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O-Zone: Key grip

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

Press has had a rough time of it so far. You can believe that Press called the plays in the second halves last year if you want to, but I don't. Either way, something's off. Play-calling was a strength last year and that's a fact. Spin that it wasn't, but I don't believe that either.

I don't know what "spin" means. I do know offensive coordinator Press Taylor called plays in the second halves of games last season, with Head Coach Doug Pederson calling them in the first halves. This is not a matter of me believing. This is not my opinion. This is what happened. I guess it would be cool if you believed it. That not being the case changes nothing about it being what happened. And play-calling indeed was a strength at times last season. Among these times were the second halves of a lot of big games late in the season in which the Jaguars rallied to win. The play-calling got praised at these times. It got criticized at times when plays were less successful, too. I expect that pattern will continue because it's easy to credit play-calling for success and failure. Something else happened last season, too. The Jaguars had some good offensive games and some bad ones, just like most teams. Remember how many offensive touchdowns they scored in the regular-season finale, at that point the most important game for the franchise in five seasons? One. You know what else happened last season? Pederson got praised when the Jaguars converted fourth downs and criticized when they got stopped. Good plays are ones that work and bad plays are ones that don't. Always have been and always will be.

Robert from Manassas, VA

A quick question about offensive play-calling. I assume that going for it on fourth down is a decision Doug makes and Press selects the play. If so, I don't think "play-calling" is to blame.

You're correct. Pederson makes big-picture decisions such as whether to go for a first down on fourth down. Taylor then calls the specific play based on the team's game-planning for various scenarios throughout the week.

Paul from Lake City, FL

Last year, the team needed to learn how to win. It would seem that this year, the team needs to learn how to not lose.

The Jaguars are 1-1 in 2023.

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey, John. When Cam comes back in two weeks, do you put Walker Little at left guard or right tackle? I know it early in the season. Who has looked better, right guard Ben Bartch or rookie offensive tackle Anton Harrison? #iwatj

I would expect Cam Robinson to play left tackle upon his return from a suspension in Week 5. I would expect Little to move from left tackle to left guard. I'm relatively certain of the first expectation and less certain of the second. There are two games between now and then. I expect what happens in those two games will have much to do with this answer.

Seymour from Dubois, WY

In all the malaise about this week, I fear it's yet again been forgotten that we have the best punter in the league. One fer Logan Cooke.

One fer Cooke.

Mark from Orange Park, FL

Seems a bit odd that quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his receivers were not on the same page after spending a LOT of time with them in the offseason, training camp and the preseason. Your thoughts?

Regular-season game speed is different than preseason speed, which is different than training-camp speed, which is different than organized-team-activities speed. My thought is that Lawrence is going through the process of knowing just when to "feed" wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the offense and how best use to wide receiver Christian Kirk, wide receiver Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram along with Ridley. The passing offense hasn't been great. It has been close. It has just been a bit off. If Kirk had stepped away from a defender on a deep pass Sunday and Jones had come down a few inches in bounds rather than a few inches out on a couple of plays, this conversation is different. Lawrence also seems to a bit uncomfortable with the duress caused by pressure at key times. This offense wasn't perfect all last season, either. These don't feel like unsolvable issues. I expect it to get smoother in the coming weeks. The talent is there to solve it. That usually wins out in the end.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

Division rival Houston comes to town giving up an AFC South leading 56 points in two games. If we take care of business versus division opponents, all will be well.


Tom from Charlottesville, VA

Preseason the talk was how well the offense would be in the second year. I do not remember reading any comments about the opposing teams being able to gameplae for the system because it is the same system. My question is: Have teams caught up and found any tendencies that could cause the offense to stumble a little?

Pederson has run this system since 2017. The Kansas City Chiefs run a very similar system and have done so since Andy Reid arrived there as head coach in 2013. The offenses under Pederson and Reid generally speaking have been "pretty good" during that time.

J4 from Jax

People, including you, love to say "If the play had worked you'd have liked it." Maybe for some observers this is correct. But on the fourth and five from midfield, I and everyone I know screamed, "Don't do it!" Sure, I'd have been happy with a conversion, but don't tell me and the rest of your readers that we would have liked the call had it worked. We love Doug's risk-taking nature, but risk needs to be managed. In this case, it was poorly managed, and we knew that before the play was unsuccessful.

What if it had been a touchdown?

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

John, Here's an idea to stop the play-calling conundrum. Let the readers submit plays. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can translate fans' language into Jaguar playbook jargon in milliseconds. Then the top play will be chosen and sent into Lawrence. Of course, opponents' fans will try to hijack the system and send in bogus plays. [Jags fans are SOOOO smart, they will always call the correct play.] So only VIP readers can submit plays - say for $50-$100 per game. That way, only brilliant readers can participate. In addition to revenue generation, several coaches can be fired, like the offensive coordinator, so the return on investment will be enormous.

Sometimes I worry about posting sarcastic emails because people will believe them to be serious.

Rob from the duuuuuuu

Is this O-line tough enough without Cam Robinson? Right guard Brandon Scherff is a bad man but has played injured his entire tenure here. Walker Little is a good player but seems a little bit mild mannered. And I don't think right guard Ben Bartch or rookie offensive tackle Anton Harrison are striking fear into the hearts of anyone. Cam has never backed down from anyone since his first day in the NFL. If I had one guy on the Jags to be my protector against the biggest D linemen in the league, I would take CAM. He is a certified DAWG. I can't wait to have him back and I think this offense and especially run game will benefit greatly. Thoughts?

Robinson is an important part of this offensive line and has been since 2017. His leadership and toughness matter. I have met very few NFL offensive linemen in three decades who aren't tough.

Crickets from Melbourne

Cam Robinson's suspension can't end soon enough. The O-line looks out of sorts. I'm hoping his return will improve the offensive line play, which will in turn improve the offense.

You're not alone.

Dave from Jacksonville

Trevor had a fairly miserable game Sunday. Couldn't it be that he's just not as good as everyone thought and hoped?

I don't know how good "everyone" thinks or hopes or Lawrence will be. He was and is good. I expect he will get better. He narrowly missed three or four touchdown passes Sunday on a difficult day. Sometimes receivers come down just in bounds. Sometimes they come down just out of bounds. Sometimes they step away from tacklers and turn long passes into touchdowns. Sometimes they barely get tripped up. It's a game of inches.

Al from Alachua, FL

Will having (3) Offensive Coordinators (D. Bevell, D. Pederson, P. Taylor) affect the development of Trevor Lawrence?

Lawrence has had two offensive coordinators in his NFL career: Darrell Bevell in 2021 and Press Taylor in 2022-2023.

Jim from Middleburg

Hi, John. There is NO shame in losing to the Chiefs for crying out loud. They are world Champs. Some of these fans need to get a grip.

Good eye.