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O-Zone: Miracle man

JACKSONVILLE – One more day to Look-Ahead Wednesday. So there's that.

Let's get to it …

Jim from Jax

Generational QB? Nope. Just another Jaguars mediocre first-round pick. Until he goes to another team.

Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence indeed is struggling – along with the rest of the offense. He has struggled statistically since a Week 7 bye – and he struggled again in a 37-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday. His timing with his receivers appears way off – and it's difficult to know if that's Lawrence being inaccurate, receivers running wrong routes or just not being in synch with what now is a largely new receiving corps. Most likely, it's a combination of those factors. Also: Lawrence was improving steadily until running back James Robinson sustained a heel injury Week 8 in Seattle. Neither Lawrence nor the offense has been the same since. If Lawrence plays this way with better receivers around him in the future, and after he gains more experience, then you will be right. If that happens, then he's "just another Jaguars mediocre first-round pick." Until then, he's just a young quarterback learning the NFL in a difficult situation – no matter how many quick-trigger "analysts" want a decisive judgment on his entire career RIGHT NOW!

Ryan from Reality

John, I'm not saying that Trevor isn't the better quarterback long-term - he is - but it's more than a little concerning that Gardner Minshew II looked so much better starting for the Eagles Sunday.

It's not particularly concerning at all. Former Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II figured to look very good in his first start with the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday. He looked very good at times with the Jaguars, particularly in early appearances with coaches/coordinators. There usually wasn't staying power to that success because defenses figured how to defend Minshew and expose his weaknesses. Maybe this will be different and maybe Minshew will succeed wildly in Philadelphia for the long-term. Let's hope so because Minshew's a hard worker who clearly works hard to succeed. But Minshew looking good Sunday and Lawrence struggling lately really aren't related. Except in perception. But not in reality.

Reuben from Pikesville, MD

Do you have Jay Gruden's home address so I can send him a cane and dark glasses? He must've been blind to think that Mike Glennon gave the team a better chance to win than Minshew. No wonder even his own brother wouldn't hire him as offensive coordinator.

Did you watch last year's Jaguars games or just Philadelphia's Sunday?

Jeff from Wake Forest, NC

What's so disappointing this year is we don't seem to be improving each week. Isn't that what we were hoping for? Forget the wins, just show improvement in the overall game. The defense seems to hang around, but the offense is regressing it feels. Am I right or is it just the point of view from being slumped down in my chair each week?

Your point of view is fine – and the offense indeed has regressed. It would be better if this weren't the case. But here's the reality of the Jaguars' offense in 2021. It never was particularly good. It hasn't scored more than 23 points in a game, and that's not good enough. But it was OK at times early in the season. And it was improving in the final three games before a Week 7 bye. And Lawrence was improving, too. The Jaguars averaged 19.3 points per game before the bye and Lawrence had three consecutive games with a passer rating of more than 90 in the final three games before the bye. Then, Robinson sustained a heel injury in Seattle. Then wide receiver Jamal Agnew was lost for the season. A wide receiver corps that already was without DJ Chark Jr. since Week 4 and running back/receiver Travis Etienne since the preseason hasn't been able to do anything downfield. That season-long issue has been magnified in recent weeks. Then tight end Dan Arnold sustained a knee injury and now he's out. The Jaguars realistically wouldn't be a great offense if Robinson/Chark/Agnew/Arnold were healthy. But is it fair to think maybe the improvement we saw before the bye would have continued? Or that the unit wouldn't have regressed to this degree? Yeah, that's fair.

Frank from Saint Augustine, FL

Our offense is not a result of poor playing by TLAW. Rather, it's a result of poor play by our playmakers.   Trevor is hitting our tight end in the hands, and they refuse to catch the ball.

Yeah. There's a little of this, too.

Michael from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Let's face reality and admit this season is over. Why not play the rookies and find out if they can be counted on to be starters next year? At this point, it would be like they redshirted this year and will be NFL rookies next year! Also on the same subject, do you see the Jags winning a Super Bowl with Andrew Wingard as a starting safety? Play Cisco and find out what you've got! Same with both of our tackles, play Walker!

Coaches are reluctant to play rookies – or any players, for that matter – if they don't believe they're better than the players who are playing. When Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer was asked about this Monday, his response centered on wanting to win. But there comes a point in seasons for struggling teams that coaches do need to play young players with potential. We're fast approaching that time for the Jaguars this season – and in fact, that time may be now. The reality is there aren't a slew of players who fit this category – and you mentioned the only two that really stand out. Is it time to see Andre Cisco at safety and Walker Little at tackle? Five games remain, so … sure.

Dave from Jacksonville

Hey, O-Zone. This team is not good and they're good at it.


Jason from North Pole, AK

This season was supposed to be about one thing and that is the development of Trevor Lawrence. Now we are being told that he doesn't have enough weapons to develop or make progress. My frustration is why then did we not invest more heavily in this area in the off-season? This feels very much like a complete waste of a season.

This is a fair concern. The Jaguars did invest in weapons in the offseason. They selected Etienne No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft with the idea that he would be an explosive-play player. They also signed wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. as an unrestricted free agent. Could they have done more? Perhaps, but there were many areas to address last offseason. One would imagine more focus on weapons this offseason. Much, much more.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

All this excitement and desire for Trevor Lawrence to run more RPO is making me nervous. I have no ideas on how to improve the offense at this point in the season. It's an impossible task. But man having our franchise quarterback run RPO significantly raises the risk of something bad happening. Robert Griffin, Mike Vick's leg injury, even Trent Green scrambling up the sideline all play in my head. It's like letting the teen take the new sports car out for a night. Please be careful. His sophomore jump would come a lot easier if he spent all of next offseason working on mechanics and throwing rather than rehabbing.


JT from Palm Coast, FL

You are the man on the proverbial ground for all of this. What are the absolute "musts" for this team next season in your opinion?

The Jaguars first must make more plays downfield; that means Lawrence making more plays when plays are there, but mostly it means skill position players getting into situation that create successful plays downfield – then making the plays. They also must continue to get stouter on the defensive front and add defensive playmakers. The defense is better than last season, but it's not consistent enough and doesn't create enough big plays. The unit has a league-low six turnovers. That can be partially attributed to playing so often facing a huge deficit, but the unit also must create takeaways when opportunities are there.

_Ray from Jax    _

John: Wow. What a big win for the Rams. I guess Jalen's new teammates had his back.

I laughed at this. Then again, I don't have much to fill my days.

David from West Lafayette, IN

O-mnipotent, you certainly can make holiday miracles happen: You published one of my dad's questions! He texted me "Yea Baby!! That's the big time right there!!!" after he saw it in a recent Ozone. Later Saturday, while I was at the Big Ten Championship, he sent me another message that said "Michigan game ... Oehser picked me … doesn't get any better than this!!!!!" It does not, in fact, get any better than being in the Ozone for my dad...

I am the Christmas Miracle.