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O-Zone: In the weeds

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jason from Green Cove Springs, FL

I feel like I noticed something important when I painfully rewatched last Sunday's game. This team had a lot of opportunities to make plays and left them on the field. From dropped interceptions to passes there were lots of chances. Do you agree? And how does this team find some playmakers? I believe we are still first in the waiver wire.

You're correct that the Jaguars missed too many plays in a Week 1 loss to the Houston Texans. They dropped too many passes in the first half, missed two chances for interceptions (cornerback Shaquill Griffin and safety Rayshawn Jenkins) and missed multiple sack opportunities. Many NFL games are decided on big plays; great players make them. Where does a team find great playmakers? I suppose they have been found on the waiver wire. I also suppose it's pretty rare.

Dave from Jacksonville

Zone, what is the old saying, "You're never as good or as bad as it looks in your first game?" Tell me that is true. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence is still the future. Earlier I bragged he could be compared to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway. We shall see this weekend. I bought seven club seats and am flying family in from five different states to witness for themselves. Wizard, we are still on track for Trevor, aren't we?

Your question implies Lawrence looked awful in his first NFL game last Sunday. This isn't the case. He had a few bad plays, notably three rookie-mistake interceptions. He also had just as many plays many quarterbacks don't have the talent to make. I see no reason he won't eliminate rookie mistakes and see no reason he won't continue to make special plays. Perhaps most notably, he showed very good pocket awareness and continued to look downfield when under pressure as opposed to looking quickly to escape the pocket and run. The last part is paramount for a young quarterback. So, yes … Lawrence is still on track. Absolutely. Now, as for Sunday's home opener against the Denver Broncos the game in which "we shall see" about Lawrence … I wouldn't say that. Maybe he will look great. Maybe he won't. Either way, the story of his career won't be written Sunday.

Justin from Sacramento, CA

So many people predicted this team to not be very good record-wise. Even you predicted this team to only win six games. So why the upset when this team loses when people's predictions indicate this team not being very good anyway?

Fans want their team to win. When their teams lose – particularly when they look bad doing it, as was the case for the Jaguars Sunday – they become upset. Why would they feel different?

Fanning from Jax

Geez, what is wrong with this team! Everyone should be fired! What a disgrace! Fans Gonna Fan!

Welcome to the O-Zone. You will fit right in.

James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

Mighty O-man: (sounds like a cereal) Which one of our two tackles do you think are on a shorter leash? I think Cam, he's got more experience, but still keeps dropping the ball too much.

I get no sense the Jaguars are in a hurry to get either right tackle Jawaan Taylor or left tackle Cam Robinson out of the starting lineup. That could change after Sunday, though I don't think we're close to there yet. Either way, as of now, I wouldn't necessarily say either is ahead or behind the other in this sense.

Marcus from Jacksonville

I think each Jaguar fan should get a free hot dog at the stadium every time a Jaguars head coach says "it won't happen again" in a post-game press conference. Unfortunately, those statements almost always prove to be untrue, and odds are we'll see more of the same throughout the season in route to another dumpster fire of a season.

Your cheery optimism is encouraging … nay, inspiring. We should hang out.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Lawrence is going to have to get in the habit of noticing what the defense is in and take what they give him. Texans played Cover 2 most of the game and the checkdown man was open consistently. Lawrence rarely looked for the check down. I think once he gets that part figured out, the proverbial tree will bear fruit.

You described the maturation of a young quarterback. The Cover 2 defense is designed to play bend-don't-break and prey on the impatience of quarterbacks who eventually will throw downfield rather than take the checkdown. It is an effective defense, as evidenced by its extensive usage over the last four decades or so. And yes … when Lawrence figures it out, he will improve against that defense.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey John, I know special teams are important but is it really so important that you would rather have a potential breakout returner on the roster than some guys – e.g. Laquon Treadwell? There was not one kick return chance on Sunday as far as I can remember. Why is Urban so big on special teams?

There are certainly arguments against emphasizing special teams as much as the Jaguars have emphasized it under Head Coach Urban Meyer. The obvious argument is that kickoff returns aren't nearly as important a part of the NFL as they were before the league changed rules to reduce injuries on the play. I do wonder if perhaps Meyer will rethink this after a season in the NFL. The argument for emphasizing special teams – and having a breakout returner – is few plays change momentum as much as a huge return. If the emphasis on special teams decides momentum – and games – three or four times a season, then the emphasis is more than worth it.

_Wade from Westside, FL              _

Could you please tell Coach Meyer one thing? Run the damn ball!


Mitch from Jacksonville

What's the game plan for slowing down Miller and Chubb (assuming he plays)?

Jaguars coaches don't share their game plan before the game, and we're certainly not in the business of sharing the game plan on It stands to reason the Jaguars will have packages to block edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb with help from running backs and tight ends. And Taylor and Robinson must block them effectively. And the Jaguars likely will have some screens and draws designed to slow the rush. The best way to slow those rushers? Run well, stay in manageable down-and-distance situations and don't let Denver get a significant lead. Those are always the best way to slow a pass rush.

Mark from Jax

All the debate about Lawrence after Sunday's debacle and the consensus seems to be that's what to be expected of a rookie quarterback. Is that correct? Except that he's not supposed to be just a rookie quarterback. He was supposed to be the golden child, the can't-miss, generational talent, etc. I for one have never been on that train and was a little dismayed when the Jags drafted him. While he has an outstanding record in high school and college, it doesn't tell the whole story. Struggles against good competition, stares down his receivers – and though he has a quick release, he tends to wait for open receivers instead of throwing them open. All of these were present Sunday and were knocks on him coming out of college. I think he's just a guy and when in the right situation can thrive. He's not the second coming of Peyton Manning or even Andrew Luck. He will never be The Guy. He can't take a team on his back and produce Ws. In other words, he's not a franchise QB, sorry Jaguars.


Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, do you think the level of talent in the NFL has gone down over the years? Maybe my mind is selective, but I thought they were better than this.

An argument can be made that NFL players don't tackle as well as once was the case. That's likely because NFL teams don't practice tackling or high-intensity blocking. The risk of injury is too great. I could argue that many facets of the NFL don't look as crisp and fluid because of this, particularly early in the season. But I can't rightly say players are less talented than before. Players are bigger, stronger and faster now – so if that's your definition of talent, then no … the talent hasn't gone down. Now, as for whether players now are better football players than past eras … yes, that's a fair discussion.

Andy from St Augustine, FL

If a goose is truly lost in high weeds, wouldn't it simply fly above the weeds to see where it is, and no longer be lost? And to be honest, you're not always as funny as you might think (although I'm not sure there are 10,000 comedians out of work).

Don't kid yourself. I'm a damned riot.