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O-Zone: One small step

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Brian from Section 234

Through two games, our boy just doesn't feel like "the guy." My waaay too early hot take. Just hasn't passed the smell test.

I'll assume "our boy" is Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence – and if my assumption is correct, then you're absolutely right that this "hot take" is way too early. Lawrence struggled Sunday, completing 14 of 33 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions in a 23-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. He looked fantastic on the game's opening drive, completing five of seven passes for 73 yards and a perfect 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. He looked really bad after that, completing nine of 26 passes for 45 yards with two interceptions. But while you write that he doesn't feel like the guy, the reality is Lawrence just "smells" like a typical rookie quarterback. Rookie quarterbacks make mistakes, particularly when their teams are trailing big in the second half. Doubt that all you want, but it's true. Maybe he's the guy. Maybe he's not. But it's not strange that he is struggling early in his career. It would be strange if he didn't. We may know more in this vein late in the season. We won't know next week.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Is it possible to ask the team why is Lawrence not using his legs at all? That was such a weapon of his in college and it's basically obsolete in the NFL.

Lawrence rushed for 21 yards on two carries Sunday – and that included his best run of the regular season, an 11-yarder that converted a fourth down late in the first half. But you're right that Lawrence hasn't run as much so far this season as he did while at Clemson, and the franchise has addressed this. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell before the regular-season opener made clear the team wasn't going to call many designed runs for Lawrence. Head Coach Urban Meyer, while saying last week that the Jaguars wanted Lawrence to run when the situation called for it, has made just as clear that the Jaguars don't want Lawrence running a lot of run-pass options or designed runs – specifying Sunday that Lawrence needs to become a professional quarterback. Bottom line: Look for Lawrence to run on occasion, but don't look for it to be a habit. That's not what he or the franchise need for the long term.

Adam from Allentown, PA

What it's like being a Jaguars fan. Seven days of excitement followed by three hours of misery.

So far this season, fair. And other seasons, too.

Brandon from Louisville, KY

It's getting tough to keep believing, John. Really tough.

This is fair. The Jaguars have lost two games this season by double digits and Lawrence really struggled Sunday. None of that changes the team's long-term trajectory. But is it fair for fans to be frustrated, depressed and anxious? Absolutely.

Grant from Jax

I am tired. Really tired.

Yeah.

Roger from Jax

Is Wingard the future? I ask because he doesn't seem good, he's not a long-term solution, and we have a third rounder he's taking snaps from. What's the point?

I doubt safety Andrew Wingard is the Jaguars' future at safety. It's more likely that rookie safety Andre Cisco is the future at the position. Meyer said last week the Jaguars were trying to manage Cisco's snaps early because he is still a little less than a year removed from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Gary from Fleming Island

So can we admit now that we should have kept former quarterback Gardner Minshew II and let Trevor sit for six or seven games before he started? Rookie coaching mistake.

Toward what end?

Doug from Jacksonville

Does that return warrant the signing?

This question references a 102-yard kickoff return by Jaguars wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew in the fourth quarter Sunday. While the return didn't change the game, it did show the game-breaking ability Meyer believed Agnew possessed when the Jaguars signed him as an unrestricted free agent this past March. Meyer's emphasis on special teams has been well-documented and sometimes criticized; some NFL teams have deemphasized kickoff returns and coverage because rules changes in recent seasons have reduced the number of kickoff returns leaguewide. But the argument for emphasizing returns and special teams is that few plays can change a game's momentum like a return. Agnew certainly showed the ability to make a game-changing play Sunday. So, perhaps that means the signing was warranted.           

Collin from St. Augustine, FL

John, it seems like we are not effectively using the run game or short passing game once again. Seems like a pattern is developing. Why are we not running the ball to help our young quarterback?

This indeed is a common early-season question, which is understandable considering the Jaguars have rushed just 16 times in each of the first two games. But as was the case in a Week 1 loss to Houston, I didn't get the idea the Jaguars didn't want to run Sunday. The Jaguars fell behind too quickly against the Texans in Week 1, with the result being that Lawrence threw 51 times while the team rushed 16 times. On Sunday, the Jaguars' 16 rushes were accompanied by just 33 passes from Lawrence. That means the 16 rushes against the Broncos were more about the team not running enough total offensive plays to run as much as they wanted. Whatever the reason, the Jaguars do want to run more. They just need to play better overall to have a chance to do it.

Michael from St Augustine, FL

Well, it's nice that despite "cleaning up the mental errors," we can still make the determination that we stink.

The Jaguars indeed played a cleaner game Sunday than they did in Week 1 in Houston. Despite this, they were outgained 398-189 and were never really in the game after the first drive of the second half. They were outmanned in a lot of ways following an 83-yard drive on the game's first possession. I don't know if that means the Jaguars "stink." I do know they're 0-2 and must play a lot better next week to not be 0-3. They must play a lot better to win a game. Any game.

Travis from High Springs, FL

Trevor has to learn to hit his checkdown instead of just throwing it up. Most of his picks or near picks, there's a checkdown that's wide open waiting on the ball.

Fair.

Jason from Green Cove Springs, FL

To me the Jags' struggles are easy to pinpoint. They don't catch the interceptions that hit them in the hands, don't make the tough catches or field goals. This is a team that doesn't make plays. It doesn't seem like that's a coachable thing, so I don't know how they go about fixing it?

This is also fair. The NFL is about making plays. Good and great players make plays when the opportunity arises. The Jaguars haven't made enough plays when the opportunity has arisen this season. Perhaps that will change.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

It looked like the timing was off between the quarterback and the receivers. Looked like Trevor wasn't throwing the ball at the top of the routes, that the receivers at times would break and the ball wasn't out yet and that gave the defenders a couple steps to break up the pass. He has to anticipate better. I think this is something that will solve itself probably quickly as Trevor gains more experience with these receivers. Was that about the sum of it or is there more to this than just a rookie quarterback?

In terms of Sunday, there were definitely plays where this felt true. It felt particularly true on Lawrence's first interception of the game, when he threw too late to rookie tight end Luke Farrell and veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson took advantage of the hesitancy for an interception. But yes … that should happen less as Lawrence gains experience.

James from Springfield, VA

_John, It seems like our secondary is still repeatedly getting beat deep. Didn't we bring in some veterans to alleviate this weakness? _

The Jaguars' secondary got beat a couple of times for big, momentum-turning gains in Week 1. Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton caught passes of 33 and 55 yards to set up touchdowns Sunday, and he very nearly had a long touchdown reception in the second quarter. He beat second-year safety Chris Claybrooks on the 55-yarder, with Claybrooks playing because starting cornerback CJ Henderson was out of the game with a hip flexor. But yes … the Jaguars signed cornerback Shaquill Griffin and safety Rayshawn Jenkins to help the secondary. This area has allowed too much early and hasn't made plays when plays were there to be made. Those missed plays have turned the momentum of both losses.

Ross from Mechanicsville, VA

OK Zone, the big important question.... is there improvement?

A little. Not enough.      

Sean from Jacksonville

Some things improved. Some things did not. All in all? A very small step in the right direction.

What Sean said.

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