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O-Zone: Ode to joy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Rob from Westside

How different would the season feel had the bad losses and many close losses come more after the two early, blow-out wins? Just being in more competitive games and Trevor showing signs he's taking command of the offense is good, and the meaningful December games are huge. But midseason didn't feel that way because they went from comfortable wins to a lot of close losses. You da man, and that's the problem!

The NFL's week-to-week nature makes getting an overarching feel for a season in real time difficult. This is also difficult because fans typically see and feel these things through individual lenses. I suspect many fans see the Jaguars' 2022 season with a hint of frustration because one-sided victories over the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers in Weeks 2 and 3 raised hopes, and multiple close losses in succession the following weeks were therefore seen as disappointing or underachieving failures. If you look at the season in that vein, it might be seen as disappointing If the Jaguars miss the playoffs. But I looked at the entire Jaguars 2022 season more about a young team – and young quarterback – progressing under a new head coach, so I've seen the season more about overall improvement from a couple of abysmal seasons. I thought this season would be a success if by season's end you knew they were headed in the right direction – and if you knew quarterback Trevor Lawrence was going to be really good. If these two objectives haven't been achieved already, they're very close to being achieved. I imagine I'll see it that way unless the Jaguars just fall apart in the last month of the season. I suspect most people eventually will see the 2022 season as one in which the Jaguars made the first step toward being really good for an extended time. We'll see.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

Doesn't Trevor's development seem obvious? Last year he had a stretch of throwing fastballs to guys 10 yards in front of him. He's learned where to fire them and where to take a little off. Even early this season he was forcing throws into places he should not and it looks like he's learned where he needs to throw it away. His accuracy has improved dramatically since last year. And the eye test, he's making some crazy good throws. I don't recall a quarterback ever throwing the ball for the Jaguars as well as Trevor is throwing. He's minimizing the bad stuff and improving on what he can do well. You watched Peyton, where do you think Trevor is on the development scale?

He's progressing nicely. He's not where quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers were at the peak of their powers in terms of reading defenses, dictating to defenses, knowing where to go with the ball in all situations. But he's not supposed to be where those players were at the peaks of their careers. He's developing rapidly and will continue to get much, much better. If we've learned anything in the last six weeks, it's that.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

The Dallas Cowboys seem to be focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles and overlooking us like it's an automatic W. Beating the Tennessee Titans was fantastic, but beating the Cowboys is almost as good. I understand they are "America's Team," but the media's constant Cowboy slurping makes me despise them. Most traditionally overrated franchise ever.

JT dislikes the Cowboys.

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, this game against the Cowboys is the biggest game of the season. Right? This game will be seen by millions across the world, some of them football people, who may be talking about what I'm thinking after their home win versus Dallas: the Jaguars running the table. To hell with next year's Pro Bowl nod goal for Lawrence. He's this year's first alternate at least, right? Go Jags!!!

I confess to not thinking as much about end-of-season awards as many fans and observers. I always figure those come when deserved, and I also always figure they don't mean much in terms of winning and losing. Either way, Lawrence will probably have a tough time making the Pro Bowl this season. You have to figure Joe Burrow of Cincinnati, Josh Allen of Buffalo and Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City will be the AFC's three quarterbacks with Tua Tagovailoa of Miami and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers right behind them. Is Lawrence starting to push for the outer edge of that tier? He's getting there.

Cody from Palatka, FL

Now that the Jaguars have elevated to a higher tier of skill, coaching and being competitive, moving forward do you see Jacksonville becoming a draft and coach talent style of team or something like the Los Angeles Rams' style and trading picks to acquire "sure thing" veterans?

Fans should hope they lean waaaaaay to the former. When you have a franchise quarterback who projects to be that for a long time, drafting well around him is the best way to assure you are competitive for as many seasons as possible through his career.

Jim from Jagsonville

Have we been flexed? Could the Titans game be moved to a night game in Duval?

The NFL will determine the times and dates of Week 18 games following the completion of Week 17 games to ensure the best matchups appear in ideal slots for television. Sure, the Titans-Jaguars game that weekend could be a night game if the matchup merits it.

Colin from Orlando

Hey, John. When your journalism professors from college (which I'm sure are all daily O-Zone readers) read sentences like, "When you challenge the King, you better come strong," what do you think is their reaction? I assume they already have several of your quotes framed around campus to inspire future generations.

I graduated University of Florida business school and was largely self- and colleague-taught in terms of my current profession. I thought the "challenge-the-King" line was OK. I imagine most of my colleagues from the late 1980s Florida Times-Union would have liked it, too. If they don't, they can kick rocks. I am the king of all funk.

Dave from Los Angeles, CA

Question: Are the defensive coaches working closely with Walker and Lloyd to help them mentally and tactically achieve their potential? It's a shame to see two exceptional athletes struggling with things that I have to imagine can be taught by coaches.

Jaguars coaches unquestionably are working with rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker and rookie inside linebacker Devin Lloyd mentally and tactically to achieve their potential. Rookies often struggle. They just do.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

If you had to pick a stat for Trevor Lawrence that sticks out the most to you, among the many, which would it be? I'm going with the touchdown to interception ratio. Definitely expected improvement, but 20-6 this year? No chance I would have predicted that much of a jump.

There's not a particular statistic that stands out. What's most impressive is how he's reading defenses, and how he's clearly progressing at a striking rate in terms of confidence and knowledge of the defense. And where to go with the ball. And when. The dramatic improvement in many statistical categories reflect that.

Carlos from Mexico City

I dreamt the Jags were playing the Titans for the division and a playoff home game on Week 18, and the NFL flexed the game to Sunday night. Then they played the game and laid the biggest egg, losing 31-6 or something. It dawned on me all the losing has jaded us in many ways, so I think we need to reflect on this, flip the switch and enjoy the game again. It's cool we're still in it, it's awesome to have hope again. Let's root for the miracle until it's done. I urge fans to be happy whatever comes, as this is only a game and it should be fun. Go Jags!!

Fans "enjoy" games in countless different ways. When I followed what is now the Washington Commanders with my late father in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we enjoyed games mainly by pacing the living-room floor in his Arlington home, making his wife so nervous she stayed in a back room and yelling at the television when things went wrong. Victory never brought as much joy as losses brought pain, and it never occurred to us to "just be happy" with whatever came. Losing sucked, winning was cool and we absolutely knew a hell of a lot more about what the team was doing right or wrong than Hall of Fame Head Coach Joe Gibbs. When I look back on that time, I remember specific results far less than experiences we shared – and I treasure those Sundays during a time of my life that was over far too soon. That, from my experience, is how most fans "enjoy" the fan experience – by experiencing the euphoria of winning and pain of losing with complete disregard for logic and never acting as though it's anything less than critically important. That's the joy, even if you don't always enjoy it at the time.