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O-Zone: Good conversation

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Woody from Dunlap

KOAF: Since the beginning of November 2022, the Jags are 14-2 against any NFL team not named the "Kansas City Chiefs" (includes the 2022 playoffs). Unfortunately, we are 0-3 against the Chiefs over this same span. Still, this body of work on the part of the Jags seems pretty impressive. Is it the long history of mostly losing seasons that seems to be tempering the excitement of the national sports media towards the Jags?

I don't know why "national sports media" feels about the Jaguars as they do. I actually don't even know how "national sports media" really feels about the Jaguars. I don't care about these things because these things don't matter. The Jaguars lead the AFC South by two games, have the NFL's longest winning streak and are a half game behind the Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the AFC. They currently control everything that can happen to them. If they continue to lead the AFC South, they will win the AFC South and be in the playoffs. If they win in the playoffs, they will be in the Super Bowl. If they win that, that will be the ultimate. If they achieve the ultimate and you still care about what national sports media says about the Jaguars, you're worrying about the wrong stuff.

Crickets from Melbourne

Now that the team is at the halfway(ish) point of the season, let's look at the two most important personnel questions they will face this coming offseason. 1.) In your opinion, has quarterback Trevor Lawrence done enough to merit the franchise securing megacontract on the order of the other elite quarterbacks (Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, Lamar Jackson of the Ravens, Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers, etc.)? 2.) Has Josh Allen done enough to warrant the long-term contract worthy of top defensive ends in the NFL? They are both clearly the leaders of the offense and defense, respectively. Will the Jags pay them as cornerstone players to build around?

It's difficult to say precisely what "merit" and "warrant" mean in this context. I don't know that Lawrence has quite played at the level quarterbacks you mention. But he's trending that way he certainly projects as a player worthy of a franchise-foundation contract –and I expect the Jaguars to extend that contract next offseason. I do expect that will be a megacontract along the lines of Mahomes, Burrow, etc. That would mean a comparatively manageable salary-cap figure early in the contract followed by cap numbers that dominate the team's cap later in the contract. I expect the Jaguars to retain outside linebacker Josh Allen because it's difficult to let a double-digit sacks player leave the franchise. The Jaguars could retain him by using the NFL's franchise tag in the short term or with a megacontract – not a megacontract on the scale of a franchise quarterback, but plenty big nonetheless.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

This season seems to be one that has a lot of good teams, but not one "great" team. It still feels wide open. I think that makes it much more fun. Jags will be slept on until they make it to the AFC Championship. Why not us?


Karter from Navy

The Texans are a good team. Looks like it is going to be a battle for the top between us and them for the foreseeable future.

The Houston Texans beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday. Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud threw five touchdowns. He looks good, particularly for a rookie. The team looks good, particularly for a team early in a rebuild. It looks as if they have a chance to contend for the AFC South title for the foreseeable future. That's as it should be. If the Jaguars are to win the AFC South moving forward, it's OK to have to beat good teams to do it.

Steve from Wallingford, CT

Count me as worried about the Texans.

The NFL is hard. Winning divisions is supposed to be hard. If you're going to win divisions and conferences and Super Bowls, eventually you must beat good teams.

The Man from Snowy River (actually In Brisbane as I type this)

Knuckle-O-head, I read your "Midseason Insights" piece, threw up a little, and decided I had to ask: do you and your two amigos seriously think Darious Williams and Foley Fatukasi have out-performed and are more important to this defense than Foye Oluokun? While I might spot you the Williams love-fest given positional value (not overall performance) I cannot for one second believe Fatukasi is more valuable and has out-performed Oluokun. No question - here - just affirming Gary from St. Augustine's perspective (applied to all three of you).

My team is on the floor.

Ben from Jacksonville

We have significantly better weapons than Houston does, so why haven't we seen Trevor have a game like CJ Stroud had today?

You have seen Lawrence have winning games in six of the Jaguars' first eight games. You have seen him have winning games in 11 of the Jaguars' last 13 regular-season games overall. The Jaguars have won five consecutive games. Lawrence for the most part this season hasn't needed to throw much and the Jaguars haven't needed to score in the high 30s to win.

  1. Hooks from Orange Park

John, I just wanted to give a one-fer to our buddy Mikey Duval who sadly passed away earlier this week. He was an avid Jaguars fan and administrated an awesome fan page. He was amongst the best trash talkers there ever were! He loathed the Titans (trash pandas) and let their fans know it every chance he got. He was in poor health the last few years, but never failed to represent our beloved Jags. It was always the Jags for him before Dewey coined the iconic phrase. He will be greatly missed by his friends and family, and I know I'll certainly miss his antics online on game days. Rest in peace Mike. Duuuval!!!!

One fer Mikey Duval.

David from Maplewood, NJ

Bartch signed to the PS? Still don't get it, guy was a starter for nearly a year and half. Did the team just greatly overestimate his talent and level of development the last 18 months and just woke up this week and realized "nah that guy who we've been starting at guard is not very good."

The Jaguars indeed signed offensive guard Ben Bartch to the practice squad late last week after releasing him early last week. This means of roster management has become more common since rules were modified in the 2020 COVID-19 season to allow more players – and veterans – on practice squads. Teams can now keep a player such as Bartch on the squad rather than parting ways. As for the specifics of Bartch's career path, he was a starter for a different regime in 2021 and a starter for five games under this regime before a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2022. Upon returning from that injury, he started three games. Remember: Just because a team releases a player doesn't mean they think he's terrible. Or that he has no future. Sometimes you have to manage the roster in the short term, and you don't always know a player's long-term future when you do it.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King of All Funk, what a difference a year makes! Last year we went winless in October. Fans were calling Trevor Lawrence to be benched, Travon Walker and Josh Allen were busts and there was uproar that we had traded for Calvin Ridley who could not even play until the following season. Now we are unbeaten in October and all the fans are happy! You must look forward to opening your inbox each morning to bask in the love, joy and excitement about the team as we head into the bye week. Oh, hang on….

This is not that.

Bill from Ponte Vedra

I understand that Tom Brady was willing to with the Patriots to structure his contracts to enable the team to keep other players. The result was a bunch of Super Bowls. Are any of the current franchise quarterbacks doing that? Do you think Trevor will be willing to give up a few dollars to help the team?

I don't expect Lawrence to sign for significantly less than other top quarterbacks when the time comes for his second contract. Nor should he. There are only so many chances for players to sign their megadeals and futures are uncertain.

Richard from Orange Park, FL

What are the odds/chances of Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. being named Offensive Player of the Year this year? Sure there are others around the league, but how many of those others are getting the amount of touches as Etienne and contributing to their team's success?

He should be in the conversation.