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O-Zone: Give it up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jason from North Pole, AK

In a recent article, you cited the Jags have turned over 11 starters and 31 of the 53 players since Doug Pederson was hired as head coach about 18 months ago. What would the Jaguars need to accomplish this season for Trent Baalke to be a strong General Manager of the Year candidate? Would earning the No. 1 seed be enough? Would his time with then-Head Coach Urban Meyer hurt the perception of his case and cause people to give Doug Pederson all the credit?

I'm bad at many things. Among them is projecting end-of-season awards, particularly before a season begins. But success absolutely leads to these sorts of awards. Earning the No. 1 seed absolutely would merit such an award, and make no mistake: Baalke has rebuilt the Jaguars' roster to a degree that any accolades that come with postseason success this season would be well-deserved. As for Baalke's "time" or "association" with Meyer, I suppose people can "perceive" such things how they choose. From this perspective, Baalke has done enough reshaping and rebuilding this current roster to merit "credit" – whatever in the world that means.

Dave from Jacksonville

Zone is this Trevor's coming out party this weekend? Indy appears weakest in their secondary. Do you expect Trevor to take full advantage? Could he open with a 400-yard, three-touchdown performance? Would that put him in the talk for everything we have known here in the Zone?

It appears we've found another weak area: Projecting specific statistics in specific games. Either way, I don't know that Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence needs a "coming out party." He threw 15 touchdowns with two interceptions in the final nine regular-season games last season, then followed that by throwing four touchdown passes in a 31-30 Wild Card Playoff victory over the Los Angeles Chargers that qualified as one of the most remarkable comebacks – and remarkable second-half quarterbacking performances – in NFL history. Lawrence also is being projected as a top quarterback entering the 2023 season by most knowledgeable NFL analysts. I suppose Lawrence could throw for 400 yards Sunday with three touchdowns in a Week 1 game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis. It's within his ability. I just don't attach much importance to such individual statistics. I expect the Jaguars to be very efficient and score in the mid-to-high 20s Sunday. I expect this offense to do that in most games. If the game breaks right, that could be in the 30s a lot of weeks. Over the course of the season, Lawrence's statistics likely will be impressive and that will "put him in the talk." Could it happen Sunday? Sure.

Reese Loyal Jaguar fan in VA

How is your week going now!? Go Jags!!


Brendan from Yulee, FL

After watching Richardson play for the Gators, I hope the Jags feast and give him a welcome to the NFL moment. Inaccurate QB who only throws fast balls, drafted way too high for his questionable ability.

That's one popular view of Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft who will start against the Jaguars Sunday. And I expect Richardson will make his share of mistakes and have a lot of learning as a rookie; his lack of experience throwing in college makes that likely. But Richardson is a dangerous player because of his size and speed. It's Week 1 in the NFL. Anything can happen.

Dave from Jacksonville

Wizard, what a week ahead. So much on the line. Opening against our all-time rival. Would you say Indy is in an ascending or descending phase this season? Young quarterback, new coach. Is this their go-for-it year or in this year strictly development – much like us three years ago?

I don't know what "go-for-it" year means. I would expect the Colts, based on a rookie quarterback (Richardson) and a rookie head coach (Shane Steichen) to lose more games than they win in 2023. That doesn't mean they can't win Sunday.

Doug from Jacksonville

I'm as excited as most Jags fans are to start this season, but have to keep reminding myself this is a different team and a different staff from years past to quash any reoccurring pangs of doubt. Going unbeaten isn't a realistic goal but going 1-0 to start the year is. It won't dictate the season but starting 1-0 in the league and division seems huge. Starting fast out the gates seems huge. Having the fan base amped up for the home opener taking on the defending champs seems huge. I'm with you next Sunday isn't make or break, but it sure seems as important as any season opener can be.

The regular-season opener is important. The Jaguars want to be 1-0. If they lose, Week 2 will be really important. If they win, Week 2 will be important. Professional football is hard. It's a week-to-week league. All games are important. And then next ones are all important, too.

Sue from Omaha, NE

Hi, John. Baring key injuries, I truly believe that we will be AT LEAST 13-4 in the regular season. Do you think my win total is either too low or too high (or just right)? Thanks.

I think it's a touch too high. I expect the Jaguars to win 11ish games in 2023. Winning 13 games is much harder than winning 11. Either way, I expect they will be good and I expect them to win the AFC South. If things break right, that would mean a No. 2-3-ish seed in the AFC-ish.

Bill from Bostwick

Wouldn't it make sense for Jacksonville to bust its Super Bowl window wide open and trade for and pay Chris Jones? Then make him a cap casualty when Trevor, cornerback Tyson Campbell and left tackle Walker Little all come due while wearing one or two Super Bowl Rings? Jones would elevate the Jags' defense, outside linebackers Josh Allen/Travon Walker and the secondary to better than Jacksonville level, would it not? I vote for going for it all right now. The Lombardi trophy is within reach.

Thank you for your vote. Jones, a defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs, is holding out in a contract dispute. Would the Jaguars benefit from a player such as Jones? Sure. He's one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL and among the rare interior defensive players who can provide consistent, meaningful pressure on the quarterback. I doubt the Chiefs will trade Jones. I seriously doubt they would trade him to an AFC contender.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Guys like C.J. Beathard back up guys like Trevor Lawrence. Guys like Nathan Rourke usually get one shot at a real game if they stick around the league long enough. Do you think the Jags have the most balanced offenses when compared with the other AFC elites?

We'll soon find out.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Anticipatory Greetings Zone. Do you think Gardner Minshew will play Sunday?

Former Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II is the Colts' backup quarterback to Richardson. The Colts are starting Richardson Sunday. He is considered the future. When you start an early-drafted rookie quarterback in his first NFL game, you're saying he's your guy. Period. I therefore wouldn't expect Minshew to play Sunday unless Richardson can't play because of injury.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Even in Week 1, you suck.

There it is.

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey, John. How does this year's Jaguars offense compare to the Colts offenses you covered in Indianapolis.

This Jaguars offense has potential to be very good. Players such as Lawrence and wide receiver Calvin Ridley have potential to be All-Pro, which means they have potential to be the best in the NFL at their position. The Colts offense when I covered them in the 2000s was very good. Players such as quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and running back Edgerrin James were All-Pro, which means they were the best at their position. It's the difference between having the ability to do it and doing it. Remember, too: the Indianapolis teams from 2003-2010 or so had a quarterback in Manning at the peak of his ability with six-to-13 years experience. That level of experience can translate to a high level of consistency. Lawrence, entering his third season, is still a young quarterback – and the trait of many young quarterbacks is inconsistency. Again: The potential is there for this Jaguars offense. It must do it to compare to one of the best offenses of the last two decades.

Dan from Jax

I've been a Colts fan since the days of John Unitas and since I was born and raised in Jax, I've been an equal Jags fan. So, do I wear a Colts hat and Jags jersey, or a Jags hat and Colts jersey? Or do I just sit in the closet and whimper?

I'm always for whimpering in the closet. Giving up and begging for mercy is underrated.