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How Jacksonville Face the Steelers in the Jaguars Mailbag.

We answer mailbag questions this week about Calvin Ridley, the Steelers, and other topics.

Throughout the season, we will be taking questions on the biggest questions facing the Jacksonville Jaguars.

You can submit your questions every week by tweeting them to the Jaguar Report Twitter handle or by submitting them here.

We are taking questions this week about the Steelers, Calvin Ridley, and other topics.

Q: Is Travon Walker good?

A: I think he is good in the context of what the Jaguars ask him to do in the design of their defense. Walker is the first step toward their goal of winning first and second downs with a front that, given the size of their outside linebackers, is more akin to a 5-2 front. Walker does a great job of setting the edge and taking tight ends completely out of the running game, which is a big reason they have been so successful on early downs.

“That’s the thing that really goes unnoticed. If you’re an outside rusher, the only thing you worry about is sacks but we focus on stopping the run here,” Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said this week. “He [Travon] does a great job of handling tight ends, handling tackles, and squeezing off gaps so it enables us to play the defense we want to play.”

Now, if we are talking about “good” in the context of what one expects from a No. 1 pick pass-rusher — or just the average NFL pass-rusher in general — then it gets murky. Walker is 26th in pressures among qualifying EDGE defenders despite being No. 8 in snaps played, while also ranking 56th out of 117 players in pass-rush win rate. He is probably along the lines of an average NFL pass-rusher, which brings the question of what is more valuable to the Jaguars’ defense. In short … it is pretty complicated and the answer is likely unclear at this point.

Q: If the Jags pass blocked so well on Thursday, why did the offense struggle at times?

A: I think part of it is the fact that the Jaguars are a bottom-tier rushing attack right now. Travis Etienne is having a great season from a play-making perspective, but the Jaguars’ running game has been inefficient all season, especially when they are playing with leads and attempting to lean on the running game. Combine this with the absence of Zay Jones, who normally would attract attention away from Calvin Ridley, and the Jaguars’ offense has questions they have to face weekly.

Q: What or who has been a pleasant surprise with the Jags so far this season? And what or who has disappointed?

A: How about some love for Tre Herndon? The often-maligned slot corner simply continues to win the respect of every coaching staff he plays under and every locker room he is a part of, and he is showing why in 2023. He has been strong against the run, impactful as a blitzer, and he is making more and more plays in coverage each week.

As for the flip side, I would probably go with Luke Fortner. He has played better in the last two weeks, but I expected Fortner to have fewer of the low-quality snaps that he flashed as a rookie. He is still a young player, but some of the losses he sees in both the running and pass game are a bit too reminiscent of his rookie season.

Q: Can you please explain the emergency quarterback rule and its impact on the roster? Is there a downside of keeping Rourke on the active roster?

A: Basically, as long as the emergency quarterback is active and does not affect your regular game-day roster numbers, you can have him active on game day. It does, however, keep a player off the 53-man roster who normally has a better chance of seeing the field since the emergency quarterback can only play if both quarterbacks in front of him are injured. I don’t think there is upside to keeping Rourke on the roster over any of the guys at the bottom of the roster right now.

Q: Hey John, have a query for you regarding Travon. When I listened to the podcast you guys recorded a week or so ago, I thought it was fascinating what Gus Logue said about how Hutchinson makes the Jags defense worse because of what the Jags need from Travon.

Additionally, I recall you saying during the preseason that it is difficult for Travon to accumulate sacks when he plays on the strong side.

How is Travon playing? Also, can you go into a little bit more detail about what Gus was talking about?

A: While I believe Travon is doing well within the framework of the Jaguars’ defense, I also believe that, at this point in time, he is not the kind of pass-rusher who has the same ability to seriously affect other teams’ game plans and defensive strategies as Josh Allen does.

He has improved as a pass-rusher but is still probably around average. As for the Hutchinson point, check out the above Mike Caldwell quote for evidence of what Gus may be talking about. Hutchinson, while effective and versatile, is clearly not the edge-setter that Walker is.

As things stand today, it feels like the Jaguars’ scheme favors that part of his skill-set more than anything else.

Q: After Trevor, Etienne, Campbell, Little, Cisco, and maybe more get their second deals, is the Jaguars 2021 draft going to be the most expensive draft in NFL history?

A: The New Orleans Saints’ 2017 draft class had five players making $14 million or more annually at one time a few years ago. If this class can hit that, then it can probably make its case.

Q: Describe the feeling of #BaalkeBall’ing Gus every week

A: You ever catch a fish? A lot like that.

Q: What is missing for Josh Allen to convert pressures to sacks?

A: Allen has converted 21.21% of his pressures into sacks this year. Here are the figures for all of the players tied or in front of him in terms of pressures.

  • George Karlaftis: 10.6% of his pressures turn into sacks.
  • Bryce Huff: 7.3% of his pressures turn into sacks.
  • Nick Bosa: 7.1% of his pressures turn into sacks.
  • Chase Young: 14.2% of his pressures turn into sacks.
  • Micah Parsons: 13.5% of his pressures turn into sacks.
  • Aidan Hutchinson: 10.7% of his pressures turn into sacks.
  • Maxx Crosby: 15.11% of his pressures turn into sacks.

In short, this isn’t a problem for Allen right now, at least not relative to the other pass-rushers in the NFL.

Q: After the BYE week, which player do you see having a 2nd half of the season surge?

A: Calvin Ridley. I am assuming the Jaguars get Zay Jones back sometime after the bye week, and simply having him on the field should lead to more favorable looks for Ridley on a weekly basis.

Q: Do you think the Jags find a way to get Calvin more involved?

A: I think they continue to try to make him a piece of the offense, but I honestly think the biggest reason that Calvin Ridley isn’t getting a lot of looks right now is because teams can shift their coverage toward Ridley and double him due to the lack of an outside threat across from him.

To me, it isn’t coincidental that Ridley’s best games have come with Jones on the field. As long as teams keep doubling Ridley, there isn’t much reason for the Jaguars to force any passes.

Q: I know one of the big knocks against the playstyle of Foyesade Oluokun last year, and what kept him out of top LB consideration, was his vulnerability in pass coverage.

From just the eyes and vibe test this year, he feels much stronger. Do you think that holds up as a major area of improvement from him?

A: I absolutely think so. His pick-six on Thursday Night Football obviously did him a lot of favors in terms of putting his name out there on a national stage, but he has been terrific in pass defense all season.

He is a fluid athlete who already plays with great anticipation and instincts, which helps him excel in zone coverage, particularly in Cover 2. Since he isn’t being asked to keep up with many skill players step-for-step, all of his best traits are shining through.

Q: Is Trevor where you thought he’d be talent-wise at this point and if so do you think he can live up to being generational?

A: I think so. He has several “wow” moments a week in terms of his arm talent, his process, and his overall athletic ability. He isn’t going to be throwing for 350 yards and four touchdowns every week simply because of the state of the Jaguars’ offense in terms of injuries and its current ceiling.

I think Lawrence has become one of the few quarterbacks that teams win because of and I think that marks him as generational.

Q: Hey John, loved the piece about our LBs. Zay, Walker, Tyson, and DaVon all have varying likelihoods of returning week 8. Who would you Start, Limit, or Sit in this matchup? Or rather, what do you think the coaches will do?

A: I think that Tyson Campbell and Walker Little play, at least based off the fact that it seems like both are trending in the right direction after practice this week. I also think the table is set for DaVon Hamilton to make his first appearance of the season.

I wonder if they play Andre Cisco since hamstrings can be a tricky injury to deal with, and it might make more sense to wait for the bye for him to return.

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