JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Alan from Jacksonville
Watching the injuries pile up on our starting quarterback has been like watching the Black Knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where multiple appendages keep getting lopped off. Nobody can question Trevor "tis but a scratch" Lawrence's toughness, but I don't think it has helped the team much. While admirable, toughness can be a detriment to the team. Sitting Lawrence for the Panthers' game is absolutely the right call. C.J. Beathard has been taking first-team snaps for several weeks and is facing a weak opponent. If we are to have any chance in the playoffs, Trevor must have a chance to heal and if we win and the chasers in the AFC South stumble this week, he could have two weeks off. It's our best chance for not being a one-and-done postseason team.
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been ruled out Sunday against the Carolina Panthers because of a shoulder injury. This is the latest in a slew of injuries for Lawrence this season – and because much of that slew has come during a four-game losing streak, there are now a slew of opinions about Lawrence and the injuries. Is toughness a detriment? That's easy to say now. Was it a detriment when he played one of his best games last season in a victory over the Tennessee Titans a week after a toe injury? Was it a detriment earlier this season when played in a victory over the New Orleans Saints four days after a knee injury? He was hailed as a hero following those games. I suspect if the Jaguars' defense hadn't allowed three touchdowns on missed assignments against the Cleveland Browns, he would have been hailed as a hero for playing through a high-ankle sprain a few weeks ago. Because it's a shoulder injury this week, he is unable to play. That's why he's not playing. It's not to rest for the playoffs. It's not because Beathard is a better option. As for Sunday, the Jaguars can win if they tackle better defensively and protect the ball offensively than they have in recent games. If they do that next week against the Titans, they also can win that game. If they win the final two games, they will win the AFC South. And wouldn't that be something considering what has gone on the last month?
Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA
O, Since you grew up in the D.C. area, or at least a fan of the teams there, you are probably aware of this slogan: "It ain't over until the fat lady sings." Maybe this is also appropriate for the Jags from here on out this season?
My father's family was from Washington, and I indeed was an avid fan of that city's NFL team. I cared nothing for the Washington NBA team, particularly not the 1978 team – the year the team's head coach, Dick Motta, popularized the slogan to which you refer. I was actually a fan of the Seattle SuperSonics, who lost that year in the NBA Finals to Motta's team and beat Motta's team in the 1979 Finals. I was also a huge Oakland A's fan and a University of North Carolina basketball fan. Those are the four teams/athletes I once cared about as a "fan." As for the saying that promoted this email, I don't know if you can say such sayings these days. I do know the Jaguars' season is far from over. They're in first place. They control their destiny. Stay tuned.
Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL
A lot of fans (myself included) seem to be confused by the ups and downs of the Jaguars this year. Looking at the league, it seems like the majority of teams have had a similar "hot-and-cold" season. Parity has made it so there are two-to-three really good teams, two-to-three really bad teams and the rest of the league is in the middle and can beat or lose to any team. The Super Bowl champion will be the team that stays the healthiest and is playing the best at the end of the year. It really is a week-to-week league.
Jorge from Edmonton, Alberta
You keep saying you thought you had a beat on this team, but now have no clue what to expect. This points to coaching, doesn't it? The team does nothing well. They have nothing to fall back on. With all the mistakes they have made and missed opportunities even before the skid, you can't look at this team and say "they are well-coached." The talent is obviously there.
This team played very well defensively, tackled well and forced turnovers for the first three months of the season. It made big plays at key times. It felt like a mature team that won close games. Are those traits attributable to coaching? Cohesion? Veterans making big plays at key times? Perhaps. The Jaguars in recent weeks haven't shown those traits. Are those traits attributable to coaching? Cohesion? Poor tackling? Perhaps. People like to blame coaching for a lot of things. Missed tackles? Missed assignments? Miscommunications? I tend to think these things are usually a combination of issues and that the NFL is a players' league. It's professional football. Make plays.
Tony from The Land of Confusion
I asked this earlier in the year when it was still just a "maximize our chances of a Super Bowl run" thing and you said it wasn't likely. It has grown into a much more serious "save a season that's slipping away" question, so I'll ask it again: Given how lost and ineffective Luke Fortner seems at center, even compared to earlier in the season when he just wasn't playing well, is there any chance at all that Fortner gets benched for Tyler Shatley?
Not this week.
Sam from India
John, here is how I see it. This team on a four-game losing streak is the same team that had a five-game winning streak. Sure, injuries are there, but every team is dealing with injuries. We knew the weakness heading into this season was the secondary and the offensive line. The preseason hype for this team was a wide receiver group that was supposed to be one of the top in the league. What I've seen is a middle of the league group. I'm mostly concerned with how difficult it is for these guys to get open and also their mental mistakes. What happened here, in your opinion?
Zay Jones has missed a lot of time because of injuries and Christian Kirk has missed the last three games after a groin injury. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley hasn't quite been the No. 1, go-to-receiver expected – though he has been effective in a lot of games. The Jaguars also have struggled to run, which has meant passing on more obvious passing downs. That has caused the offense to feel more sporadic than anticipated.
Travis from High Springs, FL
Last season the Jags came in with a new coaching staff, so new schemes on both sides of the ball. They also spent a lot of money in free agency, they had three-to-four new starters on both sides. But once it all came together, they went on that great run. This season, they came back with the same schemes and mostly the same players. So how much of the recent losing streak can be attributed to teams figuring what the Jags are trying to do? Do you believe that everything being new last year helped them, and now teams are catching up to what works best against them?
I believe that most of the recent losing streak can be attributed to injuries, particularly to Lawrence and Kirk. Along too many turnovers. Along with poor tackling. Along with …
Rob from Orange Park, FL
I feel like we are trying to emulate the Titans from last year.
There are similarities.
Mike from Omaha, NE
My concern is that we limp into the playoffs and declare this a successful year. Then use that as an excuse not to conduct a deep evaluation at the end of the season to determine what it will really take to be a Super Bowl contender. I am sorry if I am being overly negative. But I really had high hopes going into this season. It was easier when I looked at each win as a gift rather than an expectation.
The Jaguars have a chance to win a second consecutive AFC South title, marking the second time in franchise history they have won back-to-back division titles and the first time doing so since winning the AFC Central in 1998 and 1999. It also would mean winning the fifth division title in franchise history and qualifying for the postseason for the ninth time in franchise history. Limp in, surge in … whatever: Just get in. Qualifying for the playoffs would make this a successful season. None of which would preclude the Jaguars from conducting a deep evaluation at season's end to determine what it would take to be a Super Bowl contender. Teams do this at the end of every season. The Jaguars will do it following the season whatever the season's outcome.
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
Even on the last day of the year, you suck.