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O-Zone: Happy, happy, happy

JACKSONVILLE - Happy Thanksgiving... Let's get to it...

John from Sebastian, FL

King of funk, I've been wondering: Do you feel Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's style is working? We see progress on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coordinator Press Taylor's style seems to be working. For whatever reason, the Jaguars are regressing on defense. It's always coaching, right? Maybe the staff? Outside linebackers coach, defensive line coach? How involved in the defense is Head Coach Doug Pederson? Please give us your thoughts.

My main thought here is the Jaguars' 2022 defense may not be regressing as much as some believe and perhaps the unit is just good at times in some ways – and flawed in some ways. The unit had three very good games early in the season. Those were against two injury-depleted offenses – the Los Angeles Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts – and against a Houston Texans team that is 32nd in total yards and 30th in points offensively this season. Other than those games, the Jaguars' defense has allowed at least 20 points in every game and has pretty consistently struggled in coverage – and consistently struggled to get enough pass rush to make big stops late in games. That has caused the Jaguars to lose a lot of fourth-quarter leads, a trend that has helped shaped the 2022 Jaguars season. Is this a style thing? A coaching thing? Perhaps neither. While many observers want to blame coaching, if you can't cover consistently on the back end and can't generate pressure at big moments, you're probably going to have the results the Jaguars' defense has had this season.

Dave from Ontario, Canada

Hi John, it seems after a loss people tend to say if only we picked up that first down or scored a touchdown instead of kicking a field goal the score would have been tied, etc. I continually find this untrue because if Team A had picked up those plays or scored a touchdown we have no idea how the other team would have reacted. Perhaps a good team up by 17 is going to be more cautious and run the ball but might have been more aggressive if they were in a one score game for example. It's easy and perhaps overly optimistic to say the Jags are only a play or two away from victory some weeks when we have no idea how the opponent would have adjusted the game plan if the score was different.

There's an element of truth in what you say. And I would say the Jaguars' losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs this season had the feel of those teams being able to dictate the game at key times. But most of the Jaguars' losses this season – the ones to Washington, Houston, Indianapolis, Denver and the New York Giants – were decided late enough that it's probably accurate to say that a play or two decided the outcome.

JimShoe from St Johns

O - As compared to other teams you've observed are Jaguars outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker being used in coverage vs pass rush a disproportionate amount?

No. Outside linebackers in NFL 3-4 schemes typically are pass rushers, but most – if not all – 3-4 defenses have plays that call for the position to drop in coverage.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

Why won't Jaguars Owner Shad Khan change the uniform? It's obvious that's what the fans want and it should have not ever changed in the first place.

I expect the Jaguars will change their uniform someday – though not in the 2023 offseason. I don't have any insight into what that change might entail because it hasn't happened yet.

Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL

Did you know that Guinness is a light beer (125 calories- just 15 more than Bud Light) and has a modest alcohol content (4.2%)?

Yes. I like those elements about Guinness. I used to like Guinness. I want to still like Guinness. I'm just not really a "Stout" guy anymore.

Scott from Jacksonville

It seems like only the best offensive coordinators get the opportunity to be a head coach, so I don't see how we can validate your assertion that below average play-callers can be good head coaches. Or is Nate Hackett the gold standard and our lone real example? If that's the case, it seems the opposite may be true. And tell Rob to consider himself added to the suit. I'm getting my eyeballs back.

There are multiple defensive coordinators who are currently head coaches, with Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles being an example and Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll being another – and New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick still another. Belichick is perhaps the best head coach of this era. The point of the assertion is that head coaching is more about leadership and organizational tone than play-calling.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

Ranked 29 out of 32 teams ... you're not wrong. They need to win games or all this talk about great leadership and improved culture will rightfully be in question. What happens if they keep losing?

If the Jaguars' final seven games go pretty much how the first 10 games went – an occasional victory, mostly close losses, competitiveness, general improvement – I don't know that anything significant will "happen" within the organization. I actually doubt anything significant will "happen" whatever the final seven games bring. Bottom line: The culture has improved this season, and so has the team. The record needs to improve next season. If that doesn't happen in the final seven games of this season it will be disappointing, but not a cause for panic.

J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL

So, let's say we sneaky sneak six or seven wins through the season and we're sitting in the draft with the opportunity to snag a killer wide receiver or a shake and bake corner. What would you choose?

When answering such questions it's necessary to note that you draft players – not positions. That means the correct answer is whichever player is better. But if you knew both players in your scenario would be high-impact, All-Pro level players – and if you were picking in a vacuum – I would take the wide receiver. That's partially because NFL rules have become skewed enough to offense that it's difficult for corners to have the same impact as receivers, though that sort of thing can be cyclical and it seems the league may be cycling back a bit to defense. Now, if you're not selecting in a vacuum – i.e., if need is an issue – then I would select corner for the Jaguars in your scenario. With wide receiver Calvin Ridley likely on the team next season, the Jaguars' projected top three receivers have the feel of a complete group. The corner position doesn't feel nearly as complete.

Dave from Jacksonville

Zone, what would you say is the hardest-to-understand team statistic of the first half of this season?  I would say the team offensive passing yards ranking in the bottom half is the most disappointing statistic to this point since we have a No. 1 quarterback, an offensive-oriented coaching staff, three free-agent receivers and an All-Pro free-agent lineman. On defense the team sack total is at the bottom of the league. Would you say those two stats are an accurate reflection of our current record?

I don't know that the offensive yards passing is quite so perplexing or concerning as your email indicates. The Jaguars are, after all, ninth in the NFL in total offense so it's not as if the offense has had major issues not being able to move. The most disappointing offensive statistic probably is that they are 19th in the NFL in scoring, but this is not hard to understand. They're a young team with a young quarterback in a new offense, so red-zone offense often will lag behind total yards. The sacks total is probably a better "reflection" of the current record. The Jaguars have had trouble closing games this season, and the inability to create timely pressure contributes to that.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Besides being Senior Editor, do you sometimes feel more like a fan therapist or fan punching bag? For me, more like a therapist.

I don't feel like a therapist or punching bag. I just know I always feel "awesome." Beyond that, it's all a blur.

Pete from Jacksonville

Happy Thanksgiving KOAF! I am thankful the Jags took Trevor Lawrence instead of Zach Wilson with the number one pick last year!


Carol from St. Johns

Watched Gene Smith, Dave Caldwell and now Trent Baalke with their drafts and to me the trend has continued on poor drafting overall.

Baalke has been the general manager for two drafts. It's far, far too early to judge the quality of those drafts.

Armand from Jville

I want to wish the entire staff, coaches, players, senior writers and all the fans a very safe and HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Back at ya.