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O-Zone: Bad news

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Chris from Mandarin

I mentioned a few times when it was assumed before the season by many fans that Trevor Lawrence would cure all ills for this team to look no further than Matt Ryan for why that's not true. The Falcons have been bad way more often than not – even with he, a borderline Hall of Fame quarterback. Suffice to say, we still suck and the same bad Falcons team will beat the Jaguars this weekend. I'm not sure how to look forward to the games anymore. We just suck.

I don't know that Ryan's career makes quite the point you believe. The Falcons have had records of .500 or better in eight of Ryan's 13 seasons, with two other 7-9 seasons. They have made six playoff appearances with two conference title-game appearances and were a play or two away from winning the Super Bowl. So, no … drafting a franchise quarterback does not "cure all ills." What it does is give you a very real chance to get to the postseason and have a chance most seasons if you build well around that quarterback. It gives you a chance for long-term sustainability. And the Falcons have not been bad way more often than not with Ryan. A great mind I know likes to talk about kitchen-table research. It refers to people who talk like experts with no facts to support their chatter. I don't know why I thought of that right now.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Usually, this is the part of the season I can start getting excited about draft position – and another Top 3 pick seems likely. But at first glance, it doesn't look like Best Available Player and a sprinkle of need really coincide. Pointless hypothetical for you, though. Picking at No. 3, if you could pick with hindsight a perennial Pro Bowl defensive end or a Hall of Fame receiver, is it obviously the receiver?

If I know the receiver is going to be a Hall of Fame player, I select him. Shoot, I probably pick any player if I know he's going to be a Hall of Fame player. If I think they're going to be relatively the same in ability, I pick the defensive end/pass rusher – and yes, that's true even considering the Jaguars' deficiency at receiver. Pass rush remains that important. I am perhaps a smidge less comfortable going that route considering the importance of receiver in the modern NFL, but pass rusher remains the selection.

Braddock from Jax

Do you really think Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer's job is in jeopardy?

Absolutely not.

Tim from Doboy Island, GA

You keep saying the offense is compressed, but isn't that mostly self-imposed? Even if an outside wide receiver doesn't have great speed, if he is running a go route down the sideline someone has to go with him. And now the field becomes 10 versus 10. Send the opposite wide receiver deep and now it's nine versus nine. All of a sudden, the middle of the field is a lot more open and less "compressed." You still have the problem of whether your other slow wide receivers running short-to-intermediate routes can actually get open, but that seems like a different problem than a compressed field. It's almost as if we've determined our wide receiver are too slow to get open deep so we keep everyone closer to the line of scrimmage which simultaneously limits the available space to throw into.

When people talk about offenses being compressed, they mean defenses being able to defend deep routes without safety help – and being able to bring extra pressure and extra defenders in the box without having to worry about getting beat deep consistently. When you don't have speed or players to make opponents worry about the deep ball, defenses are willing to take the chance with one-on-one coverage on the outside until you show you can beat it. That has the cumulative effect over the course of a game of allowing defenders to play more aggressively near the line – hence, compressing the field. Yes, you can send receivers deep even if they don't win consistently, but until they do, you're only taking one cornerback per receiver away from the line. That's enough to clear the field a little, but not enough.

Bryan K from Tampa, FL

How frustrating do you think it is for a star defensive player to play a good game and limit the opposing offense to a reasonable production, but then have their offense show complete ineptitude to score points?


Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I wore my Boselli jersey to the game last week and was stopped by seven people who all wanted to have a conversation about him. Every single one of them, me included, have lost faith in the HOF given Boselli isn't yet in. Is this the year we finally can start taking the HOF seriously again?

Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli and former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor are both semifinalists for the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, and I believe this will be the year Boselli gets elected. But while I understand the frustration Jaguars fans feel over Boselli not already being enshrined, I don't share your lack of faith in the Hall of Fame. I have no trouble taking the process seriously because I know how seriously Hall voters take the process – and I know the difficulty they face. Remember: Hall voters each year must whittle 15 deserving modern-era candidates to five – and every one of the 15 candidates has a Hall-of-Fame worthy resume and a fan base sure its candidate is deserving over most others. Boselli's credentials are strong; he was the best left tackle in the NFL during a golden era for the position (the late 1990s) and I've rarely talked to a player from that era who didn't believe he was a Hall-of-Fame talent. But he also played just under seven NFL seasons, and the lack of longevity takes him from a dead-solid lock to a worthy candidate. My sense from covering the process in years past is this will be Boselli's year. We'll see.

Lance from Tecumseh

We are 2-8 and obviously not making the playoffs. When does the coaching staff decide to give our rookies and younger players more looks to see what they have to offer? I am talking about players like offensive tackle Walker Little, safety Andre Cisco, linebacker Shaq Quarterman – to name a few. I would assume their game play and production could have a huge impact on identifying offseason needs?

A case can be made you actually named most of the players who fit into the category of young players the Jaguars need to evaluate going forward. I expect Cisco will get more repetitions in the next month – and possibly a few starts late in the season. I doubt you will see Little in the next few weeks unless a starter is injured because you don't usually see offensive tackles rotate. As for Quarterman … Myles Jack and Damien Wilson are playing well enough that I doubt you will see him much unless those two players are injured. I expect that will be the approach for most of the rest of the season – at least until the final game or two.

Red from O-Zone Comments Section

Based on recent on the field performance do you think the Jags finish the season 2-15 or 3-14?


David from Oviedo, FL

Zone – There's been some talk about going after former Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson in free agency next year. I, for one, remember him rarely getting separation … everything was a back-shoulder throw. Don't we already have that?

It's probably not fair to say former Jaguars and current Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson is only a back-shoulder receiver. He high points the ball well and is a very productive player who could help the offense – and quarterback Trevor Lawrence. As far as helping the Jaguars' issues with deep speed … no, that really isn't Robinson's strength.

Mike from Jacksonville

Enjoy your insights. The Jags are so thin, any injury is significant. Did anyone think that they would really improve as the season wore on and starters went down? They are going to get better when they get in more players.

Most teams don't improve when starters get injured, though there are certainly teams built better to withstand injuries than others. My experience is veteran teams with strong identities that know how they want to play – and who have experienced quarterbacks – often can overcome injuries. Then again, those teams usually are better than most teams at many things.

David from Ada, OK

This season is a little bit like the Bad News Bears. I mean Lawrence looks a bit like Tatum O'Neal, Urban Meyer is a bit like Buttermaker, and you're a bit like that kid that smoked and rode a motorcycle.

You know what? I am Kelly Leak. You're damned right, I am.