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O-Zone: A root cause

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

William the Contemplator from Jax

The Jags will definitely beat the Fins Sunday. If they don't, I will send you a Sbarro gift card. Fair enough?

I hope for your sake, the Jaguars' sakes and all Jaguars fans'/observers' sakes that you're right. I can't say I'm feeling "it," though. This is not me being Negative Ned or "a hater." I do see the Jaguars playing well in spots in recent weeks and I agree with Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer that the team is starting to develop an offensive identity. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is improving – and that's a positive for the short- and long-term state of the franchise. Running back James Robinson and the running-game overall are playing consistently, which is good for the short-term chances of winning. But those improvements have yet to translate to a scoring outburst of more than 21 points in game. More concerning: the defense isn't forcing turnovers, primarily because the pressure on the quarterback hasn't been consistent enough to force the disruption and chaos that leads to takeaways. Thus, the team has one takeaway in three games. If the Jaguars can get into the mid-20s Sunday and create two turnovers – and commit none – then I think they absolutely will win. And that could happen. I can't say I'm on board with "definitely" – though I'm absolutely on board with the gift card.

David from Eau Claire, WI

This team keeps taking losses on and off the field. How long do you keep a coach that has lost the team? Are there any winnable games this season once Urban is fired?

While your "take" on Meyer is understandable considering the events of recent weeks, I don't know that the on-field evidence supports your assertion – and I certainly don't know that the implication of your email that Meyer's firing inevitable is remotely correct. The Jaguars didn't look like a team that had quit on its coach or stopped believing in a 37-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans last Sunday. They were playing hard and still seemed to be playing as a unit for the good of the team. Those typically are indications that a coach hasn't "lost the locker room." As far as winnable games the rest of the season … there are a bunch. I don't love their chances against a team such as the Buffalo Bills – or of winning on difficult road trips to Seattle and Los Angeles to play teams such as the Seahawks and Rams. But if the Jaguars play their style offensively and can channel their very good defensive stretch in the third quarter last Sunday against Tennessee … yeah, they're capable of winning some of the games on their schedule. Absolutely.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King Of All Funk, in replying to James from Jacksonville you stated the Jaguars would be better with Jalen Ramsey, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and wide receiver Allen Robinson. But, if Ramsey's back had miraculously got better, and Ngakoue agreed to play for the reportedly $14 million a year deal he was offered (still more that he is getting at the Raiders) and Robinson and the team could agree on a deal, we probably would not have been bad enough to be in a position to select Trevor Lawrence. As much as I would like to still have Ramsey, Ngakoue and Robinson on the team, I'll take Lawrence over those three all day, every day. Short-term pain, for long-term gain.

Good eye.

George from Savannah, GA

I agree that all NFL owners want to win, including Jaguars Owner Shad Khan. However, the buck stops with him as you said. The decisions he makes to hire Meyer and general manager are directly accountable to the owner. Poor decisions in hiring lead to poor results on the field. Khan's hiring of coaches has not been successful in the least.

You are correct, for the most part. Gus Bradley clearly did not win enough as Jaguars Head Coach – and aside from 2017, neither did Doug Marrone. And Meyer is 0-5 through five games – but remember: it is just five games. Meyer's story is not written – at least not in entirety.

Mario from Oviedo, FL

Hi, John. Would you say that this season our quarterback is doing a better job at beating the defensive coverages h's faced with during the game? What I mean is that with our previous quarterback, once the opposing defense figured out how to neutralize our quarterback during the game, our quarterback would struggle the entire game whereas now our new quarterback is actually also adapting and making plays?

We're five games into Lawrence's career, so he hasn't seen all that defenses will do to neutralize his strengths. This will be a weekly task for Lawrence this season, and likely will continue to be so for the next two or three seasons because teams will try different approaches as he adapts to old ones. But so far, so good.

Ryan from Detroit, MI

John, why do you keep saying the Jaguars defense will need to add a "No. 1 corner" in the offseason? Wasn't CJ Henderson drafted to be a No. 1 corner? Wasn't Shaq Griffin paid big free-agency dollars to be a No. 1 corner? Wasn't Tyson Campbell drafted to be a No. 1 corner? I know Meyer decided he didn't like/want Henderson, so he's gone but he brought in the other two guys himself.

I say that because that's how I see it right now. Griffin looks like a really good starter and Campbell looks like he may be a really good nickel corner – and those two being good at those spots is OK because you need three really good corners, including a really good nickel. Perhaps that will change in the last 12 games. That's how it looks from this view for now.

Richy from the Bronx

"Let's get to it …" Maybe changing your intro to something more motivational might spur the Jags on.

Or not.

Jay from Jacksonville

Although diehard fans will rock with the Jaguars no matter what, the perception for the Jaguars are they aren't playing to win they are playing to not lose. When do the Jaguars go back to the basics and have some fun instead of the tense scare to mess up play?

Is that the perception? I admit I haven't heard this and haven't really sensed this. Perhaps the coaches aren't being overly aggressive. I guess I could see that. I would attribute to this to a young quarterback, and a coaching staff still trying to figure out exactly what all players can do in pressure situation. It possibly also could be attributed to the Jaguars not having a slew of elite-level or above-the-Xs and Os players. When you're out-talented, it's tough to look like you're "playing loose."

Jordan from Jacksonville

We've had a ton of picks in the last few years, including last year, and yet those picks don't get us closer to the playoffs if they don't pick the right players. As of now, it's hard to look at this regime and have confidence they can build a winner around Trevor.


Ed from Boynton Beach

What about the fans' trust in Meyer? While the owner, players and locker room are most important, the trust and backing of the fans is also important. From reading recent comments in your column and the many media analysts that have weighed in on the topic, it seems he has lost the locker room and has been described as a fraud and a laughingstock because of his recent actions in Ohio – but more importantly how he has handled the team since. I was a little worried but hopeful when he was hired, but Meyer has lost my backing as a fan. I wonder how many others? I'll always be a fan of the Jaguars (make better draft picks), but it seems time to move on from the college-coach experiment.

This "take" also is fair and understandable – and commonly held among Jaguars fans. As I wrote and said last week when this first became an issue, the clock and story on this front started immediately after Columbus. If the team plays well and stays cohesive, and if Meyer avoids off-field issues, perhaps that will be the best indication – and perhaps the only public one – that trust is being regained organizationally. As for the fans … many – if not all – just want to see a functioning, winning and respectable organization. If those traits define the Jaguars under Meyer, fans will have faith. If not, many won't.

Chief of Grammar Police from Frog City, FL

<< for whom to root >>. . . . Silly, stilted, pretentious. Oehser must have gone to a school where some sadistic nun kept whacking his hand to make him obey some archaic, ridiculous "rule" of grammar. This is something up with which I will not put.

Correct > silly, stilted, pretentious.