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O-Zone: Perfect timing

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

So how are we spinning the Jags' "progress" when they're 2-5 after they lose to the Giants?

I don't know if the Jaguars will win or lose Sunday against the New York Giants at TIAA Bank Field. I expect the Giants to win because they have had a knack for winning close games and because the Jaguars have not shown that knack yet this season. And until I see the Jaguars win that sort of game, I will take a wait-and-see approach. If they lose and play similarly to how they have played in losses so far this season – i.e., playing well for the most part, but not quite winning at the end – then my guess is following the game I will say and write what I have said/written a lot this season: That the Jaguars are a young, improving team that still doesn't know how to win close games. Will that be progress from Week 5 and 6? Perhaps not. Will it be progress in the big picture? From where the Jaguars were in the recent past? Perhaps.

JR from The Squatchlands

Are the Jags doing anything different this week to prepare for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley?

There's not that much to do in a given week to prepare for an NFL running back. The Jaguars know Barkley is good. They know they must tackle. They know he's capable of scoring from anywhere. They know every play matters and that he's a tireless threat. Those things have been a week-long emphasis. Then they must go play on Sunday.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Seems like this should be the game that Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. gets his first NFL touchdown?

He has been getting closer and closer. He essentially has been one step – and one move – away each of the last two weeks. He's too good, too fast and too close not to score soon.

Keith from Saint Augustine, FL

What is entertaining about watching the Jaguars lose?

This apparently references an O-Zone answer this week in which I mentioned the NFL being entertainment as part of the reason for players and coaches speaking to the media following games. That it indeed is entertainment with participants paid life-altering money is forgotten by participants far too often, which in turn causes some players and coaches to not want to talk to media – which is, of course, talking to fans. But I digress: What is entertaining about watching the Jaguars lose? Perhaps nothing, but there should be at least some entertainment about a game regardless of result. If not …

Jax John from Pacific, Missouri

I don't get the Jags' fans. All I heard before the season started was that the fans just wanted the team to be competitive in each game versus being blown out in every game like the last three years and that is what we are getting. Is it frustrating? Sure, but is it realistic or fair to expect no growing pains? I like the growth and competitiveness I am seeing as compared to the last couple of years!

Fans do prefer their team be competitive over being blown out. But they prefer winning above all else because what else are they supposed to prefer? And logically, fans might be happier with losing close games than blowout losses. But this isn't about logic. It's about fanning. And fans fan. It's what they do.

Richard from Duval

Just read the game predictions over on NFL.com and they have the Jags ending the Giants' win streak Sunday. Seems the perception of the Jaguars is definitely pointing upward among folks outside of J-ville. To quote what I read, they said that these teams are closer than what their records indicate, which adds credence to your view that these Jaguars are definitely not the same as the Jaguars teams of old. Like you have repeatedly said, we have been in every game this season until the end with a chance to win. A few plays go our way and we could be the only undefeated team right now. That's what the fans who are panicking need to realize as well. In a year or two, this team is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

The Jaguars being close and improved is in no way just "my view," and I don't know that that's as much opinion as it is self-evident. They are 11th in the NFL in yards and 16th in points after being 27th and last in the categories last season. They are 11th in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed after being 20th and 28th in the categories last season. They have led in every game and lost four games by less than a score after losing 10 of 14 games by double digits last season. They are competitive. And improved. They need to make plays at the end of games. That's where and what they are.

David from Chuluota, FL

KOAF – I would be all-in on going for it on fourth down if this team was good at it. However, the Jaguars' fourth-down conversion success rate is at 38.46 percent, which is ranked 21stin the NFL. Same troubles with going for two points after a touchdown, with our success rate sitting at 33 percent. The success rate of kicking the extra point is near 100 percent, so why go with a play that has a 67 percent chance of failing? It's been said that Head Coach Doug Pederson uses analytics to be aggressive, but if your analytics doesn't take into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of your team, maybe those analytics are doing more harm than good. Thoughts?

Who says the Jaguars' analytics don't take into account their strengths and weaknesses? Not going for it on fourth down in makeable situations where the game and field position situation call for it would go against Pederson's makeup as a head coach. No way should he change his philosophy because two or three fourth-down attempts failed. Remember, too: A major play in the Jaguars' 38-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers came when running back James Robinson rushed for a 50-yard touchdown on fourth-and-one. Sometimes you kill the bear. Sometimes the bear kills you.

Don from Marshall, NC

One thing that seems to happen every game is Coach Pederson is going to call three-or-four plays a game that make the other team look silly. He also is not repetitive. You really have no clue what the heck he is going to do. The problem with that style is you're going to look foolish sometimes. Go Jaguars!

The Jaguars have improved significantly in yards and points from last season. They haven't had a game with fewer than three 50-yard drives. They have scored at least 20 points in five of six games after scoring that many five times in 17 games last season. Considering that, it's hard to see how Pederson seems foolish offensively at all.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

How does the steady emergence of Etienne affect James Robinson?

This is a fair question. Stay tuned.

Matthew from Jacksonville

I worry about rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker being a bust. He is an amazing athlete, but he seems to lack common sense and has a low football IQ. The last two weeks he has made mistakes that even a high school player should not make. Additionally, I cannot believe that a rookie with only one sack called out a 13-year vet and former NFL MVP. Really? Well, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan gave Travon a large helping of humble pie. Are my concerns misplaced? Maybe we drafted the wrong player with the first pick?

Walker, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, has had some expected struggles as a pass rusher through six games. He was not a pure pass-rusher at the University of Georgia, and it was going to take some time to develop techniques to start mastering a skill that is very much technique-based in the NFL. Even with that being true, teams are starting to pay extra attention to Walker – which indicates that team know they must do so to keep Walker from making plays. Six games into a rookie season is pretty quick for that to happen. Walker in the last two weeks has committed two bad penalties, with an unsportsmanlike conduct against the Houston Texans far less explainable than a roughing-the-passer penalty against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. Both penalties hurt. But those penalties are more about a young player being frustrated than about a lack of common sense – or lack of football sense. Walker still seems well on his way to being good player. Either way, six games is far too early to know for sure.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

You sucked before the three-game tailspin and you still suck.

There it is.

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