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O-Zone: Coolest guy ever

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Three games behind the Tennessee Titans with six games to go – including two against those same Titans. So, if we go 2-2 in the remaining non-Titans games, and the Titans go 2-2 in their remaining non-Jaguars games, then sweeping the Titans would be fantastic – but not enough to win the division. In a perfect, teal-colored world, the Jaguars win one extra game and the Titans lose one extra game. Then a tiebreaker would determine the division champ, right? I can't figure out how a tiebreaker might work, but then again, my head hurts from all the math. What makes me feel better, however, is that in December we can still talk about even a remote possibility of a playoff appearance.

I'm not going to spend every O-Zone deciphering 2022 playoff scenarios – at least not until those scenarios get a biiiiiiit more realistic. I can tell you this: The Jaguars (4-7) enter Sunday's games three games behind the Titans (7-4) in the AFC South with six remaining – and a half game behind the Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1). I suppose the simplest way to look at the Jaguars' playoff scenarios is this: If the Titans lose once to an opponent other than the Jaguars, the Jaguars would win the AFC South if they win their six remaining games. This is because the Jaguars would at least tie with the Titans in that scenario, and the Jaguars would finish ahead of the Titans in that scenario by sweeping Tennessee. They also would finish ahead of the Colts in that scenario because the Jaguars would finish 10-7 and the best record the Colts can finish with is 9-7-1. All this is pretty far out. We're talking about a seven-game winning streak, which would match the second-longest winning in franchise history. I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm saying the Jaguars probably should win Sunday in Detroit before we make playoff scenarios a daily topic.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, isn't it clear by now that the Jaguars goals for this season have already been met? Clear improvement and a team that is competitive every week. Best of all, the team has its quarterback for now and in the future. Stay tuned!

Wow. Two Bruces, no waiting. And the Jaguars indeed from a big-picture, long-term-state-of-the-franchise view have accomplished what they had to accomplish this season. They have clearly improved, are clearly competitive every week and have established the foundation for the future. Most importantly, quarterback Trevor Lawrence appears to be establishing himself as a franchise quarterback around which the team can build. Those were the "have-tos" for the 2022 Jaguars. At the same time the season is not yet over. They must continue to show those things, and Lawrence must continue the progress he has shown in recent weeks. And now that the foundation has been established, why not use the final seven games to maybe push for the postseason – or at least get in the playoff conversation in December? That would be accomplishing their goals plus one. Or something like that, anyway.

Mark from Bonita Springs, FL

Hey John, from the fans' eye it seems like safety Rayshawn Jenkins is around the ball constantly. Is this a product of him being healthy or defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's defense?

A little of both.

Hobo from Random Locations

Do you think it is possible for Etienne to reach 1,000 yards this season?

Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. currently has 728 yards rushing with six games remaining in the 2022 season. That means he must average 46 yards a game to reach 1,000 yards. He was averaging more than 100 yards per game rushing as a starter before sustaining a foot injury this past Sunday. Providing he is healthy, he absolutely can and almost certainly will rush for more than 1,000 yards this season.

Stuart from Cottonwood, ZZ

Prediction: Jaguars 35, Lions 33 – and from last Sunday Deeweeeeey!

Stuart is "all in."

Sean from Jacksonville

Since you surely love unsolicited advice, I think it's wise to temper expectations – even after a giant win. It's easier to stay in the middle than experience the high of highs and low of lows. Solid advice from my psychiatrist, yes?

Of course it's easier to stay in the middle. And safer. It eases the pain of disappointment. That's logical. But fans don't follow teams with logic. Or to be safe. And why should they? There are plenty of places in life for safety. Why shouldn't they risk a little heartache when rooting for a team?

Tim

What is it about this defense that gives up the big plays with the game on the line? We've lost at least four games giving up the lead with big plays on the opponents' game-winning drives. Almost happened this past week had it not been for TLaw's heroics. What gives?

The Jaguars have a good pass rush at times, though not a great or dominant one. They struggle in coverage too much. That combination often allows big plays, often with the game on the line.

Brian from Round Rock, Texas

Why do they give Mark Long a press pass? Does he actually write articles? if so, does anyone actually read them? It seems like he is just doing some kind of strange and awkward performance art.

Mark Long covers the Jaguars and University of Florida sports for the Associated Press. What he's doing is journalism and he has been doing it for a long time.

Eric from Jacksonville Beach

Hi, John. I know people tend to get up in arms when a player is traded. I get it, because we've built emotional equity with them, but I wanted to put some perspective around it. If you look at the players we traded in the last few years, there are very few of those deals I would go back and change. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is a fine player but wanted elite money. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was a pain in the back. Cornerback A.J. Bouye, linebacker Joe Schobert, cornerback Sydney Jones and defensive end [Dante] Fowler Jr. fizzled after they left. Defensive lineman Calais Campbell hurt but he was due big money at the time so hard to even argue there. Now, running back James Robinson was a healthy scratch for the New York Jets this past Sunday. Hate to see the players go but finding it hard to argue we're not on the better side of most of these deals.

OK.

Jarret from Crosby, ND

Zone, my dear chap, I want to try to talk you into changing your opinion on the Jags' most pressing need being cornerback. All year we've heard how bad this team is at pass rushing. One of our good young players at the position might not be with us much longer (Josh Allen), and other positions are getting old. The defensive line needs constant attention every year with premium draft capital to succeed in this league, and we can't afford to use our first rounder on cornerback (historically hasn't worked out for the franchise). A team can pan play chess with guys in the secondary and pass coverage. It can't on the defensive line and pass rush.

My dear chap, I'm a pass-rush guy. I firmly believe that a great pass rush helps an OK secondary far more than a great secondary helps an OK pass rush. But Allen has a season left on his contract and you don't ignore a position in one draft because a position "historically hasn't worked out for the franchise." Pass rush always is a premium, but if you're asking the biggest hole – and pressing need – on the roster it's cornerback.

Jason from North Pole, AK

Remember when the NFL had to use replacement officials and they truly were terrible and we all realized how good the regular officials are at a very difficult job? Then we all swore never to criticize them again and desperately welcomed them back with open arms and demanded the NFL pay them whatever was necessary to restore order? Anyone?

Raises hand.

Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL

I appreciate how you used the word trousers rather than pants when addressing a recent question regarding the Jaguars' uniforms. I have learned from your readers that NFL football is not only a rough and manly sport but a fashion contest as well. Depeche Mode used the word trousers in one of their songs to rhyme with the word houses. Do you ever fancy yourself British?

I liked Depeche Mode's early stuff – Speak and Spell, etc. I particularly liked Vince Clarke, who left to form Yaz then Erasure. Though I loved a lot of British bands from the Housemartins to the Smiths to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, I don't fancy myself British. I fancy myself the King of All Funk. Obviously.

Neil from Cheltenham

John, Santa is bringing an unlikely playoff berth. I asked nicely and been a good boy so it's happening.

Santa's cool. People like him.

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