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O-Zone: Merry Krimma Eve

TAMPA, Fla. – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

He's playing? Really?

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence indeed appears likely to play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Sunday. He traveled with the team Saturday, which Head Coach Doug Pederson on Friday said would not happen if Lawrence wasn't cleared through concussion protocol. Though the team made no official statement on this, Lawrence under league rules will be able to play Sunday. It's another remarkable recovery for Lawrence, who twice before this season and once last season returned more quickly than expected from an injury to play the following week's game. The other instances involved knee/ankle/toe. Because this injury was a concussion, it was far more out of Lawrence's control than the others. This was not one he could just "gut through." It required the protocol to pass him. Either way, Lawrence continues to show remarkable toughness and ability to recover quickly.

Sam from Orlando, FL

If that Browns game is what Trevor Lawrence looks like without practice, start C.J. Beathard.

Lawrence indeed threw three interceptions against the Cleveland Browns in a Week 14 Jaguars loss after not practicing that week because of a high-ankle sprain. He also threw three touchdowns and had the Jaguars in position to tie late in the game. He played far better against the New Orleans Saints in a Week 7 Jaguars victory after not practicing that week because of a knee injury. He had one his best games last season against the Tennessee Titans after practicing limited that week because of a toe injury. I expect Lawrence to start and play Sunday. He's the starter. He's the quarterback. He gives the team the best chance to win.

Nick from Connecticut

Do you think it's OK to be a Jaguars fan from Connecticut? People always laugh at me.

It's OK. (Are you sure that's why they're laughing?)

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Merry Christmas to you and yours, John. I'm thankful that this December we are "upset" over potentially losing the division (I still believe we win it). Most Decembers we are trying to figure out who we're drafting. Perspective is not something I often think about. It's kind of nice being a steady competitive football team. Now don't poop the bed and mess this up, Jags!! Merry Christmas again.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, JT – and to all readers. It indeed is far more interesting – and presumably far better – to be upset about a team in first place in its division with three regular-season games remaining than to be following a team headed to the No. 1 overall selection in the next offseason's draft. I've said this often in recent weeks, but it bears repeating that this is what contending usually looks like in the NFL. Most contending teams have stretches in seasons when they play well, then stretches of adversity during the same season. Most contending teams need to win in December/January and have some things go right elsewhere. It appeared for a while this season that the Jaguars might be able to play for top seeding in the AFC and perhaps clinch a playoff berth a week or two before the end of the regular season. They then hit a rough patch of injuries and sketchy play, and they now must win late in the season to make the postseason. You're sort of supposed to be able to win late to earn your way into the postseason in this league. It's a league of parity and attrition. The final three games will matter. They will be interesting. And that's OK. It might even be fun.

Dave from Jacksonville

"He's in his third season, his second season with legitimate NFL coaching teaching legitimate NFL quarterbacking concepts." Ahh, so it's OK to blame past coaching for current subpar play when it fits the narrative; just that fans are always wrong when they question decisions of the current coaching staff. Got it. (I will go ahead and write your snarky response for you: "It's always coaching in the NFL")

Fans are never wrong. Just ask them.

Brittany from Fort Collins, CO

Shouldn't it count for a sack when Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen forced the intentional grounding on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson? Doesn't seem right that he gets credit for nothing on that play. Go Jags!

There are many such "holes" in NFL statistics. A similar argument could be made that receivers and quarterbacks should get statistical credit for plays on which defensive pass interference occurs. Life isn't fair. Statistics aren't, either. And this is just another example of why NFL statistics don't explain everything.

Charles from Savannah, GA

Tom Brady said the offensive line is the "heart and soul" of the New England Patriots' offense when he played quarterback. Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck admitted that the cycle of getting hurt, rehabbing and getting hurt again brought him to the decision of retiring early. I'm not questioning Trevor Lawrence's toughness. He is tough and would hate to see the same thing that happened to Andrew Luck happen to Trevor. Do you see the Jaguars addressing the offensive Line in the offseason as a priority?


Zach from Wisco

The comparisons of Lawrence to Manning need to stop. The NFL is a "show me" league. Right now, Lawrence is an overhyped third-year quarterback who hasn't come close to breaking Blake Bortles' team records. That's not a good sign.

People presumably ask me questions about Manning because I covered him for 10 seasons and because he's one of the standards at the quarterback position. I don't sense many people are comparing Manning and Lawrence. I don't have much of a thought on Lawrence's pursuit of Bortles' team records because such things have little to do with how a quarterback is playing. I do know the Jaguars won the AFC South last season and lead it this season with three regular-season games remaining. They're a contending team. Maybe that's not a good sign.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

Remember during the draft when "experts" were questioning whether or not Trevor Lawrence really loved playing football?

I do remember that.

Dan from Munich

Hi, John. Answering recent emails from fans you admitted the offensive line play is one of the biggest problems for the lack of production on that side of the ball this season. Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't you beating the drums all summer saying that "OL is better than most observers believe" LOL

I don't beat drums. I answer questions. While people were criticizing the Jaguars' offensive line last season and offseason, the reality was that group mostly played OK or better last season. It has played well at times this season and it has pass-blocked OK for the most part. The group was not a great power run-blocking unit last season, but it blocked for the run better than it has this season – and the interior run-blocking has been a big issue all season.

Dan from Jax

With key pieces to the offense missing, do you think it'll be up to the defense to give the Jags their best chance of winning against Tampa Bay?

The defense needs to play well Sunday. No doubt.

David from Maplewood, NJ

John, Wow, just wow. Are people actually writing in suggesting the Jags trade Lawrence and – let me get this right – "get whatever they can"? Seriously? I know fans fan and all the other zoneisms but are we sure these aren't coming from Atlanta Falcons fans or New Orleans Saints fans or New York Giants fans etc., etc. I can't believe what I'm reading and that the questions are from actual real live non-bot Jags fans. The team has a chance to win consecutive division titles for the first time ever, EVER! People please get a hold of yourselves. The insanity must stop. Oh and Merry Krimma to all and Let's GO Jags.

Fans indeed are writing in suggesting these things. It's OK. Fans are allowed to have thoughts, bot or not. Fans want their teams to win, bots or not. When they don't, they look for reasons and it's easy to lose sight of the big picture when looking. Is Lawrence perfect? No. Does he need to develop? Yes. And when he makes mistakes as he did in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, he absolutely deserves criticism. It's the nature of the quarterback position and Lawrence's decision-making was a big reason the Jaguars lost. But his play also has been a big reason the Jaguars won the AFC South last season and a big reason they're in first place this season. Are all fans going to remember that after a difficult loss? Of course not.  And Merry Krimma. Bots or not.

Art from Just shy of the ditch

Merry Krimma, Big O. Thanks for all the abuse taken and given, hope you and yours enjoy immensely and the Jags too!

Merry Krimma.