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O-Zone: Gutsy guy

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Brad from The Avenues

WE'RE NUMBER ONE!! WE'RE NUMBER ONE!! Yeah, yeah … I know, for now. But hey, John: Guess what? WE'RE NUMBER ONE!! WE'RE NUMBER ONE!!

The Jaguars after Week 2 of the 2022 season are in sole possession of first place in the AFC South. The Jaguars are 1-1 with the Houston Texans 0-1-1, the Indianapolis Colts 0-1-1 and the Tennessee Titans 0-2. The Jaguars looked OK one week and very good the other week. The other three teams have not looked particularly good either week. It's better to be in first place through two games than not in first place. This also a better position than the Jaguars have held at any point any regular season in a long time. On to Week 3.

Rick from Franconia, VA

O, It struck me as odd that it wasn't a Jaguars team captain presenting Coach P with the game ball for his first "W" as a Jag. You?

Not particularly – and you may be overthinking this one. Veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. made the speech presenting the game ball Sunday to Head Coach Doug Pederson after a 24-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts – a game that indeed marked Pederson's first victory as the Jaguars' head coach. The Jaguars' two offensive captains are quarterback Trevor Lawrence and offense guard Brandon Scherff. But Jones is every bit the team leader as those two. If they had named more offensive captains, I wouldn't have been surprised had he been the third. This team has a lot of leaders. A lot of them could have made that presentation.

Kevin from Floresville, TX

Say hello to your division-leading Jacksonville Jaguars ... wait, what? I'm not predicting we'll be able to say that all season long, but for this week, it has a nice ring to it.

One fer first place.

Don from Marshall, NC

Travis Etienne runs in a style I have never seen before. He moves like a spider. He seems to be getting hit hard. He gets right up, though. By far the strangest running back I have ever seen. I really do not know what I am seeing. Is there anyone else who is scratching their heads about him? Explosive, but seems to be driving around without the lights on. Seems to glide like Tony Dorsett. He is different. Go Jaguars!

I suppose Etienne indeed perhaps has a bit of an unusual running style, though I don't know that I would rank it as the strangest I've ever seen. Benny Malone, a running back for the Miami Dolphins and Washington in the 1970s and early 1980s, ran with a unique helter-skelter style and seemed to be all arms and legs. Etienne does seem to glide a bit when looking for a hole or following blocking, but he has some explosiveness once he finds space. What strikes me mostly about Etienne is how hard he runs and his toughness. For a player known for big-play ability, he runs really hard and does not remotely shy from contact. He has been pretty effective so far. I see no reason to think that will change.

Andrew from 219

John, admittedly I only write in after frustrating losses. I guess it makes for better reading later on? Anyways, if they keep playing like this you may never hear from me again.

I'd guess I would muddle through. Somehow.

Bryan from Petersburg, NJ

O-Man, Any idea how Doug is going to fix our West Coast curse? Any changes to previous travel routines or is it all mental?

The Jaguars for the most part have played poorly on the West Coast for a decade or more. The biggest reason for this isn't mental. Or travel routines. The biggest reason is because they usually haven't been a good team in the last decade or more. They have lost a lot of West Coast games. And East Coast games. And home games. The best way for Pederson to "fix the West Coast curse" is to focus on having the Jaguars as prepared as they were in Weeks 1 and 2. As far as schedule, the Jaguars will leave for California Saturday – as they will for all home games under Pederson. His approach is to keep as much as possible to the same routine. The less change for players to handle the better.

James from Destin, FL

I don't know who you are. However we want John back. There is no way he put the Jags 17thin the power ratings and Tennessee, Houston and Indianapolis 28th, 29th and 30th. We will not give you a ransom to get him back.

I didn't realize I had the Jaguars 17th in the power rankings, and I didn't pay that much attention to where I had the other AFC South teams. The rankings this week were actually pretty easy. I put all the winless teams low and ranked most of the 1-1 teams in the middle with the order based mostly on who had beaten who in the first two weeks. If you look at the first two weeks, the Jaguars absolutely belong in the Top 20 and the other South teams belong far lower. Stay tuned.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Lawrence and the offense progressing is great but isn't it the "D" that could be top 5 right now?

Most NFL types believe you get a real feel for the makeup of a team about six weeks into a season. The first two weeks of the Jaguars' season is a great example of why. The Jaguars' defense looked like a Top 5 unit in Week 2. It did not look like a Top 5 unit in Week 1. After three or four more weeks, trends will emerge. Until then, hold on.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, I now think the Jags can win the AFC South. I thought so before the Colts game. The AFC South is not strong this year, and the Jags are improving. Next week in LA will tell us much more. You agree?

I said on Monday's Jaguars Drive Time that I will be "all in" on the Jaguars' chances to contend for the AFC South title if they win one of the next two games. Those next two games are at the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles. The Jaguars could be pretty good and win neither of those games, but if they're 2-2 after four games? Yes, those games will tell us much more about this team.

Joe from Jacksonville

No question, I'm just wondering if you agree with me that Jaguars defensive lineman Arden Key could be a low-key huge free-agent pickup?

That's a question. The answer is yes.

Daniel from St Johns, FL

I've always hated the sarcastic "it's always coaching" reference. It was said that Vince Lombardi could take his team and beat yours, or take your team and beat his. I think they named a trophy or something after him? Coaching isn't just a schematic philosophy or a bunch of encouraging yelling. It's not just player selection but knowing the players strength, weakness and how to improve or optimize both in a variety of situations and schemes. An orchestra conductor doesn't just wave his hands while everyone follows. He knows which of the 12 violin players is out of tune when all are playing and you and I can't hear the difference. Coach P has shown a remarkable ability to optimize the team and the staff. He didn't throw any passes or make any blocks, but he sure can tell how to get our guys into the right spot at the right time to have the best chance at making something great happen! This season is gonna be exciting and the future is so bright, we gotta wear shades!

I'm sorry you hate when I say it's "always coaching in the NFL." Actually, I'm not sorry and find it funny. You're right that Pederson seems to be showing why coaching matters. As I've always written and said, a head coach can have an enormous impact on direction/tone of a franchise and on players' buying into that direction. Pederson is unquestionably good there. He and this staff also seems to have schemed particularly well in the first two games. A lot of what the staff has done has worked. That's cool. Fans have liked it. I expect there will come a game where it doesn't work as well and Pederson and the staff are questioned. Like in Week 1. That's because losing sucks and fans don't like it. And when you lose, it really is always coaching in the NFL.

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.

One fer Coach P.