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O-Zone: Reason to believe

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Trevor out. Finally. Is this good or bad?

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence on Friday was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers at EverBank Stadium – this after not practicing all three days this week because of a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder sustained in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. As for your question – is this good or bad? – it's never good for the Jaguars when a healthy Lawrence can't play. He's the starting quarterback. When he is healthy, and when he can practice during the week, he gives the Jaguars the best chance to win. But Lawrence in the last three weeks has practiced relatively sparingly while playing through various injuries. The cumulative effects of that appear to have contributed to some miscommunication with receivers. From this view, that has contributed to Lawrence not playing as well in the last three weeks as he was playing just before he sustained a high-ankle sprain against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13 – and his turnover issues indeed have spiked lately. Lawrence did not practice this week because of the sprained shoulder. While he has gutted through multiple situations, an injured shoulder for a quarterback is a different beast. It's not good that Lawrence is out. It never is. But backup C.J. Beathard has gotten plenty of repetitions this week – and in recent weeks. If those repetitions and his full health add up to a cleaner performance than Lawrence has given in recent weeks, it could for this one day be at least OK.

Anita from Springfield

I'm reveling in the few bright spots of our past to ignore the present. One fer Freddy T. Dude was one of the all-time "monsters" at his position. Now that he's a finalist, how many years do you think being selected will take, and do you think he'll actually be selected to the Hall eventually?

Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor on Wednesday night was announced as one of 15 modern-era finalists for the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. This is his first time as a finalist after being a semifinalist for five consecutive years (2019-2023). I do expect Taylor to be enshrined eventually, though I would expect it to take a few years. This is my expectation because I imagine it will take some time to educate enough voters fully on Taylor's Hall credentials. And I do expect Taylor's lack of season-ending accolades to be a negative with some voters. That's likely the reason he hasn't yet been a finalist. While he "only" made one Pro Bowl, there were circumstances such as other players having great seasons and untimely injuries – as well as a few seasons when he easily could have made the Pro Bowl – that contributed to this. These issues now will be discussed. Voters for Taylor will point out his multiple spectacular plays, his status as the NFL's 17th all-time leading rusher with and his 4.6-yards-per-carry career average. In time, I expect those discussions to lead to Taylor getting enshrined.

Sal from Austin, TX

_Much doom and gloom around here. If the defense that played the first half versus the Baltimore Ravens shows up, and if they can get just a little continuity going on the offensive line, maybe use a lead blocker in the run game, and if the kicker can get it going, the Jaguars will make the playoffs. And at that point, it's anyone's game.      _



Very happy that Fred Taylor made it as a HOF finalist. Crossing my fingers that he gets in. What is your favorite Freddy T. moment? I love how he ran all over the Steelers back in 2000.

I covered Taylor three seasons, 1998-2000. I would put his game-opening touchdown as a rookie against the Miami Dolphins in a 1998 Monday Night Football game that year up there along with his game-winning touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that same season. Along with his performance in a 62-7 Divisional Playoff victory over the Dolphins the following season. Along with …

Bruce from St Simons Island, GA

O, Congratulations to Fred Taylor! It was always a joy (and amazing) to watch him. One memory was a Jags game when he ran right through the Miami defense in Mariano's last game at Jacksonville.

I bet Mariano hated that.

Tim from Fort Wayne, IN

Are we going to get to the offseason and find out just how badly Lawrence was actually hurt? Yes, he's tough and keeps playing through things, but it seems like maybe he's hurt worse than we realize.

I suppose this is possible. Lawrence has sustained four well-publicized injuries this season knee, high-ankle sprain, concussion and shoulder. He played through the first three injuries Since we can't feel his pain level, there's no real way to know if he has been "hurst worse than we realize." It does strikes me that perhaps the cumulative wear and wear hurt his play in recent weeks; considering he has struggled far more in the last three games than he did the previous three, and considering has left three of four games with injuries, that timing makes sense. Lawrence's lack of practice during this time probably hurt his performance, too. Along with the absence of top receivers. Along with the desire to perhaps do too much with frustration mounting. Along with…

Jeff from Renton, WA

This has got to be the weirdest Jags team in recent memory. Earlier this season, they looked like they were a few tweaks here and there from being "elite." The sky seemed like the limit. Now, I wouldn't have confidence in them beating anyone. I'm sure it's difficult for most Jags fans to stay positive, we are used to expecting the worst.


Brandon from Omaha, NE

Hey O, The Jags are 6-1 with Cam Robinson in the lineup and 2-6 with him injured/suspended. I know one man doesn't make an offensive line and there are other things at play in all those losses, but Cam is the least of this team's problems. Many readers including myself believed it was a forgone conclusion that he'd be one of the players cut to create cap space heading into next season. This line has given up 155 pressures in 15 games. What makes it worse is Lawrence is one of the fastest in the league at getting the ball out of his hands. Two questions for you O. Can we expect Cam Robinson back against the Panthers? Can this team afford to let him go after the season with all of the issues with this O-line?

I expect Robinson to play Sunday against Carolina. I don't yet have a feel for if the Jaguars will retain him next season. My thought is they should. He matters to this team. Let him go at your peril.

Troy from Dover, PA

Do you think it would be a good idea to keep Walker Little at left with Cam Robinson returning? It is rumored they consider Walker Little the future left tackle so they could begin to build some stability on the line with him and Ezra Cleveland playing together if they are able to re-sign him this offseason.

I think Robinson is the Jaguars' best option at left tackle and I expect him to start there Sunday.

Colin from Sanford

Hey, John. I'm not a scout, but I'm starting to think this offensive line might not be very good. My question for you is what can be done at this point in the season?

Robinson returns Sunday. The group has played better with him playing than with him not playing.

Joey from Jacksonville

You don't obviously have to rat them out, but have you ever covered a team that you felt mailed it in? Ready for the next season?

I suppose I've covered a few teams where I've had that feeling. That's how the Jaguars looked at times Sunday. But that's not how they looked in the three games before that that began this current four-game losing streak. Remember: The losses to the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns were close, hard-fought games decided late. They then lost to the Baltimore Ravens after trailing by three points entering the fourth quarter. The Jaguars played poorly at times in those games, but they didn't lack urgency. I'll assume the Buccaneers game was a one-off. Two games remain to prove that assumption correct.

_Eddie from Jacksonville                            _

I've never understood the team complementary football. Seems like a buzzword for, "Everyone doing their job."

When coaches say "complementary football," they mean the offense scoring when the defense creates a turnover. Or the defense getting a stop when the offense makes a mistake. Or special teams coming up with a big play when needed and then taking advantage of an opportunity created by a good play by another unit. So, yeah … pretty much everybody doing their job.

Biff from Jacksonville

I know it's been a long December, but isn't there reason to believe this Sunday will be better than the last?