JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Ed from Danvers, MA
One of the most exciting plays in Jaguars home history was when David Garrard threw a Hail Mary with time expiring, which was slammed down by the Houston cornerback at the goal line. Unfortunately, it landed directly into the hands of the Jaguars receiver who did a bunny hop into the end zone for the win. It was the defenders' awareness of the situation that cost them the game; he should have followed his natural instinct and just caught the ball. Then again, maybe it bounces off him: same result. Remember that one?
You're referencing the Hail Mary pass from quarterback David Garrard to wide receiver Mike Thomas that gave the Jaguars a home victory over the Houston Texans in 2010, and you're correct that Texans defensive back Glover Quin played the play "correctly" by batting the ball down rather than intercepting it. The carom went directly to Thomas, who reacted remarkably quickly to make the catch and step – or hop – into the end zone. In that situation, catching the ball would have been the better play for Quin. But you coach these things on percentages. The percentage play is to bat the ball down. If a defensive back tries to make the interception, there's a greater chance of the ball deflecting up – and therefore a greater chance for the receiver to make a reception. It went horribly wrong for the Texans that day – and terrifically right for the Jaguars – but Quin still made the right play.
Sean from Tallahassee, FL
This being a team sport, there is too much glory or failure put on the quarterback position. With that, I am thinking that we are looking at the quarterback situation too myopically. We don't need Trevor Lawrence to be the best QB1 in Year Two, right? My thought is we need to ask whether we think Head Coach Doug Pederson will have more success with Lawrence than he did with Carson Wentz, Alex Smith or Nick Foles. If the answer is no, then all the changes on the offensive line or in the receiver room won't matter, but if the answer is yes, he is a better quarterback than Smith, then the question is really did we do enough at the other positions to see an over .500 season? What say you?
Wentz was having a near-Most Valuable Player-level season playing for Pederson in 2017 with the Philadelphia Eagles before a season-ending injury. Foles won a Super Bowl playing for Pederson later that same season. Smith threw 61 touchdown passes with 20 interceptions and a Pro Bowl appearance playing for Pederson with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2013-2015. If Pederson has the same success with Lawrence he had with those quarterbacks, that will mark better quarterback play than this franchise has had in some time. If that begins to happen this season, I expect the Jaguars' short- and long-term fortunes to look much brighter beginning this season. I don't know if that will mean a .500 season this season. Progress doesn't always mean immediate results. What the Jaguars want this season is progress. If that happens, the results will come.
Daniel from St Johns, FL
Soccer? Is that something from the dark web or the mysterious comments section?
Darren from Fort Worth, TX
I just like to keep reminding you that I said after the 2020 draft that K'Lavon Chaisson was just another Dante Fowler and would be another bust. How's that looking so far?
I can't say I recall you reminding me of this recently, or even that I recall you saying it following the 2021 NFL Draft. But hey … maybe you did. Probably you did. Whatever. The reality is this: Chaisson, the No. 20 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, has just two career sacks in two seasons and clearly hasn't made much of an impact. He has yet to even be as productive as Fowler, who had 14 sacks and some highlight moments in three-plus seasons with the Jaguars after they made him the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. I get an idea listening to coaches that Chaisson will get a real opportunity this season – not as a starter, perhaps, but part of the linebacker rotation. The Jaguars need him to be productive, particularly on special teams, and they would love him to force his way into opportunities defensively – and to make some plays there. The Jaguars have a real chance to have a good starting linebacker corps with Josh Allen and Travon Walker on the outside and Foye Oluokun and Devin Lloyd on the inside. They also have a chance to be pretty deep there with players such as Chaisson and Chad Muma. So, yeah … so far, it's looking like your bold prediction was correct. Goodie for you and we'll see how it goes moving forward.
Scott from Jacksonville
We haven't beaten Houston since 2017? Eww! And they've had some pretty bad teams since then, too. Hopefully we can break the hell out of that streak this year.
Ryan from Apopka, FL
Your favorite part of the dead zone, admit it, is being able to watch a little Wimbledon. Now this year without your favorite player – Roger Federer – what do you see happening over these two weeks? We have some young guns, but they still can't crack the two crafty vets in Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in any major. Does Novak close the gap between him and Rafa down to one in the all-time major category and set up a chance to tie at the U.S. Open in August/September? Or can one of these up-and-coming players finally crack the greats and win a major and start their career? I sure love me some breakfast at Wimbledon in July as we wait for training camp to start.
I can't say I'm pulling for Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon. But if he's at his best – and that has been unknown in the last 10 months or so – I can't pick against him right now on grass. I can't see Nadal winning on grass considering his recent health issues – even considering his victories in the Australian and French opens already this year. But this is mainly about Djokovic. If he's focused and 100 percent physically – i.e., if he's at his best – I expect he will find a way to win.
John from Fernandina Beach, FL
When a new coach takes over a team, who has the new playbook? Offensive coordinator or head coach? Don't think Urban Meyer knew the plays!
When a new head coach arrives at an NFL team, he hires an offensive coordinator and staff. If the head coach has background as an offensive coordinator, the new team typically runs an offensive system largely based on that coach's background – and using the structure and many of the plays of the scheme(s) the head coach has run in the past. If the head coach doesn't have background as an offensive coordinator, the team typically uses the structure and many plays of the scheme(s) the coordinator has run in the past. There are also wrinkles in terminology and specific assignments within plays based on personnel – and based on input from other offensive coaches. All "playbooks" constantly change to fit changes in the game – defensive and offensive approaches and personnel. It's a constantly changing game, which is why offenses and defenses look different now than in the past. Those changes don't take place in one season. They occur naturally, over time.
Gary from Undisclosed Location
You say we know where to find you. That's not really true. Are you at your home, the nearby brewpub or hidden deep in the bowels of the stadium offices?
Red from O-Zone Comments Section
Do you ever get tired of talking about the same things over and over and over? It's the dead zone. Old Red says it's ok to take a day or two off every week. What say you?
O-Zone says Red can take a day off from reading the O-Zone any time he wants. And he says there are a lot of lanes. Maybe Red can stay in his.
John from Playa Del Carmen
You mentioned you see Laviska in a receiver/running back role this season. Is this something official based on how they've been using him in the off-season, or just speculation? There are few players more electric with the ball in hand than Viska, the problem seems to be finding ways to get the ball in his hands...
I could see third-year wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. in something of a hybrid receiver/running back role this season. That's because I see the Jaguars' top three receivers being Marvin Jones Jr., Zay Jones and Christian Kirk. With that being the case, coaches can get Shenault involved by being creative and moving around in the offense in addition to his "normal" receiver role.
Michael's Ghost from Middleburgh
Gene found me.