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O-Zone: Laughing all the way

ATLANTA, Ga. – Let's get to it …

Julianna from Baltimore, MD

Now that Training Camp is ending, I'd love to know your thoughts on a question I posed earlier in the year. Do you think this 2022/2023 Jags team has what it takes to play a full 60-minute game? Can the Jaguars see it through to the end? Do they have the mental toughness to do what it takes to finish a game strong even when it looks like there's nothing left in the tank? I really hope so. Your thoughts?

There's no reason to believe the Jaguars don't have the grit, heart, mental toughness or "want-to" to play a full "sixty-minute" game. Most NFL teams have these things. Football is a difficult, taxing sport and it's hard to play professionally without those traits. Now, it is true that these characteristics often wane in teams as seasons slip away. In those situations, players still want to play well but the collective "grit" may disappear as belief in a team's direction fades. But Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson appears to have this team moving in the right direction. My sense is the players will believe in him and this team enough to be plenty gritty in 2022. A more pertinent question might be whether the Jaguars have as much talent as many of their opponents. That often hasn't been the case recently. That appears to be changing.

Greg from St Johns, FL

Hey, O. Hate to say it, but I believe the Jags will need some stability at kicker to get us to eight wins. How's McCourt looking in practice?

There's no reason to hate to say it. The Jaguars indeed will need stability at kicker. Head Coach Doug Pederson realizes this, but he's not panicked over it. James McCourt looked very good in the lone practice in which he kicked extensively this week, converting eight of eight attempts on Thursday – several of which were from long range.

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. After every preseason game I say, "Well, the first team looks good. I am really looking forward to the regular season, the Jags are going to really be better." And my wife says, "but they lost, and you say that every year." This strange occurrence of logic on her part is very frustrating!

She's wrong and you're right. Don't argue. Just know this. And keep your eyes ahead and don't ask any questions.

Daniel from Johnston, IA

O, one thing I remember from previous seasons was that our wide receiver corps looked good in preseason, but as soon as the season started suddenly the wide receivers weren't getting open. Those windows closed quick. Do you think that will happen this year?

The Jaguars' wide receivers – particularly Marvin Jones Jr., Zay Jones and Christian Kirk – have gotten open consistently in practice and preseason games. They are all quick in and out of breaks, and they are all precise route-runners. There's no reason to think those traits won't be effective in the regular season.

Fan from Fanville

Why does everyone get mad at me for noticing when our quarterback misses an easy completion? Look, I'm sorry; I'll try to remain willfully blind.

I don't know that anyone gets mad when fans notice when quarterback Trevor Lawrence misses an easy completion. An argument could be made that it is a bit "over the top" to interpret every incompletion as a sign of the apocalypse.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

A variety of NFL insiders and experts credit Doug Pederson with pioneering the current trend toward analytics. His gutsy decision-making was a large component of his Super Bowl-winning season. It has become a very interesting and big part of the game. The formula also seems quite secretive. I'm guessing with Pederson now the coach this will become a big storyline. Any thoughts?

The trend toward analytics encompasses enough areas of football that there is no one "formula." I expect Pederson to continue to incorporate analytics into his coaching and to continue to be more aggressive and guts than many of his counterparts.

Jeff Atlantic Beach, FL

Going into the final preseason game, how many positions do you feel are still open for competition?

Starting positions? None, because I believe Jawaan Taylor will start ahead of Walker Little at right tackle and Ben Bartch will start at left guard. Roster positions? Perhaps two or three-ish.

Greg from Section 122, The Bank, Jacksonville

While Travis Etienne can't earn RoTY he could however qualify for comeback player of the year. It is not beyond possibility given James Robinson's slow return if Travis gets his game moving, he could end up being the featured weapon in the offense. Man wouldn't that be something if he turns into our own version of Alvin Kamara? While I am not even thinking about playoffs, I do think we are going make opponents sweat more this year and not be that extra bye week teams treated like in years past. My only real concern logically is if Trevor got hurt. We have no depth at QB.

Jaguars running back James Robinson could play in the regular-season opener after sustaining an Achilles injury in late December. That would be a remarkably quick return. Few NFL teams have real depth at quarterback, particularly teams with high-level quarterbacks.

Rob from Jacksonville

I don't quite see this team making the playoffs this year, but I do think comparing this year's group to last, all the way up and down the roster and in every corner of the building isn't relevant. This is a brand new thing. In every way.

I suppose relevance is in the eye of the beholder. In terms of how the Jaguars will fare on the field, comparing last year's roster to this year's roster doesn't matter. But when discussing now the Jaguars might fare this season, or what they have done in the offseason, having a comparison point helps. The Jaguars in many ways appear to have improved dramatically since last season. I write that to give readers a general idea what might occur in the regular season. Once the regular season begins, I doubt we'll refer to 2021 quite as much. If this indeed is a brand-new thing – and I suspect it is – it will be discussed on its own merit soon enough.

Unhipcat from b bar h, CA

Hi, John. Festina lente: Make haste slowly. As you well know, Augustus deplored rashness in a military leader, and – accordingly – one of his favorite sayings was "That which has been done well has been done quickly enough." I think that's Doug's message about and to Trevor, the team and the Jaguars' fan base. They're going full speed ahead, but they aren't cutting corners. They're taking due diligence and trusting that the process and the practice is the road to success. It makes perfect sense. But as a fan, I feel the same as most. Come on. Let's go. We're ready.


Ron from Tonawanda, NY

What's the Sports Writers opinion on the Jaguars this season?

Some sportswriters believe the Jaguars will contend for the postseason. Others believe they will struggle and finish with double-digit losses. This aging better-looking-than-he-appears sportswriter believes the Jaguars will be dramatically improved from recent seasons. This not-as-funny-as-he-thinks sportswriter believes the defense will be much better. He also believes the offense will be much better, but perhaps not ready to consistently win the shootouts that are too-fast becoming the NFL norm. That aging, character-challenged sportswriter believes the Jaguars will be far more competitive than recent seasons to the tune of winning six-to-eight games-ish.

Andy from Alpharetta, GA

I know this is crazy talk, but I guess I'm willing to take a quarterback who has a jittery first series and improves as the game goes one over a QB that has a good first series and then gets shut down the rest of the game.

You're quite the nut.

Jay from So-Cal

Why would the Jaguars release their lone kicker to pick up another "lone" kicker on the roster? Shouldn't it be competition for two kickers to hash it out? It leaves a big, glaring question mark and really an uncomfortable situation to be in. So far there have been four new kickers and three drop offs from what I know. Is there anyone I am missing? I wrote in that the Jaguars should have an open tryout for the kicker position and I think I might have a real chance.

The Jaguars waived kicker Ryan Santoso Tuesday and claimed McCourt off waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers that afternoon. They then claimed kicker Jake Verity off waiver from the Indianapolis Colts Friday.

Jon from Ocala, FL

Hi O, Does Doug Pederson stand next to the kicker and listen how the ball comes off his foot?

I laughed at this. Then, I thought about the entirety of the events of 2021, and thought about how things are around the Jaguars now, and I laughed a little more.