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O-Zone: Twilight ahead

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Charles from Savannah, GA

Hi, John. I'm thrilled that Fred Taylor is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Shouldn't Fred be seriously considered for 2023 since he played for 13 seasons? It took several years for Tony to be inducted. However, I'm assuming it's because Tony's career was much shorter than Fred's.

Taylor, the Jaguars' all-time leading rusher and a member of the Pride of the Jaguars, this past week was announced as one of 28 modern-era semifinalists for the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class. It's Taylor's fourth consecutive season as a semifinalist. Finalists will be announced in January, with the 2023 Hall Class to be announced in February at the Super Bowl. I believe Taylor absolutely should get serious consideration to be a finalist and for enshrinement in this year's class – and in any class until he is elected. But the circumstances of former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli's candidacy and Taylor's candidacy aren't really similar, and Boselli being enshrined this year isn't an indication that this is "Taylor's year." Boselli was widely considered the best player in the NFL at his position when he played, with five Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro selections; a lack of career longevity was widely considered the only reason he wasn't elected to the Hall far sooner. Taylor – incorrectly and incomprehensibly — was often overlooked while he played and made just one Pro Bowl with no All-Pro selections. Those awards aren't the end all, but they perhaps are a reason Taylor hasn't yet been a finalist. I expect Taylor will be a finalist in the coming season or two. I also believe he will gain momentum once that happens and eventually make the Hall. But Hall selection can be a process and my guess is Taylor's process will take a few more seasons.

Scott from Aruba

Of the five first-time eligible, Hall of Fame semifinalists, do you think any are a lock to get in this year? Any of that group a lock to get in but not first ballot? Does Tony finally getting in help Fred finally become a finalist this year?

This year's five first-team eligible Hall semifinalists are offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Joe Thomas, defensive end Dwight Freeney, linebacker James Harrison and cornerback Darrelle Revis. My initial thought is Revis and Thomas could get elected this season, and that Freeney and Harrison will get elected eventually. Boselli's enshrinement could help Taylor, but only if there were voters resistant to the idea of voting for two players from one franchise. I imagine a few voters fit that description, though not many.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

I think the more relevant question is whether consuming four Bullet Bobs will help you not care if the Jaguars win?


Dan from Munich, Germany

Hi, Zone. With the current struggles of inside linebacker Devin Lloyd, I'm curious of your opinion on the decision of trading draft assets to draft him in the first round right after spending big money in free agency for inside linebacker Foye Oluokun and then going all in with picking the same position in the third round in Chad Muma. Given the genius moves that our general manager pulled we should be set for years to come in the middle, yet again this is our weakness on defense. Did General Manager Trent Baalke ever discuss this with the media? Thanks.

The Jaguars indeed moved up in the 2022 NFL Draft to select Lloyd. How you perceive it depends if you consider the draft a short-term or long-term proposition. The move to acquire Lloyd looked good early in the season when Lloyd was playing well and doesn't look as good now after he hasn't played well in recent weeks. I expect we'll have a better idea in a year or so if this was genius move or not.

Josh from Yulee, FL

How about one fer Andre Cisco? Having a safety that will punish you when you come through the middle is priceless!

One fer Cisco.

Mike from Cortland, NY

Anquan Boldin was better than Jimmy Smith?

Not in the opinion of this writer. Smith was a Hall-of-Fame level receiver and played like it for most of a 10-year career. He was considered as good as any receiver after Jerry Rice for several seasons. That's rarified air. I believe he should be in the Hall. He has yet to get that sort of post-career recognition and I suspect it will be a long process for him to get it – if he gets it. He's currently 25th all-time in receiving yards and 56th in touchdowns. The touchdowns number will be a tough hurdle.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I've got a belly full of turkey and you still suck.

I admire you.

Art from Williamstown NJ

What will Shad get right first, the stadium, the uniforms, or the team?

I expect the Jaguars to contend for a winning season and perhaps the postseason next season. I expect that to feel "right." I don't expect the stadium to be renovated – or a new one built – or necessarily for the team to have new uniforms by then.

Jason from North Pole, AK

You said earlier this week that the jury is still out on the Jaguars 2021 draft class. I only see two out of the eight picks that would be categorized as busts. Defensive end Jordan Smith had the look of a guy who could contribute before his season ending injury back in organized team activities. The rest of the class are starters or key depth pieces right now. I know we aren't winning a lot of games right now, but I think that has more to do with the holes on the roster around those guys. So far, so good in my eyes.

Good eye.

Steve from Nashville, TN

We are heading into the stretch of the 2022 schedule that features three opponents our last place finish in 2021 prescribes (Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Detroit Lions). Do you agree that our number of wins in these three games is a valid measure of progress for the Jaguars over last year?

Not necessarily. All three of those teams have coaches who are in at least their second seasons with that organization whereas the Jaguars are in their first season under Head Coach Doug Pederson. My measure of the Jaguars' progress is they are clearly better than last season, that quarterback Trevor Lawrence overall is improving and that the team is heading in the right direction.

Richard from Orange Park, FL

So seeing that I only have one "good eye", I have to say that the Jags look overall pretty good and are a couple key pieces away from contention. As far as the schedule, my one "good eye" realistically is only seeing one or two more wins unless something miraculous happens. I think the majority of miraculous things to come will be this offseason. Me and my "good eye" says for everyone to be a little more patient, because good things are happening. I do understand the angst with losing for over a decade, but a little more patience and this team is going to be great.

Richard continues to have a good eye and remains "all in."

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

I think the makeup of the AFC South next year is favorable for the Jaguars to succeed in this division; the Houston Texans' 2023 opening day starting quarterback is probably still in college, the Tennessee Titans' King Henry will be 30 before the season ends next year and who knows what the Indianapolis Colts will look like at head coach and quarterback after five different opening day starting quarterbacks in five years. In contrast the Jaguars will be the model of consistency in this division.

I tend not to worry as much about opponents, schedules and divisions as much as many observers. If you build a franchise properly and play at a high level, you can make other teams worry about beating you. But your point about the Jaguars is correct. They may well have their quarterback and head coach in place, and they appear to be in good stead at both positions. That should put them in position to compete whatever the overall state of the AFC South.

Brad from The Avenues

Ashlyn's leaving? I'm so bummed. I mean, you and Brian are okay I guess but wow, what a bummer.

Ashlyn Sullivan, my colleague at and on Jaguars Media since 2017 – and cohost along with Brian Sexton and myself on Jaguars Drive Time – indeed announced this week she is leaving our little world for another position. I'll let her announce details, but yes … she will be missed.

Biff from Jacksonville

Like the twilight in the road up ahead. They don't see just where we're goin'. And all the secrets in the universe, whisper in our ears, and all the years will come and go. Take us up, always up. We may never pass this way again. Happy thanksgiving JO. Appreciate you.