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O-Zone: Double vision

HOUSTON, Texas – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Zone, I'm nervous about this one. Talk me down. Duval.

You should be nervous. That's normal. The Jaguars play the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday with first place in the AFC South at stake. The Texans are very capable of winning and are a serious threat to win the division. But the Texans' status as division contenders and their ability to win Sunday isn't why the Jaguars fans should be nervous. They should be nervous because fans should be nervous for big late-season games. You're not supposed to be absolutely sure your team will win in the NFL. If you want that, follow college football where good teams can beat contending teams by 25 points routinely. This is professional football. Big games are supposed to be competitive. Jaguars fans have waited a long time for their team to participate in these games. Embrace the nerves. It makes the victories all that much more fun.

Anita from Springfield

In the recent Sounds of the Game, quarterback Trevor Lawrence comments on how well Press called wide receiver Calvin Ridley's second score. First, [blows raspberry] for all the folks hating on Press Taylor. Second, I'm glad Trevor appreciates him and that Head Coach Doug Pederson has empowered such a bright mind. When our guys execute, it's amazing how great his play calling looks ... one fer Press.

Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor was a good offensive mind and good play-caller in 2022 when he was the primary game-planner, splitting play-calling duties with Pederson. Taylor is a good offensive mind and good play-caller in 2023 when he is the primary game-planner, calling plays throughout games. Fans have "hated" on Taylor this season because the offense has been sporadic at times. Fans "hated" on Pederson last season when the offense was sporadic at times. Why, you ask, do fans not remember "hating" on Pederson last season? Because memories are short. And because fans fan. It's what they do.

Jesse from Daytona Beach, FL

I'm calling it: Jaguars big. What say you?

I say the Jaguars need to win Sunday and I believe they will win. Margin of victory matters not a whit.

Kevin from Jacksonville Beach, FL

This is Trevor's game. I don't care what he did against Tennessee. Bad team, good game. So what? He has to play well in the big games.

I always liked what the late Hall of Fame Head Coach/broadcaster John Madden said about big games, which was essentially: "Tell me what games are big before we play, not after." Madden was often criticized for not winning in AFC Championship Games as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. His point was that the Raiders must have played some big games to get to those championship games. This somewhat applies to Lawrence. He has quarterbacked the Jaguars to victories in 13 of the last 17 games overall. They won the AFC South and won a playoff game last season. They are in first place in the AFC South this season with victories over five teams with records of .500 or better. Somewhere in there certainly there was a big game – and big moment or two. One would think, anyway.

Rick from the Northside

Zone, what do you know?


Adam from Jacksonville

The Jaguars finally got smart and got 0 involved. Will they be smart and get him involved again?

The Jaguars have entered all games this season wanting to get Ridley involved. Remember: Defenses game plan, too, and many defenses have designed coverages and plans to take Ridley away. While getting him the ball is important, forcing it too much to him in those situations can be a stubborn approach that can lead to a lot of failed plays early. That would not be "smart." How much to feed certain receivers early is a delicate balance and it's often better to distribute passes organically, particularly when you have skill players such as running back Travis Etienne Jr., Ridley, wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram. I expect the Jaguars to continue to scheme Ridley heavily in the offense. How often those schemes will result in him being targeted depends on many factors.

Derrick from Orange Park, FL

Is the offense fixed? It sure looked that way against Tennessee. I think that's a good sign, Zone.

The Jaguars' offense had its best game of the season in a victory over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday. The thought here was that the offense in the first half played pretty similarly to how it had played in most games this season – i.e., efficiently between the 20s and a bit more sporadic in the red zone. The defense played well enough in the first half that the Jaguars had a 13-0 halftime lead. The offense was able to play a bit freer in the second half and started hitting big plays and finishing drives. Can the offense hit that sort of stride when the game is closer? Can it start more quickly? Those are storylines to watch Sunday.

Jerry from Jacksonville Beach

Zone, you seem weirdly confident in this game. I don't like it.

I'm sorry (not sorry) you don't like it. I can't say I'm all that "confident" in the Jaguars Sunday. I'm not particularly "unconfident," either. My overriding thought on the Jaguars against the Texans is that the Jaguars are the better team, and that if they play well, they will win. I base that largely on the Texans' 37-17 victory over the Jaguars at EverBank Stadium in Week 3. The Jaguars played phenomenally poorly in that game in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams. They missed a field goal and had a field goal blocked. They allowed a kickoff return to a fullback. They drove repeatedly into Houston territory and squandered opportunities. The defense allowed two long touchdowns on communication breakdowns. With all of that, the Jaguars cut a 17-0 halftime lead to 17-10 in the third quarter and had momentum before the aforementioned kickoff return. As I have said this week, this point is not to say the Texans are not good. They can beat the Jaguars and they might do just that. But my thought is that at some point Pederson showed the team these Week 3 mistakes and said, "Fellas, don't do those things. If you don't do those things and play the way you can play, we can win." My guess is the players saw the same things and said, "We need to show this team we're not that bad." Or something like that. Either way, I expect the Jaguars to win. My expectations aren't always correct. Stay tuned.

Kevin from St. Augustine, FL

C.J. scares me.

Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud is good. If you don't pressure him and don't cover downfield, he's going to beat you. If you do those things, he also can beat you. The Jaguars must play better than they did in Week 3.

Sal from Austin, TX

We all know you're not a statistics guy, but I imagine you wouldn't disregard certain objective football metrics when evaluating linebackers, to include run stuffs, tackles for loss, fumble recoveries/ fumbles caused, interceptions, passes defensed, explosive plays not allowed and granted, a middle linebackers' function in this 3/4 isn't to get big sack numbers, sacks? And if so, before last week's game against the Titans, would you say that Devin Lloyd's performance has been consistently better than, or above adequate?

First, I'm not "anti-statistics," though I do tend to think some observers in the NFL lean too heavily on such things when banging tables and arguing points. Regarding Lloyd … he has played very well this season. Not just better than last season, but very good overall. He's a big reason the Jaguars are a really good defense this season. I haven't the foggiest idea if statistics or metrics support that. I do know the Jaguars are good defensively. Some players have to be responsible, one would assume.

Tom from Mean Streets of Nocatee

I'm thankful for Frank Gore.


Brad from Orange Park, FL

I don't know how much he would individually been matched up with him were he in fact active Sunday, but my immediate thought after reading about cornerback Tyson Campbell being out against the Texans was a vision of Tank Dell leaping for a touchdown in the end zone circa Week 11. Especially considering he torched us for two scores over a 100-plus yards last go-around. Not good.

Dell played well against the Jaguars in Week 3. His play was significantly helped by the Jaguars miscommunicating themselves completely out of both of his big plays in that game. The Jaguars need to start Sunday by playing their assignments and covering the correct receivers. When they do that, they can figure out if they can defend Dell well enough to win.

Mark from Neptune Beach, FL

Gary needs to go, Zone. You are da man.

Gary is a visionary. His voice must not – and will not – be silenced.