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O-Zone: Mixing it up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

JT from Palm Coast, FL

I appreciate the mindset of the players after the game. They obviously see what we see. I appreciate the accountability. Moral victories has been the mindset in the past because that was the only victories that we were able to get. No moral victories indeed.

I rarely got the idea from past Jaguars players and coaches that "moral victories" were OK, but you're right that no one in the locker room Sunday was remotely OK with losing. My sense from Jaguars players following a 28-20 loss to the Washington Commanders in the 2022 regular-season opener was they believed they lost a game they could have – and should have – won. They were right. They gave away 11 points with missed first-half opportunities offensively – and they gave away another four points on defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot's first-half roughing-the-passer penalty that gave Washington a first down on an incomplete third-down pass. A few specific plays cost the Jaguars Sunday, and the game could have gone the other way had those plays gone differently. But that's the NFL. Good teams win those games. The Jaguars are closer to being good than before, but being closer isn't the same as winning.

Doug from Jacksonville, FL

Being aggressive is one thing, being reckless is another. Kick the field goal on fourth and goal early in the game to pull within one score. Lots to like, lots to give some excitement for the future, some concern for some play calling.

If you're concerned about that call, buckle up. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's book wasn't titled "Fearless" for nothing – and I sensed no regret from Pederson or players about going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3 in the first half Sunday. Pederson is going to be aggressive in areas that make the old-school thinkers among us uncomfortable. He just is.

Rob from San Antonio, TX

KOAF, yes, we lost the game. But the fact we had control over the outcome so late in the game, despite the mistakes, is a good sign. I feel this team will look great by the end of the season.

That, to me, was the biggest big-picture takeaway for the Jaguars Sunday. The Jaguars in a road game didn't play particularly well and had a chance to win late. They rallied from a double-digit deficit to take an eight-point lead while still not playing perfectly. A lot of things had to go really, really right in recent seasons for the Jaguars to have a chance to win. To have a chance to win even when things didn't go particularly well is a sign of progress. Even if there's still a long way to go.

Jeremy from Jacksonville by way of Miami

If it's true that one of the final pieces to the offensive puzzle is to attain efficiency in the red zone, then Sunday's game should give us some hope, right?


Chris from London, UK

KOAF, "But they made too many mistakes in big situations" … just wondering from which season you cut and pasted that answer??

NFL games often are decided by many of the same factors. One of the most important factors is making big plays at key times. When you cover a team with one winning season in the last 14, you're probably going to talk about mistakes in big situations.

Scott from The Mid Atlantic

Why did Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. only get four touches on the ground? Running back James Robinson did what he does. But did it feel like we threw the ball way to often?

I'm getting a lot of questions about Pederson's run-pass mix, which is understandable considering the Jaguars ran 16 run plays Sunday with 44 pass plays. But Pederson has discussed this twice since game's end – once in the postgame press conference and once Monday – and neither time did he give the impression he was bothered by the mix. Part of the reason the Jaguars ran so effectively Sunday was they weren't lining up in heavy formations and handing off to Robinson/Etienne every play. This usually isn't going to be a traditional, grind-it-out offense. Bottom line: The Jaguars ran effectively when they did run Sunday, and Pederson liked how they reached that effectiveness. I don't expect his focus this week to be on forcing more carries for Robinson and/or Etienne.

Holger from Zurich, Switzerland

It's the NFL. There are always little things here and there. But at the end of the day the offense had the ball with 1:46 to go to score the game-winning touchdown and couldn't get close, and to me that's on the O-Line. The drive started well but then Trevor had no chance.

The offensive line needed to protect quarterback Trevor Lawrence better on the final drive. That was true a lot Sunday, but it was really true on a few critical plays late.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

Regarding Lawrence's accuracy, I like to keep Patrick Mahomes in mind for some perspective. There are some games he looks near flawless, but there are other games he makes five or six throws that are just plain bad throws ... similar to what Lawrence did Sunday. If you take the bad games of Mahomes without the context of his whole body of work, people would be concerned about his ability to be a "franchise quarterback." The same goes for just about every quarterback. The hope is it goes from five or six bad throws a game down to five or six bad throws every couple games.


Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

If the Jags had won, they would have been the absolute worst team with a Week 1 victory. They were basically steaming garbage with enough good plays mixed in to make it interesting. And Lawrence does not look like a franchise quarterback at all.

Jeremy, after watching all NFL Week 1 games start to finish and therefore defying the laws of physics – or something other than physics – is not "all in."

Edward from Jacksonville

The discouraging thing to me about the Washington game was that you could see this team has some very good talent to compete with a lot of teams. I wonder if it is time for the coach to make it clear to the team that the sloppy play in this game will not be condoned?

This question implies this wasn't already made clear, an implication that defies reason.

Andrew from 219

How would you rate the performance of the quarterback? I want to believe in him but looking back on the game as a whole, it looked very much like what we saw from him for over the course of last season. Where's the improvement?

Sunday didn't look to these eyes like last season. Lawrence, who not incidentally was under too much pressure on quite a few plays Sunday, threw a touchdown pass and directed an offense that had just one three-and-out on 11 possessions. I didn't think Lawrence or the Jaguars were as good as they could have been Sunday, but the undercurrent of dissatisfaction regarding him this week is extreme.

Dave from Los Angeles

Hey, fans: Y'all need to R-E-L-A-X. It's not reasonable to expect playoffs this season. If you're expecting playoffs, your disappointment is on you. This season is about righting the ship, developing talent, and setting the foundation for years of winning to come. Sunday was an acceptable place to start.

Fans feel how they want to feel, and it's OK to be frustrated by losing. And frustration understandably will be high in the short-term after a loss. I expect the Jaguars this season to do what you expect, but I don't expect fans to love it if that isn't accompanied by winning.

Curtis from Shack Outside La Grange

Hey, Zone: I realize that this may be considered Monday Morning Quarterbacking but when the running backs only have 15 carries and we throw 42 passes most times that is not a winning formula. Both running backs need to run the ball more and get closer to being balanced. Just my humble opinion.

This answer will get into the weeds a bit, but we're a day from Look-ahead Wednesday, so I guess this is a chance for a final trip through the weeds of the Commanders game. I understand the tendency to look at run-pass mix, but consider what Pederson is feeling/seeing when calling the game. The Jaguars had just one three-and-out with the primary offensive issues coming in the red zone, with those issues being two first-half possessions that could have been touchdowns had Lawrence completed very completable passes. The Jaguars scored on four consecutive possessions in the second half and moved effectively before the final series, which began with 1:46 remaining – which meant the team wasn't going to call many running plays. Considering how the game was playing out, it's hard to see just where Pederson's play-calling Sunday wasn't working.