Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

O-Zone: A tiny difference

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Let's get to it …

Sal from Austin, TX

The tone around the Jaguars is soft right now. " Oh my, Trevor..." We don't remember how Mahomes served us up a loss on a bad ankle in the playoffs? Guys get injured in football. That the defense laid an egg and looked lost is a way larger issue than "T- Law" and his sprained ankle.

I haven't the faintest idea what a "soft tone" means. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence sustained a high-ankle sprain in a 34-31 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Monday. He then left the game and didn't practice Wednesday. When a starting NFL quarterback leaves a game and doesn't practice during the following week, that's a major issue that will dwarf pretty much all other issues. If you think there wasn't concern about Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes when he sustained a high-ankle sprain last postseason, you were watching and reading different NFL coverage than I watched and read. The Jaguars' defense must play better than it did against the Bengals. It has done just that more often than not this season.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, high-ankle sprain and returning in less than a week?

Conventional wisdom is that a high-ankle sprain is a four-to-six-week injury. But injuries vary from player to player and not all high-ankle sprains are created equal. The higher the sprain, the more serious. That's the typical rule with high sprains. Lawrence's "high sprain" was comparatively low, which is why there's a chance he will play Sunday.

Jeff from Orange, CA

I almost would prefer to forfeit Sundays game just to give Lawrence an extra week. What's your gut tell you about the likelihood of him playing? Even if the injury couldn't get worse, an immobile quarterback is going to subject to more hits in general.

I expect Lawrence to play Sunday when the Jaguars play the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Mac from 408

If a player is signed to the active roster and designated the emergency third-string quarterback and not taking the place on another active spot, does he have to clear waivers if put back on the practice squad? If he does or doesn't, why wouldn't you have that emergency quarterback all the time?

The Jaguars on Saturday signed quarterback Nathan Rourke to the active roster. This is the same move they made in Week 7 when Lawrence's status entering a victory over the New Orleans Saints was uncertain. The Jaguars waived Rourke the following week – and yes, he had to clear waivers before being signed to the practice squad. The reason the Jaguars don't keep Rourke on the active 53-player roster every week is because they want that roster spot for other players. They sign him to the 53-player roster when one of their other quarterbacks – Lawrence and backup C.J. Beathard is injured because the situation at quarterback necessitates the move. They make him the third-team, emergency quarterback in that situation so they can have their full allotment of 48 game-day active players.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

I guessed I missed it amid all the Lawrence talk but I thought the rookie that stood in for Kirk looked pretty good. Who is that guy and does he have a big future with the Jags?

Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk sustained a groin injury Monday and was placed on injured reserve, meaning he is out for at least four games. Parker Washington, a fifth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft from Penn State, played in Kirk's place and saw his most significant NFL action to date. He caught six passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. He showed a lot of promise and made you think he could be good moving forward. I would expect the Jaguars to have to do a bit less with Washington than they would have done with Kirk. That's the expectation because Kirk has extensive knowledge of the offense, and significant experience knowing when to run certain routes against certain coverages. It's asking a lot to expect Washington be as natural and instinctive as Kirk in that area. But I expect Washington can make plays and be productive.

Mike from San Diego, CA

What's up with Tank Bigsby? He was supposed to be the answer to providing Travis with some support and from what I've seen from his college tape a darn great short yardage back. I know he had some rookie moments early on, but it's time to get him involved. Jags need him desperately with Travis hurt.

With running backs Travis Etienne (ribs) and D'Ernest Johnson (knee) dealing with injuries, I think there's a decent chance Bigsby plays a bigger role Sunday than he has much of the season.

Kathy from Palm Coast, FL

I understand that you speak for Jaguars team management, but the reality is that Travon Walker is just an average player and not the juggernaut you claim him to be. It's OK to be average. So let's not pretend he is anything else.

I don't know what "juggernaut" means in the context of this conversation. I do know Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker is far better than "just an average player." I know he impacts the pocket consistently, just as I know he draws double teams consistently and just as I know he is an elite player setting the edge – and against the run. I understand these things have been critical to a defense that has been really good far more often than not this season. I understand the Jaguars' defense overall this season wouldn't have been nearly as formidable without Walker. I understand that most people don't realize this, just as I understand that most people who haven't the first idea "who I speak for" will always assume they know. So it is, and so it shall be.

Bob from Sumter, SC

I think they find a way to win against the Browns. One thing about this team is it never quits.

This Jaguars team is a mature, professional team that for the last 21 games or so generally has played very well facing adversity. This trait is a huge reason they're in first place in the AFC South and it's a huge reason I believe they can win Sunday.

Nick from Palm Coast, FL

You're wrong about Nathan Rourke playing only against backups!! He played in Canada against pros. His stats for his last year are good: 10 games, 255 complete, 324 attempts, 3,349 yards, 25 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.

You're right. Those are good statistics.

P Funk from Murray Hill

Is there a real advantage to having our opponent have to spend time during the week preparing for two different quarterbacks based on who might play? How would our game plan differ with Lawrence vs Beathard?

The NFL is a league in which one of two plays make the difference in many games. As such, coaches treat seemingly small issues during preparation like major issues – anything to gain even the tiniest of advantages in a so-called "game of inches." Who plays quarterback in a given game is very much a major issue. How much will the Jaguars' game plan change? Perhaps the differences would be subtle. But if there's the slightest chance that it will make an opponent's preparation more difficult – or be the slightest advantage – teams will try to take advantage of it. Besides, it certainly doesn't hurt the Jaguars to have an air of mystery around Sunday's starting quarterback.

Tony from The Land of Confusion

Is there any possibility at all that Luke Fortner gets benched and Tyley Shatley comes back in at center?  We made the smart move with Ben Bartch, can we do that again?  Even above and beyond Fortner's limitations, just having Shatley's experience out there for Beathard to lean on could be invaluable.

I don't expect Shatley to start over Fortner moving forward. While the Jaguars have struggled on the interior of the offensive line in various ways and at various times this season, they haven't seemed close to such a move. I would be surprised if they made it now.

Rob from San Antonio, TX

KOAF, I love my fellow fans but let's calm down. All this talk about how the Jags should have just done this, that and the other in the games that were lost is great on paper. In real life, as we say in the military, the enemy gets a vote (in what happens). There's a vast difference between losing to a competitor and widespread incompetence on the part of an organization. Not saying I like to see losses, just saying that the opponents may have at least a small impact on the outcome of games. But what do I know?

This is the NFL, not college football. NFL players and coaches are fond of saying of opponents, "They get paid, too." The difference in really, really good and really bad in the NFL often is infinitesimally small. That's true even when the pregame speculation is vastly different.