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O-Zone: Hot dog bun

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Brad from Jacksonville Beach, FL

I know you recently talked someone off the ledge about Trevor Lawrence. I remained concerned, Zone. What if he's not what we believe? What if he's not the guy?

I indeed talked a reader "off the ledge" regarding Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence recently. Or at least I did my best to do that, which is rarely enough and perhaps wasn't enough in this case. Here's the bottom line on Lawrence: I don't know if he's "the guy." I don't know if he will be a "franchise quarterback." I don't know if he's what the Jaguars and their fans believe him to be. No one does; he's in his second season, and his first NFL season was such a mess organizationally that it's tricky to know what caused what to go wrong in 2021. But I haven't heard anyone around the Jaguars worried that Lawrence can't be the guy, and few in league circles doubt he will be good. That makes sense. He still possesses the same traits – athleticism, work ethic, size, arm talent, pocket presence, natural leadership, etc. – that made many project him as generational when he entered the league as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. He carried himself remarkably well throughout an incredibly difficult rookie season. He also finished that rookie season with his best performance of that season, which perhaps is a sign of resiliency and indication that the best is ahead for him. And for the Jaguars.

Gus from Tampa, FL

If we can stop the run and run the ball, I believe we will win the division. What do you think?

I suppose this depends on the extent to which the Jaguars can run and stop the run. I believe the Jaguars will be better against the run this season than they have been in recent seasons. I also believe they should be able to run effectively if both of their top running backs, Travis Etienne Jr. and James Robinson, are healthy and near 100 percent. If they can run as effectively as their division rivals – the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts – have run in recent seasons, then yeah … running that well can allow a franchise to contend. Those teams run at elite levels that enabled them to control games to an unusual extent. Perhaps the Jaguars can be that sort of running team. That's a difficult level to reach, but yes … if they reach it, they could contend.

Paul from Saint Johns

We have heard all about who looks good so far in practices for 2022, but who looks bad so far this season?

The Jaguars had three open practices in 2022 Organized Team Activities. Players report for 2022 Training Camp July 24.

Steve from Nashville, TN

JO. Did you ever eat at JU students' go-to spot to avoid cafeteria food, The Ranch House, a couple blocks from campus?

No, but prominent local attorney Oliver David Barksdale and I used to play pool at the Broken Spoke on University Boulevard near JU in the late eighties. Good times, good memories.

Chris from Mandarin

I think the receiving corps will be fine. They have a productive group. Christian Kirk and Marvin Jones Jr. will most likely be 70-plus catches and five touchdowns or so each. Laviska Shenault Jr. has been over 60 receptions each of his first two years. Tight end Evan Engram catches about 45 or so balls per year on average. If everything went exactly that way, and that's not predicting anything crazy, it would still be much better than anything seen here in a real long time.

Good eye.

EJ from Jacksonville

Would you please explain the different skill set for a punt returner and kick returner? What are advantages of two deep as opposed to a single?

A great punt returner typically has short-area burst and quickness with ability to make multiple tacklers miss coupled with the ability to accelerate away from those tacklers quickly. A great kickoff returner more often possesses elite speed with the ability – and courage – to race full speed up-field through holes in coverage team racing the other way at top speed. While there have been returners who excel on both kickoffs and punts, they indeed are different skills. I think your second question is about two-deep coverage versus man to man. Two deep coverage is a zone-based defense designed to prevent big, over-the-top plays and make offenses go the length of the field on extended, multi-play drives depending on shorter passes. Single coverage – particularly press man – is designed to take away shorter gains and create more pressure on given plays, forcing the quarterback and receiver to try to beat defenses by making plays downfield. Both have advantages, depending on the skills of the personnel.

Sean from Jacksonville

Why is there a braille pad at a drive-up ATM?


Bill from Springfield, VA

Zone, I am having a hard time remembering a team so bad for so long and suddenly their franchise quarterback appears and seemingly overnight they become respectable. What is your single favorite worst to respectable team memory?

I don't have a favorite along these lines. The Colts struggled for the better part of their time in Indianapolis until selecting quarterback Peyton Manning No. 1 overall in 1998. They then made the playoffs in 10 of the next 12 seasons. That's probably the most extreme recent example of a franchise quarterback reversing a franchise's fortunes.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-mantradamus, you mean to tell me your well-thought out predictions aren't absolutely perfect?

My predictions aren't all that well-thought-out.

Seamus Sioux from Falls, SD

I think Michael from Middleburg may have some confusion when he "busted" you on being a "fan" of the franchise. Head Coach Doug Pederson also has expressed excitement in seeing growth out of TLaw; does that mean he is a fan and thus invalidated as head coach? Hoping for and anticipating positive development out of key players for an organization does not necessarily make you a fan. Fanning can take on many different forms, but whether you have personal affection for the franchise or its players does not automatically invalidate your ability to attempt to hold realistic, critical viewpoints on these subjects. PS - I hope to see continued growth and development here in the 'Zone, but I'm not a fan.

It's the dead zone, so I guess we take a deeper dive on these topics than normal – and a deeper dive than makes much sense. I wrote something recently to the effect that I was looking forward to seeing if Lawrence improved in 2022. I also wrote something to the effect that I wouldn't mind seeing that happen. I wrote the second part because Jaguars fans read this column and I would like to see those readers get some enjoyment from something about which they feel so passionately. I also would like to see the Jaguars improve because it's more pleasant covering a team that's not as terrible as the Jaguars have been in recent seasons. Some readers, Michael from Middleburg evidently included, took that to mean I am a "fan" of the Jaguars. That's fine. People believe what they choose. Go Jaguars.

MrMakersMark from E 3rd Street

Not a question, just support for your choice of Springfield. I think there is more of a chance of getting hurt driving back and forth a 1,000 miles to St. Johns County every day than anything bad to happen to you on your dog walks or trips to Strings. Some people live with the blinders on all their life, some experience life. PS - missed ya at the baseball game.

I was at the baseball game. I've lived in many areas of Jacksonville over four decades. I now live in Springfield. I don't worry about anything bad happening to me in Springfield that I didn't worry about everywhere.

Diego from South of Tierra del Fuego

Why do you ignore Diego's comments as much as you do yet reply to Gary' s dumb comments on a regular basis. Diego is smarter and funnier than either of you two turkeys. Diego for President!


Al from Orange Park, FL

Luck was supposed to be a "generational quarterback" coming out, as is/was Lawrence. Which do you think had the greatest hype coming out? If we look back in 15 years, which would you predict would have had the most impact for their team?

Andrew Luck was a generational quarterback. Both he and Lawrence were hyped, though the general thought when Lawrence was entering the 2022 NFL Draft was that Luck had been more of a can't-miss generational prospect when he entered the 2012 Draft than Lawrence was in '22. I expect Lawrence will have more impact than Luck because I expect him to play longer than Luck.


No question. Loved the John Prine quote. What a singer/songwriter! Saw him and John Hiatt a few years back in Memphis. Just trying to have me some fun.

Blow up your TV.