JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Gordon from Columbus, IN
Hey, so if the Jaguars beat the Detroit Lions Sunday and the Tennessee Titans lose to the Philadelphia Eagles, we suddenly would have the ability to beat the Titans the week after and pull within a game of the division lead. Tough to see us winning the division, but it's still a very real possibility. What do you think of our chances?
Realistically, I think they're slim. Not because I don't like the Jaguars' chances of playing well and winning more than they lose late in the 2022 season, but because I wonder about their ability to win all the final six games – or even five of the final six. They're playing a tough schedule that includes at least four potential games against postseason teams and I don't know that they have the consistency offensively yet – or the pass rush/coverage ability defensively – to close out every game against playoff-level teams. My thought is that those things – consistent offense, particularly in the red zone; close-the-door defense – is something that is developing and will develop further in Year 2 under Head Coach Doug Pederson. But I could be wrong about the Jaguars' playoff chances. Perhaps they will improve in these areas in the last month and a half of the season. It's certainly possible. Just because we haven't seen it happen yet doesn't mean it can't happen.
Tom from St. Johns
IF we win out in the division, we will likely be in a tie with the Titans with two wins over them. What happens then?
The Jaguars probably must do more than win out in the AFC South to finish in a tie for first place with the Titans. But if two teams within a division tie, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head results.
Don from Marshall, NC
The Jaguars treated every draft eligible player with respect, especially Aidan Hutchinson. The Jaguars even said they would be happy with top four players. Now he wants bring up the fact that length was an issue between him and Travon Walker. First, he paints his face and second he has no class and third he has got some short arms. I guess he has to say something to fire himself up. Cam Robinson is going to dominate him Sunday. The Jaguars got the right guy and Sunday we will find out. Go Jaguars!
Don remains "all in."
Justin from Jax
Hey, Zone. Have you watched the "Sounds of the Game" on Youtube? They've all been great, but the Jags and Baltimore Ravens one was goosebump inducing. I implore any of your readers who haven't seen it to go watch it immediately. It's amazing. The behind-the-scenes team just doesn't get enough credit, yourself included. Thank you, to the entire Jaguars team.
The Jaguars Media "behind-the-scenes" team is behind the scenes for a reason. They are by any measure a surly bunch, best left alone by those unfamiliar with their rituals – and they are certainly not "fans" of the O-Zone. Why would they be? The problem is, they are outstanding at what they do. For evidence of this, check their work on whatever they produce – "Sounds of the Game" each week absolutely included.
Trevor from Jacksonville
I was wrong about Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and it feels good. He has great talent and has improved greatly. There's been a lot of speculation about not keeping Marvin Jones Jr. However for two years, he has been a clutch receiver, and has great chemistry with Lawrence in big situations. What do you think happens next for Marvin Jones Jr?
I don't expect him to return. He is an unrestricted free agent, and I don't know that he and the Jaguars will agree on a contract to return. I hope I'm wrong.
Pete from Jacksonville
What is your perspective on General Manager Trent Baalke's performance in 2022 building the Jaguars' roster? I think the uproar by many over the running back James Robinson trade has quieted significantly since the Jets made him a healthy Inactive last week. The Calvin Ridley trade has a chance to be really big for Trevor and the offense if he can come back with the same degree of skill he had when he was suspended.
I think Baalke in his second season as the Jaguars' general manager, his first with the current coaching staff. I think the first three selections from his first draft – Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne Jr. and cornerback Tyson Campbell – all look like potential Pro Bowl players, and I think if you "hit" on three players per draft you're drafting pretty well. I think you can't judge a draft class in its rookie season, so there's no way to "judge" Baalke's performance in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Jaguars overall in the past two years or so have upgraded the talent base on the roster pretty significantly. Their free-agent signings this past offseason – particularly wide receivers Zay Jones and Christian Kirk and linebacker Foye Oluokun – have been very good signings. And I agree that the Ridley trade could be a really significant move to future strengthen an offense that's looking pretty strong. Any general manager's moves can be picked apart to find mistakes, but overall there are a lot of positives.
Trevor from Cape Girardeau, MO
When Jaguars wide receiver Jamal Agnew is on the field, more times than not he helps spread the offense around. Do you think they will keep him more involved? Especially this week against his former team the Lions?
Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville
So you think the "fans will be fans" response about officiating and the impact on the game is a good explanation. I agree with the sentiment of the statement and maybe it is a conspiracy theory but officiating impacting the outcome of games which are now legally wagered on with NFL support? No conflict of interest there at all ... nope. And you want some irony with proof, O-man? What is our newest WR sitting out the year for...? Right betting on games he was playing in. Now again tell me how we are just fanning and there is potentially more to this whole inconsistent officiating where is blatantly influences a game's outcome? Even you have to admit it is not outside the realm of possibility. Maybe the NFL should be considering the perception and institute a process for challenging missed calls. Like the pass-interference thing a few years ago. I guarantee having that roughing call on Campbell would have changed the game in our favor.
I'll refrain from digging further into the Officiating Discussion. Just because you're paranoid, after all, doesn't mean they're not out to get you. A thought on your thought about a system to challenge missed calls, though: The problem with implanting such a system is it automatically brings judgment calls into the equation. The spirit of replay was to overturn obvious calls, not to review calls where fans of each team could argue their team's side. That was the problem with reviewing pass interference; it simply brought too many calls into the replay system where there was not clear irrefutable evidence to overturn the call.
Adam from Leicester, UK
Hey, John. I was casually looking through the standings as you do and noticed nobody is unbeaten at home. Is homefield advantage overrated? I remember the days of nobody went into Foxborough, Mass., and beat the Patriots, etc. ... I know they had the GOAT. Just seems like you don't see these fortresses anymore where winning seems impossible.
Home-field advantage isn't the end all. But it matters. It can really matter in the postseason, particularly when it's cold.
Richard from Orange Park, FL
So I just saw the latest quarterback rankings on NFL.com and they have Trevor Lawrence at No. 14. What they wrote about him is that we are watching him blossom right before our eyes. I still can't believe fans were calling for us to get a new quarterback just a few weeks ago here in the zone. He can sling it, although I'm still skeptical on how his Hail Mary pass and how it looked. He needs to work on that so that when we next need a Hail Mary we actually have a chance of it succeeding. As far as everything else, he has improved significantly as the season has progressed, so hopefully we don't need him to pray for a Hail Mary to win a game. So, here's one for Trevor Lawrence's progression, because I think he will be a top 10 QB before the season ends.
Lawrence had one ugly Hail Mary pass this season. I don't expect this will be a "trend." If it is a trend, I don't expect it to matter much.
Adam from Brunswick, GA
O'Man, this seems like a pivotal week for the Jaguars. A win and a Titans loss (and they're playing the Philadelphia Eagles) puts the Jags two games back of the division lead. With two head-to-head matchups left on the schedule, they may not be as far away from winning the division as some may think! Also, Bullet Bob is awesome!