JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Chris from Mandarin
Maybe I have an offseason Kool-Aid sugar high, but I think the defense is going to take a massive step forward this year. The Jaguars have at least two above-average players at every level of the defense now – on paper. The pass-rush rotation with Josh Allen, Arden Key, Dawuane Smoot, Adam Gotsis and Travon Walker should be more effective than what the team had for the last two seasons. Malcom Brown is a good player in the middle. I like the linebackers after the draft a lot, and the corners have three quality players with the frontline guys. My biggest concern is for the safety position. Is Andre Cisco ready to make a leap?
The Jaguars indeed appear better in terms of pass rush – on paper – entering 2022 than they have been in recent seasons. The addition of Walker at outside linebacker should help that – even if he's not entering the league as a pure high-level pass rusher. Remember, too: linebacker Devin Lloyd, the No. 27 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, has significant pass-rush skills and is expected to be a very effective blitzer. Also: the addition of free-agent defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi and free-agent inside linebacker Foye Oluokun – along with Round 3 linebacker Chad Muma – should help the defensive interior. Being better there should help against the run, which in turn should put the team in better pass-rush situations more consistently. I don't know if Cisco will make a Year 2 leap, but he appears to have the ball-in-the-air instincts that should result in more pass breakups and interceptions than the team had last season. That, in turn, helps the entire defense. That's the theory. That's the hope. Jaguars fans/observers have heard a lot of theories and have been fed a lot of hope over the last decade, so it's fair if they're skeptical until they see results. These moves feel like good ones. We'll see.
Dave from Jacksonville
Wizard, did the Jags draft three linebackers more suited for the 3-4 or do you think the Jags are considering a more Gus Bradley style 4-3 that has Travon with his hand on the ground as a defensive end and the other two taking on a strong and weak side traditional role?
I expect the Jaguars to play a 3-4 hybrid scheme – so more similar to the scheme played under coordinator Joe Cullen in 2021 than the one played under coordinator Todd Wash before that. I think Walker will begin playing more with his hand off the ground.
Chris from Antarctica
Von Miller is now with the Bills. It has me wondering: Has a player ever won a Super Bowl with three different teams?
Linebacker Matt Millen won four Super Bowls with three teams – the Oakland Raiders (1980, 1983), San Francisco 49ers (1989) and Washington (1991). He played with Washington during that season but did not play in the Super Bowl.
Garrett from Edgewater
OK, Zone. They didn't help quarterback Trevor Lawrence much with the draft – blah, blah, whatever. OK, but if we unlock the Travon Walker achievement somehow and the defense is elite again, we already have a better looking offense than 2017. Blind optimism for the year let's go.
One fer blind optimism …
Nonno from Macungie, PA
Would you please tell Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson that the Jaguars now at the ripe old age of 68 now have a fanatical new fan? I will be cheering for the Jags, unless they play the Eagles, in any and all future games. Best of luck to the team and new coach!!
… and one fer Pederson – and one from Macungie.
Kenneth from Jacksonville
I believe Devin Lloyd is the gem of our draft. He seems to be that guy who is next level compared to our other draft picks. What do you think?
I think Lloyd has a chance to be a star. There's indeed a perception among some observers that he was the team's best selection of the draft. That seems a bit extreme and reactionary, likely stemming from the perception that the Jaguars made a "risky" selection selecting with Walker No. 1 overall. I'm not sure that's fair to Walker, and it's not necessarily accurate at all that Lloyd is "next level" compared to Walker. That's certainly not how the Jaguars feel. They believe Walker is a high-level selection.
Mike from Orange Park, FL
Why do you think you're always right about everything?
Think of it as your gift. And my curse.
Daniel from Jax
With three new wide receivers and none drafted, who do you see as the starters for Game 1?
I would expect Christian Kirk and Marvin Jones Jr. to start at wide receiver Week 1 for the Jaguars, with Evan Engram starting at tight end. I also expect receivers such as Laviska Shenault Jr., Zay Jones and Laquon Treadwell to have key roles.
Bob from Jacksonville
John. I've enjoyed your articles for years and years. What is the best time to send you correspondence?
Thank you. Sundown.
Ben from Cuba, MO
O', I look at the new regime's first round at roster building, I don't know how anyone can complain. Our offensive line wasn't a weak spot and it only got better. We added or retained long-term three players, two of which are immediate long-term starters. Our defensive line added the best athlete at the position out of the draft and arguably the best free agent at stuffing the run. The linebackers lost a huge part, but then added arguably the best linebacker in the draft, another solid linebacker in the later rounds and arguably the league's best tackler in free agency. Our defensive backs weren't a problem last year and will only benefit from the additions in front of them. This is a team on the upswing. We are so far ahead of where we were last year. So after my rambling and fanning, what has been you one favorite move whether it is an addition, subtraction, retention, or something different thus far?
I liked the additions of Lloyd and Muma at inside linebacker. Some perceived Muma a "luxury" pick in Round 3. My sense is they have a chance to make the Jaguars much faster and more dynamic at that position. This area has been perhaps best described as "serviceable" in recent years: OK, but not great. The Jaguars addressed linebacker in a huge way this offseason. The idea of doing that is to be closer to great than OK.
Jason from North Pole, AK
The Titans just invested in a quarterback long-term that Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll looked at and said, "No thanks." The Indianapolis Colts have a 36-year old at quarterback that is changing teams and the Houston Texans are rolling out Davis Mills and hoping. For the first time as a Jaguars fan, we have the most talented quarterback in the division. If the Jaguars can just get a few things right, it feels like we have a huge opportunity to run the AFC South for the next five-plus years while these guys are figuring things out at that position. Am I being too optimistic?
No, you're not. The opportunity indeed is there for the Jaguars to be very good and to be at or near the top of the AFC South for a long time. That was the expectation when they selected a generational quarterback in Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in 2021. That doesn't mean he's there yet. That doesn't guarantee he will get there. But if he develops to the level people expect? And if the team builds around him? Yes, if those things happen then long runs of success are supposed to be the result.
Steve from Nashville, TN
The undrafted free agents that sign with the Jaguars this week will most likely not enjoy the same success that 2020 UDFA James Robinson did when he set the all-time NFL record for yards from scrimmage by a rookie free agent. What is the reality for these young men? During the NFL draft network coverage this weekend I heard the term used "camp body" and that seems demeaning?
While most undrafted free agents never make the league, many make practice squads and most teams keep at least one or two on Week 1 rosters. And there are many, many UDFAs who have long, productive careers. The reality therefore is that UDFAs face a long, difficult road but nowhere near an unnavigable one. And yeah … camp body isn't a very nice term. I usually don't use it. But I'm much more likeable and kind-hearted than most people.
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
I hate you more today than I did last weekend and I hated you more last weekend than I did before the draft. When does this end, O'man?
Never. My capacity for inspiring hate exceeds your capacity to understand it.