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O-Zone: Hero worship

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it…

Nick from South Carolina

This team is built different. This game seemed more impressive than other wins this season. What say you, John?

I say I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on the Jaguars' 31-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, La., Thursday. I thought before the game the Jaguars had a chance to win, but I didn't think they would win. I thought as beat-up as they were, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence playing on an injured knee and with multiple players – including cornerback Tyson Campbell – out, that they would need an unreal effort to win. I also thought – and said publicly – that if they won, I would be really impressed and very optimistic about this team's chances moving forward. Color me impressed. And optimistic. Thursday's game had all the pregame signs of a loss. A lesser team and many previous Jaguars team could have – and probably would have – been blown out in that game. It would have been easy for the Jaguars to have lost and figured it was just one of those difficult games – and that they could make up for it by playing better in later games. That they figured out a way to win in a difficult environment is ultra-impressive. Along with the victory over the Buffalo Bills, yes … I would call it the Jaguars' most impressive victory of the season. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said Friday this team is learning how to win. From this view, they already have learned. There's probably nothing more important when it comes to being a serious contender.

Jake from Hawthorne, NJ

With momentum on our side, do you see Baalke making a splash before the trade deadline?

I wouldn't be surprised if Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke makes a trade at or before the October 31 NFL trade deadline. I wouldn't be surprised if that move was for a pass rusher. I also wouldn't be surprised if a trade doesn't happen. Baalke certainly will consider it and very likely will explore it. But that's not the same thing as doing it, and remember: Such a trade has to make sense in terms of compensation and the salary cap over the long-term as well as the short-term. Stay tuned on this one.

Paul from Washington, D.C.

The defensive line couldn't slam the door when the team was up two scores. What did you see from outside linebackers Travon Walker and Josh Allen?

A couple of good players affecting the pocket and not quite getting sacks.

Karter from Navy

Thursday can be some weird games, but the Jags came through. Last year they learned to win. This year, they're learning how to keep a lead.

There's a lot of truth here. After rallying from seven or more points in six of their last eight victories last season, the Jaguars haven't trailed by more than four points in any of their five victories this season. They have not trailed in three of their five victories and did not trail the Saints Thursday. They have not trailed in the second half during their current four-game winning streak. In the NFL, that's knowing how to maintain a lead.

James from Titusville, NJ

So help me if I end up reading a slew of complaints over the next 10 days about "how" we won and "yeah, but" comments. The Jags are 5-2 and winning close games along with double-digit victories, including a sweep of the Colts. These are good times, baby! I'm going to enjoy them while they last! Because my goodness, the majority of the previous decade has been a football nightmare.


Kevin from Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada

I was surprised, possibly shocked that Calvin Ridley's name did not come out in Friday's O-Zone. I would've thought he would've been a hot topic for conversation. With that said, now that we are seven games into the season, how do we assess his performance thus far and do you envision a role for him in the offense beyond this season? Were the minimal targets in Thursday's game more of an issue of who was covering him, his inability to get open or play calling (QB getting it out quickly to avoid risk of sack)?

I actually was a touch surprised Ridley was such a hot topic in other Jaguars Friday morning. Yes, he caught just one pass for five yards Thursday – and that was admittedly a low number. But this Jaguars offense is not set up to target any particular player far more often than others. The system has worked best when Lawrence distributes passes organically as opposed to forcing the ball to a particular receiver. Also: Pederson said the Saints were defensing Ridley to take him out of the offense. Maybe the biggest reason I didn't think much about Ridley's statistics after the game was the Jaguars were playing in some unusual circumstances. Lawrence was playing on an injured knee against a good defense in difficult conditions. This was a game in which whatever was needed to win had to be done without regard to statistics or style. The Jaguars won. Overall, my thought is Ridley has been fine. I don't know that they beat the Colts in Week 1 or the Buffalo Bills in Week 5 without him. He also made a huge play early in the Week 4 victory over Atlanta. An argument can be made they're 3-4ish without him and 5-2 with him. That's impact.

Zach from Vancouver, WA

Christian Kirk is WR1.


Andrew from Halifax

It matters not but it looked like Ridley was in bounds.

You're referencing a fourth-quarter pass from Lawrence to Ridley Thursday, a play on which Ridley made a remarkable one-handed catch while appearing to stay just in bounds. I agree with you that it looked like Ridley executed the catch. Pederson said it was confirmed to him immediately that Ridley was just out of bounds. That's why Pederson didn't challenge the call.

Bill from Springfield, VA

Opening drive of game for a TD, Next Gen stat of the game: The Saints defense generated only three team pressures against Lawrence (8.6% pressure rate), the lowest pressure rate by a defense in a game this season. The Saints pass rush did not pressure Lawrence on a single dropback in the second half. People need to chill!

Fans don't chill. Fans fan. It's what they do.

Bill from Jersey

Dr O- I tuned in to a morning show on a prominent national network to see what the all-important analysis was on Thursday's victory. One "expert" stated that Lawrence wasn't good Thursday night and threw a bad interception before the half. Obviously, the exact opposite happened but what brutal commentary from the league's network. Why is the national media so consistently bad? There was only one game on Thursday.

There are good and bad football analysts, just as there are good and bad employees in pretty much every field and every office anywhere. I can't speak for other analysts. I'm just glad I'm "awesome."

Matthew from Yulee

As the Jaguars scored on their opening drive Thursday it occurred to me that I wasn't surprised. It's been a looong time since I wasn't surprised by an opening drive score!


Trevor from Jacksonville, FL

My biggest fear going in was that Trevor would get hurt. He did not, and we came out on top with our best record since David Garrard. It's a good day to be a Jags fan, what are the odds that Zay comes back healthy for Pittsburgh?

Pederson on Friday said Jones and Walker Little, each of whom has missed the last two games with knee injuries, could practice next week.

Ricky from Duuuval

Could you imagine if Urban Meyer was the head coach of this team? After a big win in New Orleans, that (guy) would have stayed behind and partied for days on Bourbon Street.

I smiled at this. I laughed at the unedited version.

Bobby From Section 410 from Summerville, SC

Hi, John. You always say winning is cool, so how cool was it for the Jags to go on the road and beat a team they haven't beat in 20 years?

Going on the road on a Thursday and beating any team is cool. A lot of fans seemed to like it. They should. Some fans didn't like it. I suppose that's whatever. Either way, what the Jaguars did Thursday wasn't easy. And it was important. It bodes well for this team moving forward. The Jaguars are doing impressive things right now. They're winning in different ways, making winning plays late in games – and they're winning the way contending teams win. That's good stuff for the good guys.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

What time did Johnny boy's head hit the pillow early Friday morning?

Five-thirty(ish). But please: Don't call me a hero. JP Shadrick is a hero. I am not a hero.