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O-Zone: On to the offseason

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Brad from the Avenues

I woke up this morning and was like, "Oh Thank God, that was just a dream." And then it wasn't ... was it?

This is fair – very fair, actually. The Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans, 28-20, in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday in a Week 18 game. It was the sort of game – and the sort of end to the season – that defies belief. I woke Monday still not believing this team had gone from competing for the No. 1 seed six weeks ago to missing the postseason – and I'm sure I was far from alone. The Jaguars had a chance on Sunday with a victory to win a second consecutive AFC South title. They had multiple chances late in the season to win and be a playoff team. When seasons go bad to the degree the Jaguars' season went bad, there are many questions. It takes time to move past the awful feelings. That's true for players, coaches and personnel people. It's true for fans, too. Is there a feeling of thinking it was just a dream? Sure. Would it have been great had it been a dream? Absolutely. It wasn't a dream. It was reality – and in this case reality was cold and brutal.

Sal from Austin, TX

Sucks Mike Caldwell got fired. I don't think it's his fault his defense vanished. It's hard to play physical when you don't know your assignments.

The Jaguars indeed parted ways with defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell Monday, along with multiple other defensive assistants. And this indeed sucks in a lot of ways. For a lot of good people. We are in an age of the NFL where change must happen when expectations are not met, and the Jaguars most certainly did not meet expectations this season. The Jaguars' defense was very good in the first half of the season and was not as good the second half of the season. It was very good against the run much of the season and then was not as good late in the season. This was particularly true Sunday in a loss in which Jaguars defenders lost gap integrity on multiple occasions to allow Titans running back Derrick Henry to break off multiple momentum- and game-changing runs. Gap assignment is about players doing the right thing. When players don't do that enough, it falls on someone. That someone is usually the coach. Fair or not.

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

When your defenders have the most missed tackles of all NFL teams over the last four games, do not consistently play assignment football and continue to talk about poor communication at the end of the season, that's a reflection of the defensive coordinator and his staff's failure to get these issues fixed. No surprise that they were relieved of their duties; it's time for a change in the scheme and the message to the players.

In professional football, you can't fire all the players. The same is not true of the coaches.

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

O, maybe Caldwell was a scapegoat. When a pro defensive player fails to tackle, the issue has to fall on the defensive coaching staff. There are tackling drills that don't require pads or bloodshed. Apparently, they weren't used or didn't take.

It's always coaching in the NFL. It's never the players.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

I like Mike Caldwell as a person, but I'm glad to see change was made. Our tackling all year was hit or miss (mostly miss). I appreciate the quick response. Some will wonder why Press Taylor didn't join the defensive staff, but our biggest issues were consistently on the defensive side of this ball. Were you surprised Doug moved this quickly?

Very little surprises me anymore when it comes to NFL offseasons. When change comes, it sometimes comes fast. It sometimes comes slowly. Pederson in this case moved quickly. If he knew this was his desired direction, there was no reason to wait.

James from Socorro, NM

Why is the defense having run fit issues in Week 18? Is that on the players, the coaches, or both?

When things go bad in football, it's never "just" one thing. It's not one thing here, either. Coaches can tell players what to do. It's their job to ensure players do things and to therefore get results. But if a player continues to make mistakes, is that on the coach? Many people think so. I've never thought that coaches can control outcomes to that degree.

James from Socorro, NM

Are the Jaguars destined for perpetual disappointment? Four teams in the NFL have never been to a Super Bowl, and the Jaguars are the only one of those not in the playoffs this year.

There's no reason the Jaguars must be destined for failure. They were two games from the Super Bowl last season and they were close to the AFC's best record six weeks ago. But success isn't guaranteed in the NFL. Winning is hard. Making the playoffs is harder. Making the Super Bowl? It's really hard. Just because you work at it and just because you stay in the league a long time doesn't mean you automatically get there.

Chuck from Jax

Wow. How can a team with so much available for them go from 96 percent probability to win the division to going 1-5 and look like they did not want to be on the field in two of the last three games? Unbelievable, way to rip the heart and soul out of your fanbase.

I confess I have never understood "playoff probabilities." You still must win to make percentages happen, and the NFL is such a week-to-week league that I wonder if the percentages have much meaning. I do know I didn't expect this team to lose five out of the last six games and I know there were times it seemed the urgency lacked. I'm an old man, and tend not to invest my heart and soul in these things. Would my heart and soul have been in danger were I younger and a fan? Yeah. This was a tough one.

Steve at work from Jax Bch

Here's my way too early offseason question. Do you renegotiate Trevor's contract now or let it ride? I'm serious. He's still our guy but you pay for performance. His numbers aren't great.

It's not too early for the question. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence became eligible for a contract extension when his third season ended. That happened Sunday, so it's time for the question. The answer is more difficult, and I'm not sure we know where this is headed yet. I wrote much of the season that I expected the Jaguars and Lawrence to reach an agreement on an extension this offseason. Considering how the season ended, that doesn't seem as certain as it did six weeks ago. I still fully expect Lawrence to be this franchise's quarterback moving forward. How the sides approach how much it's worth to guarantee that is now a storyline. I don't yet have a feel for how that storyline plays out. I'm not sure anyone does.

Joseph from Fleming Island, FL

I know it wasn't the play called but our AC shoulder-injured quarterback decides to again try to reach for the touchdown. That play has got to be eliminated as everyone knew that he would try to be the hero again. Terrible judgment. The last two plays should have been running back plays and no one would have been disappointed!!

You're referencing a fourth-quarter sequence Sunday on which the Jaguars ran two plays from the Titans one-yard line. They trailed 28-20 at the time – and the failed plays represented the Jaguars' last and best chance to tie the game. Lawrence rolled and threw incomplete on third down. He tried to reach the ball over the goal line on fourth down. A couple of thoughts on your thoughts. One is that the fourth-down play indeed wasn't play called. It appears the Jaguars had called a running play to rookie Tank Bigsby. It's a little tricky to "eliminate" the play unless you simply tell Lawrence to never adapt to situations at the line of scrimmage. I don't expect the Jaguars to take that route. As far as the Jaguars not simply running two "running-back" plays there … simple "running-back" plays weren't all that successful this season. It's hard to blame Lawrence or the coaches veering from that in big situations.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Even when they're not in the playoffs, you still suck.

There it is.

Brad from Yankton, SD

The last six games O, why no enthusiasm, energy, "want to?" Isn't this unusual for a Pederson coached team?

I wouldn't say the Jaguars played with no energy for each of the final six games. I would agree it lacked at times. I don't know why. Yes, it's unusual.

David from St. Augustine, FL

It's going to be a long off season, Zone.