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O-Zone: Midseason form

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Ethan from Wampum, PA

Receivers that can catch and third downs that are converted are weird to see in Jags colors. Doug 2024.

There were a few positives for the Jaguars in a 16-15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Preseason Week 2 game at TIAA Bank Field Saturday night. The continued flashing of quarterback Trevor Lawrence was one. The continued strong performance of an encouraging, improving defense was another. But if a third area stood out in the Jaguars' third loss of the 2022 preseason, it was the one noted in this email – that the Jaguars' top three receivers got open consistently and made plays downfield. They also converted first downs by doing so. This seemed to have a lot do with Lawrence making some nice, confident throws beyond the chains – and making those throws to second and third levels. But credit, too, to Jaguars wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr., Christian Kirk and Zay Jones for getting open consistently. This increasingly has been a trend in 2022 Training Camp practices, and Zay Jones showed the ability in a Preseason Week 1 loss to the Cleveland Browns last week. Kirk on Saturday led the Jaguars with five receptions for 54 yards in his Jaguars debut – another encouraging sign. Yes, it's just preseason. Yes, the offense has a lot of work to do finishing drives. And yes, Lawrence must be more consistently accurate. But the Jaguars' receivers have been encouraging in recent weeks. Stay tuned.

Adrian from Hot Oven, USA

Do you sense a bit of hesitancy from Lawrence when it comes to passing through the mid/deep middle? Seems like all his throws, albeit some beautiful/tight windowed ones, are outside. Was this a focus for the offense this week? Is it chemistry building?

What I sense from Jaguars fans is a lot of focus and over-analysis regarding Lawrence right now. Fans are hyper-analyzing every throw, interpreting every positive as a strength and every incompletion as evidence of a flaw. Remember: The Jaguars' starters have played two games this preseason. They have played seven series. They are still learning Head Coach Doug Pederson's offense. Many new faces are still learning each other. Lawrence has missed some passes he should have completed. He also has made some big-time throws. The Jaguars' offense as had one three-and-out on the starters' seven series with a touchdown and five field-goal attempts. This offense isn't perfect and it's not a finished product. Neither is Lawrence, but they're not supposed to be finished products after two preseason games.

Brandon from Louisville

I'm trying not to overreact, but I'm starting to get concerned about Trevor's accuracy. Help me, John.

Try harder.

Tom from Old Forge, PA

How has Laquon Treadwell looked in camp? Is it possible he takes the four spot from Laviska?

I don't know that looking at Jaguars wide receivers Laquon Treadwell and Laviska Shenault Jr. that way is going to be all that accurate. I expect both to usually be active on game days, with Treadwell being more of the traditional reserve behind multiple receiver positions and Shenault playing a more versatile role – sometimes as a receiver and sometimes as a "Swiss-army-knife" player lining up in multiple positions.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I am so juiced for this front seven. It's a problem for lines – and man, it should be fun on third and long.

Pederson said throughout the offseason and during training camp that he expected the Jaguars' defensive front to be a team strength. That unit has done nothing to prove him wrong in three preseason games. It looks like it has a chance to be really good. We'll see.

Whatta Westside

Yup. Pickett just ripped this defense to shreds … this is still a bad, awful team spin monkey.

You're right. Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett and the Steelers offense looked terrific on a drive just before halftime Saturday. If the Jaguars play defense like that too often, they will be in big trouble. That drive snapped a streak of seven consecutive drives without allowing a point for the Jaguars' defense and was really the unit's only laps in the first three and a half quarters Saturday. Is that answer spinning? Or is it simply pointing out the obvious? Whatever, I guess.

Greg from Boise, ID

Is it a law in Jax that the Jaguars must leave at least a 10-yard cushion between defenders and receivers? It has been like that for a long time.

Greg and Whatta Westside were locked in late in the second quarter. Credit to them.

Garrett from Edgewater

Hi again, Zone. It's been a minute. Can you please help make sense of the Malcom Brown release? He had a decent year last year and at the very least would serve as a run-stuffing rotational piece. Are there plans for going after another nose tackle or are they high on Foley Fatukasi/DaVon Hamilton. Was Brown not performing well in camp? The way you make it sound, he wasn't putting forth the effort Duval Doug was looking for.

The NFL is played by real human beings. Sometimes those human beings perform at one level one year and different levels another year. It's why players don't play forever. Except Tom Brady.

Jonathan from Jax

Hey good news, whoever is No. 2 on teams with real kickers will be available real soon.

It's important to be nice. That's not nice.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

I'm not a financial person and I don't live in Jacksonville. I also don't put a ton of blame on Shad Khan but the truth is the Jags were plus-six win/loss when he became owner, -77 since. He paid $770 million for the team. They are now valued at $2.4 billion. Mr. Khan should pony up $1.5 billion for a new stadium. I really believe it would work out for him, the team and community.

Perhaps it would. And I don't know what the eventual financial breakdown on this will become. But given the size of market and the financial realities, this almost certainly will not happen.

Nocatee Brian from Harrisburg

Did I see a concerning number of missed tackles?

In the second half? Probably. In the first half you saw a defense that played very well for four series before allowing a touchdown on the final series of the half.

Sean from Saint Johns City

Soup's not a meal. You're supposed to buy me a meal.

They really should call it roundtine.

Garrett from Edgewater

Zone, I am starting to see that trading former quarterback Gardner Minshew II is probably a bigger mistake than anyone realizes at this point. C.J. Beathard has been terrible all preseason. I liked what I saw of him last year but he's tough to watch. When he takes the field, it just feels like we're not going to score another point all game. Why couldn't Minshew backup Lawrence? It's almost like the previous regime didn't have a clue what they were doing.

The Jaguars made a lot of mistakes in 2021. A lot went wrong and little went right. Trading Minshew and elevating Beathard to backup is not one of the big regret from 2021 – if, indeed, it qualifies as a regret at all.

Tom from Standing on a corner in Nocatee Florida

Is Travis Etienne an every down running back?

Yes, second-year running back Travis Etienne Jr. can play effectively on all three downs. Now, do you want him playing on all three downs for 60 minutes in a an entire 17-game season? No. But he can certainly run and receive effectively enough to be an every-down back.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Jags dominate the first half only to be down 7-6 to end the half. I hope this doesn't become an even bigger problem in the regular season.

The Jaguars were the worst team in the NFL the past two seasons. There were an unbelievable number of games when it felt as if the Jaguars were playing so poorly they had no chance after the first quarter. I understand fans want immediate perfection and dominance in every facet, but how much did you think the Jaguars were going to improve in one offseason? They're better. They're going to be more competitive. They're probably not going to dominate every game or every half.

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

How was holding not called for Travon Walker on the first play of the game? And how are the Steelers' offensive linemen allowed to flop on Jags players without penalty? The NFL is a declining league every year.

Biologists who study fans refer to this as "midseason form."

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

Lawrence is not accurate at all. He has a long ways to go to even be a franchise quarterback. I think the expectation that he's a generational talent is way off. I'm just hoping he isn't another wasted draft pick at this point.

Biologists who study fans don't know what the hell to call this.