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O-Zone: Like a boss

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Colin from Orlando, FL

I'm a little wary that single games, especially in the regular season, can be turning points in players' careers, but it's certainly fun to talk about when your team is 4-7. With that in mind, what comes to mind when you think of the turning point for Peyton Manning?

You're right to be wary of seeing single games as turning points for players. It's more often the case that players improve/grow gradually and perhaps imperceptibly, then take advantage of opportunities to show that improvement/growth in noticeable fashion in a particular game. But it certainly feels as if we're seeing a period of rapid development from Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the last few weeks, most memorably in a come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday. He does seem to be in something of a turning-point period in his career, and there's no better news for this franchise. As for Manning, I began covering him with the Indianapolis Colts in his fourth NFL season – 2001. He already had played in two Pro Bowls and clearly was headed to at minimum a very good career, so I didn't cover him during a time when he would have had a "turning point." I did cover him as he matured into a perennial Most Valuable Player candidate, though, and I suppose it became clear he was a Hall-of-Fame-level player around 2003. That was when he reduced his interceptions dramatically and began mastering calling the offense from the line of scrimmage. That was six seasons into his NFL career – a time frame to remember, perhaps, as we watch Lawrence develop.

Ray from Section 106

What do you feel is our biggest hole? I know we have several areas we need to address in the offseason but what is the one area if you had a guaranteed fix what position would you fix? For me, it would be interior defensive line. I believe if we had a pass rusher and run stuffer in one player our defense would improve drastically (especially our young outside linebacker). Currently when we have our run stoppers in, we get ZERO pressure up the middle. Hence, why Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen is high in pressures but not in sacks. Thoughts.

Your thought has merit. You can always use quality players on the interior defense. If there is an elite disrupter there, it's never wrong to obtain that player. That being said, the thought here is that the biggest obvious need for this team this offseason will be secondary – cornerback, in particular.

John from Daufuskie Island

Oh, wise one. Is it possible we could actually be good?

They're close.

Rick from Seriously?

You recently said, "I typically pay far less attention to officiating than most fans, and rarely discuss officiating as a reason for a team winning and losing. This is because I believe officials generally do a very good job – and do so without the bias that many fans believe they see." Must be blissful to hide behind those rose-colored glasses and kick the can down the road. Officiating (incompetently) determines the outcomes of far more games than you or Roger G or any of the others paid by the NFL will ever come close to admitting. I recommend you all wake up and recognize sports betting will finally cast a light on what "typically pay far less attention to." For example, the Trevor Lawrence fumble that Jaguars center Luke Fortner recovered was BLATANT roughing the passer with Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell landing on TLaw with full body weight and no attempt to avoid doing so. Just one of many, many examples. NFL Officiating is pathetic, and determines the outcomes of far too many games. Fact.

Your passion on this subject is impressive; your understanding of my thoughts perhaps less so. There's nothing about this topic for me to "admit," and my thoughts have nothing to do with glasses or paycheck. I have no dog in this hunt, no skin in the game. And I have frequently noted as such when I believed officials missed calls for or against the Jaguars. My point is not that NFL officials never err. Of course they do. As do players. And coaches. It's a phenomenally fast game played in real time, so of course there will be errors. But NFL officials aren't "pathetic," and they absolutely do a good job – and they just as absolutely do so without bias. I understand Jaguars fans don't believe this. And I understand Jaguars fans fervently believe there is a league-based conspiracy against their team that influences officials. I understand, too, that fans of every other NFL team believe similar "facts." Fans fan. It's what they do.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John. Just dawned on me that four of the Jaguars' final six games are on the road. Your thoughts?

I think you're right.

Lance from Duval

It appears that Jaguars rookie inside linebacker Devin Lloyd's issues are understanding and experience more than physical limitations. Is this fair to say? It looks like he has a problem with basic understanding of the defense, and is a step or so late in decision making. Am I off base? Or are his issues in coverage likely to be exploitable next year based on his speed and agility?

You're not off base. Lloyd's issue is not speed or agility. He needs to get further acclimated to the NFL game – and to further grasp the defense and his role in it.

Erik from Knoxville, TN

Zone, I'm 26. I've seen two good seasons from this team: 2007 and 2017. My dad has been a fan from Day One. Life led us from Jacksonville to Knoxville, unfortunately. Over the years, we have caught several games in Nashville (all losses) and I've caught a handful in Jacksonville (all losses). This past weekend we made the trip to see my dad's first home Jaguars game. It was everything we could have hoped it would be and more. The Jaguars catch a lot of unnecessary shade about fan support and attendance, but this fan base is crazy passionate. If the organization turns into a consistent winner, the national perception will change into the team being one of the best fan-supported teams in the league. Sunday was special. Worth every dollar spent on the trip and tickets. Here's to more memories to be made. And a shout out the city of Jacksonville that will always be home and the fan base that has supported a team well beyond what could be expected over the years. The 'Bank on Sunday was everything an NFL franchise is supposed to deliver to its community. It certainly was for me and my dad.

So cool.

Claudio from Barcelona, Spain

Hi John! Do you foresee the staff trying a defensive front with Josh Allen and Devin Lloyd as outside linebackers and Travon Walker rushing the passer from the interior? Maybe they unlock two rookies with one move.

This makes some sense on some levels because Walker's size indicates he could handle playing any number of spots along the defensive front, and because Lloyd had success rushing the passer at Utah. I don't necessarily foresee anything like this as an imminent, permanent move because the franchise sees Walker as an outside linebacker—and because I don't know that coaches want to throw too much in the way of position/role changes at either player as rookies.

Tony from Los Angeles, CA

I've learned from you that it's important to be nice. I also know that many consider apologizing nice. So, I would like to apologize for the sheer glee I experience when I see that our record is currently better than the record of the team Jalen Ramsey plays for. I hope my apology is accepted because it's important to be nice.

"Never apologize, mister. It's a sign of weakness." – John Wayne.

Mike from Jacksonville

Red-zone troubles are related to the inability to block and gain three-to-five yards on the ground. Skill, strength, desire, technique or what?

There's more to NFL red-zone offense than run-blocking. Few – if any – NFL teams can line up on first-and-10 from, say, their opponent's 15-yard line, turn and hand the ball to the running back and power-block their way to a touchdown. Red-zone offense in the NFL more often is about a combination of run-blocking, pass-blocking, precise route running and timing. It's also often a matter of the quarterback and entire offense gaining experience and continuity in a system. The Jaguars struggled early in the season in the red zone. They have been better in recent games. I expect them to continue to progress in this area as players and coaches get more comfortable in this offense.

Levi from Huntsville, AL

John, please stop answering questions from people telling you to stop answering certain questions. You're the boss around here. I don't care what Lady Zone says.

I am the king of all funk.