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O-Zone: Just because

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dan from Ponte Vedra, FL

John, where do you believe this team would be had they initially hired Doug Pederson over Urban Meyer?

First, that wasn't an option because Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson didn't want to coach in 2021; he had just been fired by the Philadelphia Eagles, and he has said multiple times he needed and wanted time before taking another NFL head coaching position. But if all else was equal and if life were a vacuum, and if Pederson had started as quarterback Trevor Lawrence's head coach with this coaching staff and these players when Lawrence was a rookie? I expect the Jaguars would be further ahead – around .500 this season or perhaps a little above. I expect Lawrence would have been more acclimated and comfortable in Pederson's system, and I expect that would have been true of other key players as well. I think it's fair to believe that would have made the difference in a few of the close losses the Jaguars have sustained in the first 10 games.

Thrill from The 'Ville

A common thought about NFL preseason is that you can't wait for it start, then you can't wait for it to be over. The state of the Jaguars right now feels the same way. For two years fans couldn't wait until they were "at least competitive." Now that they are I can't wait to move past competitive to more winning than losing. Winning is fun. Fans like it.

I remember saying "I can't wait for the preseason to start." I think it was 1974 or 1975. I then watched a preseason game on our tube television in our "den" at Riverbend Apartments in Arlington. I don't know that I've said "I can't wait for the preseason to start" since then. But yes … winning is cool. Fans like it.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

I was away on vacation Sunday, but DVRed the game. I loved Pederson's energy and aggression right out the gate with the kick. He was showing a real intent and belief they could win. Our defense is just ... lackluster. Sorry I don't really like the Travon Walker pick at this moment. Aiden Hutchinson would have been SO much more productive this year (look at sack/pressure numbers ... 5.5 sacks, 28 tackles and one interception). I don't think this team wins any more than one game remaining this season. Really hope the front office can get the draft right this year and stop picking "potential" players versus those who are NFL ready. Tired of projects who could be superstars instead of solid contributors from Day 1. Oh, one last thing, I ran into you on the way to the Raiders game. Was walking behind you and exchanged greetings beside the baseball stadium. Cool meeting you ... kinda.

Walker is a solid contributor as a rookie, though time indeed will tell if he reaches superstar status. And good meeting you, too. Kinda.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

The defense was frustrating, but Kansas City only scored what they had offensively all year long. It seems clear that the offense, with four free possessions, didn't put up points. Why do you think most of the trending criticisms seems to be at the feet of the defense? Is it because of how open people were getting or because we thought the defense was mostly locked away at the beginning of the season?

My sense is the focus on the Jaguars' defense is because the unit has declined somewhat since playing well for the first five games. The offense ranks seventh in the NFL and seventh in the NFL in rushing and is perceived to have made strides. The defense also left some receivers pretty wide open Sunday. That has made the unit a pretty easy target since then.

Abel from Westside

You say the Chiefs are one of the least-penalized teams in the NFL! But of course, the referees keep letting them get away with offensive holding!

OK!

WJBIII from Yulee, FL

IF the NFL draft were to be held today, where do you think the Jags would be picking in the first round and who do you think they would pick?

The Jaguars would select No. 5 if the 2023 NFL Draft were held today. I haven't the foggiest idea who the Jaguars would select if the draft were today. I think there's a good chance they will select a cornerback early, but I don't dive deep into the draft until late January/early February around the time of the Reese's Senior Bowl. That leaves about three months(ish) for draft talk. That's 'nuff.

Austin from Jacksonville

Jaguars safety Andre Cisco is my new favorite player. Even though we lost the Chiefs game, Cisco made two of the finest defensive plays I have ever seen while watching the Jags. Those hits got me off the couch and onto my feet even though we were losing. Now there is outcry from Chiefs fans regarding the violence of the game. Do you see those two hits being under the microscope for a rules change in the offseason?

No.

Warm Sushi from Ft Lauderdale

Is the criticism of Travon Walker fair at this stage in his career? Seems like outside linebacker/defensive ends need time to refine skills at the NFL level. J.J. Watt had 5.5 sacks his rookie season and then exploded to 20.5 in his second year. Couldn't a similar jump be possible for TW?

It's probably unrealistic to think Walker or any player will jump to 20.5 sacks; that's a stratospheric number attained by only a few. But could Walker improve dramatically in his second season? Yes, and that should be the expectation for a player selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft.

Mark from Sobieski

My wife and I drove to Kansas City to watch the Jags take on the Chefs. Though we lost we had a great time at Arrowhead Stadium (and in the city). The people were great, friendly and welcomed our fans with open arms. I even had some ask us if we were having a good time. This helped take the sting out of the loss (just a little).

My wife and I went to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga., for a day during the bye week. We immersed ourselves in all things FDR and enjoyed the crisp, fall air and changing colors. The people were great, friendly and welcomed us with open arms. I even had some ask us if we were having a good time. Then, I drank.

Gary from Wesley Chapel

Hey, John. I keep hearing people who think it's time to change the kicker. I disagree. First of all, how many times have you seen a kicker make a perfect onside kick? For me the answer is almost never - it is very frustrating and annoying to see so many professional kickers who cannot even come close to making a decent attempt on an onside kick. The fact that we now know that Riley Patterson can not only make a great kick, but also recover it himself makes him another great special teams weapon going into the future with this team (Along with Logan Cooke and Jamal Agnew). Rarely is a kicker asked to make an onside kick on the opening kickoff, then recover it himself. That was an awesome play, and he is not getting enough credit for that. On that play one of the Chiefs landed on his kicking leg, and I believe that affected his kicking on field goal attempts. He has been very effective and consistent in the kicking game this season. When he has missed, he has not missed by much. Give him a chance to heal over the bye week, even if he is not on the injury report. I think he'll be fine. So, one fer Riley Patterson.

One fer Patterson.

Daniel from Jacksonville

Do you think getting an improved interior pass rush is the single greatest factor that could unlock the potential of this defense? It seems like that would allow Allen and Walker to generate more pressure which in turn could help the secondary.

Improving the interior of the pass rush would help the Jaguars' pass rush overall. But the Jaguars also need more from edge rushers Josh Allen and Walker. The secondary also must cover a lot better. This is not to say better interior rush wouldn't help everything. It is to say interior rush isn't the only area currently ailing the Jaguars' defense.

Scott from JACKSONVILLE

I couldn't agree more with Michael from Orange Park. You often make valid points even though you are sooo annoying, particularly when you do that "good eye" thing. I'll have you know that both of my eyes have been clawed out now thanks to having to read that repeatedly. Thank you so much for that. Can you point me to a good lawyer?

Good eye.

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