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O-Zone: Bah humbug

JACKSONVILLE – A quick word to start:

The Jaguars are struggling, and we'll get into that in this O-Zone and the rest of the week. Four consecutive losses are no way to celebrate the holiday season, but that's where we are. Bah humbug. But for this morning, let's put that aside for a moment …

Merry Christmas to all. And much appreciation for reading. Even on mornings such as this. Maybe particularly on mornings such as this.

Let's get to it …

Stan from Jacksonville

I fear the injuries that we suffered in the last few weeks were the worst possible players at the worst possible times. Now, it seems that they have lost their "mojo." They are good with a full complement of starters, but not QUITE there yet. Too early to plan for the offseason, but I think the writing is on the wall.

I got a few emails along these lines Sunday, understandably so considering the current circumstances around the Jaguars. They lost an ugly, blah, lifeless game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, 30-12. The game wasn't close to that close. It was the Jaguars' fourth consecutive loss – and their most dispassionate, out-of-it-the-whole game loss of the season. The Jaguars never felt in it. They never felt close to in it. They never felt inspired. They rushed poorly. They allowed the Buccaneers to convert too many important big opportunities early. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw two first-half interceptions and looked very much like a player who practiced sparingly this past week after being cleared from concussion protocol Saturday. Because of the uncertainty around Lawrence, this felt all week like a difficult task for the Jaguars. The absence of wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones certainly didn't help their chances. But while there were reasons for the Jaguars playing poorly Sunday, those reasons don't change the fact that they haven't won since November 26, when they beat the Houston Texans 24-21 when a Texans field goal bounced off the crossbar at the end of the fourth quarter. Are injuries why the Jaguars have "lost their mojo?" Maybe, but injuries happen to all teams in the NFL. And injuries don't explain all that has happened in the last four weeks. The only good news – and this news does matter – is that the Jaguars remain in first place in the AFC South. They can win the division by winning their final two games – home against the Carolina Panthers and on the road against the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars can win those games. But after four consecutive losses – and after Sunday's performance – that's not close to guaranteed. That writing you see on the wall doesn't have to be right. But the Jaguars need to prove it wrong – and fast.

Josh from New Milford, Ct

They are bad. The last month has been awful and somehow this still surprised me.

This is a fair point. The Jaguars had played poorly much of the last month, but some perspective on "poorly" was needed in those losses. They mostly were competitive in losses to the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. In those games, a few specific plays went poorly that led to the losses. That's still playing poorly and that's not good enough in the NFL. Sunday was playing poorly on a more disturbing level. Head Coach Doug Pederson afterward used words such as "pride" and spoke of a lack of a sense of urgency. Those thoughts speak volumes.

Rob from San Antonio, TX

To paraphrase the great Jim Mora … playoffs?!? I'll be happy if we can just win another game.


Fred from Naples

KOAF … I think that something is wrong with Trevor and I think he should be shut down and reevaluated. He looks lost and confused the last two weeks. What do you think?

I received a few emails along these lines Sunday night and I confess I don't quite know what they mean. Lawrence indeed is struggling and something indeed is wrong. He has played through knee and ankle issues, and he was in concussion protocol all week. He hasn't practiced a lot during that time. He was playing well before a high-ankle sprain in a loss to the Bengals and he looked like he was going to be the main reason they won that game before his injury. He has played a lot worse since. That doesn't explain everything about Lawrence's recent play, but I would think it must be a factor.

Tom from The Mean Streets of Nocatee

To celebrate Trevor's miraculous recovery, I have made a generous donation in your name to The Human Fund.

Thank you.

David from Eau Claire, WI

The team has a new identity of being consistently bad. Do you believe they can play good again this season at all?

It's difficult to say that after Sunday. While the Jaguars have lost four consecutive games, they had not during the previous three games played poorly from start to finish. They pretty much did that Sunday. The belief that they can play good again is based on them not having been the team we saw Sunday very often this season. That's the best answer I can give in the immediate aftermath. I'll probably have a better one in a day or two. Maybe.

Stupid from Duval

Will the team practice tackling in the offseason, it seems like a major problem?

NFL teams can't practice tackling in the offseason. That's non-padded work. The Jaguars will practice tackling in training camp and on contact days during the regular season, which is when all NFL teams can practice tackling.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Mr. Lawrence may need to be benched for his own good. Unfortunately he is becoming a liability. Something is wrong because he is regressing.

Lawrence has struggled lately. Big-time. But let's keep perspective on subjects such as "regression" and "liability." The Jaguars are struggling to run, Lawrence is playing with limited practice and through injuries. He also was playing Sunday without Kirk and Jones. This does not mean Lawrence has played well in recent games. It means there are factors contributing to him not playing well.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

How many weeks in a row would you say we have just gotten whipped on both lines?


Micah from Chicago, IL

Offensive coordinators have been launched out of the league for less disfunction than what we're seeing on offense right now. Think Doug will hold his buddy Press accountable?

I expect Jaguars offensive Press Taylor to continue to call plays for the Jaguars. Considering the team's inability to run and considering the injuries at quarterback and wide receiver in recent weeks, I don't know that play-calling is foremost among the issues ailing the offense.

Ted from Jacksonville home of the worst NFL team

No question, you just suck like the Jags!!!!!!!!

There it is.

Ponzi from Jax

What is one thing this team does well? I just feel like there's nothing we can hang our hats on. What's our identity?

The Jaguars for much of the season stopped the run well and forced takeaways. They supplemented that by playing well in big situations offense. That from this view felt like the team's identity through the first three months or so of the season. That identity carried the Jaguars to an 8-3 record. That does not currently feel like the Jaguars' identity.

Jay from So-Cal

This is painful. So painful. The Jags are LOOKING defeated lately. I see a team so out of whack with a quarterback that is exasperating the problem. Yikes.

Yikes is right.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

8-3 seems like a different season. It sure was fun for a while. It's back to miserable now. Oh well. Merry K.

Eight and three indeed feels like a long time ago. Victories in the next two weeks can make that feeling return. Victories in the next two weeks can make the season fun. It's miserable right now. Too true.

Bobby From Section 410 and Summerville, SC

Hi John, The Jags are in a serious funk right now. What will it take for them to snap out of it?


Mike from Duval

Why hasn't the offense taken off all year? Everything looks so difficult, we can't even hand the ball off. It just looks so bad.

The offense struggled much of the season to meet expectations, but for the first three months of the season the issues were largely about red zone and not converting enough third downs. Why does everything look so much more difficult now than a few weeks ago? The Jaguars can't run effectively and now they're down two front-line receivers in Kirk and Jones. That combination has made everything look, as you say, difficult.

Don from Marshall NC

Merry Christmas to the best team in the NFL! Thanks for another great Ozone year and keep on rocking in the free world. Could be the Champs in the new year. Go Jaguars!

Even on Krimma – perhaps particularly on Krimma – Don remains "all in."