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O-Zone: Watch it

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bobby from Doboy Island, GA

Reading your O-Zone recently regarding the 3-4 defensive line projections and had a couple questions. First, at Dawuane Smoot's size, why do you have him on the defensive line as opposed to a rush linebacker? He seems too small, no? Second, how many defensive linemen does a 3-4 team usually keep? You didn't include Jihad Ward or Doug Costin in your six players yesterday. Based on defensive coordinator Joe Cullen's high praise of Ward, I would think he would stick. At his size, I would think he would be more likely on the end instead of Smoot. As for Costin, I thought he was supposed to be one of our few bright spots last year, so I would be surprised if he was gone unless he isn't a scheme fit. He would get you to eight (or seven if you move Smoot to linebacker). Doesn't leave much room for draft picks.

You're referencing a recent question in which I attempted to provide insight into how the Jaguars' front might look next season if/when it lines up in a traditional 3-4 scheme. I did this because of countless questions about this; it's understandably a hot offseason topic. My mistake, in retrospect, was trying to again explain the scheme within the framework of a traditional 3-4. Remember: No one from the team has said it will be a "3-4." That's all coming from the outside. And the reality is that defensive coordinator Joe Cullen and assistant head coach/linebackers Charlie Strong both have publicly emphasized that versatility and flexibility are far more important when discussing the scheme than labels. Remember, too: the Baltimore Ravens – where Cullen spent the last five seasons as defensive line coach – are known for a hybrid defensive scheme. While it's commonly discussed as a "3-4," when the Ravens talk about it, they speak more about position flexibility and "chaos." And when watching the Ravens, it's very difficult to say a player's "position" based on where they line up before the snap. This is an admittedly long-winded way of saying while Smoot perhaps will be called "a big end," he may not be "bigger" than Ward, who is listed with the Jaguars as a defensive end/linebacker. When Ward discussed his role in the defense last week, this was what he said: "My role is just being me, Jihad Ward. It's not really explainable on that one." That likely will be true for many players. I doubt that will clear much confusion because people understandably want to call the scheme a "4-3" or a "3-4." Perhaps it's OK to call it a hybrid? Maybe? Anyone? Anyone?

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

3-4 or 4-3: They both equal seven. Why do fans really care what defense the Jags use?

Why do fans care about anything? Because they love their team and passionately want to know/learn more about it. It's OK to want to know the Jaguars' defensive scheme. It's also OK for the Jaguars to not necessarily want to say publicly that it fits a certain label.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Outside of quarterback and senior writer, what is the third most important position to you on a roster? I'll go with an elite defensive end just ahead of left tackle because disrupting the quarterback all day changes the game.

Pretty much.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Johnny-O. I think tight end Josh Oliver for defensive tackle Malcom Brown was a wise decision.

This is a decent way to look at the Jaguars' trades last week. They reportedly traded a seventh-round selection to the New Orleans Saints for Brown and reportedly received a conditional seventh-rounder from the Ravens for Oliver. Brown is a proven player who has been reliable and seems almost certain to start next season. Oliver is a player with potential who has missed all but four games in two NFL seasons – and who could be good if he remains healthy. It was, in that respect, a comparatively sure thing for a risk. So, yeah … it made sense on that front.

Carlos from Upland

I'm hoping the Jags can get a fourth-round pick for quarterback Gardner Minshew II. What do you think we'll end up getting for him?

Fourth-round selection? About that. Give or take. If they indeed trade him.

Igor from Jacksonville

Hello, John. Can you please enlighten me about why the local media and fans are paranoid about the Jaguars signing CJ Beathard? Did I miss the memo where they will pass on Trevor Lawrence and Beathard is the new starting quarterback? They signed him to hopefully never step foot in an actual game yet the hysteria in this city – with this fanbase – is through the roof. On top of that, the whole Minshew trade discussions … unbelievable; I didn't know we are getting rid of Peyton Manning. I sincerely hope Trevor solves whatever plague is going on with this fanbase and local media (not you)! Oh, and when will Urban Meyer fix the tight end position because we have a game next week and we cannot accept what the tight end room looks like on March 25?

The Jaguars indeed signed quarterback C.J. Beathard this week, though it never occurred to me that fans or media would be paranoid or surprised about the signing. It is, in fact, a perfectly logical move. Teams often sign veteran quarterbacks to back up rookie quarterbacks – so if you assume the Jaguars will start a certain rookie quarterback next season, it was reasonable to expect such a move. He's an affordable veteran with 12 NFL starts. I can't tell you why people think he will start or why people think it means the Jaguars might not select a quarterback No. 1 overall … do people actually think this? Really? As for what fans and local media are saying about this subject and Minshew … I guess all I can tell you is what I have said often: Get caught up in the tangent-ing, runaway fervor of discussion groups and timelines at your own risk. The misinformation and ill-informed "hot takes" you find there are mind-blowing. I'm not saying people aren't entitled to their opinions, and I'm not saying what you read in such forums never has merit. I am saying if you concern yourself with everything written there, you're going to spend a lot of time in areas so far removed from NFL reality that you're sort of not even reading about the same game.

David from The Island

Today's NFL is different than just a few years ago. If I'm a free agent, am I looking to sign lucrative one-year deals versus a longer deal?

Are free agents looking to sign long-term deals? Generally not, because they like the security of long-term contracts – with the security being the signing bonus and guaranteed money included therein. You're seeing more one-year deals this offseason because the NFL's salary cap went down, which happened because of the aftereffects of COVID-19. Once the salary cap inevitably – and presumably, relatively quickly – starts to increase, I expect you will start seeing more long-term deals again.

Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Are we talking about franchise tight ends now? As good as Kyle Pitts of Florida is, he's a tight end. He is not THE MAN. We'll be fine with another good prospect at the position. We'll have a guy who really is THE MAN.


David from The Island

Has Trevor bought a 904 house yet?

Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence is not affiliated with any NFL team. Why would he have bought a house in a particular area code?

Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL

After the dust settles on Day 1 and teams see who remains available, I find the Jags at No. 33 as the most intriguing selection of their entire draft. If Jax is willing to trade down, but want to remain in the top 10 in the second round, what sort of compensation could they expect?

You would usually be talking about a late-third- or early fourth-round selection for such a trade, but the first selection of Round 2 sometimes has a different dynamic because teams reset their boards following Round 1 and target players they consider first-rounders at the top of that round. So, in that case, perhaps the Jaguars could squeeze an additional sixth- or seventh-rounder from a team wanting to move up.

Brian from Greenwood, IN

I finally got around to watching the pressers from the new free agents. My favorite moment was when Jihad Ward said that he came here to see the moment when other teams who think they come here to get a win realize "they better watch their mouths." That is an attitude that seems like it hasn't been here in a while. That is so refreshing. I couldn't count how many times each new player said the word "win." Winds of change, almighty-O ... winds of change.

That was cool. People liked it.