O-zone: Too inconsistent

O-zone: Too inconsistent

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it…

I would like our wide receiver group to explode this year and exceed all of its expectations. Wouldn’t it be awesome to hear the media say, “Keeping up with the Joneses?” I know it’s too early to have high hopes, but hope is all we’ve had for a long time. What do you think are the realistic numbers expected from the wide receiver group?

I believe this group can be very productive in Head Coach Doug Pederson’s offense in 2022, although I hope the media can be a touch more creative than saying “Keeping up with the Joneses” when that happens. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about individual numbers, but I would think that wide receiver Christian Kirk is pushing to be over 1,000 yards and close to 10 touchdowns. I expect Marvin Jones Jr. and Zay Jones could be around 800 yards and five touchdowns. Something in that range with contributions from multiple skill players could mean a productive offense. Regardless of the numbers, all three of these players — if healthy — could be capable of being the standout receiver in a given game, and they seem to complement each other well. I think this receiver group could be better than many observers believe. We will start to find out in about a month.

I would guess that the Hall of Fame game is probably one of the most watched games of the preseason. I would also guess that the NFL prefers it to be somewhat competitive and entertaining. I would also advise that opposing personnel communicate about expectations for how they approach the game. Would you guess the NFL would have a problem with that?

I would guess that your first two guesses are pretty much correct. I wouldn’t guess that your third suggestion – that the coaching staff communicate about how they approach the game – is very close. There are really no incentives for coaching staffs to do this. Most NFL coaching staff approach preseason games relatively the same – play a number of starters for a relatively short period of time before having reserves play a lot more. There is typically little game planning in the preseason except for a game or so – and what game planning does happen is very basic. Coaches would generally rather win than lose, but any coach with an eye and half a sense doesn’t care how much they win or lose in the preseason. I suppose on some level the NFL wouldn’t like it when opposing coaches talk about their approach to the game, but their level of concern would be minimal. The league has bigger problems. Much bigger.

If they start wearing those things in live games, I’ll stop. Why don’t we just put bubble wrap on Formula 1 cars, even if we are? How about this? You don’t like the risk of head trauma? Cool, don’t play. No one is forcing you!

Tudor doesn’t believe the Guardian helmets are “fantastic”.

Don Marshall’s question on Monday officially ends the annual Jaguar Fan Circle of Lunacy and Delusion. Every year Jaguars fandom seems to go through the same drill (and I’ve seen this progress in O-Zone questions this year as well): Time passes after a terrible season. A bunch of our players who couldn’t make it last year will be “sneaky good” this year. Our players look like gods in OTA underwear practices, and the Jags are coming to shock the entire league. Training camp begins, and our receivers look amazing before contact even begins, and we surprise the league with our unheralded receiving corps of glory. Then the wide receivers will be shut down in training camp and our DEFENSE will now be unstoppable. Boy, the league doesn’t know what’s coming! It doesn’t matter that it’s the 3-14 Jaguars playing the 3-14 Jaguars. Then – to the core of Don’s question – the fans start getting scared because our coordinators are being kicked off the team because they are so good! Every year. And then the real football begins in Week 1 and … we’re the Jaguars. Remember when fans were nervous that Jedd Fisch was removed to coach another team? I can’t have that memory without spitting coffee all over my keyboard. And I don’t even drink coffee.

You are not wrong. However, I am not sure that such a loud tone is necessary. Fans want to see their team win and it’s easy to be optimistic in the offseason. But yeah…the Jaguars have followed a lot of hopeful offseasons with a lot of terrible seasons over the last decade. This one feels different because of Pederson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That doesn’t mean I think teams are lining up to hire Jaguars coordinators in January. That usually requires postseason success or contention and I think the Jaguars are a year away from that. But I think progress is achievable and I think Jaguars fans will feel legitimately hopeful at the end of the season. Then maybe this cycle that you detail so well will finally end.

I took my five-year-old daughter to a training camp on Sunday. On our drive home, she had a big question: Why is it called “camp” because none of the players camp? So how did it come to be called a training camp?

Everyone thinks their children are adorable.

Didn’t talk much on the front three in our 3-4 defense, presumably because without pads for most of camp there was nothing to see. Can you project the starting defensive end and nose tackle for Game 1 of the regular season?

That’s one reason there hasn’t been much discussion about the Jaguars’ defensive front three. Another reason there is usually not much discussion about down defensive linemen in any three-four scheme; The linebackers tend to be the stars of the scheme with the down linemen mainly responsible for creating opportunities for linebackers. The Jaguars’ first unofficial depth chart shows nose tackle DaVon Hamilton, defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris and defensive end Foley Fatukasi as starters. That’s a good week 1 projection.

Time to light the Mark Brunell/Tom Coughlin candles if you have them.

Do you ever feel like the Jaguars being so bad for so long has taken away the local fans’ ability to judge which players are really good?

Sure. Sometimes. It’s also true that each team’s fan base gets excited about offseason additions and assumes that all offseason additions are good. That is rarely true. Sometimes there are hits, sometimes misses and sometimes there are adjustment periods.

Heading into Thursday’s scrimmage, which will feature our starters on the pine, who are some of the unheralded players we should be watching out for? In a related question, what bottom-of-the-depth-chart players have you seen so far that could play their way onto the final roster?

Lawrence really won’t be playing in Thursday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame game. Travis Etienne Jr. will not be a running back either. But that doesn’t mean no starters will play for the Jaguars, and Pederson was quite specific when discussing this week that starters will play. I expect to play most rookies, and maybe offensive linemen other established veterans like right guard Brandon Scherff, left tackle Cam Robinson and left guard Tyler Shatley. Games to watch? Young tight end Gerrit Prince, young linebackers like Shaq Quarterman, young cornerbacks like Benjie Franklin and young wide receivers like Kevin Austin Jr. And keep on kickers Ryan Santoso and Elliott Fry. These preseason games will be the last two important ones.

Oh man, what kind of things do the offensive linemen communicate with each other that makes it so important?

Blitz pickup, run calls, audibles, changes to pre-snap looks. Communication is critical for the offensive line, especially in a modern NFL in which defenses are constantly changing personnel packages and bringing pressure from different players from all levels of the defense.

From what you’ve seen so far, who do you predict will be our No. 1 and No. 2 receiver this season?

I expect Kirk to be the Jaguars’ top wide receiver in 2022 and I expect Marvin Jones Jr. to be the Jaguars’ top wide receiver in 2022.

Kicking competition, John? If Pederson decides to scrap both of them, how is it even a contest? I’m pretty sure the staff already know what product they have because they only do one thing. I tried out for field-goal kickers back in high school. Even though I made three out of five kicks, I was cut down in a millisecond. Coach said I had inconsistent form. I sighed and he knew it. The longer they wait to make a decision, doesn’t the pool of good available kickers open up and prices start to rise?

“I sucked and he knew it” made me laugh, but your question assumes neither Jaguars kicker is good. I don’t understand Pederson agreeing.

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