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O-Zone: Working week

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dean from Daytona Beach, FL

Yo O-Zone! With Tank Bigsby starting to showcase his skillset as a running back, could you see Head Coach Doug Pederson running a two-back set with Tank and Travis Etienne Jr? Or would it still remain a one-back set, giving each a breather throughout the game. I remember a powerful duo in Dallas back in the mid-80s with Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker. However, it did not bode well for Dallas because they clashed about carries and contracts, so therefore I am concerned. Am I rightfully concerned? I really like both of them and I don't want to be concerned about petty differences.

Concern over potential discontent seems to something of a "thing" in the O-Zone these days, with a similar question about wide receiver Calvin Ridley a few days ago. I'll give a similar to this question as I did that one – and that's to not worry much about such things until they occur. Adversity and issues probably will happen for the Jaguars on some level this season as they do essentially every team in every major sport, but there's no reason to assume a player will be discontented until he's, well … discontented. As for Bigsby and Etienne … the modern NFL is far more about backfield-by-committee and backs playing specific roles than was the case in past eras. Pederson rotated backs extensively during his time as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and I would expect him to lean toward that approach with Bigsby and Etienne. I expect you will see packages with both in the game mixed with a lot of one-back looks. As Pederson said Saturday, this offense must be "multiple" to be at its best. That goes for running-back usage, too.

Blaine from Prescott, AZ

Dear Mr. O, I was not going to comment on the running back issue but after hearing so much discussion I looked into it. Running Backs Austin Ekeler, J.K. Dobbins, Ezekiel Elliott, Jonathan Taylor, Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs may have a point. I looked up all of the Super Bowl wins these running backs have, clearly they deserve to be paid. 'Nuff said.

I'm not one for basing every NFL argument on how many Super Bowl rings a player possesses. This is even the case at quarterback. The NFL is the ultimate team sport and much can conspire to prevent great players at any position from winning the biggest game. The main reason running backs generally make less than other players is projected production after their second contracts. History shows the position as a risky second-contract investment. It's not fair. Neither is life.

Brad from The Avenues

With the position being devalued, and the professional life expectancy already being so short, my thoughts for young collage running backs is this. Stay in school, study hard and graduate with a degree. You're going to need it afterward.

I'm not always the best judge of this sort of thing, but I don't think this is particularly nice.

Steve from Nashville, TN

We could see more or less of two-tight end sets this year than last on passing downs?

It's tricky to project packages in the 2023 Jaguars offense, because it sounds as if this team is going to use a lot of different looks in a lot of different situations with various personnel. But yes … I expect the Jaguars to enter the season looking to use tight ends more in passing situations. How much they get to those looks will depend on the opponent and the success they have with the package.

Nick from St. Augustine

One fer black flag.

I've got a six pack and nothing to do.

Andy from St Augustine, FL

To use a baseball analogy, former Jaguars defensive lineman Tyson Alualu was a singles hitter. My expectation is for someone drafted 10th overall to hit at least a few home runs. Not saying he wasn't a good/very good player for most of his time with the Jags, but someone taken that high should do more than play well vs the run and average 2.5 sacks per year (just my opinion). I'm not sure if that qualifies as a "bust," but based on where he was drafted (and the other players still available) I had hoped for more of an impact.

Not all down defensive lineman are sack guys, and if he hadn't hurt his knee on his first day in practice in an antiquated drill, then he might very well have made such an impact.

Mike from Azores

Hey, John. I'm worried about where our pass rush will come from. The two starters combined 11 sacks last year! The number three guy has had three sacks in the past three years! The next guy hasn't been able to stay healthy and play at all since he was drafted. And as you say, you can't count on a rookie making an impact, especially one drafted in the middle rounds! So what am I missing and why not pick up a proven vet to add to the group?

A couple of thoughts. One is that the players you reference – edge rushers Josh Allen, Travon Walker, K'Lavon Chaisson and Jordan Smith – aren't the only players on the front seven. Another is that past statistics don't always dictate future performance. Young players improve, and when you select players early in drafts you must let them develop. If you don't do that, you can't be a draft-and-develop team.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, what about rookie running back Tank Bigsby in particular are you seeing that could make this interesting? Is he looking better than you expected?

Speed, quickness, power, size. He's impressive. Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know I'm not big on projecting rookies or expecting much from them. The NFL is that different from college. One of the exceptions is running back, where rookies can make an impact. Bigsby is starting to have that feel.

Don from Marshall NC

Why would Dewey open his big mouth about something most fans have started to forget about. Kick a guy when he is down is so uncool and pathetic. We really do not need any gossip girls to win, do we? Talk like that is so counterproductive. Grow up and Go Jaguars!

I like Jaguars safety Andrew Wingard. And while I understand the importance of being nice, I'm kind of impressed by his commitment to the cause.

Charles from Riverside

Hello John, you mentioned the other day that the team will most likely keep four tight ends on the roster. Is this "typical" in the NFL? I remember when it was first announced that we were lucky enough to have Pederson as our next coach, there was a lot of discussion on how he was big on using tight ends in multiple looks in his offense. Did this happen? I am not play-action astute enough to really pick up on any substantial reliance on tight ends since Pederson's arrival? Your thoughts. Go Jags!!

Teams typically keep three or four tight ends on the 53-man roster, with teams that keep three usually having one or two ready to move up and down off the practice squad. Four has become more common as the position essentially has split into two positions – blocking and "move/receiving." The Jaguars didn't use tight ends as extensively as many expected last season, with Evan Engram the clear top player at the position. I expect them to do use the position more moving forward with Gerrit Prince evolving and Brenton Strange having been selected in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: what is your take on Ngakoue? Another one-year contract and five teams in five years. Does he value himself too highly or is he a guy that teams don't want around more than a year?

I don't have a fresh "take" on former Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. I enjoyed covering him during his time here. He understandably had a very high opinion of his value that didn't match the Jaguars' opinion at the time, and both views had merit. Ngakoue believed he was very valuable as a pass rusher, and the Jaguars worried that – while he was very good – it was risky to pay what was essentially a one-dimensional player salary-cap eating money. Ngakoue's career since leaving the Jaguars in 2019 makes sense. He has value as a pass rusher, so he will have a role. Teams don't seem willing to invest in him in the long-term because it's tough to build a defense around just one skill. There's nothing wrong with Ngakoue's career. He has been a productive sack guy and has made a lot of money. He's a success, just not one that stays with one team very long.

Andy from St Augustine, FL

"If so, they're better at their jobs than me." Ummm who isn't?

Maybe the guy who emailed me this shortly before noon on a workday?