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O-Zone: One direction

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jason from Jacksonville

Do you foresee any players on the Jags' roster having the potential to develop into a top-tier player at their respective position? I feel like the Jags have some good players, but don't have an elite star player or a player with that kind of potential.

This is an understandable question because the Jaguars roster right now has quite a few good players – pretty much at every position – but few who immediately jump out as "elite." That overlooks guard Brandon Scherff, a five-time Pro Bowl selection who indeed is playing at a high level. It also overlooks right tackle Jawaan Taylor and punter Logan Cooke, both of whom have played at a very high level this season. But it's easy to overlook punters and offensive lineman; it's the nature of the positions. But, yes … the Jaguars absolutely have players with that sort of potential: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, cornerback Tyson Campbell, running backs Travis Etienne Jr. and James Robinson, wide receiver Christian Kirk, linebackers Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker, and perhaps outside linebacker Josh Allen. All have various levels star potential. Some may reach it. The percentages say all probably won't. All are worth watching on this front the rest of this season and into the next few.

Tim from Fort Wayne, IN

All the big trades that happened this past offseason have me thinking: If you could make a trade today for any one player in the league, what position would you acquire? Do you think there is one position or player that could take this current team from a six-to-seven-win team and make it a playoff team? If that player's team called today, would you be willing to give up two first-round picks to make the deal happen?

I would trade for quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. That's not to say Lawrence won't get to their franchise-defining level, but those two players are there now. I also might trade for a player such as Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers, because elite pass-rushers can always help. At receiver: Ja'Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals and Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings. As is the case at quarterback and pass-rusher, the Jaguars have good players with a lot of potential there at receiver. What they don't yet have are players who have reached elite, difference-maker status. Those guys are there. I would trade the two first-round selections for the quarterbacks. The other positions would be trickier decisions.

Big on Blake from Philly

Zone, after much thought and earnest consideration, I've come to the conclusion – and think we can all agree – that the biggest miscue for the Jags over the past 14 months was trading cornerback C.J. Henderson for tight end Dan Arnold.

Really?

Kevin from Section 113

I forget who said this, but I honestly think it applies, lest not forget we are still a young growing team: "First you lose big. Then you lose close. Then you win close. And finally, you win big."

And sometimes you tie. Or at least go to overtime.

Bobby From Section 410 and Summerville, SC

Hi, John. I really don't understand why so many fans are bashing the Jags lately. I see a young team that has made much improvement and has been competitive in every game this season and are just a few plays or bad penalties from being undefeated. This season has the same feel as Head Coach Doug Pederson's first season with the Eagles. They won seven games that year and all of the losses were by narrow margins. We all know what they did in Pederson's second season there.

This indeed feels like that. The fact that it feels like that does not guarantee that it will end up like that. But it does feel like that.

Don from Marshall NC

It's hard to know how well Travon Walker is doing when the referees allow the other team to hold him every play. Seems he is not getting the calls. When it's a sure sack they call holding. Guy has a motor.

Walker is not yet a finished product. He must improve his pass-rushing techniques, must reduce avoidable penalties and must continue gaining the experience that will help him in the in-play recognition to which most NFL rookies must adjust. And yes … there have been more than a few plays this season on which Walker seemed to get held. Some have been called.

Derek from Brookings, SD

Josh Allen is going to be tricky contract situation. Even though his option was picked up, judging on what we have seen the last couple of seasons, his performance doesn't correlate to an elite edge defender contract. The consistency just doesn't seem to be there to warrant the kind of contract he's going to be wanting. Thoughts?

There's a lot of truth here. And this will continue to play out this season. Allen has been very good at times and not as productive at other times as you would like. He unquestionably makes the Jaguars' defense better, but he hasn't had elite sack or pressure numbers. Most contract negotiations/decisions are tricky. Allen's will be, too.

Sean from Saint Johns City

How much has the absence of defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi been a factor in the last two games?

Fatukasi is a major part of the Jaguars' run defense. He factored a great deal against the Houston Texans in Week 5. Against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6? Not as much.

Matt from Section 133

How long does Trevor get a pass for being in a "new offense?" He's now six games in and is supposed to be generational. Is there some sort of unspoken code that a young quarterback isn't expected to be good under a new offensive system for a while? How long does that last for? The entire season?

I don't know what "pass" means. I know many young quarterbacks improve dramatically in their second season in an offensive system, and I know Lawrence has played six games in this offensive system. I know he's much, much better now than he was through 16 games last season. I also know it's pretty clear Pederson thinks there will be a big difference in Lawrence's second season in his system compared to how Lawrence is playing now. How people feel about that and what they say? I can't predict or control that.

John from Sebastian

_John, its easy to see the progress being made on the offensive side of the ball. The defensive side not nearly as much. Is it a lack of talent and playmakers or coaching? Is the biggest weakness the secondary?   _

I'm not sure it's difficult to see progress defensively. The unit through six games ranks 11th in the NFL in yards allowed (333.8) and ninth in points allowed (19.0) after ranking 20th (353.1 yards in 2021) and 28th (26.9 points) in the same categories last season. They have nine takeaways through six games after having nine in 17 games last season. They have had three really good games (home against Indianapolis, at the Los Angeles Chargers and home against the Houston Texans). They struggled at various times in other games, with one of those games a loss at a Philadelphia Eagles team that might be the best in the NFL. This is a decent start for a defense that has been together six games in a league that's geared toward offense. It's not a dominant defense yet. I don't know that the pass rush will be dominant enough to be a dominant defense. But it feels through six games that it can be a good defense.

Steve at Work from Jax Bch

I can't help but feel that this team is still just one dominant player away. What we did in free agency is great and I have no problem with the general direction, but until we get out hands on that game-altering player – say a Calais Campbell on defense or a defense-shifting wide receiver – on offense we remain vulnerable.

No doubt. The Jaguars don't have enough elite, prime-of-their-careers, difference-making players – perhaps they don't have any currently. You can win without those kinds of players, but they damned sure help – particularly at quarterback. On the defensive line and at wide receiver, too. Those players are usually acquired in the draft and the Jaguars haven't drafted well enough for a long, long, time. The focus will be on developing some young players into those kinds of players and drafting players to become those kinds of players. That's the priority. That's the hope.

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, how's the locker room? Are they still one unit? Are they still all on board? Are they pissed for all the right reasons?

This team believes in the direction under Pederson. They have lost four games, with all close games. They are improved. The culture is improved. There's no reason to not be "on board."

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