JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Nancy from Negative
This feels like a trap game. Everyone is talking big about how the Jaguars are finally healthy and how rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked great in the last game of the preseason and how the Texans are claimed as dead in the water because quarterback Deshaun Watson is gone. But I have seen this rodeo/pony show before, this painful goat rope the Jaguars always seem to put us through. The Jaguars look like the light is coming at the end of the tunnel, hope runs extremely high, then reality strikes. And it strikes HARD. I want to have hope. I want to be positive. But it's not 2027, so here I sit ready for the worst that inevitably will come, because that is the Jaguars always deliver us fans. Pain and loss. Go Jags.
Wow. Talk about living up to one's name. First, I don't know that this is a "trap game" because the Jaguars have done nothing to remotely establish themselves as so overwhelming a favorite against any team to look past any team – particularly in a regular-season opener. Still, I agree that this should be a more difficult game for the Jaguars than many observers believe. That's not because of any Jaguars shortcomings, but because I don't see the Texans being nearly as awful as many observers believe. They built their roster with veterans in the offseason – and while those veterans may not be elite-level names, they remain a team with extensive experience. That includes quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who may never be a franchise quarterback but who has extensive experience in a lot of offenses. The Jaguars, by contrast, are a young team. And Week 1 is always weird in the NFL. Do I think the Jaguars are on the right path? Yes. Do I like their chances Sunday? Yes. Do I think they should win? Probably. But do I think it's anything close to a lock? Absolutely not.
Andy from St. Augustine, FL
I agree that our run defense has improved greatly over last year. I'm not convinced that fact will equate with more wins, unless we can rush the quarterback better than we showed in the preseason. If we can stop the run, but teams can pass on us, with all of the recent rule changes to help the passing game, won't that allow teams to get bigger chunks of yards against us as opposed to running the ball? I think our defensive backfield is much better than the last couple of seasons, but I'm worried about getting pressure on the quarterback. Am I overthinking it?
You're not overthinking it – and you're right that stopping the run won't by itself mean more victories. The Jaguars must perform in other areas. But you have almost no chance to win in the NFL if you can't stop the run; if you can't stop the run, teams will run constantly – and you'll never have a chance to rush the quarterback and you won't have possession enough to be effective offensively. If the Jaguars are as improved against the run as they believe, it should in turn improve the pass rush because opponents will be in more third-and-long situations – and the more obvious passing situations for opponents, the more effective the pass rush. That brings us to perhaps the greatest Jaguars unknown entering the season – and that indeed is the pass rush. This area should improve because of the improved run defense, and because edge defender Josh Allen should be healthy. Coordinator Joe Cullen also is expected to be far more creative and exotic than previous Jaguars teams. Will that produce a pass rush good enough to soothe your worried soul? We're a few days from finding out.
Billy the Child from Arlington
KOAF: My big question for the year is "Who is right about the offensive line - the coaches or the fans?" Fans gonna fan as you say, but the answer may determine the course of the Jags 'season.
Howard from Homestead, FL
Will the Jags get any additional revenue from the Saints-Packers game this weekend?
The New Orleans Saints-Green Bay Packers Week 1 game will be played at TIAA Bank Field Sunday, but it is a Saints home game and therefore they get most of the revenue. The Jaguars will receive some revenue, but not a significant amount.
John from Jacksonville
Hi, KOAGF. Well, here it is. This is the weekend when half of NFL teams' fans will be talking Super Bowl and the other half will be in doom and gloom. Do you think Jags fans will be able to survive rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence's first interception (if it happens) or will they be screaming first-pick bust?
Zac from Austin, TX
It feels like we had so many wide receivers that we didn't know what to do with them all … to only our top three projected and a returner. That seems mildly alarming ...
This not only isn't particularly alarming, it also isn't particularly correct. The Jaguars currently have four receivers on the 53-player roster – Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., DJ Chark Jr. and newly acquired Tyron Johnson – in addition to returner/receiver Jamal Agnew. They also have five receivers – Phillip Dorsett II, Laquon Treadwell, John Hammond, Devin Smith and Jeff Cotton – on the practice squad, all of whom can be called up to the active roster immediately if necessary. Always remember: the practice squad under current rules essentially is an extension of the roster. Breathe, Zac. Breathe.
WJB3 from Yulee, FL
Speaking of NFL expansion, wouldn't Orlando, El Paso, maybe Mobile/Birmingham be considered in addition to the four cities you mentioned (not that will ever happen in our lifetime)?
Maybe they would be.
Bill from Jacksonville, FL
John, your description (240 yds and two touchdowns) of Lawrence's ideal game on Sunday sounds like that of an undrafted rookie quarterback. Those do not sound like the expectations of what many call the most mentally prepared and physically gifted quarterback to enter the NFL in 20 years. Why should the Jags treat Trevor like someone he isn't?
First off, very few knowledgeable NFL people called Lawrence the most mentally prepared quarterback to enter the NFL in 20 years. That's because few football people consider him more mentally prepared than former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who entered the NFL in 2012. But the main reason my ideal game for Sunday is Lawrence throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns is that that would mean the Jaguars running effectively enough that Lawrence doesn't have to throw for 300 yards for the Jaguars to win. Still another reason: While Lawrence is a gifted player with a bright future, he is still a rookie – and that means he will make mistakes and need time to learn. That's what he is – talented and gifted though he may be.
Richard from Jacksonville
Hi Zone, assuming Lawrence plays in every game, do you think 400 is a fair over/under on his rushing yards this season?
Yeah, that's about right – and give me the under.
KC from Orlando, FL
KOAF, what win total do you think the Jags would need to win to make the playoffs? I'm guessing 10 wins is usually the sweet spot. With some luck and some Year 2 leaps from last year's rookies, hoping we can get there. Go Jags!
I would expect a record of 9-8 to make the playoffs some seasons, 10-7 to make it most seasons and 11-6 to make it almost all seasons. I don't expect the Jaguars to win nine games in 2021 and I would expect something closer to six or seven victories. Here's hoping I'm wrong.
Dirk from Neptune Beach, FL
Hello, Ozone two questions for you. First, what do you need to see out of Lawrence to feel he is comfortable in his progress learning this offense? Two, defensively what you would like to see in the play calling on the sidelines?
I assume you mean what do I need to see Week 1 regarding both of these questions. Regarding Lawrence, I want to see him looking comfortable in the pocket and going through his progressions – and throwing to the right receiver – on most plays Sunday; I don't expect perfection in this area, nor do I expect him to be changing plays at the line of scrimmage because he's a rookie quarterback and such things take time – even for really talented players such as Lawrence. Regarding the defense, I expect to see an aggressive game plan from Cullen. Anything else would be very surprising.
Zac from Austin, Tejas
Which would be more surprising to you? The Jaguars only winning three games this season or making the wildcard spot?
I would be surprised if either happens, but I suppose I'll go with the winning-three-games option. The Jaguars likely will need to win ten games to secure a wild-card spot, and that's an enormous – almost historic – leap from 1-15. But I also can't imagine the Jaguars winning only four games. If I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised.