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O-Zone: Lesson plan

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tom from My Couch Near the Mean Streets of Nocatee

I'm trying not to fan too hard here, but it seems this team was woefully unprepared Sunday. The team displayed a callous disregard for clock management at the end of the first half. There were multiple too-many-men-in-the-huddle penalties. I remain hopeful because of Trevor Lawrence, and I know you and others in the media have tried to set reasonable expectations, but man, Sunday was awful.

Your assessment of the Jaguars' 37-21 loss to the Houston Texans in Sunday's 2021 regular-season opener is pretty much correct. The team did look undisciplined early; there's little other way to assess multiple pre-snap penalties and apparent first-half disorganization on offense. As for the approach late in the first half … I wasn't quite as against it as many others. That's mainly because while the Jaguars called three consecutive pass plays late in the half deep in their territory, the passes were high percentage and should have been caught; had they indeed been caught, then the clock runs down and the Texans don't have a chance to score what became essentially a game-clinching touchdown with :08 remaining in the half. That said, I do get your point that running the clock and getting to halftime would have made sense. As for fanning too hard … you're not. These are reasonable issues about which to be concerned. It was the first game of a new regime; Week 1 results are all fans have to assess progress. It was a bad start Sunday. Really bad. You're right to have hope because of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. You're also right to expect better discipline and organization moving forward. If you don't get what you expect, the results probably won't improve.

Chris from London, UK

John, I know you have often said the Jags have a different opinion of the offensive line than the fans, but I have a feeling the fans might be right on this one. Even Trevor can't play every drive at first and 20.

I rewatched Sunday's game afterward, specifically watching the offensive line. I also asked around about the line and the consensus was the unit played OK for the most part, particularly guard Andrew Norwell and guard Brandon Linder. Guard AJ Cann had one of his rougher games in recent memory, but that hasn't been the norm for Cann in recent seasons. The tackles were OK except for a holding penalty on right tackle Jawaan Taylor and some pre-snap penalties on left tackle Cam Robinson. But that also has been a repeating story for the line in recent memory – that it plays OK for the most part with a few notable exceptions. That's not good enough, and that's where improvement must be made. I don't know if that makes fans right or not, but the line must get more consistent and stop having one or two players make one or two glaring mistakes. No quarterback can play in constant long yardage, even one as talented as Lawrence.

Chris from Roseville, CA

New season. New coach. New QB. Same old Jaguars.

Sunday did seem like Same Old Jaguars. That's fair. The Jaguars can change that by eliminating pre-snap penalties and making plays when plays are there to be made. That's it. Those are the first steps.

Captain Bob from Jacksonville

Though no official duties come with being voted in as a captain on the team, doesn't it come with expectation that given your teammates respect for you, that you become a positive leader and perhaps role model?

Yes.

JR from The Squatchlands

If I would have told you the Texans would be in sole possession of first place in the AFC South after week one, you would've told me to get off your lawn.

No, but I wouldn't have believed you. And I suppose it's great for the Jaguars that preseason favorites such as the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans didn't move ahead of them in the AFC South in Week 1. But the Jaguars' issues have nothing to do with other teams. They have to correct the glaring mistakes that cost them severely in Week 1. If they don't do that, what the Colts and Titans do or don't do won't matter.

Nancy from Negative

Lawrence did indeed keep pushing the ball despite the turnovers. That's good. But him throwing barely 50 percent complete, many times way behind the receiver, many times way overthrowing open receivers: those are very bad signs for things to come.

I grasp you trying to live up to the nickname, but either you're trying to hard to do that or you simply never have watched rookie quarterbacks play. Lawrence looked like most young quarterbacks in the NFL Sunday. He felt the rush at times and looked a little lost at times, particularly in the second quarter. He wasn't as accurate as he might have liked, and his three interceptions were vintage rookie quarterback plays. One was a throw across the body. One was a throw into Cover-2 in which he was baited by cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. One was a throw on which he didn't read a dropping linebacker. Those are mistakes rookie quarterbacks make in that situation. Rookie quarterbacks are also inaccurate at times when they wouldn't otherwise be inaccurate. What he did that stood out above anything else was making special throws and standing in the pocket under pressure. I saw nothing Sunday to make me think he won't be good. And any bad signs certainly were overwhelmed by the good ones.

Andy from Halifax

Are you able to address the run defense? It didn't look great and that was something I thought we were realistically hyped about.

I can address run defense. There were a couple of lapses at times Sunday. But the Jaguars allowed Ravens running backs 131 yards on 37 carries, a 3.5yard-per-carry average. That may not make them an elite run defense, but it absolutely makes them an improved run defense compared to last season.

Joe from San Antonio, TX

Jaguars fans in January 2022: How did we lose to the Texans week 1? Haha what a weird game.

Bless you, Joe.  

Gary from Jacksonville

John, things will likely get better. But, if they don't, how much leash will Khan give Meyer? 6 games? A season? Two seasons?

I understand fans fanning; it's what they do. And I understand overreaction and panic. I suppose I even understand talking about firing head coaches after one game because we live in a win-now, always-the-coach's-fault world. But I can't understand why anyone would actually think Meyer would get fired six games into the season. That simply won't happen.

Sam from Sydney, Australia

We looked like we played nervous and a little out of rhythm. Do you think it's an overthinking situation, where they had too long to think about the game?

No. All teams had the same amount of time off between the preseason finale and the regular-season opener. While many things went wrong Sunday, I can't say too much time to think was a reason.

Nate from Jacksonville

_The Jaguars need at least 18 new quality starters before they even have a chance to lose by less than 10, and they need 21 new quality starters to win a game. _

This is obviously extreme, because the Jaguars do not need 21 new starters to win. They also don't need 18 starters to stay within 10. But it is fair to say the Jaguars' roster probably must still improve to contend for the postseason. This roster is improved from last season. The defensive line is better against the run. The secondary does appear better, though defensive backs must play the ball better than they did Sunday. Lawrence is an improvement at quarterback. One thing to remember: the Jaguars don't necessarily need new players at every position to improve. But do a lot of young players need to play better and closer to their potential? Yes, over the course of this season that absolutely must happen.

Bobby from Summerville, SC

Hi John, I know this is supposed to be a new era. It sure feels like the same old thing we have seen the previous three seasons, doesn't it?

It did Sunday.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Maybe they can beat the Jets and finish 1-16. Has a team ever had the first pick in the draft two years in a row?

Yes, since the 1970 AFL-NFL Mergers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft twice in back-to-back seasons twice (1976-1977, 1986-1987) and the Cleveland Browns also had it twice in back-to-back seasons (1999-2000, 2017-2018). I don't expect the Jaguars to select No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. But they have to play much better than they did Sunday. That much is true.

Charles from Port St. Lucie, FL

Sometimes you learn more from your failures than your successes. So, what did we learn Sunday?

That you can't win beating yourself for a quarter and a half.

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