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O-Zone: Just stop

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dave from Jacksonville

A generic-play-calling, no-frills offense to put players on film is common in preseason. Arrows are pointing up and I believe Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is a special kind of talent. We should embrace the next ten years; it's going to be a heck of a ride. Trevor hasn't even begun his second year, and I can't think of a better place to be than to be a fan and watch what is about to happen. Standby to come aboard the Trevor Express. If Trevor is not using a hard count in preseason, it might be because they are not showing any motion offense to this point. Fair winds and following seas for the next ten years is how I have it.

I suppose discussion around Lawrence will continue in this vein for a couple of weeks, mainly because we won't see Lawrence or the Jaguars' starters in any more game action until the regular-season opener at Washington. I remain a bit perplexed about the angst around Lawrence, but that's OK. Perplexion can be … perplexing! Bottom line: Lawrence and the starting offense aren't struggling. The group has played seven series and has moved consistently on those series. The first offense has scored five times and missed a field goal on another drive. On still another one of those possessions, the unit drove before turning the ball over on downs. The Jaguars didn't close enough of those drives with touchdowns and Lawrence missed some throws. But the group as a whole looked a heck of a lot better than it did much of last season. Lawrence and the first-team offense during their two preseason games looked like what they are – i.e., a young quarterback with a lot of talent and a group of players still learning each other. I can't guarantee what the next 10-to-15 years will bring. But nothing has happened this preseason to indicate Lawrence won't be really good. Far more the opposite, in fact.

Bo from Winter Springs, FL

Do you think the reason a lot of Jags fans are so quick to be doom and gloom about any imperfection is just a learned response from rooting for a team that's been a mostly constant disappointment for the last decade? Do you think Patriots fans are like that? I'm almost always optimistic about the Jags, especially in the preseason. My son is the opposite. We are both big Jags fans, but boy is it tough watching a game with someone who looks for every flaw versus looking for the positive. We could all probably use a little bit of balance and not just when it comes to football fanning. How's your balance?

My balance is fine – and there's little doubt that many Jaguars fans look for doom and gloom for the reasons you cite. I also imagine many fans – like many people – are predisposed to looking for the negative. I get it. I, too, see the world through a cynical eye. I'm a troubled man, you can tell. And you're fooling yourself if you don't believe that. All I can do in this vein is tell people that this Jaguars team looks better right now at this stage of the preseason than most of the others I've covered since 2011. This feels like a big difference from recent versions. As far as how the team will fare this season, that improvement may simply mean being more competitive and offering hope. This team has been pretty bad for a while and must crawl out of that hole. But growth appears on the way. I don't know how balanced that view is, but it's my view from where I sit.

Bill from Avondale

In order to be bold, you just hold down the ctrl key and hit B on your keyboard. It's easy.

Heh.

Mike from Terceira, Azores

With the Jags again having first rights to claim released players, what position groups do you see them looking to upgrade?

The Jaguars are No. 1 in the waiver-claim order, which means they will have first choice of any players waived next week when teams reduce rosters to 53. I don't expect the Jaguars to significantly upgrade any positions at this time because I don't believe there will be many – if any – players released at that point who will start or be front-line players offensive or defensively. You could see them claim a kicker if they believe he can compete with recently claimed James McCourt, and you could see them search for depth/special teams with a claim or two.

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

Everyone knew Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. was fast, but his ability to break tackles has surprised me. He rarely goes down on first contact. Did you think he would be such a tough runner?

No.

Gary from Fleming Island

I don't think it is being overly pessimistic to say the Jags will not get to eight wins this season. Unless they can average at least 150 yards rushing a game, the passing game – for a variety of reasons – is just too anemic to get us there.

I expect the Jaguars to win seven-to-eight games. I don't expect the passing game to be anemic. I do expect this to be something of a transition year for Lawrence and the passing offense in the sense that it I expect it will be improved dramatically from where it was last season but not be elite enough to keep pace with the best passing offenses in the NFL. There's a long way from where the Jaguars were last season to being among the NFL's best. I think you can be better than anemic and still very much be moving in the right direction.

Justin from Jax

Hey, Zone. I'd like to take a crack at this narrative of many of the fans becoming prematurely anxiety ridden about Lawrence. My best guess is that the fandom is so used to being let down and watching things crumble around them, especially when it comes to the quarterback position, that watching Trevor miss a couple of routine throws is easy to highlight as "The beginning of the end." I know how dramatic that sounds, but I can't wholeheartedly blame them for being timid and nervous – though I don't share these notions. But that's just a stab in the dark. Think there could be any merit to this hypothesis?

Sure.

WJB3 from Yulee, FL

Per the last question answered for the last Ozone, which eight teams do you think we'll beat?

I don't do the go-through-the-schedule-before-the-season-and-circle-the-Ws thing. I get how people like to do this, but it's not my thing. Too much changes too fast from season to season in the NFL. I think there's a chance this defense could be good enough for the Jaguars to be surprising. If that's the case, they will beat some teams few expect.

David from Orlando, FL

Zone - I reviewed our new kicker Jaguars kicker James McCourt on YouTube and like what I see. He's got a strong leg and the football remains straight in flight, as opposed to shifting erratically in flight. I feel good about this move! James McCourt, welcome to Jacksonville!

Well … one fer McCourt.

Jonny from Jax no matter where I'm at

Brother O! I get the angst the fans have over the lack of scoring in the red zone. But realistically, the Jags probably are not going to call any of their more complex plays in the preseason right? Isn't play calling going to be somewhat vanilla until the preseason.

Yes. And Head Coach Doug Pederson addressed this after the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Preseason Week 2 last week, saying that he was calling plays specifically to work on the red-zone run offense when the Jaguars were inside the 20-yard line in that game. Why don't fans listen when the head coach says such things? I can't answer that one, Jonny. I'm good. I'm not that good.

Taylor from Santa Claus, IN

Throughout this camp, both sides of the ball appear to be playing faster and more aggressively. From your perspective, how else is this first camp under Coach Pederson different?

It's organized. And professional. And a heck of a lot quieter.

Steve from Nashville, TN

When Coach Pederson calls you "slithery" he does not mean it in the same way as Arden Key's slitheryness.

Fair.

James from Jacksonville

CJ Beathard is not a quality backup quarterback in this league, he is being over paid and underperforming. This team needs to win games; it is beginning to become the culture of the Jaguars to lose no matter what. The team had the game won in the first quarter and only needed to hold onto the ball and run out the clock, but they found a way to lose. We have the new coaches and new players, what is it going to take to get some wins?

You're referencing a preseason game.

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