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O-Zone: Desperado

JACKSONVILLE - Let's get to it...

Alejandro from Mexico City, Mexico

The crowded 2023 Jaguars class is limited to Anton and some situational players. In your mind, what are realistic expectations for this class? To be only backups or someone could push a starter for next season? Who is your best candidate?

The "crowded" Jaguars 2023 NFL Draft class was never expected to produce a slew of rookie starters, so nothing particularly unusual has happened yet on this front. Right tackle Anton Harrison, the No. 27 overall selection, is starting and looks like a long-term answer at the position. Second-round tight end Brenton Strange is an above-average blocker and has the look of a player who will be good in his role – and a starter. Third-round running back Tank Bigsby has had some ball security issues so far, but I expect he will contribute as the season continues – and I expect he will be able to start/play a key role if needed. Others from the class who could eventually start: Seventh-round offensive lineman Cooper Hodges, fifth-round safety Antonio Johnson and sixth-round cornerback Christian Braswell. The Jaguars like all of the aforementioned players. We'll see how they develop next season.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Admittedly by nature I'm a realist/pessimist person, but I feel optimistic about this game. I've read or listened to a lot of "experts" this week and they all seem to think the Texans are going to easily take care of business against us. I don't see it that way at all. Sure, the Jags lost the last time we played them, buuuuut ... we made mistake after mistake. I think we beat the Texans by at least 10 points and take a stranglehold on the South. Time to humble that team and their fans.

The Jaguars and Texans play Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, with the AFC South lead at stake. The Jaguars indeed made many mistakes in their first 2023 meeting, playing mind-blowingly bad in a 37-17 loss in Week 3. They played unusually poorly on offense, defense and special teams. They allowed two touchdowns because of communication errors on defense. They squandered opportunities on offense. They had a field goal blocked. They missed a field goal. They allowed a kickoff return by a fullback. This is not to say the Texans are bad. They are good and appear likely to be good for the foreseeable future. But if the Jaguars play well there's no reason they can't win Sunday.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Even on a long holiday weekend, you still suck.


Gibran from Aledo, TX

What is your gut feel for the second half of the regular season? Do the Jags start to mesh better and have a higher quality of complementary football or do you see a likelihood of more up and downs?

I expect the Jaguars to play well over the last half of the season, win at least half of their games and therefore finish with at least 11 victories. I expected this team to be an 11-or-12(ish) victory team. That never changed and it remains that way now. I expect the offense to be more consistent moving forward and for the defense to be as reliable as it has been so far this season. I expect there will be some ups and downs because it's the NFL and most teams have ups and downs.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

I don't understand why we're not talking about ETN entering the game?

Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. indeed hasn't been a major pre-game topic this week – though I agree that he could be key Sunday. The Jaguars are at their best this season when Etienne is involved and scoring in the red one. He has scored in five games this season and the Jaguars are 5-0 in those games. Most teams are strongest when they can run for touchdowns because it means they're strong at the line of scrimmage offensively. The Jaguars haven't always been that this season, but that's when they feel strongest.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

Not really a question, but an observation. I watched the Thanksgiving Day games which celebrated John Madden this year in a huge way. You spoke about old guy traditions, his presence on Thanksgiving and the multiple leg roasted turkey is one that will endure for a long time. I miss Madden, I miss his voice, his insight, his quirky way of describing the game. I suppose time waits for no one, O-man. Anything you miss about the yesterdays? Happy Thanksgiving, KOAF.

Aside from "everything?"

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John. In case the Jags lose to the Texans and will not be AFC South Champs, do you think they have a good chance to still make the playoffs with a wild card spot?

The Jaguars and Texans will be tied at 7-4 if the Texans win Sunday. The Texans would be in first place in that scenario because they would have swept the Jaguars. That does not mean the Jaguars won't win the AFC South. I do believe the Jaguars will be in the playoffs either as the division champions or a wild-card entrant.

John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF. I figured out the secret to winning Sunday's game. Win the coin toss and defer and stop the Texans opening drive to a field goal. We score touchdowns on our opening drive, the last drive of the first half, the first drive of the second half and the last drive of the game. That's 28 points and enough to win. Oh, and no turnovers. Hire this man?


Bob from Sumter, SC

I'm confident that if the Jags stay out of their own way while not shooting themselves in the foot or have inexcusable penalties and/or turnovers while staying focused in the present playing where their feet are and just be them, they will win.


Chris from Northside

Hey, John. The Tom Coughlin news got me thinking. Who's next to be inducted into the Jaguars ROH? Thanks.

Former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin will be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars next season. I believe former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and wide receiver Keenan McCardell should be next after Coughlin. The Pride of the Jaguars feels incomplete without that trio.

P Funk from Murray Hill

Big game this Sunday. But can you please explain all the inside jokes in the O-Zone from years past?


The Ray from Newport News, VA

It appears the NFC South is the worst division in football this year. What are your thoughts? I know we should not look at division strength or weakness, however it does matter in some cases (Strength of Schedule tie breakers). As much as I don't want to see the Indianapolis Colts or Texans in the playoffs, the AFC South is no longer at the bottom of the cellar.

The .500 New Orleans Saints lead the NFC South with all other teams under .500. All other divisions have at least two teams .500 or better, to the NFC South currently appears to be the weakest division through 11 weeks of the 2023 season. While many observers projected the AFC South as this year's weakest, history tells us such projections mean little. The AFC West last season, remember, was projected to be the Best Division of All-Time because the division supposedly had four elite quarterbacks. This didn't become remotely true as the Kansas City Chiefs dominated and the Denver Broncos/Las Vegas Raiders both struggled. And if many thought the South was weak last season, the South Champion Jaguars beat one of the supposed strong teams from the West – the Los Angeles Chargers – in the regular season and the postseason. The lesson is one that has been taught for years in the NFL: Projections mean nothing. Play the games.

Big on Blake from Philly

Zone, I'm a huge fan of Don and his consistent even persistent all-inness. I suppose I'm feeling a bit of sorrow because I haven't seen Jerrell in a long time. Hope Jerrell is out there still reading and enjoying this streak. It's new, it's weird, it's uncomfortable watching the team perform this way. I get it.

Even when it comes to not knowing Jerrell's whereabouts, Don presumably remains "all in."

Marji from Jacksonville but in DeLand

Zone-0-Matic. You are a seriously funny guy. What disturbs me the most about the Eagles is that whenever I hear them mentioned, my mind automatically reverts to one of the greatest groups of musicians in my lifetime, The Eagles. Hopefully, our Jaguars will line up well against the Texans Sunday, and take it to the limit one more time.

I expect the Jaguars to win Sunday, though not if they take it easy on the Texans. If they do win, they will be in first place by two games in the AFC South. I expect that would give the Jaguars a peaceful, easy feeling. A victory would go along way toward that division title, which would be good, you know, in the long run.