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O-Zone: Better than ever

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Chris from Section 437

What do you think the Jags need to do to beat the Chiefs? I think they should go up-tempo the whole game. Feels like they play the best that way.

I expect the Jaguars might use some up-tempo offense when they play the Kansas City Chiefs in a 2022 AFC Divisional Playoff at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. There are absolutely arguments for it. The Jaguars did clearly play better when they went up-tempo in the second half of a 31-30 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in a Wild Card Playoff game at TIAA Bank Field this past Saturday. And there are times when Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is better playing up-tempo. But it's extremely difficult to use it the whole game. And risky. One reason is it can wear down an offense while it's wearing down a defense. Another is that while it's really cool when it's working, it can have a brutal effect on your defense when it's not. It's cool to send the defense back on the field with a 7-0 lead after an offense has gone up-tempo for a 75-yard touchdown drive in eight or nine minutes real time. It's less cool to send the defense back on the field when you've gone three-and-out in a minute and a half real time. This is even less cool when the Arrowhead Stadium crowd is going nuts and getting nutsier when the offense is facing long yardage. It's not that the Jaguars shouldn't ever go up-tempo. It's just best sometimes to use it judiciously.

Lenny from London, UK

I don't know when the Jaguars' offseason will start, hopefully not for another month, but I hope the first thing the front office does in the offseason is get Evan Engram locked up. That man is a game-changer and he looks too good in teal to leave.

I expect re-signing tight end Evan Engram will be a top priority for the Jaguars this offseason. He wants to be here and the team wants him here. When that's the case, these things tend to get done.

Mark from Archer, FL

John, has any team ever gone from worst in the NFL to Super Bowl champion the next season? If not, then look out the Jags are gonna make history!

No team has done this. And Mark remains "all in."

Brian from Round Rock, Texas

Where does this defense rank in all-time Jags defenses? I remember you always saying that making plays in big moments is what modern defense is about. Are they one of the best in team history? It feels like they have contributed as much or even more than the offense during this stretch of victories.

I don't know if I can rank this Jaguars defense among the best in franchise history. The 2017 and 1999 defenses, both of which I covered, were consistently dominant through the course of those seasons and the 2016 and 2018 defenses were also very good. There also were multiple defenses in the 2000s – which I did not cover – in the John Henderson-Marcus Stroud-Rashean Mathis-Mike Peterson-Daryl Smith era – that were very good. But this defense absolutely deserves big-time credit for the reason you cite. The players on this defense never quit and they make huge, game-winning plays at key times. It's a unit that has turned in key takeaways and key sacks at huge moments – and without those moments, they wouldn't be playing Saturday.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

To beat the Chiefs the Jaguars must do something that haven't done for most of the season. They must start fast. Cannot afford to stink it up in the first half against that team. No team is unbeatable this year.

Starting fast Saturday is paramount. Or at least not starting slow. Being up 10-0 after a quarter won't guarantee the Jaguars anything Saturday. Being down 10-0 … well, let's not think about that.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Here is my argument for why the Chargers game rather than the Broncos game in '96. In 1996, the Jaguars were a hot, nude, sexy thing. Now, in 2023, we've endured a decade of pain. In order for fans to still show up and still rally and still have faith knowing what future is to come but having nothing to base it on but hope ... now that makes it the greatest game. The stakes I believe are higher or the organization as a whole. Them wine and cheese fans did not taste this level of euphoria.

Your arguments are valid. They also perhaps have a bit of recency bias. The victory over the Denver Broncos in the 1996 postseason came over a No. 1 seed on the road against a team that won the next two Super Bowls. It also came in a Divisional Playoff Round. That still trumps all else from this view. And the '96 Jaguars were not nude. At least not on the field. I would remember that.

Jimsure from DBS

I understood trying constantly upgrading the roster, but unless we plan on switching positions, why would we sign another quarterback no matter his ability, to the team? Replacing Trevor isn't going to happen so why would he sign with us and why do we want him?

The Jaguars signed quarterback Nathan Rourke to a Reserve/Futures contract this week. You're always trying to develop every position on the team, particularly quarterback. You ideally want an elite starter at the position, a quality backup and at least one developmental player. Why would Rourke sign with the Jaguars? It's a chance to potentially develop on an NFL roster.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Think we improve on the whole scoring on their side of the field thing this go round?

The Jaguars scored on just three of seven possessions past the 50 in a 27-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 10. I expect the Jaguars will fare better in that situation Saturday. If they don't, the outcome will be the same.

Alex from Orlando, FL

Zone, as great as Saturday night was, I have a devastating story to share. After the game me and my uncle went to the EXACT same Waffle House that Trevor did. Our waiter even told us that they were expecting some players to arrive at 2 a.m. My uncle and I quickly dismissed the waiter since it seemed like a long shot that it could actually be true. We left 20 minutes before the players arrived! Zone, this is going to take me years to get over.

My beloved Uncle Otto once took a puff from a cheap cigar, rubbed his oily beard and said to me, "Jeff, always trust a Waffle House waiter." This is why I loved Uncle Otto.

Roz from Fleming Island, FL

Hi John, is there any possibility of us hosting the AFC Championship game?

No. The Jaguars are the No. 4 seed with the other three teams remaining in the AFC postseason – the Chiefs (No. 1), Buffalo Bills (No. 2) and Cincinnati Bengals (No. 3) – all seeded higher. The only way the Jaguars could have hosted the title game was if the Miami Dolphins (No. 7) made the game.

Jerad from Needles, CA

KC media is completely overlooking the Jags. All I hear and see is talk about who is going to win between the Bills and Bengals. _


Kyle from Noblesville IN via the mean streets of Arlington

This team has clearly shown it has learned how to win … but now it almost seems like they have forgotten how to lose. Am I wrong?

It's sort of two sides of the same coin, but the point you're making is a good one – and it's an important one entering Saturday. Most observers won't give the Jaguars much of a chance. The Chiefs will be heavily favored, and they have earned that status. They have the AFC's best record at 14-3 and they have been the AFC's No. 1 seed three of the last five seasons. They have played host to the last four AFC Championship Games and enter the game on a five-game winning streak. But the Jaguars have won six consecutive games and seven of their last eight. There's something about a team when it wins a lot of games without losing that makes it very tough to beat in the postseason. The Jaguars believe they will win. And in a league of momentum swings, ebbs and flows and big plays, that sort of belief can make a team difficult to beat. Particularly when that team has a quarterback capable of reaching the level Lawrence reached in the second half against the Chargers.

Jerell from Columbia SC

What it do, Zone! Hey is there any reason for the league to finish the playoffs or should they save the rest of the teams the embarrassment of being trashed by the MIGHTY JAGS!?

Well, well, well … look who's back.