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O-Zone: Tuckered out

JACKSONVILLE - Let's get to it...

Nathan from St Augustine, FL

Hi, John. Do you think with the addition of a 17thgame, some of the rule changes made last season to help rosters deal with COVID-19 might become permanent? Injuries and depth are an issue every season and an additional game will just make that even more so. I have never understood why teams have to name five players to sit each game for instance.

Most NFL roster management rules are designed to ensure as much fairness as possible on game day. The rule that teams must make a certain number of players inactive each week, for instance, is designed to ensure that teams enter games with an equal number of healthy players as often as possible. If teams didn't have to deactivate seven players you could see many scenarios in which one team had 53 healthy players available with another team having just 46 or 47; because teams must deactivate seven players, it's far more common for both teams to have 46 healthy available players. As for your question, I do believe some of the rule changes in place last season will become permanent – or at least some version of the rule changes. I could see, for instance, the league allowing a certain number of players to come off injured reserve after three weeks rather than eight. And I could see more veterans allowed on practice squads. I don't know that you'll see the unlimited versions of such rules as we saw last season, but my sense is there is sentiment in the league to move more toward what we saw last season.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

What defensive player will thrive the most in Joe Cullen's scheme?

I'll go with third-year defensive end Josh Allen. I expect he will stand up more in whatever scheme defensive coordinator Joe Cullen employs, which is something Allen did a lot in college. But even without a change in role or scheme under Cullen, I would say Allen. He's a mega-talented player who had sort of a lost season because of injuries and team performance last season. I would be surprised if he doesn't thrive moving forward. And soon.

Michael from Middleburg, FL

I was wondering how long before the first derogatory comment about Trevor's hair ... first week in April ... only in Northeast Florida.

You're referencing an email from "Tom from Jax" saying he was concerned about hair in quarterback Trevor Lawrence's eyes. Tom wasn't being derogatory. In fact, his words perchance could have been interpreted as concerned, curious or even envious. But derogatory. Nay, Michael. Nay, I say.

Jason from Fleming Island

As far as quality offensive line depth, look no further back than Kansas City in the Super Bowl. Yikes.

This references a recent O-Zone answer in which I made the point – yet again – that NFL teams don't usually have quality offensive line depth. This is a longstanding truism that often is missed by fans, particularly fans that follow just one team closely. Fans often criticize their own team's offensive line overzealously because offensive line is the sole NFL position where essentially only a player's mistakes are noticed and few of the good plays. As a result, many fans believe their team's offensive linemen are continually giving up sacks and committing penalties at a higher rate than linemen on other teams. That's true sometimes, but it's often a case of overblown criticism. The same is true of fans' assessment of their team's offensive-line depth. Few, if any, teams have real offensive-line depth. Good offensive linemen are too hard to find. The Kansas City Chiefs' offensive line this past season indeed was an example. An injury or two at the wrong time hurt the unit tremendously. As would be the case with most offensive lines in the NFL.

Jerry from Indianapolis, IN

I'm leaning safety at No. 25, Zone. Who ya got?

Careful not to fall over, Jerry. I assume you're leaning toward Trevon Moehrig of Texas Christian for the Jaguars at No. 25 – which, honestly, is not a bad way to lean. He reportedly is good value late in the first round and has a chance to be a very good player. What I wonder is whether positional value could trump safety need there. I also wonder if the Jaguars could focus on speed and playmaking ability at No. 25? Head Coach Urban Meyer talked extensively about the need to get faster this offseason. The Jaguars didn't really do that in free agency and the draft is the logical place to add speed: young legs are often fast legs. The thought here remains that the Jaguars will select at least one fast skill player in their first five selections. Maybe two. Could one of those fast skill players come at No. 25? Sure. Absolutely.

Fred from Chicago, IL



Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

I'm okay with one game in London but giving up two home games will push fans away. I know I was upset when they announced this before the pandemic. Does the team stick with one game or will they continue to keep sending games overseas?

I would expect the Jaguars to play at least one home game in London whenever the league allows them to do so for the foreseeable future. I admit I don't have a great feel for what the future holds in terms of a second home game there. Stay tuned.

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. With our free agency being greatly slanted towards defense, can we assume the draft will go mostly offense? A best-available-player/need mix? After all, we were in the basement offensively not just on the defensive. And assuming that is what happens, is there any particular strategy behind loading the draft with free agency, and relying on the draft to augment the offense? Thanks, Charles.

One reason the Jaguars plan to rely on the draft to address the offense is the biggest need on that side of the ball is quarterback – and there seems to be at least a whim of a chance that they could address the position early in the draft. And a reason they seemed to focus less on that side of the ball in free agency was because they didn't see offensive line as a need, so that was five offensive positions they didn't feel the need to address in free agency. And they actually did address receiver (Marvin Jones Jr., Phillip Dorsett Jr. and Jamal Agnew), running back (Carlos Hyde) and tight end (Chris Manhertz), so they did kind of address that side of the ball in free agency. Perhaps just not with the strategy some fans expected.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

Was reading an article about all the first-round picks of the Jaguars in the last 10 years and how the exception of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, they have all been huge disappointments. Got me thinking O-Zone, your opinion. Was it the team that ruined the pick or was the pick just never that good? I mean let's take the GOAT as an example. Was Tom Brady always that incredible (since being a sixth-round pick, one would not think so) or was it the team/system/coaching that harnessed those qualities the best? I can't imagine for the life of me that all the players in this list were that bad. So, was it our team's fault they didn't ultimately succeed? Take quarterback Blaine Gabbert, for instance: There are many reports about him getting ruined because the offensive line was horrible and he was constantly sacked. Which ended up getting him the reputation of being sack shy, covering up too early. What do you think? It really does matter, because Trevor Lawrence could be special, and it would really stink if the Jags were a black thumb of football talent.

This is impossible to answer, because you can't say for sure how one player or another would have fared had he been drafted into another system. But I don't believe in the theory that circumstances ruin quarterbacks. If a quarterback can be ruined by a difficult circumstance, he probably wasn't ever going to be good. And yeah … Brady won the Super Bowl in his second season and in four of his first five seasons – so if he wasn't always "that incredible," he always was pretty darned good. But your last sentence, which I suppose was the reason for your question, really isn't something about which to worry. Whatever happened before around the Jaguars – whatever the circumstances and whatever the past success or failures – isn't all that pertinent now. That was the past. Those were different players. And the structure, environment and culture are new. I don't know how Lawrence will fair in the NFL if he indeed is selected by the Jaguars No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. But however he fares will depend on him and this team moving forward. Not what happened in the last decade.

Perry from Duval

You know what, Zone? I'm worn out. On you. The whole question-answer thing. The whole snarky sportswriter thing. All of it.

I get it.