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O-Zone: Aces high

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

O, you consider the game against the Atlanta Falcons not a must-win? This team had high expectations and has stumbled out of the blocks at 1-2. A win against the Falcons is a must win if they want to keep the wheels on in their quest to win their division. Forget being 2-6 to start last season and then coming back to win the division. No team is surprised by them anymore. Thus, a hole early this season would most likely lead to failure. I hope I'm wrong.

I understand expectations and stumbling. But I'm not big on the idea that the Jaguars "surprised" teams win the AFC South last season. They won six consecutive games at the end of the regular season into Week 1 of the postseason. At some point, teams were looking at video during the week and seeing one of the hottest teams in the NFL. I also don't agree that Sunday is a must-win game. But that's because I'm sticking to the pure definition of must-win, which is that a loss essentially eliminates a team from the postseason. Teams have come back from 1-3 to make the postseason. The Jaguars came back from 2-6 to do it last season. But I agree with you that mentally this feels like a must-win game. This team feels like it needs confidence. Losing Sunday might hurt unrecoverably.

Fred from Naples, FL

The problem with the Jaguars' front office is they bet the house that their young defensive line would develop this year. Well, it hasn't happened and they weren't planning on DaVon Hamilton being hurt and unable to play thus far. They did nothing in the draft to address this situation nor did they entertain any proven defensive line players in free agency. This is going to cost us big time. I will be surprised if we win eight games with this roster.

We're three games into the 2023 season. The Jaguars' defensive line indeed misses defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton. He's a veteran on a second contract. That makes him a foundation piece of the roster. If teams don't miss their foundation pieces when they're out, they haven't selected their foundation pieces very well. Hamilton presses the pocket from the interior when he's playing. That helps outside pass rushers because quarterbacks can't avoid pressure by stepping into the pocket. Hamilton in this way helped the pass rush last season. Either way, remember: The Jaguars' defensive line played well in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts and played OK most of Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The unit struggled in Week 3 along with the rest of the team. Week 3 fed into a popular preseason narrative that the pass rush was poor. Perhaps that will prove true, but it hasn't proven itself out yet.

Keith from DUUUVAL since 2022

There has been a lot of speculation regarding DaVon Hamilton's injury, but I just hope the man heals up 100 percent with no issues. Is it safe to assume he will miss most, if not all, of the season at this point?

I would say it's safe to assume Hamilton will be out at least a few more weeks with a back issue. I would not say it's safe to assume he will the entire season.

Dave from Jacksonville

Zone, KOAGF can we please stop referring to the game against KC as a close game. The Jags lost at home by eight on a day the opponent had four turnovers? I think an honest assessment would be good for all. I think I will take that nap. I have not lost faith. The NFL is just as hard for each team. Wake me up when they figure it out.

The Jaguars lost to the Chiefs, 17-9, in Week 2 with two chances inside the 20-yard line to tie in the fourth quarter. They had the ball on the Chiefs' one-yard line in that situation in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars' defense usually is good at forcing turnovers; why should it be counted against them when it happens? The loss was a close game. There's no other honest way to assess it.

Keith from DUUUVAL since 2022

At the game last Sunday, I was telling my brother that I would like to see a play-action bomb first play of the game the Jags have the ball. Have the Jags ever run that play first play of the game? I can't remember the last time they tried that. I don't understand why they can't try that for a quick score or at least to get really good field position.

I would guess the Jaguars at some point in their history have thrown deep on play-action on the game's first play. Teams don't do this more often because it's relatively high risk and teams like to get momentum with a few first downs on the first drive. Also: Play-action typically works best if the offense has run effectively already – therefore enticing defenders to "cheat up" to defend the run on a fake handoff. The latter element wouldn't be in play on the first play of the game.

Steve from Wallingford, CT

I hated your answer of "it's a week-to-week league" in response to the email about elite teams and I have to say I hated that answer. Ya, it's week to week and elite teams unexpectedly lose. But elite teams don't get absolutely humiliated and dominated by struggling young teams decimated by injuries.

It's a week-to-week league. Elite teams unexpectedly lose. Elite teams play poorly sometimes. The Jaguars aren't elite right now. They're not good. But teams can get better through the course of a season. The Jaguars are capable of doing this, and that's what they must do now.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

The best thing about the Jags' less-than-stellar start is now a guy or gal can make a nice pile of folding money by selecting them to repeat as AFC South Champs. The Colts aren't for real. Right?

The Colts have a very good defensive front and are playing well right now. They have played well all season, with the Jaguars having to rally in the fourth quarter to beat them in Week 1. Are they for real? They can probably finish over .500. I don't know about double digits. But we'll see.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Imagine the national tweets if the Jaguars win both games in Europe...


Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey John, you mentioned that Aidan Hutchinson is the better pass rusher than Travon Walker but that it's not fair to say he is the better overall player. But is a pass rusher not exactly what you search for in the draft? I know it's too early to judge but in my opinion it's clear that it was a mistake not to draft Hutchinson.

I didn't say either Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker or Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is the better overall player. I said it's fair to call Hutchinson a better pass rusher and not fair to say he's better than Walker at everything. Your opinion is a popular one, particularly after the Lions and Hutchinson played on national television. You search for good players in the draft. People can decide on their own mistakes and blame. The Jaguars like Walker. They liked him more at the time of the 2023 NFL Draft.  Fans will spend a lot of time comparing the two. I don't know that we'll spend more time on the concept in this space. Or maybe we will. Life's full of mysteries.

Hilarious from Funnytown

Voluntarily coming to this free website and reading your free daily column is losing its luster. It's just "fans" repeatedly complaining about the same things over and over and over as if this somehow has an impact on their lives. It's entertainment. If you think you can do it better, then go work as a GM or head coach for an NFL team and show everybody how smart you are. Oh wait. That'll never happen. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Or switch to baseball. Pick up a hobby. Go volunteer at a shelter or food bank and get your priorities straight. This nonstop whining is so tiresome. Being miserable doesn't make you a passionate "fan." It just makes you miserable. Ok, I'm done.

I don't think you're from where you say you are.

Josh from Atlanta, FL

The Falcons are incredibly well coached, and defensively they're going to cause a problem Sunday. I have the luxury of hearing about it. Daily. It's Week 4, and we really need a win. Go enjoy a game of footie while you're there, John. I hear It's great for gentleman with incredible athleticism and perfect physique like yourself.

Footie is football, which is soccer stateside. I shan't be enjoying footie Sunday. I shall be taking a lift downstairs, getting on the tube, having a chinwag on the way to the loo and watching the Jaguars play. I hope the Jaguars play well. That would be ace.