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O-Zone: No laughing matter

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Back in early March, Head Coach Doug Pederson essentially said that this would be kind of a do-over rookie year for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. At the time, I thought it was kind of an odd thing to say. But as things progress, I think I get it. This really will be TL's first NFL season with a "real" NFL coach and (hopefully) better staff, game planning, offensive tools and team preparation. More importantly, TL's remarks make me think that he, too, "gets it." Will this coupled with an improved defense be enough to be a playoff team this year? I'd love to see it, but I think the Jaguars are still a few players short of realistically contending. Here's the thing, though: I don't think Trevor Lawrence got that memo. If he truly believes this team can contend this year, could that belief/attitude be the difference between six-to-seven wins and nine-to-10 wins?

I didn't consider Pederson's comments regarding Lawrence odd. Lawrence played his rookie season in strange, difficult circumstances and Pederson's job is to calm things around Lawrence to give Lawrence – and the team – the best chance to improve, develop and succeed. From Pederson's point of view, the best approach is to start with Lawrence as if he is starting from the beginning and allow the quarterback to develop in this system. As for Lawrence's approach … I'm sure he's entering this season believing the Jaguars will contend and that he will play well. I'm sure that his sole objective. I don't know how to quantify what that belief will mean, but I'm sure he has it and it can't hurt the Jaguars' chances this season.

JP from Jax

What area do you think we need to see the most improvement come from in the wide receiver room? Dropped passes? Separation? Knowing our routes? Something I haven't listed? Do you think our acquisitions will accomplish this? If you're bored, I'm curious how many dropped passes we had last year and where we ranked in the league?

The easy answer is all of the above. It's also the right answer. The quickest way for the Jaguars wide receivers to improve in 2022 is to execute the basics, which would mean more consistency and fewer dropped passes. The Jaguars according to one list dropped 26 passes last season, which according to that list was the sixth-most in the NFL. Such lists are unofficial and other lists had different numbers. Either way, drops were an issue for the Jaguars last season – an issue that must improve. Overall, I expect newly-acquired Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram to create more separation and help the entire receiving corps improve.

Al from Orange Park, FL

The Dear Abby question made me laugh. I was more of an Ann Landers fan back in the day. (They were twin sisters, ya know). But you have more in common with them than you realize: The calm, sane voice when others are lost in insanity of their own making.

Listen up, buster.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

"A team so bad for so long and suddenly their franchise quarterback appears." Let's see: Brady/Patriots, Montana/49ers, Brees/Saints. Green Bay sucked every year between Starr and Favre. And tell Diego I am funnier in my own mind than he is in his.

Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers indeed are a good example of this, as are Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints – and Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. I can't put the New England Patriots and Tom Brady in the category. New England made four postseason appearances from 1994-2000, he seasons before Brady took over as a starter; they weren't exactly "so bad for so long."

Tom from Jacksonville

Do you remember what a pain in the arse Coughlin was before he left? No coaches were allowed to speak to the media. He was a control freak even though he was a decent coach.

I assume you're referencing Tom Coughlin when he was the Jaguars' head coach from 1995-2002. Yes, I remember how Coughlin was during that time. I covered the team from 1995-2001, so witnessed it first-hand. Yes, he was a "control freak" and his many rules were something of an urban legend. He was far from the only NFL head coach to have this approach, though dealing with him as a member of the media was certainly "tricky" at times.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, You have suggested that the Jags may win seven games this year. I believe our AFC South division is weaker than in the past, but the overall Jags' schedule is difficult and the Jags have had a terrible winning record in away games. So, which teams do you think the Jags can beat?

We'll know the difficulty of the Jaguars' schedule five or six weeks into the season; anything before that is premature. If the Jaguars are improved, they should have a chance to beat a lot of teams on their schedule – including some teams that currently look like very difficult opponents. And they should be a lot better in away games.

Doug from Jacksonville

I think if the Jags score more points than they give up they'll win the division. What say you? If Trevor completes seven out of 10 passes he throws, I think he'll have a 70 percent completion rate. Mark it down!

Good eye.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK Sean

Oh Mighty 'O'/King of all Funk, might I suggest to Gary from Suffolk, VA, the following as potential "musts" for a London visitor. 1) See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (usually at 11.00). Get there at least 30 minutes before if you want to see anything other than the backs of other tourists. 2) Take Afternoon Tea at a top hotel; can be horrendously expensive. The Savoy is the obvious choice depending on how deep Gary's pockets are. Pre booking essential. 3) The Tower of London/Crown Jewels. 4) Rover boat cruise down the Thames to Hampton Court Palace 5) St. Paul's Cathedral. 6) Westminster Abbey (where all our King and Queens are crowned). 7) The British Museum (see what items we took when we had an Empire!). 8) See a West End Show Oh and reach out to BCB UK/Jags Across The Pond on social media we will look after him and his wife.


Irving from Bristol, CT

So… Are you a fan of the Jaguars? If yes, how did you decide to become a fan?

I'll revisit this because I seem to get asked once a year or so. I don't consider myself a "Jaguars fan." I write and talk about the Jaguars as objectively as possible – and to do that, I take "fandom" as much out of the equation as possible. A fan gets angry and emotional when watching the team. A fan gets elated and emotional when watching the team. My job is to analyze and report on the team and getting overly emotional makes that difficult. I prefer if the Jaguars win. I want them to win. When close games near an end, I hope the Jaguars make the key plays that allow them to do so. If they don't, I typically don't carry emotions with me for two or three days. There was a time in my life I was a big fan of some teams. I knew those emotions, anxieties and feelings. The way I feel about the Jaguars is different. Some people don't believe this. Some people believe I'm a fan. Some people believe I'm not a fan but that I should be a fan. Those people are free to believe as they believe.

Denmiz from Jagsonville

KOAF, we hear about running back Travis Etienne Jr. being back in action, and few REALLY know how he and James Robinson will actually fare this year. With such extreme injuries, just how good are these surgical procedures, and how likely will they each have a "full" recovery? We hear both injuries can be career-enders for running backs. How realistic is it that either/both will truly be successful going forward? I guess only time will tell, but just curious how successful these surgical procedures really are for elite athletes.

This is the major question facing the Jaguars' running back position entering 2022, with Etienne returning from a Lisfranc injury and Robinson returning from an Achilles injury. I wish I had a better answer. If I did, I would know the future. I don't know the future. As you said, only time will tell.

Chris from London, UK

O, I have always found you funny, but you telling us Jags fans that watched last season that most NFL games are close was good one! I'm still chuckling.

Most NFL games are close. Too many Jaguars games last season weren't close. That's why they were 3-14 and really bad. That's not supposed to be the norm.