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O-Zone: Counting crows

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

John from Jacksonville

I wrote in before the Titans game in Nashville saying 1999 was still stuck in my craw. The Jaguars' victory in that game seemingly only purged part of it. It seems some are looking for playoff scenarios that don't involve beating the Titans in Week 18. I'm going to look past the Texans game because it makes little difference in the playoff scenario. They must beat the Titans. If you are a longtime Jaguars fan you have to be a little worried about this one. Even with a comfortable lead at halftime, the best roster in Jaguars history lost. Is it as simple as stop Titans running back Derrick Henry and don't make stupid mistakes? I need to cough up the rest of this a spit it out for good.

I would say you need to stop worrying so much about the past. I won't say that, though, because I imagine many Jaguars fans feel similarly to you. The Tennessee Titans historically have beaten the Jaguars often enough that it understandably has left significant scars. I wouldn't completely look past the Houston Texans unless the Miami Dolphins also win Sunday. The Dolphins winning on Sunday will mean the Jaguars can no longer qualify for the postseason as a wild card. Also: if the Jaguars beat the Texans, they can win the AFC South with a victory or tie against Tennessee in Week 18. The tie part doesn't seem like much now, but it could seem pretty important if the game is close late. Either way, Jaguars fans should be concerned about Tennessee – and it doesn't matter how long they have been fans. The Titans aren't playing well right now. I expect the Jaguars will be at least slightly favored in Week 18, and they probably should be favored that week. But the Titans are an experienced, well-coached team that knows how it plays. They're the two-time defending AFC South champions and the regular-season finale will be a winner-take-all game. There are no easy victories in this situation.

Morgan from Oklahoma

I think there are a few pieces we can fill on offense to make it even more potent, but the front office did a great job constructing it so far. The defense is different story. There are some building-block players, but with all the draft capital and free-agent money paid out, it should be a lot better. I am glad to see them playing better as of late, but it still needs a major upgrade going forward.

The Jaguars won four games over the last two seasons. They had monstrous task rebuilding many areas all over the roster in the offseason. They are 7-8 and dramatically improved from last season. Not every offseason move was perfect. Not every offseason move any team makes is perfect.

Jarret from Crosby, ND

I can't decide which nickname I like best for Trevor and need your help, Zone: the Comeback King/Kid, Longarm of the Law, The Prince that was Promised, Prince William (his real first name) or Lawrence of Arabia. Which you feeling?

T-Law no good?

Big on Blake from Philly

Zone, I figured it out. The Jets are sitting running back James Robinson so they don't have to give the Jags a fifth rounder. It doesn't makes sense because a strong running game and that defense would've hidden their quarterback issues. Guess the offensive line in Gotham isn't as good as the one in DUVAL. One for James and the Jags. Still don't think it's outrageous to hope for a #reunion.

It stretches reason to believe the Jets are sitting running back James Robinson to not lose a fifth-round draft selection – as the teams' trade earlier this season dictates. That's because it stretches reason to believe the Jets wouldn't play Robinson if they thought he would help them win. It also stretches reason to believe the Jaguars are going to re-acquire Robinson – barring unforeseen circumstances. And considering the Jaguars have won five of eight games since the trade – and considering that they have the No. 6 total offense and the No. 11 rushing offense – maybe it doesn't stretch reason to believe nothing was wrong with the trade.

Bill from Hammock, FL

Zone, there have rightfully been "one fers" for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, tight end Evan Engram, the defense, the coaches etc., etc. How about one for center Luke Fortner? I think we are forgetting a rookie center having an exceptional year. A really nice, unexpected surprise. who should only improve moving forward.

One fer Fortner.

Paul from Saint Johns, FL

How worried should we be about our O-Line? Our swing tackle, Walker Little, is now the starting left tackle. Our swing interior lineman, Tyler Shatley, has been the left guard for a while now. If someone else goes down, I honestly don't know who the next man up is and how reliable they may be.

Blake Hance is the backup left guard and Cole Van Lanen is the backup right guard. Coy Cronk is on the practice squad but was elevated to be the swing tackle against the New York Jets. Those are the next men up. Time will tell about their reliability.

JJHollister from Mean streets of Arlington next to Neros

I once heard Steve Young say that a quarterback will step up a level and get better with every 20 games played. Seems to apply to Trevor. Can't wait to see how good he is after 60 games.

Just wait until he has played 80.

John from Fleming Island, FL

Zone, remember the fan and media angst about Doug's OTA and training camp schedule with many questions about him not using all available CBA approved time? I've noticed throughout the season that many player interviews, albeit sometimes subtlety, reference "we worked on that during camp" when questions are asked about a certain play or strategy. What a great rollercoaster ride we've had but now we're seeing and learning how it all began. Regardless of how we end this ride, it's sure fun to have our emotions ignited.

I do remember fans complaining about Pederson not working veterans during a three-day mandatory minicamp last offseason, and I remember some fans also complaining about how he approached training camp. I also remember realizing Pederson was a damned good coach with a Super Bowl ring who understood what mattered in the NFL and that he probably understood how to manage practice time.

John from Under the Neptune Beach

Travesty. The Jags are playing their way out of draft picks - same ole Jags …


Rich from Dacula, GA

Based on the standings today, if the pairing for the playoffs were set, would we be playing the Ravens?

Yes. The Jaguars as AFC South leaders are currently the No. 4 seed. The Baltimore Ravens are currently the No. 5 seed as the AFC's non-division leader with the best record. The game theoretically would be played at TIAA Bank Field January 14 or 15. Remember, though: Two weeks of games remain. Much could – and almost certainly will – change before Round 1 of the postseason.

Eric from Lynchburg, VA

_I haven't heard it discussed anywhere but I think it bears mention- Assuming the next two weeks play out as we all hope, the Jaguars will have posted a 9-8 record and won the division while playing 10 games away from Jacksonville. The Jaguars are the only team in the NFL playing 10 games away from their home stadium this season. All the other "home" teams in International Series games had 9 scheduled home dates this season. Yet another small but impressive element of this season.  _


Chris from Mandarin

I think most would agree that expectations for this season have been exceeded. How did Doug Pederson accelerate the timeline and make the Jaguars competitive after being seemingly left for dead with a 2-6 record?

He realized that the Jaguars were improving, even – and perhaps especially – during a five-game October losing streak. Knowing this, he didn't panic. He didn't start yelling at assistant coaches or asking them about their resumes. He didn't start yelling at players. He didn't demean people. He didn't take losing as a personal attack on his ego or reputation. He simply had the coaches keep coaching and the players keep playing – and improving. He knew that as they developed cohesion and experience playing with each other – and as Lawrence continued improving – their chances of winning would increase. He didn't know they would get this hot or that Tennessee would lose its way back to the pack. But he knew the right way to have a team grow and improve in the NFL, and that produced results perhaps quicker than anyone – Pederson included – expected.

Gary from Suffolk, VA

O, I went back and read the mailbag from 31OCT22. I wonder how that crow tastes that those impatient fans are now devouring? You are the King of all Funk!!!

I am the king of all funk.