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O-Zone: Tried and true

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

James from Jacksonville

Hey, Zone. I know that it is the dead period, but what is the one thing that you feel will look/feel/present itself differently in the start of the season and give us Jaguars fans the most hope for the future? As a Jaguars fan, all we have had is hope year after year for a long time now. I don't care if we go .500 or worse as long as we can see improvement and more hope for the future. Is there anything that you are looking for and expect to give us that hope come regular season? Thanks.

I think the Jaguars generally will look better from start to finish in 2022 – in part because it would be difficult to look worse than they did early in 2021. I expect the Jaguars' defensive front to look very good from the start of the 2022 season, particularly against the run. I expect that to significantly reduce the number of games that just sort of feel unwinnable from the start; there were way too many of those for this team in recent seasons. The most critical question about the Jaguars this season is if/when quarterback Trevor Lawrence fits into this category of looking better and giving fans confidence. I believe he will do so at some point in the season. If it happens quickly, the Jaguars could be good quickly. If it takes time over the course of the season, the Jaguars' development could take some time over the course of the season. If it happens at any time this season, the Jaguars are in good position moving forward.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

O-Zone, you don't sound fired up for the 2022 season. If you're not fired up, how do you expect fans to be fired up? Get fired up. Or are you fired up and just letting on?

I don't know if I'm fired up for the Jaguars' 2022 season, but I typically don't get "excited" for seasons in the way fans do. I also tend not to get pessimistic and emotional the way fans do. That's because I'm not a fan. That's not the job. The job is to write about, discuss and answer questions about the Jaguars – and do so in as entertaining a way as possible. But even if I don't "sound fired up" about the Jaguars' 2022 season, I am looking forward to a lot about it. I'm looking forward to seeing Lawrence's growth and I'm looking forward to seeing if players such as running back Travis Etienne Jr. can have the impact many expect from him. I'm looking forward to seeing if offseason moves on the offensive and defensive fronts work out. And yes … I'm looking forward to the Jaguars improving in their first year under Head Coach Doug Pederson. After the difficulty of the last two seasons, that will be enjoyable. Highly enjoyable. Wait … you know what? Maybe I am a little fired up.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, are you and Abby from "Dear Abby" the same person?

You are what you are and you ain't what you ain't.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

I recently asked what we might expect to take away from the Hall of Fame game, and your response was basically nothing. That's reasonable. But I went back to the replay of last-year's preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. My takeaway from that was seeing a defense that often seemed lost. No coverage of backs taking outlet passes. Poor coverage of tight ends. Loose coverage of wide receivers. The overall impression was the defense was underprepared and frequently confused. I am hoping to see in this year's preseason opener a defense that seems to understand the scheme and their individual responsibilities. I am hoping to see (even in a plain vanilla defense) some signs that the defense "gets it". I know, I know – it still may not tell us much about the Jaguars' regular season, but isn't it reasonable to hope to see a defense in the Hall of Fame game that is clearly ahead of last year's?

You're right that the Jaguars' effort in Preseason Week 1 last season was worrisome – and yes, it's fair to expect a team to look prepared and unconfused any time it plays, even in the preseason opener. My point in my recent answer was that you're generally not going to learn all that much in any preseason game due to the vanilla approaches and due to coaches reducing playing time to reduce injury risk. There are exceptions to this, particularly when a team really struggles and just doesn't look as if it belongs on the same field as an opponent. While that doesn't always indicate a team will struggle that season, it can be a bad sign – and it has been the case a couple of times for the Jaguars over the last decade. It's a bad feeling. I don't expect that to happen to the Jaguars this preseason because I think they have gotten the roster past that point. We'll see.

Dave from Oviedo, FL

Zone - Have you ever attended a Hall of Fame induction ceremony before? If so, for who and what do you remember?

I have not attended a Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

You haven't influenced my taste in music. Your predecessor introduced me to the Beatles. I don't think we would've hung out had I gone to Episcopal. You probably weren't much of a mathlete. Maybe we would have paired up in doubles; serve and volley much?

The Beatles are the most influential rock and roll group of all time, influencing music and culture for generations. If you needed an introduction to them, you're right we probably wouldn't have hung out. I wasn't cool at Episcopal, but I was cooler than that. And I don't know what mathlete means. I assume it means good at math. I actually was damned good at math. I just didn't flaunt. I was cooler than that, too.

Denmiz from Jagsonville

KOAF (yes you are definitely the king of all funk). I'm a third-gen Jacksonville, which makes my daughters fourth gen. Not too many of us around. I grew up as a diehard Gators fan but never really loved the NFL. I've been to many Jags games and like it, but not college ball … until I started reading The O-Zone about a year ago. You are one funny dude. Even during the offseason, I find myself laughing loudly at your responses. Fans gonna fan, but you really bring FUN to a business sport. My point … you are the KOAF and don't let Gary get you down.

Gary is not the King of All Funk.

Marlin from Lottieville, FL

Hey Zone, I read the final analysis article for the 2022 season, and I am eagerly anticipating the new year. Most of the contributors are cautious in their optimism for the Jaguars' new year with the consensus seeming to be the Jaguars are a seven-to-10-win team, but more likely seven-to-eight wins. Being the pain-loving narcissist that I am, I looked up last year's predictions. Oh my … no one predicted the disaster that was the 2021 Jaguars season, but in your defense, who would ever predict something so horrific? From last year's article: Rick Ballou: "A fun team to watch," Bucky Brooks: "Very competitive," Frank Frangie: "much improved … can be in playoff contention," Brent Martineau: "…entertaining, a feel-good story … [Urban] Meyer should be in the running for Coach of the Year," J.P. Shadrick: "In the division title hunt…," Ashlyn Sullivan: "A team that wins eight games," and lastly Oehser: "…A good chance to be a six-to-seven victory team…". You were tempering enthusiasm and lowering our expectations, so good job. Let's hope that this year we have a situation that no one would predict, but in the opposite direction from last year. The 2020 predictions did have a tone of pessimism, but no one thought that they would be in the running for the first pick of the draft. In your ten years at, do you remember a season where you looked back and thought "well, that turned out exactly as I expected?"

Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you. The bear got the final analysis gang last year. I don't honestly recall how often I've been close to being right about the Jaguars before the season. I admit I don't care much about preseason prognostications – not just from myself about the Jaguars, but from any analyst about anything regarding the NFL. It's pretty easy to predict teams with great quarterbacks will contend. Teams without consistency at quarterback are much harder to predict. The predictions once the regular season begin mean next to nothing and are quickly forgotten. They're just not my thing, though I understand fans love them.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

You still suck.

Thank you.