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O-Zone: Back where he belongs

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tom from The Mean Streets of Nocatee

Is it a Festivus miracle?

This email arrived Friday shortly after Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson told media that quarterback Trevor Lawrence would practice Friday, meaning Lawrence has a chance to play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday. While Lawrence remains in concussion protocol after sustaining a concussion against the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday, his participation Friday in practice is part of the process of clearing protocol. Pederson said if Lawrence doesn't clear by Saturday, he won't travel with the team and therefore won't play Sunday. Is it a Festivus miracle? Maybe, maybe not. But it would be the third time this season Lawrence has played after an injury the previous Sunday. His toughness is remarkable.

Marty from Jacksonville

Hey, John, I have a theory. Please tell me if this makes sense. Because the Jaguars can't run the ball very well, defenses are able to pin their ears back and turn on the pass rush. That means Trevor has to get the ball out quickly. Since defenses know this, they can cover tightly because we don't have time for longer developing or downfield pass patterns. With this being the case, it's a miracle we can move the ball at all.

There's some truth here. When teams can't run, defenses not only can focus on rushing the passer, they also don't have to commit as many players in the back seven to stopping the run. This makes it far harder for passing offenses. Teams not running effectively also means they are passing in more obvious passing situations, which means play action doesn't work as effectively. When play action doesn't work effectively, that limits an offense's ability to pass downfield. Teams don't always need to run well in this pass-oriented NFL. But when defenses don't have to account for the run, it usually negatively affects the offense.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, From the Jags perspective -- don't panic. From the fans perspective -- PANIC!!! Thoughts?

I think fans gonna fan. It's what they do.

John from Ramsey, NJ

Maybe I'm just a glass-half-full type of fan. But I feel the games against CIN, CLE and BAL could have easily gone the other way. Sunday night seemed to be a repeat of Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs ... get in scoring position but come away empty. Considering how banged up our team is, and assuming those that can play can be close to 100 percent, I believe this team can compete with any of the other teams, except for maybe the San Francisco 49ers. We are that close.

The Jaguars have been close to winning the last three games. They lost in overtime to the Cincinnati Bengals and had a chance to tie the Cleveland Browns in the last three minutes. They entered the fourth quarter of a loss to the Baltimore Ravens trailing by three points. The Jaguars indeed can compete with most NFL teams. They can beat a lot of them. But they have been losing winnable games in recent weeks. In the NFL, losing winnable games isn't good enough.

Roger from Houston, TX

I think we will look back on this season as one of the toughest schedules we've ever played.

The Jaguars are playing a first-place schedule, which in this era means three more division champions from the previous season than in a non-first-place schedule. The Jaguars have only played one previous first-place schedule in this scheduling system … so yes, it stands to reason this schedule would be difficult. I thought before the season the Jaguars were an 11-victory(ish) team. That's still possible. That would mean winning two more games than last season against a better schedule. That would be an accomplishment.

John from Jacksonville

Hi KOAGF - Your optimism in the Jags making the postseason might be questionable. The Buccaneers are hot right now with a three-game win streak fighting for a playoff spot, the Carolina Panthers might be a dangerous opponent, and the Tennessee Titans are very capable of returning to us the favor of last season. I think our only path to the playoffs is winning the division as the wild card tiebreakers may not be helpful to us.


Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville

We keep going back to this narrative that Trevor is "growing." When do we just accept maybe this is what he is? I want him to be a generational quarterback, but Year 3 he shouldn't be making college level mistakes like these fumbles. Our team seems to cling to these hopes or potential player scenarios. Like Travon Walker. Like Blake Bortles, Blaine Gabbert. I sincerely hope that Trevor begins showing his perceived talent in this near future because putting on your chips on a bet and losing has been this team's pattern for too long.

You're right that Lawrence shouldn't be making these mistakes. You're also right that we continue to discuss him growing. And he does need to keep growing. Just because he needs to keep growing doesn't mean he won't reach elite level. It also doesn't mean he's bad now. But it's wrong to keep mentioning Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker's name when trying to discuss disappointing players. He's not about "potential" or "hope." He's good and getting better – and he's a long, long way from being a disappointment.

Nick from Palm Coast, FL

When is Cam ready to return? This offense does not play with an attitude when Cam is missing. A lot of these after-the-tackle hits and shoves on the quarterback do not go unanswered when he plays. We need him back now!!!!

Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson is eligible to return from injured reserve when the Jaguars play the Carolina Panthers in Week 17.

Dave from The Forest

The amount of negative questions/comments you get about Trevor is concerning to me. Have they forgotten the kind of production we have gotten out of the quarterback position over the past 20 years. I still can't believe we were lucky enough to draft him. John, why do you think that is? Is it because of all the hype that follows Lawrence? Did you experience this is Indy with Peyton?

I covered Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts from his fourth season to his 13th. He was close to being developed when I began covering him and hit an MVP level in his sixth season. Colts observers still criticized Manning when I covered him because fans fan. It's what they do.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

You have offered much wisdom to the fanbase. Before your arrival as senior writer, we noticed that Manning would "sack himself" to avoid disaster. Was Manning always good at that or did that have to develop? Would Trevor understand this better if you told him, as a once close contact of Manning?

Manning's situational awareness and football intelligence already were high end when I began covering him in 2011. It improved the more he played, as usually is the case. Plenty of people work with Lawrence in this area. He doesn't need an old man adding to the voices in his head.

Mark from Orange Park, FL

After listening to a local sports radio analysts (who shall remain nameless) the Jags will not win if CJ Beathard plays. Quite a few backups have won recently, so why not us?

Good question.

JR from The Squatchlands

Time for a "get-right" game in Tampa to kickoff our three-game win streak to end the season before hosting a revenge playoff game against the Browns or Bengals. It seems plausible. What say you, O, does your crystal ball concur?

The Jaguars can win Sunday. They have lost three consecutive games to contending teams. They lost one of the games in overtime, had a chance to tie another in the final three minutes and entered the fourth quarter of the other trailing by three. Of course winning is plausible. My concern on this front isn't as much injuries, or if Lawrence plays. It's more about the Jaguars' ability to win close games and come up big in clutch moments. They were really good in these areas much of the season. Lately, not as much. They need to get those traits back.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

The margins are getting thin. Is this a must win?

If the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts both lose at least one game, Sunday isn't a must-win game for the Jaguars. If those two teams win all their remaining games, it is a must-win game. So is this a must-win game? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's close enough.

Don from Marshall, NC

Tom Brady and Manning got their butts smashed into the ground just like Trevor when they were young. They just got smarter later. When you're young you think you're invincible and it takes some drama to let you know you're not. Hopefully this is the moment for Trevor. He has already shown to me that he is a tough guy now I want to see the smart guy. Go Jaguars!

Don, after roaming the wilderness for a day or two after the Ravens loss, once again is "all in."