickers in camp, two of whom – Jake Verity and James McCourt – remain on the roster. The situation is not ideal with less than two weeks remaining before the regular-season opener, but teams have found kickers from far worse situations, and I don't know how much an "open tryout" would have helped. At some point you need to sign a guy and see how he kicks under pressure. That's what the Jaguars are doing with Verity and McCourt.

Rob from Jax

You said the trade of Laviska Shenault Jr. doesn't seem like a bad decision as he wasn't going to be in the plans going forward. While I won't argue that, would you say it was at the least a bad draft choice? A total miss? I don't think any general managers are clamoring to trade a second-rounder today for a sixth- or seventh-rounder rounder in a few years. Just curious your thoughts. Thanks.

Of course it was a bad selection.

BigT from Riverside

About Jawaan Taylor and Walker Little, has there been any thought about playing both? Taylor impresses me as a mauler, he's got some nasty in him, but he can get into trouble with the speed rushers. Wouldn't he make a great guard? Little looked pretty good at times last year at left tackle, and could nail down the right side. Good problem to have, I guess, that we might have bona fide starting talent on the bench, but just wondering.

I expect Taylor to start at right tackle and Little to be the swing tackle. I do not expect either player to move inside to play guard.

Royce from Loserville

Wow Mr. O that 2020 draft class went south fast, did it not?

It sure didn't go north.

Jonathan from Jacksonville

Hey, Big O. I was wondering what it is that makes you think the Jaguars cannot win the division this year. Is it that they need more top-shelf players or do they just need another year in the system? Or maybe it is both?

More the latter – and a little more experience. They're depending on a lot of young players to be very good. That can mean inconsistency.

David from Ada, OK

Why are people surprised that the worst team in the NFL still has the worst backups? Did folks think we "drafted" some good backups, or spent money in free agency for good backups or think it's easy to get good backups? You wanna spend for better backups? Or field better starters?

I'm not as concerned about the Jaguars' depth as many observers. A lot of the problems in this area stemmed from players no longer on the roster. The Jaguars' roster is promising. It is a young roster in spots, and it's possible that youth will cause some inconsistencies this season. I think the Jaguars' depth will be better in future seasons than this season, but I don't think it's awful this season.

JR from The Squatchlands

Can you explain the reasoning behind teams using a roster spot on a long snapper? It seems like it would be relatively easy to train an existing player to fill this role and free up another spot on the roster. Enlighten us, O.

Long snapping is not easy – relatively or otherwise. This why few – if any – teams in the last two-and-a-half decades have taken this approach.

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