JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA
Hi, John. Can you share your thoughts on two observations? Christian Kirk has some pretty good stats, but it seems as if he's even better than that. Looks like he and Trevor are developing a good relationship. The other is the inability to run at the end of the game. If Jags are going to hang their hat on running the ball, they have to be able to run to close out games.
Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk is intriguing. Although he's perhaps more a slot receiver than a "True No. 1 Outside Receiver," he is the No. 1 option in the passing game. His productivity and presence thus far has merited the "No. 1" label in that he is averaging a touchdown and nearly 100 yards receiving per game. He has helped Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence by being a reliable option that Lawrence can trust to read defenses and run the proper routes for given situations. He has been an outstanding free-agent signing, and this franchise historically hasn't had enough of those. As far as the Jaguars' running late against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday … no, they didn't run well enough to close the game. The Jaguars are improved this season. They appear capable of being competitive. They're not yet elite and they're not strong in every facet – and running against defenses poised to stop the run is an area they must improve. But running into the teeth of a defense that knows you must run is difficult. Few teams can do it. We'll see if the Jaguars improve there.
Richard from Jacksonville
John, "On paper" I'd say this defense is pretty good.
The Jaguars' defense was good enough Sunday to stop a one-dimensional offense, which is what the Colts were with wide receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce out. That's not criticizing the Jaguars' defense; you can only stop the players the opposition plays, and the Jaguars' defense was dominant Sunday. The unit was less dominant in Week 1 against Washington and will face its toughest test to date Sunday if Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert plays. The Jaguars' defense is undoubtedly improved. If Herbert plays Sunday, we'll get a better idea about the extent of that improvement.
Michael from Middleburg, FL
Isn't it suspect that no attempt at scoring plays had ETN attempting to touch the ball?
I admit I haven't spoken to Head Coach Doug Pederson about this, but I didn't see any plays Sunday that made me think the Jaguars weren't trying to score.
Dave from Chorley, UK
What has Doug done differently? In the past we've been winning games only to trip over our own tails and lose. This season so far has felt different; even last week we seemed to have a shot right up until the clock hit 00:00. Sunday was incredible, like a different team – and not once did we look like we were gonna slip up. All sides turned up to play and we executed exceptionally well. It begs the question what has Doug done differently to get this team playing on the same page? Whatever it is long may it continue. GO JAGS.
The Jaguars indeed have looked like a different team thus far in the 2022 season. It was noticeable in Week 1, and many observers/fans missed it because losing isn't cool and people don't like it. It was noticeable again in Week 2, and few observers missed it because winning is cool and people like it. Pederson and the Jaguars' coaching staff indeed deserve some credit. Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know I'm fond of saying "It's always coaching in the NFL." What that sarcastic statement means is many fans tend to quick-trigger blame coaching for any loss. And coaching and play-calling are often overrated. But as with anything, there are exceptions. If you have a really high-level coach, he indeed can make a difference in terms of schemes. And if you have a high-level head coach, he can make a major difference in terms of players believing in the direction of a team. Pederson and this staff certainly will be criticized in the future – probably during or after the next loss, or after the next failed fourth-down conversion. But Pederson overall has this team playing with confidence and belief. The staff also appears to be scheming exceptionally well. And yes, it has made a difference.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL
Are we still worried about accuracy?
We're not worried this week – and Lawrence plays as efficiently and cleanly moving forward as he did Sunday, we won't talk about accuracy much. Just as the Week 1 loss to Washington was one game, Sunday was one game. Lawrence must consistently be more like he was in Week 2 than Week 1. That means completing makeable completions as he did Sunday. There's no reason to think he won't do that. But it must remain a focus.
Nick from Palatka, FL
Hey Zone: The Jags clean up well. Do you?
Kelsey from Greenville, SC
Always love to see a shutout. No real complaints, but I did have to wonder at why we spent as much time running the ball as we did when we struggled a lot more there compared to the air, where the Colts couldn't seem to stop us. I mean, obviously we still won and won big so it didn't matter much but I'm curious what your thoughts were on that decision to run more than pass when passing was working so well?
When I read this question, I admit I thought about the week leading to the Colts game and the constant criticism of Pederson's run-pass mix in Week 1. And I admit I thought to myself, "It's always coaching in the NFL."
William from Savannah, GA
John, that was about as complete a game as I have ever seen the Jags play in their history. You don't see shutouts often in the NFL. Alex, I'll take "Fans" for $1,200. The answer is: "They'll find something to complain about 'cause fans are gonna fan." William . . . "What is 'What are the fans gonna complain about this week?'"
Kyle from Palm Harbor, FL
John, looks like running back James Robinson has won the coaching staff over for the third time. Credit to Pederson for not waiting a month to recognize the talent. This game was a nice look at how the Jags play when they reach their potential. Do you think this was due to playing against an all-around bad team or is this what should be expected by fans?
It remains to be seen if the Colts indeed are bad, though they absolutely were undermanned Sunday without their best defensive player (linebacker Shaq Leonard) and their two best wide receivers (Pittman and Pierce). The undermanned part likely had something to do with the one-sidedness of the Jaguars' victory. And this may be a time to pause for a word of caution: While Sunday was nice, victories that convincing are not the NFL norm – even for really good teams. The league is set up to encourage tight games, even between teams that seem mismatched. The Jaguars can play really well a lot – perhaps even to their full potential – and not cruise through the fourth quarter breathing easy. The NFL is hard, even for good teams.
Dave from Atlantic Beach, FL
Aside from Robinson's long touchdown run, the Colts pretty much shut down the Jags' running game. Are there significant issues with our run blocking or are the Colts just really good at stopping the run?
A Super Bowl winning coach once said, "You do what it takes to win." That coach was Doug Pederson. He said it late Sunday afternoon after the Jaguars' victory over the Colts. The Jaguars ran for 6.8 yards per carry in Week 1. That's what was working against the Washington defense. The Jaguars ran for 2.6 yards per carry and were effective throwing in big situations in Week 2. That's what was working against the Indianapolis defense. Some weeks you eat the bear, some weeks the bear eats you.
Gero from Wenden, Germany
Hello John. Very good game Sunday both offensively and defensively. Do you have any idea why Doug Pederson only called the running game in the fourth quarter after the turnovers and interceptions. There could have been more points on the scoreboard at the end.
You do what it takes to win.
Bo from Winter Springs FL
I got to give coach P a "one fer". I don't always agree with his aggressive calls but I can respect it. He's got guts though no doubt. He trusts his players to execute. Unlike some coaches in the Mile High City.
Pederson is going to be aggressive. His aggressive calls will fail sometimes. He undoubtedly will be criticized when this happens. I have no reason to think he will care about the criticism or that it will keep him from being aggressive.