JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Drew from Atlanta, GA
I get there is a big focus on TL this year, but I'd like to call out that the Jags are nowhere near "stacked" at the skill positions. They're definitely better than last year, but there is no one you could call elite level. Running back James Robinson is the only one you could argue for even a Top 15 at his position. I am not saying they are bad, but Trevor is a learning player and does not have that extremely skilled security-blanket player yet. Can we all have a little patience with Trevor and the process? We are going the right direction for sure. Don't get too greedy too fast guys...
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence indeed is the focus when it comes to the 2022 Jaguars, and with reason: The more he develops toward being a "franchise" quarterback this season, the more the Jaguars will know about building the roster – and the franchise – moving forward. You're right about the skill players around Lawrence, too. It's a dramatically improved group, but aside from Robinson – and perhaps wide receiver Christian Kirk – it's hard to argue that there are projected Pro Bowl-level players around Lawrence. Regarding your request for patience, it's reasonable. Lawrence is four games into his first season in a new system. This Jaguars regime is one season into drafting signing free agents around Lawrence. Considering those factors, there has been remarkable progress around Lawrence. Logic would tell you to have patience. Fans don't use logic often. Or have patience. Fans fan. It's what they do.
Sean from Oakleaf, FL
Like many First Coast football fans I also follow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Recently the team website published an ongoing video series with the first episode titled "Thrive in Distraction." I thought about the Jaguars and how that title would not apply to this team this year and felt happiness.
I don't follow the Buccaneers closely enough to know the thinking behind the title. I follow the Jaguars closely enough to know they didn't thrive in distraction in 2021 because the distractions were at a level that they could be called ludicrous. While every team has distractions, any around the Jaguars in 2022 are minimal. This is a good environment. It's "normal, professional football." It's a relief, honestly. Players feel it and it's becoming increasingly evident to those who follow and love the franchise, too.
Big on Blake from Philly
Now that Blake has officially retired, who's going to throw the 50-50 ball to Ben Koyack in the end zone in next year's season opener?
This references a long-ago O-Zone question in which I was asked to predict the Jaguars' first play of the next season. Because it was an impossible question to answer, I offered up, "50-50 ball" to tight end Ben Koyack. I was wrong about the first play of the next season, but eventually was sorta/kinda right about a pretty important playoff touchdown. I guess.
Sean from Saint Johns City
Do you expect David Garrard to announce his retirement soon?
If I'm interpreting this email correctly, it's a bit of a jab at former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles making news this week when he told the Pardon My Take" podcast he had retired from the NFL. A few readers essentially asked why Bortles felt the need to "announce" his retirement considering he his last NFL passes came in 2019 when he threw two as a backup for the Los Angeles Rams. But Bortles didn't "announce" his retirement. He decided to retire a few months ago and told the podcast in as low-key a manner as possible, saying: "I quietly, I didn't tell anybody, I retired. I guess you guys are kind of the first to hear it publicly." He didn't hold a press conference. He didn't issue a statement or a press release. He just said it – almost as an afterthought – on a podcast. He did nothing wrong.
Greg from St Johns, FL
Isn't there an * on the O-Zone page regarding the minimum level of cultural literacy required to fully appreciate the content?
Someone from somewhere
John, when answering a question about what he learned in the loss to the Eagles, Jaguar Head Coach Doug Pederson mentioned "having a lot of ball ahead of us but at some point, you run out of time. The season continues along …" The comment about running out of time hit me. Every coach before him talked about fixing things and teachable moments, but none to my knowledge talked about time running out. It's always "We have some things to fix, we're working hard, blah, blah, blah." Doug isn't satisfied with teaching and fixing, he seems to demand results and accountability and buddy lemme tell ya how happy that makes me.
That comment absolutely stood out this week. It was a perfect balance of Pederson realizing that this is a young team learning its way and him making clear that he believes – despite that youth – that the team can succeed this season. I agree that it said a lot about Pederson's approach and why he's a damned good professional football coach. That sort of vision, clarity and the ability to say it correctly … well, it's good stuff. And refreshing to see and hear.
Lawrence from Blair, NE
Zone, I'm curious your opinion on how similar Pederson and Tony Dungy were. It seems like both are really good at staying calm and that's how they build up their team. Both class acts. I know Doug's book of work isn't quite as established as Tony, but from afar they seem very similar. What do you think?
I see a deep, significant similarity between Pederson and Hall of Fame Head Coach Tony Dungy, with whom I worked with the Indianapolis Colts. That similarity absolutely lies in the ability to lead calmly and keep the team on an even keel, not getting too high after a victory or low after a loss. Most NFL head coaches talk about the importance of such an approach. Not all have the ability to truly take the approach on a day-to-day basis. My guess is it was this approach that enabled Pederson to coach the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory after the team lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz in 2017. I would think it also enabled him to coach the Eagles to the playoffs with late-season runs the next two seasons. I know it was this approach that enabled Dungy to Colts to a Super Bowl victory following the 2006 season despite the team losing four of its final seven regular-season games.
Jim from Jagsonville
Jawaan Taylor, Jaguars OT75, has shown to be a solid player, and after listening to the O-Zone he's also a cool dude. How does the KOAF prognosticate I wonder? Stay, or free agency ... stay tuned?!
This is a tricky one to prognosticate. Taylor, in his fourth season, indeed is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2022 season. He has played very well in the first four games of this season, particularly in Weeks 1-3. If he plays that well moving forward, it would be hard to see the Jaguars not wanting to re-sign him – and it would be a very expensive contract. I expect this to be a season-long storyline, and I don't know that either side as a real feel for the outcome yet.
Joe from Jacksonville
Which sports aside from track and field do you think require/transfer the skills to be a better football player? Especially at the high school level. Thanks!
Basketball, particularly in the area of footwork.
Garrett from Edgewater
Zone, how worried about defensive end Foley Fatukasi should we be? It feels a bit similar to that time defensive tackle Marcell Dareus got hurt and the run defense fell apart. It felt like it took years to recover. We don't have a ton of heavy run stuffers on the defensive line. What's Suh up to right now?
Fatukasi, after dealing with a calf injury early in the season, is out for Sunday against the Houston Texans with a quadriceps injury. He doesn't have an extensive injury history and I've heard nothing to indicate there is worry about this being a long-term thing. He was working on the side in practice this week. This doesn't feel like a one-man run defense teetering on the edge of disaster as much as it feels like a unit that did a bad job filling gaps in one game against the Eagles last week.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, can you help me with my mathematics? If the Jaguars can be the Texans, we'll be 3-2. If we continue that percentage of winning, can you help me with my mathematics and let me know if we making the playoffs?
That's a winning percentage of 60 percent. The Jaguars would finish 10-7 at that pace, a record that likely would mean them qualifying for the postseason.