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O-Zone: Wise, wise one

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from Nashville, TN

My recollection is typically the NFL does not schedule preseason games with teams that will face each other in the regular season. We will play Las Vegas in early November. Does that change the game plan at all for the Hall of Fame game to total vanilla or was it going to be vanilla anyway no matter who we play and the two teams will look so different come November there is no competitive advantage for either team to be gained in early August?

You're correct that the NFL typically does not schedule preseason games between regular-season opponents – and the Jaguars indeed will play the Las Vegas Raiders in the preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game on August 4 and in a 2022 November regular-season game. The Hall of Fame game is different than normal preseason because the league tries to put teams in the game with a connection to that year's Hall of Fame class. The Jaguars are there this year partially because Tony Boselli will become the first former Jaguars player enshrined this year, and former Raiders Cliff Branch and Richard Seymour also will be enshrined this year. I wouldn't worry much about game planning one way or the other in this one, though. Preseason games, particularly preseason openers, are indeed so vanilla that neither team will gain or lose much in terms in terms of preparation for the regular-season game. I would expect starters from each team to play sparingly in early August, and neither team will do much in the way of game-planning for the opponent. Think glamorized scrimmage. By November, most will be forgotten.

David from Jacksonville

You have gone on record saying you feel the Jags can be a seven-win team this year. It's a bit more than most other analysts' four-to-five wins. I'm curious when you look at their schedule how many games do you see where it could go either way and you're not confident predicting a win or a loss. How many games on the schedule do you see going to the last few minutes or minute before a clear victor emerge?

This is the NFL. Most games come down to the final minutes. If the Jaguars are improved, most of the games on their schedule fit into this category.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I read an article that said Jaguars right guard Brandon Scherff was a Top 3 NFL interior lineman. Given we haven't seen him play yet, what does a Top 3 interior lineman look like from a performance standpoint versus an average interior lineman?


Jonathan from Jax

Over the years, I haven't been a fan of most of our drafts. Thought a couple were pretty special on draft day, but they were filled with malcontents and divas and are now former Jags. However, last and this year's drafts can be program-changers. We need them to be good enough to warrant a second contract and want to play here. Seems simple, but it isn't. I think we can win this year and need to if the two things I mentioned are going to start happening here. I see five future All-Pros (quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne Jr., safety Andre Cisco, outside linebacker Travon Walker and linebacker Devin Lloyd with defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi and linebacker Chad Muma also playing at a high level). Not saying they all make All-Pro probably, just that their play will warrant consideration

You summarized this well. The Jaguars for the most part haven't drafted well enough over the past decade. On many occasions on which they drafted good players, those players indeed weren't great locker-room guys. The last couple of drafts still have a feel of being able to change the course of the franchise – even with Fatukasi being a free-agent signee rather than a draft selection. Good news: if the players you list are as good as you hope, the Jaguars will be one of the NFL's best teams. If they're all even OK, this team will be much-improved. The last two drafts are critical and their development will be a key storyline over the coming season or two.

David from Oviedo, FL

O-Z-Wan Kenobi - Remember when, on a flight back from a game, Terrance Knighton ordered "Pot Roast" and everybody started calling him Pot Roast? That was hilarious. Speaking of Terrance Knighton, I see he's now on the Carolina Panthers' coaching staff! Do you think, as a seasoned veteran, his meat and potatoes style of coaching will help beef up the Carolina defensive line?

Forced food references aside, I do think Knighton – a Jaguars defensive tackle from 2009-2012 – could be a good NFL coach. He was an engaging personality while with the Jaguars and I could see him being able to connect with players. It would be cool to see him have a second career as a coach. Good on him.

Craig from Holly Springs, NC

Referencing Bill from Springfield VA's question regarding a franchise quarterback that drastically changed a team? Drew Brees going to the Saints. They were a dumpster fire until he showed up in combination with Sean Payton. Afterwards was 15 years of consistent winning. I know they didn't draft him, but that has to be at or near the top of the list for that question.

I answered this recent question thinking about drafted quarterbacks. Had I been thinking about quarterbacks acquired via other means, Brees and the New Orleans Saints certainly would have been at or near the top of the list.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I'm almost tired of hating you. When I feel that way, I lie down and it goes away.


Levi from Cd'A, Idaho

Is it true that after a team scores a touchdown, technically the team who did not scores get to decide who gets the ball next? Also, Are we ever going to see a drop kick again in the NFL? What say you O-stradamus?

This is true in the Canadian Football League, where a team allowing a touchdown can choose to kick off or receive the ensuing kickoff. But according to Rule 11, Section 3, Article 4 of the NFL rules, the team on defense during the Try (point after) receives the ensuing kickoff. As far as seeing a drop kick in the NFL, the last I remember came when Doug Flutie – then playing for the New England Patriots – successfully converted a drop kick for an extra point. This was in the 2005 regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins, Flutie's last regular-season NFL game. I'm sure we'll see one again someday – again as a gimmick. There's really no competitive reason to try one.

Mike from Cortland, NY

I think a lot of Jags fans are understandably pessimistic about the state of the franchise. I feel like I constantly see teams totally do a 180 degree quite often due to the transcendence of a few young players going into second-to-fourth year. Houston when quarterback Deshaun Watson hit Year 2. The Los Angeles Chargers when quarterback Justin Herbert broke out. Even the Cleveland Browns when quarterback Baker Mayfield hit Year 2. And it doesn't even have to be just quarterback. However, it seems most fans are HOPING quarterback Trevor Lawrence can take the leap. He was the best damned prospect in a decade thrown into a woodchipper. We should be EXPECTING him to dazzle in Year 2. And running back Travis Etienne Jr. being a Pro Bowl game breaker isn't that much of a reach. And the 1st overall and 1st defensive player in the draft should be the favorite for DROY. Cisco would've been a first-rounder if he stayed healthy. Along with offensive tackle Walker Little. Josh Allen could still end up wearing a gold jacket. Cornerback Tyson Campbell was sensational the last few weeks of his rookie season. Christian Kirk is still approaching his prime and no longer has to steal targets from Hopkins/Fitzgerald/Ertz, etc. Every team in our division has big flaws. I don't think it's a year too early. No need to pump the breaks. No reason to say Tennessee or Indy are far away favorites. Let's get this bread Mr. Funk. Let's. Get. This. Bread.

Mike is "all in."

Zac from Austin, Tejas

I am nearly done reading Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's book, Fearless. He talks a lot about how physical he likes to have his training camps. Do you think that we are likely to see that, which would be so different than what we saw during OTAs?

I expect Pederson's 2022 Jaguars Training Camp to be very physical early and to taper off as camp continues. There's very little comparison between training camp and organized team activities for any team. Training camp features multiple practices with full contact and padded work. No such work is allowed in OTAs.

Brad from Jacksonville

I must say Gary from St. Augustine makes a lot of good points.

True that.