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O-Zone: Heavy load

JACKSONVILLE – One more day to Look-Ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Robert from Moorpark, CA

Still can't help but feel a little indifferent about the season. I know Trevor, coaching and the team are leagues better than last year, but Sunday was just two bad NFL teams going at it, am I wrong? If we go down 17-0 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals or even the Tennessee Titans, there is a zero percent chance the Jags even make it competitive, right?

Fans feel how they feel about things, I suppose – sort of like real people. And if you expected the Jaguars to contend for the postseason, then it makes sense to feel indifferent about the 2022 season thus far. But making the postseason and/or finishing with a winning record always was going to be difficult for the '22 Jaguars. They were trying to rebuild and reset after four victories in two seasons, they had a first-year head coach implementing new offensive and defensive systems, they had a young roster with major offseason turnover and they had a young quarterback Trevor Lawrence in his first season in a new offense. Seen through that lens, the Jaguars in 2022 have shown some remarkable improvement. They are eighth in the NFL in total offense, 16th in total defense and have led in every game this season. All six losses have been by a score or less and they have led or been tied in the second half of every game except a one-score loss to the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles. Could they rally from a 17-point deficit against the teams you mention as they did in a 27-20 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday? Will they be competitive in every game the rest of the season? We'll see. But there's more reason to think they could do those things than there has been in a long time.

Bill from Saint Augustine, FL

Okay, they are better! But still need help.

Yes, the Jaguars are better. Nothing that has happened this season would lead any reasonable observer to think anything else. And of course they still need help. They won four games over the last two seasons and are trying to rebuild a roster weakened by years of missing first- and second-round draft equity. How in the world wouldn't they still need help?

Sal from Austin, TX

Go big or go home, baby. All teal all the time!

Sal is "all in."

Adam from Saint Johns, FL

Good win for the players. Glad they got that off their backs. There's a lot wrong with this defense. Too much money spent to be this bad. Glad they stepped up after giving up 17 pretty easy, but man, they have to get better. What are they not getting? Talent or coaching at this point? Here comes the backhanded, always coaching, but that's crap. There's something missing.

The Jaguars aren't yet a dominant defensive front in obvious passing situations and there have been too many coverage inconsistencies in the secondary and at the linebacker position. The money and draft equity spent in the offseason got them better, but it has not yet gotten them to a dominant level.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Zone, you picked the Jaguars to beat the Raiders. I see you, Zone.

I indeed did expect the Jaguars to win Sunday. I didn't know exactly why because there were a lot of matchups that were concerning. I just sort of thought it was their time. Yay for me.

Al from Orange Park, FL

Wait, wait, wait, I can see it now. Brad Meester as Pederson's replacement and everyone wearing camo tuxes for the team photo!! 😊

This is something of a sideways reference to former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday being named Colts interim head coach following Monday's dismissal of former Head Coach Frank Reich. Considering Saturday never has coached in the NFL, the move is unique and very much a surprise. I covered Saturday for 10 seasons and will not be surprised if one day he is a successful NFL head coach, though I – like many – am curious to see how he fares given his experience. I do not expect former Jaguars center Brad Meester to replace current Head Coach Doug Pederson, though Meester certainly could be a quality coach someday – and design a hell of a wardrobe for the team photo.

Daniel from Johnston, IA

I think what I found impressive about the game Sunday was the defense stopping the run. They were downright a steel wall. Not sure if they can do the same against Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, but that was very encouraging.

The Jaguars for the most part have been strong against the run this season. The exceptions have been when they have had to account for strong running quarterbacks such as Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles and Daniel Jones of the New York Giants. They allowed more than 200 yards rushing in each of those two games and no more than 116 in any other game.

Jimmy from Jax Beach and Section 134 since Day 1

Zonester, condolences to all the Jags "fans" who were pulling for Trevor to play poorly against the Raiders. I'll admit I don't understand wanting Trevor to be a bust and the Jags to lose just so they can be proven right but what do I know. Maybe the Chiefs game will offer them something to feel outraged about. Go Jags, I guess.

I don't sense Jaguars fans pulling against Lawrence. I do sense some Jaguars fans are so worried and convinced that nothing positive ever will happen positively for the team that they have convinced themselves prematurely that every early Lawrence misstep means he never will be good. Those same fans sometimes understandably lack perspective and think that no young quarterback ever has struggled before eventually becoming really good.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

A lot of positives from the come-from-behind victory over the Raiders. One that jumped out at me was the stellar play of Andrew Wingard, both on special teams and on defense (in relief). Given our defensive back struggles of late, has Andrew earned consideration as a starter?

I expect Rayshawn Jenkins to start over Wingard when healthy.

Frank from St. Augustine, FL

I don't think I recall a sack for the Raiders on Sunday. What a great effort by the O-line. And, when Trevor had to scramble, he was incredibly quick in his decision making.

Lawrence on Sunday said the Jaguars' offensive line for the most part has played well enough to win in every game this season. He made a good point. And yes … he showed very good poise and decision-making in multiple situations Sunday, including when to run.

The other Ryan from Denver, CO

Winning doesn't suck.

Good eye.

Rob from Middleburg, FL

Who knows? Maybe Sunday was all they needed. Maybe they only needed this to prove to themselves they had it in them. Maybe now they get on a serious roll. It wouldn't shock me. If they can go 6-2 in their last eight, and make two of those wins against the Titans, I think they could actually still win this division. It's a tall task, but it honestly wouldn't shock me.

I would be surprised if the Jaguars win the AFC South because I expect them to need to go at least 10-7 to do that and going 8-1 in nine games is really hard in the NFL. I also think it will be really difficult for the Jaguars to beat the Tennessee Titans twice because the Titans are really tough down the stretch and know how they want to play. But we'll see.

Kevin from Section 113

Perhaps this is my version of "fanning," but I hope Sunday's performance was what we needed to get over that hump ...

We'll see.

Keith from St. Augustine, FL

I was wrong about our offensive line and your opinion of it.

The Jaguars' offensive line in recent seasons never has been as bad as observers believed. At the same time, it was never a dominant unit and was never a team strength. It never seemed quite as good as the sum of its parts for various reason. It's a good offensive line this season. Really good a lot of the time.

Al from Orange Park, FL

When discussing whether ETN could handle a big workload running the ball, one of the announcers quoted some old-time coach who said, "the ball isn't that heavy." That made me laugh.

I laughed, too. On a serious note, it's probably past time to start seeing Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. through the lens of a "smaller back," or "running back/receiver" or "speed back." He doesn't see himself that way. He sees himself as a running back without any qualifiers. It's time for observers to see him that way, too. His quality of play in recent weeks has earned him that.

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