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O-Zone: Go away

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Rosco from Budapest, Hungary

Zone, what are your thoughts on Bevell? It seems like his offensive play-calling is very bland and predictable with very little crossing routes. I understand we lack a lot of offensive firepower but even when we had Chark, the offense was underachieving. I am concerned all the blame on the offense is on playmakers and not the play calls.

The NFL is about players, not plays – and while observers love to criticize/analyze coordinators in good times and bad, the reality is it's difficult if not impossible in the NFL to outcall personnel. Has Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell been super-creative in the passing game this season? Perhaps not. But consider: the Jaguars are without running back Travis Etienne Jr. and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., projected to be the two best big-play players before the season. He has spent the season incorporating – or trying to incorporate – returner Jamal Agnew, newly-acquired receivers such as Tavon Austin, Laquon Treadwell and Tyron Johnson into the offense. And the receiving corps overall lacks deep speed and a dynamic No. 1 receiver. He also is working with a rookie quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, who is steadily learning the NFL. The team for the last seven quarters has been without its best offensive player, running back James Robinson. The Jaguars' offense has not been good enough this season. Bevell certainly has had missteps. But before Robinson's ankle injury against Seattle, this group was functioning at an acceptable level considering its personnel and circumstance. It would be a stretch to say it has been "underachieving" overall.

Robert from Oneonta

John, does it seem like there are more "upsets" so far this year in the NFL than usual? And/or wins by a large margin most people do not see coming? To me, "that's why they play the game" is more apropos than usual.

It does seem there are more upsets around the NFL this season, with two that come quickly to mind the Jaguars' victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday and the Miami Dolphins' victory over the Baltimore Ravens Thursday. I don't typically consider victories by teams with one or two losses more than the losing team huge upsets in the NFL, but those two games were between teams with dramatically different records. The New York Jets have pulled a couple of similar upsets. Perhaps in the case of the Jaguars and Jets we're seeing building processes beginning to show what lies ahead. This also is a season in which even the best teams have some significant flaws. It feels as if unpredictability will reign supreme for the rest of the season. Reign on, I guess. Reign on.

Andy from St Augustine, FL

I understand (but don't necessarily agree with) the fact that the coaches believe Andrew Wingard gives them the best chance to win. But that makes me wonder if drafting Cisco where we did was a mistake. If healthy, I would expect someone with Cisco's measurables, college performance and draft position to be able to earn playing time by this point, especially with the fact that he's behind an undrafted free agent who had started six total games in his first two seasons prior to this year.

Cisco, a third-round selection from Syracuse, fits into the Jaguars' long-term plans. He was a third-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft – and it's not all that unusual for third-round selections to play sparingly as rookies before playing extensively moving forward.

Andy from St Augustine, FL

I don't have an issue with the Cassius Marsh taunting penalty, but if they're going to make taunting a point of emphasis shouldn't they at least pretend to be consistent with how they apply the rule? In that same game, after sacking the Chicago Bears quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt pointed at the Bears O-Line and blew kisses to the Bears sideline. In addition to that non-call, the referee seemed to initiate contact with Marsh by hip-checking him and only then did he throw the flag. If they don't want conspiracy theories about helping certain teams, they should probably not appear to do just that.

Yes, NFL officials should be more consistent applying taunting. That's the problem. Players celebrate differently, and celebrations in this era seem to lean toward being "in your face" and showing up the opponent as often as not. The taunting rule by its nature lends itself to interpretation by the official calling the game, which means inconsistency will tend to be the norm rather than the exception.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

With a name like Unhipcat did he really think we would forget him?

Fair.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I hate the focus on taunting. This is entertainment. I would like to be entertained. Entertain me. I might even pay money for it (maybe). It's a game. Very high-level athletes are competing. Let's have fun. You've trained your whole life to be a supreme athlete and you just beat another professional. Let him know that he just got beat. I like that, it adds fun and excitement. It gets me excited for them. What's next? No loud rock and roll in this town?

I'm fine with celebrations. I admit not being nearly as fine with constant self-adulation after a five-yard gain or after a defensive stop that yields a first down. I also have grown weary of players feeling the need to act as if every play made has proven their manhood and taken away that of the opponent. It seems such action would be best reserved for truly memorable plays and big moments. But I'm an old man and prefer "real" country music to whatever it is that passes for it these days and I'm not completely convinced these "rock-and-roll" shenanigans are really and truly here to stay. And get off my lawn.

Don from Marshall, NC

Playing man defense early is the key to the success of this defense. You're going to have to play man at some point and that takes time on the field. Yeah, it hurt them, but they got better at it. Tampa Bay did the same last year and when they got to the playoffs they were really good at man. Flexibility really is what you're looking for. This defense for the Jaguars is really coming around. The game against the Bills is a preview of what's to come. Go Jaguars!

OK.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

What is the answer for the Jaguars' offense? They have had pretty good pass and run blocking from the O-line, pretty good running (at least when James Robinson is healthy), and (finally) a tight end who gets open and makes catches. Yet Lawrence – as talented as he is and as much as he is improving – ranks 23rd in quarterback ratings. Is the problem as simple as not having a true No. 1 wide receiver, and the wide receivers we have not consistently getting separation? Or is it also the way offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is leveraging (or not) what talent he has?

Issues in football are rarely one thing and such questions just as rarely have one "answer." The Jaguars' offensive issues center on red-zone struggles, third-down struggles and an inability to hit big plays in the passing game. These struggles can be attributed some to drops, particularly on third down. They can be attributes some to Lawrence missing on some plays in critical moments. They can be attributed some to Lawrence being under pressure in some situations – as was the case on a missed deep ball to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. Sunday. The sense here is the issue primarily is about a receiving corps struggling to get open and make catches consistently. That's not everything, but it starts there.

Chris from Mandarin

Taunting is pretty easy to judge. If a celebration amounts to an attempt to belittle the opponent, it is taunting. That's it, nothing more needs to be said.

Fair, but an official still must interpret that attempt – and therefore there will be inconsistency in the officiating from game to game. And even from series to series.

Shanghai Stevie from Jax

I guess all the wide receiver on the team are better that Odell. Give me a break. If they didn't want him, couldn't they have leveraged their waiver order into a late round pick, at minimum?

The Jaguars were among 32 teams opting not to claim wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. I never thought the Jaguars would claim or pursue Beckham because I never thought they would be interested in short-term "rental" players for nine or ten games. I do think the Jaguars could have used Beckham's speed. I probably would have taken a chance on him, though I understand why the Jaguars passed. But no … they couldn't have leveraged their waiver position into a late-round selection. The Browns tried to trade him before waiving him. The interest wasn't there.

Pierre from France

Go away or I shall taunt you a second time!

I blow my nose at you.

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