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O-Zone: Better and better

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Nick from Annapolis, MD

I'm not sure most fans quite understand what Lawrence is showing with his play in the last 10 games or so. The question isn't if he will be elite anymore. It's whether he will rank among the all-time greats. He's showing he has a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame if he can stay healthy. His fourth touchdown to wide receiver Christian Kirk to the front corner of the end zone from the opposite hash was more than great. His early throw in between two defenders to tight end Evan Engram was a throw only a couple quarterbacks in the league even consider throwing, much less making look pretty easy. It's Lawrence's franchise now, and were just along for the ride. Before long it could be Lawrence's league.

Lawrence at his peak currently is as good as any quarterback in the NFL. This was true before a Wild Card victory over the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend, and it will be true whatever happens when the Jaguars play the Kansas City Chiefs in a 2022 AFC Divisional Playoff at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. Because of youth and inexperience, Lawrence – in his second NFL season – doesn't reach his peak as consistently as elite quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. But all the signs of greatness are now there. He is seeing more – and more clearly and consistently – at the line of scrimmage. He is getting the Jaguars in and out of the right plays more. He is making more and more special throws consistently. He's winning by making clutch plays, and he's doing it late in the season and in the postseason. It's absolutely Lawrence's team now. I don't know if it will ever be "his league" because there are multiple young quarterbacks around the NFL – and in the AFC – who figure to be elite for a long time. But Lawrence darned sure looks as if he's going to be in the conversation with those players. It's hard to imagine that not happening.

David from Ada, OK

At one time I thought of Trevor Lawrence as a bust. I now see him as potentially legendary. Definitely franchise material. The whole Waffle House postgame celebration sealed the deal. Man knows a good waffle and a good cup of joe.

He never was a bust, or even close. He always was franchise material. And yes … he definitely has the combination of on-field talent and off-field charisma that makes for legends. The Trevor Lawrence Era is only beginning for this team and in this town. It should be fun.

David from Maplewood, NJ

John. Every time I think the kid has peaked, he reaches higher still. Saturday was the most impressive he has been in the NFL, I think we've all said that about 10 times this year. As the kids say Trevor is "HIM." I wrote in earlier this year speculating if he was already the best quarterback in franchise history. He's got my vote already.

When Lawrence is at his best, he's already the best quarterback to play for the Jaguars. If he plays a season or two at the level he has played the last two months, he will be the best with little discussion necessary. By a fair margin. There's no reason to think that won't happen. And there's no reason to use the word "peak" when discussing Lawrence. Not yet. He's in his second season. He's four, five or six seasons from peaking. At least.

Michael from Columbus, Ohio via Duval

It "seems" as though when the time comes for the Jaguars to extend quarterbacks long-term they trade or release them while signing another one for less or drafting a new one. Taking a peek ahead to next season and Lawrence's third season, you can already see the traits of franchise and elite in his play and character. Lawrence is definitely headed toward a $200 million extension, and if he doesn't get paid down in DUUVAL he definitely will someone else. You agree?

It really doesn't seem as though the Jaguars historically have traded or released quarterbacks they should have extended. Not at all. The Jaguars depending on how you judge such things have had seven "starting" quarterbacks in their history: Mark Brunell (1995-2002), Byron Leftwich (2003-2005ish), David Garrard (2006ish-2010), Blaine Gabbert (2011-2012), Blake Bortles (2013-2018), Gardner Minshew II (2019-2020) and Lawrence (2021-present). They extended Brunell, Garrard and Bortles. They replaced Leftwich with Garrard, and traded Gabbert and Minshew – but neither Leftwich, Gabbert nor Minshew were players you would consider extending. But whatever … the Jaguars' previous history doesn't apply here. The people running the team are different. The quarterback is different. Lawrence will be eligible for a contract extension following the 2023 season. I can't imagine him not receiving it and I can't imagine it not being mind-blowing.

Nick from London, England

We know your thoughts on the Vegas line once a game kicks off but seeing the Jags around eight-point underdogs got me thinking. It's effectively one touchdown. Therefore if you can steal one possession and score from it you, in theory, make it a 50-50 game. With that in mind do you anticipate Doug dialing up something special at some point? A trick play, a surprise onside kick, a fake FG or punt? Would it be off to think this type of thing is being discussed in house for this game specifically?

I expect Pederson has something like this dialed up. I expected Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid also has something like this "dialed up." It's in the DNA of both head coaches. They are both creative and both have the ability to strain a defense with that creativity. Whether we see such a thing from either team likely will depend on game circumstances.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

You've been "media" for a while so I gotta ask an honest question. Why is the media so incredibly obsessed with the Cowboys? I've grown to hate the Cowboys and it has nothing to do with the actual team. The media acts like the Cowboys are the only team in the league. It's a joke and lazy as hell.

The media talks about and covers the Dallas Cowboys a lot because they're popular. If they weren't, the media would talk about and cover something else.

Mike from Omaha, NE

How many points do you think it will take to beat the Chiefs? Thank you and Go Jags!


Randy from Shippensburg, PA

John, do you ever think we have just a little case of fools hold here? The Titans suffered a complete meltdown at the end of the season with the division seemingly in hand, now the Chargers do the same thing in a game they couldn't score even one touchdown in the second half to seal the deal. Is it fool's gold or destiny??

The Jaguars are one of eight NFL teams playing this weekend. They won nine games during the regular season, including their last five. They have won a playoff game. They beat three playoff teams this regular season. I don't know that they're the best team in the NFL, but you don't fool your way to the second round of the postseason.

CaptBob from Jax

Could you explain if signing bonuses and/or contract incentives impact the salary cap?

Everything NFL players are paid by a team impacts the salary cap. Incentives typically impact the year they are earned or the ensuing year and bonuses impact each year evenly over the life of the contract.

Richard from Jacksonville

Do you think if Lawrence didn't have a toe injury he would (obviously) get full reps at practice and perhaps perform better early? Or do you believe the injury/lack of reps to be a non-factor in say first quarter performance since it happened?


Andy from Lindale, TX

The winner of the Chiefs-vs.-Jags game, in my opinion, will be the AFC Champion. I don't think the Bengals or Bills have what it takes this year. Thoughts?

I think the Bills and Bengals are both very capable of winning the Super Bowl this season.

_Mark from Southgate _

John, my question is about the two-week schedule of the teams such as the Chiefs who received a bye. Is there first week/off week similar to the week teams have off during the regular season? Or are they allowed more practice days? No practice days etc.

Teams with a first-round postseason bye can practice that week as they would a normal regular-season or postseason game week.

Jody from St. Augustine, FL

O-Zone. To what would you attribute the improved play of the Defense? They just seem to be able to play lights out when they need to. Changes in the secondary? Linebackers Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma playing better? Pass rush getting better? Teach me great O?

Better pressure up front and better grasp of assignments as the season has continued.