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O-Zone: #IWATJ

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Fred from Wadesboro, NC

John, regarding the respect thing and motivating a team … didn't we beat the Chargers 38-10 in Week 3? Wasn't that at their place and we went in with an abysmal record on West Coast trips? And aren't they playing at our place on a Saturday night and dealing with some injuries after a controversial decision to play all the starters in Week 18? And they're favored to beat us? Something seems amiss here.

There's not really much amiss. This game feels either-or to me. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jaguars win and I wouldn't be surprised if the Chargers win, and I expect the game to be high-scoring and close. The Chargers are favored by a point and a half or so. Oddsmakers typically know their stuff. A point and half is a small line, hardly insulting. It makes some sense considering the Chargers were dealing with a lot of injuries in Week 3. Maybe it's a good point spread. Maybe it's not. Kickoff is Saturday at 8:15 p.m. The point spread won't matter then.

Marcus from Jacksonville

John, I always hear about the end of the Jaguars' early era being related to the salary cap. My question is, has the way the cap works changed since then, or have teams just found a way to work around it? It seems like teams don't get in salary cap hell anymore, they just restructure, push money into the future, and do other things to make it work. Were the 1990s Jags in such a bad cap position that it was beyond working around, or have things changed since then that make it easier to maneuver?

The salary cap goes up more year to year nowadays, so it's easier for teams to push money into the future – and teams have learned better how to structure contracts. Teams still get into salary-cap hell, , though, which is why you see teams release veteran players in the offseason as the free-agency period approaches. But yes … those 1990s Jaguars teams were in an extreme version of cap hell by the standards of any era.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: Last I checked, all three Florida teams are in the playoff. Hasn't happened in a while. One fer Florida.

One fer Florida.

Andy from Halifax

I have sensed some anxiety over Trevor playing well despite a solid defensive and offensive line effort and I ask you, why would that be a bad thing? If an off game by Trevor is our only issue, then I am VERY optimistic for the playoffs.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 20 of 32 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a victory over Tennessee last week. He missed one pass badly in the end zone. He was also under pressure a lot of the second half. He was a little off. It wasn't tragic or a cause for concern.

Herbert from Newton, KS

How come the Jags don't leave a running back in the backfield to help protect Trevor?? I don't understand this. With left tackle Cam Robinson out, he needs MORE PROTECTION.

When you leave a back in protection, it takes one out of the pattern.

Steven from Wilmington, NC

Hey O – long-time reader, first-time writer. First off, thanks for all you do for us fans. I know we've talked on the blog about the quality of last year's free agent class, but I wanted to give a shout out to Arden Key. He doesn't fill up the stat sheet, and he is oft-overlooked by bigger names, but the guy is disruptive. His pressure rate against the Titans was outstanding, and he seems to lift those around him on the defensive front as well. I know he may be one and done in Duval, but I'd love to find a way to bring this guy back next year. Seems like a great complement to Travon.

Key, a defensive lineman who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Jaguars in the 2022 offseason, has been phenomenally productive this season. I don't know that it's a given that he's one-and-done here. The Jaguars plan to try to retain multiple free agents next offseason, and Key very much wants to be here. That doesn't guarantee he will return, but when both sides want something done it increases the chances to get that thing done.

Jake from Hawthorne, NJ

How would you assess Walker Little's time at left tackle? From my eyeball test, he seems to look like he belongs with the starters.

He has played well. Yes, it does.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

How much harder will it be for Fred Taylor to enter the Hall of Fame than Tony Boselli? Boselli had many honors and accolades during his career. I don't recall Taylor being as widely acclaimed as Boselli during their respective times in Jax. If enshrined, what will be the arguments that sway the voters?

It will be harder for the reasons you cite. Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli was widely considered and recognized as being the best left tackle in the NFL for several seasons while he played. Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor was not recognized as such as widely – though a strong argument can be made that that was a mistake by those doing the recognizing. I do believe Taylor will one day be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What will sway the voters? His numbers. His tape. And the opinions of those who played against him.

Shawn from Jacksonville

Hi, John. You mentioned recently that the Jags lost their first six games by a score or less. I knew that but it dawned on me that with some different circumstances and maybe a play or two we would have won those games and been 15-2. They have played hard all year long and never given up. They deserved to be where they are right now, in the playoffs. GO JAGS!!!!!

The Jaguars absolutely deserve to be in the playoffs. They lost some games could/have won early. They won some they could/should have won late. They're probably about where they belong.

Dave from Jacksonville

Zone, would you say the Jags are at the pinnacle of talent they can accumulate in the next few years? Salary cap will prevent additions without subtracting. They (hopefully) will not have this high of draft capital in the upcoming seasons. All doesn't matter as long as we have Trevor. That being the case why not now? Opportunity has knocked.

I don't expect the Jaguars to be very active acquiring veteran free agents in the 2023 offseason, though they already have acquired a potential starting wide receiver via trade in Calvin Ridley. They expect to be more active in the 2024 offseason. Remember: Free agency isn't the only way to improve. Or the best way. The best way is to have players you draft play well, develop and then play better.

Christopher from San Diego, CA

We seemingly have a very loaded roster for next year, considering most or all of the core stays. Makes it hard to think about the draft other than potentially trading for more picks and depth. However, do you see the potential to draft another edge and have Josh Allen and or Walker taking substantial reps at OLB? Maybe a 3-4-4 look?

I see the potential to talk a lot about the draft once the Jaguars' season ends.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

Is Trevor up for the task at hand? He wasn't last week. I liked Pederson's comment that you want to play loose and with focus. When Trevor plays bad, when it's too big for him and he's lost confidence, he plays carelessly and just chucks the ball thoughtlessly. Here's hoping he is ready to succeed. He has all the ability and talent.

Lawrence wasn't great last week. But judging by your assessment, Lawrence hasn't played bad very often. If he was playing bad a lot, and if he was always playing "carelessly," he probably would have a lot more than eight interceptions.

JR from The Squatchlands

The Colts are without a head coach and starting quarterback and so are the Texans now that Lovie Smith was let go. The Titans also appear to be cleaning house and are getting old fast. I'm obviously excited about our playoff game this weekend, but I can't help but feel like our chances of dominating the AFC South for the next few years are looking pretty preeeetty good.

The Jaguars won the AFC South and have the most stable quarterback situation in the division. The Colts and Texans must find their quarterback and hope they make a good decision. The Titans have Ryan Tannehill for the present with the future to be determined. The Jaguars have a very real chance for a good run. Now, they must play the games.

CAROL from St. Johns, FL

Just a thought on all the Jag fans who are not with us anymore … My father was the biggest Jaguars fan and he passed in 2014, so I just know how he would love this right now. My shout out is too all the Jaguars fans who are no longer here in body but of course are here in spirit. It Was Always The Jags!

Indeed it was.

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