O-Zone: Enjoy the moment

O-Zone: Enjoy the moment

JACKSONVILLE – Here we go…

Hey Zone. Seeing how Travon Walker is apparently manhandling his competition already in many situations, isn’t it safe to say that it will only get worse for opposing offensive linemen in the coming years? He’s a rookie and typically rookies come in needing to step up a bit to handle the strength of the NFL. But if Walker gets even stronger, then wouldn’t you say the league is in trouble?

I’ll go with your theme – to a point. Walker, a rookie outside linebacker selected No. 1 overall by the Jaguars in the 2022 NFL Draft, appears to have matched up physically very well with the linemen he has faced to date. He didn’t look remotely overwhelmed, and seems to have won a lot of one-on-one encounters. At the same time, we are two games into their first preseason. He has yet to face the best and strongest linemen he will face. All indications are that Walker will be good. As he learns more about the ride, gains experience and gains more strength, he has the chance to be very good. There are many big, strong and good players in the NFL. Let’s wait until we see Walker in the regular season, and until he has consistent big games, before we worry about the safety of the rest of the NFL.

Twenty-six quarterbacks have been selected No. 1 in the Super Bowl era and only Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts led his team to the playoffs as a rookie. But 10 of those quarterbacks made the playoffs in their second season. The Jags play in the worst division in the NFL. Are the Jags a decent dark horse pick to sneak in or am I an overly optimistic idiot?

This email is not because you are an idiot, but maybe you are a touch optimistic. I hope the Jaguars will be improved in 2022 and that quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks to develop into a franchise quarterback by the end of the season. But I don’t see the AFC South as that weak. The Tennessee Titans had the best record in the AFC last season, and the Indianapolis Colts looked capable of a postseason run before losing to the Jaguars in the regular season finale. Picking the Jaguars to be much better makes sense. Pick them up for the postseason? That’s a great question from 3-14.

Is it surprising that Jawaan Taylor continues to be thrown with firsts? Walker Little is still in the rotation, but Taylor has been the first guy with those in games and practices. What does Little need to prove to win the right attacking role?

The Jaguars played two preseason games, and Taylor missed one of those games and a week of practice. I have a feeling Little will win the right job, but it’s not like the coaches are exactly waiting a while before making a decision.

Out of curiosity, how many preseason games did the Jags play, and how many series did the starters play in those? Just asking.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA

Will the starters play the first half of the next game? Beginners need to stay healthy for any improvement.

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said Monday that he would like to see the starters get more time Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers than they did against the Cleveland Browns last Friday. The starters played three series against Cleveland, starting early in the second quarter. Hopefully they’ll play pretty close throughout the first half on Saturday, maybe a touch more.

Soo the NFL is asking for illegal contact to be looked at more than it had. What follows? Fifteen penalties in the pre-season week, while 36 were called all last season. Will this be another ticky-tack call that happens every game, and makes it that much harder to rattle a quarterback? They are professional athletes, not children. The five yards are meh, but those first down drives could be VERY frustrating with an aggressive front seven.

It is common for the NFL to emphasize a rule in the offseason and for this rule to be highly named before the preseason – and even in the regular season. The calls typically drop off a bit as players change their tactics to avoid being penalized — or as the league eases its enforcement of the rule a bit as the season goes on.

Does the “Fragile Freddy” moniker haunt his Hall chances?

You are referring to the ridiculous and unfair “moniker” that many uneducated observers have used to describe former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor. The man played in 153 NFL games and played at least 13 games in eight of 11 seasons while with the Jaguars. He rushed for more than 1,200 yards six times and had just one season in which he played fewer than 10 games. It was the 2001 season when he missed 14 games because his groin was essentially torn from the bone. No, I don’t think the moniker will hurt them. I think that the voters will soon begin to re-examine the career and I believe that the re-examination will start in a stable way meaning more support for Taylor’s candidacy. I think his play on the field will help him – and eventually be the reason he gets promoted.

The Baltimore Ravens have a 21-game preseason winning streak dating back to 2016. In that time, they’ve made the playoffs three times, played four times and won just one game. I hope this helps keep things in perspective for those who determine success in the preseason by wins and losses. We must look for individual and group personal wins and losses. I doubt this will help, but I think I’ll give it a shot.

You’re right about the preseason, and I think most educated fans know not to put too much stock in who wins or loses – although some tend to panic a little too much about how a team or a player But I feel maybe a little “disrespect” in your email towards the Baltimore Ravens. They may have “only” made the postseason three times in that six-year span, but they’ve won at least eight games every season and are still a threat to make the postseason and play well. Their preseason winning streak may or may not have much to do with it, but let’s not paint the Ravens as an unsuccessful franchise.

How do you think the Jags will fare competition wise in an improved AFC South division?

I think the Jaguars will improve in 2022, and I think that improvement will show in the division. They went 1-5 against the AFC South last season, getting handled fairly easily by the Tennessee Titans twice, getting swept by the Houston Texans and losing to the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis before beating them in the season finale regular I don’t think the Jaguars will win the South. I would be surprised if they aren’t much more competitive and I wouldn’t be surprised if they split in the division.

Hello, John. There are four players named Jones on the current 85-man roster. With Marvin and Zay there are two guys who will probably make the team as starters. But Jamir and Tim have also done well in the last two games. Do you think all four athletes can make the final team? If so, are there any problems because of the names on the jerseys or does it not matter in the NFL? They are quite different numbers otherwise. Okay, Marvin has Jr.’s addition.

I also expect wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Zay Jones make the Jaguars’ 53-man roster — and be starters. Jamir Jones and wide receiver Tim Jones would be more surprising. If all four make the team, the team staff will only sew the first initial of the players in front of the last name. Problem solved.

Johnny…you talk a lot about the Doug Pederson effect in the locker room. Although I do not have a sophisticated football eye, I feel that the team works hard and is excited to play football. But, on the horizon (in the next two years) I see a problem … keeping this young talent in Jacksonville for second contracts. What a good problem to hopefully have to deal with.

If the Jaguars are good and draft good players, they will sign some of those good players and lose some of those good players to unrestricted free agency. That’s the nature of being good in the NFL. Insider tip: Let the Jaguars be good for a while and enjoy it before you worry about what happens after they are good. We know from experience here that the “being good” part is not guaranteed.

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