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O-Zone: Rosy outlook

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Rob from Jacksonville

It's never one thing in the NFL. With that said, there were a ton of significant injuries with many players coming back at the end of the season. Being cleared to play and being the same player as before are two different things. It seemed like health and strength were storylines that were impossible to overcome. It happens.

Injuries are a tricky topic when analyzing the NFL. No fan wants to hear about them because they sound like excuses and coaches pretty much have to say you must play through them – even when they reach devastating levels. Sometimes, teams can endure them and win. Other times, they happen to key players at the wrong time and take too much of a toll on the season. A lot went wrong for the Jaguars this season to turn them from an 8-3 team to one that finished 9-8. It's not fair to say that the only reason all that happened was injuries. The Jaguars were never a great running team this season and turnovers were an issue regardless of injuries. At the same time, this team was 8-3 and playing very well when wide receiver Christian Kirk's season ended early in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence sustained a high-ankle sprain later in the same game and left three of the team's last six games with injuries. Would the Jaguars have missed the playoffs if Lawrence and Kirk had stayed healthy? Anything's possible, but I have a hard time picturing it.

Scott from Palm Coast, FL

Why did DP choose not to challenge the Zay Jones spot at the goal line? Even if the next two plays had gone exactly the same, Trevor would have scored on his Superman leap due to the ball being much closer to the goal line. The replay clearly showed the spot was wrong and should have been at the one-inch line not the one-yard line … about a two-to-three-foot difference.

You're referencing a play midway through the fourth quarter of the Jaguars' season-ending loss to the Tennessee Titans this past Sunday when officials ruled Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones out at the 1-yard line. The Jaguars ran two plays from there – on third- and fourth-and-goal – with Lawrence reaching over the line of scrimmage just short of the end zone on fourth-and-goal play. It was the last, best chance for the Jaguars to tie the game. Why would Head Coach Doug Pederson not challenge there? Coaches are typically cautious when it comes to challenging spots. This is because unless there is a clear replay showing a spot to be wrong they can be difficult to overturn. This is not saying there wouldn't have been a clear replay, or that the play wouldn't have been overturned. But when quickly having to decide whether to challenge, coaches err on the side of caution on these plays.

Pete from Queensbury, NY

O, What would you think about bringing in former Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll as the defensive coordinator? Sounds like his "promotion" in Seattle is not what it seems. Would he take a DC position even?

I would be surprised if Carroll wants this role at this stage of his career.

Mason from Jacksonville

If it was up to you, would you have fired Caldwell?

No, but when answering questions such as this I must clarify that I don't know many details about what went into Pederson's decision to dismiss defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell early this week. Were they not connecting? Was Pederson's message not getting through? These questions are difficult to answer if you're not involved in the relationship. The reason I say no is my general belief is that NFL owners are too quick to fire head coaches and head coaches are too quick to fire coordinators. Such moves often feel like moves for the sake of moves and in general they occur way too much these days.

Chris from Fleming Island

O-ZONE, Next season will be Trevor's fourth season in the league and his third under Pederson. When should we stop applying the Ps (Patience and Potential), and decide if he's elite or average?

Whenever you like.

Michael from Fountain

While there are many factors that lead to this collapse, Coach Pederson deserves the majority of the blame. I know you didn't agree with my assessment that Trevor should not have started the game after his concussion, but I truly believe if that happened, the Jags would be in the playoffs. He is only a third-year quarterback year (honestly more like a second with the Urban year). Hurrying him back out to play, with no game prep, is a recipe for disaster. Especially while fighting lingering injuries. He also leaves too many points on the field. When you go for it all the time, teams will gameplan for it. I expect you will disagree, based on your past views, but I truly believe this season was a failure by Coach Pederson.

Pederson's the head coach. He ultimately is responsible for the team's results. But do I think playing Lawrence against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a bad decision? Or that Pederson's aggressiveness is a negative? You're right. I can't say those factors were to blame for the Jaguars' collapse.

Tom from Moncks Corner

Why do we still have the same QB coach? Three years in and Trevor is still making the same foolish, rookie mistakes that he made under Urban. Last year, you kept using Urban as the problem. Maybe he was but two years under Mike McCoy has not changed the fact that Trevor has not improved and still makes poor decisions, misses open receivers and turns the ball over like that is his goal. Why not bring in a quarterbacks coach that can make an impact rather than maintain the status quo?

The Jaguars have the same quarterbacks coach because Pederson believes McCoy is the best person for the job. And because it's always coaching in the NFL.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

Next year's Green Bay game better not be in London.


Ryan from Detroit, MI

So last year the O-line was not good. We all worried over the offseason that it would continue to not be good. The team leadership felt that it was good enough and could be coached up to improve. Well ... the O-line still is not good. Run blocking actually got worse. Could it be that we were right all along?

This is Year 14 writing the O-Zone. During that time, fans have worried over many, many issues – often understandably on. In the 2022 offseason, I recall fans being worried about a wide receiver group that included Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and didn't include DJ Chark Jr. I recall fans this past offseason convinced Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker was a bust. I also do recall fans being worried about the Jaguars' offensive line last offseason. Sometimes fans are right. Sometimes they're wrong. I'm tempted to say if you throw enough of a certain something at a wall some of that certain something will stick. I won't say that because we talk a lot here in the O-Zone about being nice. It's important to be nice.

James from Socorro, NM

I believe that Chris from Columbus, OH was specifically referring to Saints players scoring from a kneel-down formation at the end of their game Sunday, despite instructions from the coaches to take a knee.

You're right. I interpreted this question to be about the Jaguars rather than a team I don't cover. I don't know why Saints players did this. It's not a great look.

SteveC from Cardiff, UK

Just saw the 2024 London games pre-announcement and the Chicago Bears are hosting at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Given the Jags are on the road to them this year, do you think there's any chance we will receive a repeat of last year with back-to-back games in London? Who sets the road team for London games, is it the league or the home team?

The league sets everything about the schedule. Yes, I would say there's a chance the Jaguars will play back-to-back games in London – one at home and one on the road – in 2024. This does not mean I know it to be happening. It does not mean it is happening. It means I think there's a chance it happens.

Randy from Way Up North

Why is everyone so upset and surprised about this season? It's been the same story for 30 years, only the names have changed. I'm still a Jag fan, but it will be the same story ending next year. Rearrange the deck chairs but the Titanic still sinks.

Being a fan of a sports team is tough. There are no guarantees. It hasn't been remotely the same story every season, but there have been too many seasons where it has been too tough to be a Jaguars fan.