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O-Zone: Way off

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tom from Charlottesville, VA

How much of former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles' success in 2017 can be attributed to practicing against a very good defense? Conversely, could last year's poor record have been caused by the offense practicing against a less than stellar defense? Which leads to: will Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence benefit from practicing against the current defense? Will he make them better by being able to throw better to the receivers? It is not coaching and it is not players. It is PRACTICE?

It certainly doesn't hurt players to practice against good defenses or offenses, but how such a dynamic effects on-field results in a given season probably is comparatively minimal. Remember: first-team defenses and first-team offenses rarely practice against one another in the NFL once training camp ends; NFL regular-season practices are typically about preparation and game-planning as opposed to going full speed in full-contact, game-speed situations. Because of that, I don't know much impact practicing against a great defense realistically has on a quarterback by, say, Week 8. Remember, too: The Jaguars' defense was really good in 2016 and 2018, and Bortles wasn't nearly as good in those seasons as he was in 2017 – so there just wasn't much correlation between his struggles or success and the quality of the Jaguars' defense. Bottom line: Practice matters, but it's probably not going to make a player dramatically better once a season begins.

Doug from Jacksonville, FL

Has there been a player in your years covering football where you thought/knew he was special? I don't mean Manning years in when everyone knew, but someone early in their career?

It was pretty evident immediately upon seeing him as a second-round rookie in 2004 that Indianapolis Colts safety Bob Sanders was going to be special. Despite entering the NFL injured, he made impact immediately upon returning to health that season – and he never really stopped making impact plays as long as he was healthy. He always stands out when I'm asked something like this. It was also evident immediately upon him entering the lineup in 1998 that former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor was going to be special. But knowing Taylor was good early in his rookie season doesn't show that I have a discerning eye. While there had been some questions about Taylor in training camp that season, once he became a full-time player everyone knew he was going to be good.

Bill from Ponte Vedra

Just listened to Shaquill Griffin's interview. He is friendly, articulate and forthcoming. He should be a fan and media favorite soon. Good choice to host the weekly television show. Do you agree?

Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Seattle Seahawks this past offseason, indeed is engaging. He's a pleasant person and a good interview, and I do expect him to be a fan and media favorite.

Mike from St. Auggy doggy

UTAH!!!! Get me two!

Johnny Utah was the man. He was no Shane Falco, but who was?

Jason from Jax Beach

Hey, John. One of the least-discussed things I'm most looking forward to this season is the new defensive scheme, and new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. Running more 3-4 to fit our personnel, and dialing up more blitzes, is something I've been wanting to see since about two years ago. Since that time, the defense has been so bad, particularly against the run, that there is nowhere to go but up. But, I really think the defense will be much-improved this year. Do you think defensive end Taven Bryan could benefit from the scheme change, playing more "big end" in the 3-4 , and finally become an impactful player? In a good way, I mean.

Switching schemes won't magically make the Jaguars' defense better in 2021. The addition of nose tackle Malcom Brown, defensive linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward and defensive lineman Jay Tufele should help, as should a return to health/improvement from players such as nose tackle Davon Hamilton, defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen and Chaisson, etc. And yes … Bryan perhaps could benefit from playing "big end." He played a bit better when he played that spot late last season. Could he flourish in a 3-4? Stay tuned.

Dave from Jacksonville

Zone, Johnny Utah great college quarterback. Powerful arm, put the ball in a mailbox. Bad knees, though. What ever happened to him?

I heard he went to acting school. It didn't take.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

The expectation for Lawrence is that he will be Jacksonville's franchise quarterback for the next decade. But even with his talent and upside, there is no guarantee that Meyer will think Trevor is ready to start on opening day. If that happens, who would be the most likely starter? Jake Luton and C.J. Beathard have 13 starts between them and a total of two wins. Gardner Minshew II is 7-13 as a starter and statistically the most accurate and efficient, so Gardner would seem the likely choice – if he is still on the roster. Have you seen anything from Luton or Beathard to indicate they would be a better alternative?

Not in minicamp or organized team activities, no. Minshew in the six open practices during those times appeared to outperform Luton or Beathard. I don't know how the quarterbacks played in the other practices and I don't know how the decision-makers feel about the other quarterbacks. Stay tuned.

Kinzie from Asheville, NC

So, I just finished watching Jaguars Strength and Conditioning Coach Anthony Schlegel's interview. Man, that guy makes me wanna go work out right now!!! When Coach Meyer said he wanted his staff to be the "best of the best" I kind of shrugged it off as CoachSpeak, but after this interview, I'm starting to believe him. Go Jags!

Hey … one fer Schlegel!

Kace from South Florida

What do you make of the competition at kicker? Is beloved Lambo really in danger of losing the job? Should we be concerned that his hip injury from last year could impact his performance moving forward, which is why they brought back Rosas?

The kicker competition is legitimate. If Aldrick Rosas outkicks Josh Lambo in training camp and preseason, he absolutely could be the kicker. If Lambo outkicks Rosas in training camp and preseason, he absolutely could be the kicker. I don't get the sense that it's about Lambo's hip injury.

Rey from Orlando, FL

What are some resources you recommend for watching Jaguars content? I enjoy reading about the Jags but want to watch some of the new players in action.

This a free website. Feel free to browse around and check it out sometime.

Marlin from Newberry, FL

Hey, Zone. All this talk of picking Clemson running back Travis Etienne, Jr. is overblown. I see it as a classic example of the old "Need Versus Best Available Player (BAP)" argument. Did the Jaguars have bigger needs than running back? Of course. After all, they did have a starter who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a rookie last season. Were there other players on the board who could have helped at other positions where they had bigger needs? We can affirm this as they took one with the first pick of the second round. Were these players rated the same, or about the same as Etienne? We don't know, but if we were to hazard a guess – based on a couple sneak peeks of Jaguars' draft doard in a couple videos – probably. But the Jaguars' decision-makers thought that Etienne was the BAP and they took him. Simple as that. Am I oversimplifying the situation? And do you think that there is a chance that Etienne wasn't the BAP and they took him anyway because there were looking for some offensive playmakers?

There certainly was an element of Best Available Player involved in the Jaguars selecting running back Travis Etienne No. 25 overall in 2021 NFL Draft. There's no reason to believe they didn't consider him at least equal to – if not better than – any player left on their draft board at the time of the selection.

Wigs from Duval

James Robinson is a good running back and I like him but he wasn't a threat to bust out anything forty-plus yards, I think that's why we drafted Travis Etienne, to have that dynamic.


Fred from Wadesboro, NC

Regarding the No. 25 pick, our brain trust wanted to acquire a "get him the ball and he will make things happen" type of player. I concur with that. They're exciting. In our 25 years we've only had a limited number who have done that. We still talk about them. I just watched an internet "100 best runs in NFL history" to see how many were from Jags. It got me pumped. Here's to hoping ETN can supply some all time highlight reels. Ain't the off-season great!


Michael from Middleburg, FL

"Point Break"?? … boring, poorly written movie with bad acting.

Who hurt you, Michael?