Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

O-Zone: Freshness is key

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

Can this mess be fixed? I am not sure they can beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

This is a fair question, particularly in the aftermath of the Jaguars' disheartening 30-12 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday. Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville is critical. The Jaguars, despite losing four consecutive games, can clinch the AFC South if they beat the Panthers – and if the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans lose on Sunday. The Jaguars also can assure themselves of winning the South if they beat the Panthers Sunday and the Tennessee Titans in Week 17; if that happens, the Texans' and Colts' results the next two weeks don't matter. But first things first: Sunday against the Panthers. Can the Jaguars win that game? Sure. And for weeks, this has seemed like a manageable game for the Jaguars. With the Panthers entering Sunday 2-13 and looking much of the season like what they are – a team in transition still looking for a restart – the Jaguars absolutely can win. And they maybe should win. Contending teams are supposed to beat such teams. Then again: The way the Jaguars played Sunday, "supposed tos" don't matter. The latter point pretty much trumps all else right now.

Mike from Azores

Hey, John. After watching the second half of the Cowboys-versus-Dolphins game, I realized what an NFL game looks like when it's third-and-two or fourth-and-two and you can actually run the ball for a first down! Who would have known watching a Jags game?

I didn't watch the Cowboys-Dolphins game Sunday. I have watched the Jaguars all season. The inability to run effectively – particularly in short-yardage situations – from this view is the weakness in the Jaguars' offensive foundation that has caused many other areas to struggle.

RAF from PVB

This season appears to be a mirror image of last year. In '22 we started baaad and finished good. The Sunday version of the team looked worse than the bad team of last year. I'm afraid I see no final late-season surge.

We shall see.

Donut from Saint Johns

While technically not a "must-win" game, playing against a team with nothing to lose can be difficult. Are the Jaguars expected to get any starters back this week to help with the game?

The Jaguars are optimistic that left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) could return Sunday, and wide receiver Zay Jones (knee) is expected to return to practice Wednesday.

Andrew from 904

If the season ended today, the Jags would win the division and play the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the playoffs. Given what we've seen over the past four games, how do you realistically think we'd fare in that game?

I expect it would be a close game in the fourth quarter. I expect this because I try not to overemphasize the most recent game we have seen from a team. The Jaguars lost to the Browns at Cleveland, 31-27, in Week 14. They allowed three long touchdowns on assignment errors and committed four turnovers – and still had a chance to tie in the last three minutes. The postseason typically brings out the best in teams, so I would expect the Jaguars to play better – or at least as well – as they have in some of their better games this season. That's my expectation. I could be wrong. It seems that has happened a lot lately.

Leon from Austin, TX

Zone: I am actually concerned for the offense, what is happening? Next week Panthers has me worried, input?

I'm concerned about the Jaguars' offense The Panthers game has me worried, too. Why wouldn't it?

Colette from Wapwallopen, PA

Hey, KOAF. What advice can you give to the fans to help us understand what is happening with our team? Also, I know quarterback Trevor Lawrence is "the guy" but would you have started C.J. Beathard? Or put him in at the half to see if he could change the momentum of the game? Thanks and Merry Christmas.

I confess I have little in the way of advice on this matter. I often in years past have felt as if I had a good grasp on the Jaguars' identity by late in the season. Some seasons that meant simply knowing they weren't good. Some seasons it meant knowing where certain weaknesses and strengths were. I thought in November that this was a mentally tough team that could play big in clutch moments. I didn't think it was one of the elite teams in the NFL, but I expected it to be able to will its way past a lot opponents. It played that way for much of the first three months of the season. The Jaguars through much of the season prided themselves on playing well with their backs against the wall. Maybe they're still that team. It's fair to want to see it again before trusting that it's true. As for Lawrence, I would start him if available. I still see him as the Jaguars' best chance to win.

Andrew from 904

Trevor has played through a lot of significant injuries this season. How much do you think that has impacted his performance?

Some, at least. I don't know how much.

Mike from Omaha, NE

Hi John. You don't really think that winning the last two games against two of the worst teams in the NFL will show that everything is suddenly going in the right direction, do you? I love the Jags, but there are issues that can't be covered up that easily.

I think winning the last two regular-season games will mean the Jaguars win a second consecutive AFC South title. That's the goal – to win the division and qualify for the postseason. Whether that means the Jaguars are moving in the right direction can be determined after that.

Derek from Brookings, SD

The identity of this team is one that can't get out of its own way. The Jaguars will probably somehow lose their way into the playoffs, but I'm starting to lose faith they can correct these fixable mistakes and be competitive against the top teams in the AFC.


James from Destin, FL

John, when a player creates more points for the opponent than his own team two weeks in a row, it's time to bench him. I'm tired of the excuses. I'd be surprised if the Jags win another game this season.

I'd be stunned if the Jaguars bench a healthy Lawrence, and I don't believe they should. Your sentiment about the Jaguars winning again this season is fair. The Jaguars have lost the confidence of fans with their performance in recent weeks. It's up to them to earn that confidence back.

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

O, we fans have been focusing on the offense's poor play. Personally, it's the defense that concerns me. The tackling is abysmal. The secondary is struggling. The pass rush is average. The blitzes hurt more than help. The back- half of this season hurts.


Dakota from Dupree, SD

Zone, a four-game skid feels pretty lousy but they are not the only team on top of the NFL having heck right now. Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, the rest of the AFC South. If the offense takes better care of the football, mainly our quarterback, it seems like they should go back to winning games or at least be right there at the end. Can they get things turned back around? What say you, Zone?

Head Coach Doug Pederson on Tuesday the biggest issues between winning and losing recently has been protecting the ball offensively and tackling defensively. Can the Jaguars turn their season around in the final two games? Improving those areas would be a start. And improving those areas should be possible.

Paul from Saint Johns

If you were the head coach, would you start Beathard Sunday if Lawrence's health was 50/50 … even if Lawrence said, "I'm good coach?"

I absolutely would start Lawrence if he can practice full or close to full at least Thursday and Friday. I probably would start Lawrence either way, but him not practicing would give me pause.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

If the Jags clinch a playoff spot this week and the Chiefs lose, would they rest the starters the following week anyway - conceding the No. 3 seed to the Chiefs? The Chiefs would need to lose out and the Jags would need to win out for the Jags to overtake the Chiefs in seeding. We do need to get healthy.

I would do this. I'm a believer in rest and fresh legs in the postseason. I don't expect Pederson would take this approach.

Dakota from Dupree, SD

Zone, who's going to be the starting on-line next weekend?

Best-guess projection: Left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Ezra Cleveland, center Luke Fortner, right guard Brandon Scherff and right tackle Anton Harrison.