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O-Zone: Skimming the top

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

David from Maplewood, NJ

John, this year was always about Lawrence – even if some of us (myself included – and you, for that matter) got distracted by the two early decisive wins. If you would have told me before the season that through ten games Lawrence would have already set the franchise record for games with a plus-105 passer rating or lead the league with three games at or over 80 percent completions, I would have been over-the-moon ecstatic. Keep building and keep getting better. I think we have our quarterback. Not saying he doesn't still have to improve. He does. But the numbers are the numbers, and they are impressive in his second year – and he is still ascending. I think last game may have been his best.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence indeed is the 2022 Jaguars' No. 1 storyline, and the first 10 games overall were indeed encouraging. He has improved statistically in every area, and from this writer's view he has had more really good games than he has had really bad games. I was tempted to go back and count for specifics for that last question but what's more important than sifting through the game-by-game details for Lawrence so far this season is considering the season overall. As a young quarterback grows, he will have both really high and really low moments. There will be spikes in either direction on the progression timeline. But ideally what you want is overall improvement and trending upward. While Lawrence has had some decidedly down moments this season, most of those down moments have been specific plays rather than entire eyebrow raising games. He overall feels as if he has taken a significant step forward. His season numbers overall generally support that. Perhaps your question's most important point is that Lawrence in his second season is still ascending. That's absolutely the case and it's absolutely the most important – and encouraging – aspect of the Jaguars' season so far.

Chance from Windsor, Canada

Most second-round picks are starters and contribute early in their careers. When do you see Walker Little being a part of our starting five? It doesn't make sense for a young, rebuilding team to have a second-round pick on the bench. Also: Would you say that the draft where we took cornerback C.J. Henderson at No. 9, outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson at No. 20 and wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. at No .42 will go down as the worst draft in Jags history?

Little becoming a starter could depend on whether the Jaguars re-sign right tackle Jawaan Taylor in the offseason. Or it could depend on Tyler Shatley's performance at left guard the rest of this season. It makes sense to have the best five linemen on the field, and it makes sense to maintain the starting lineup if a group is playing well. As far as the 2020 NFL Draft being the worst draft in Jaguars history … yeah, right now it's up there. Maybe Chaisson will get healthy this season and do something in the final seven games to change that perception. It's possible.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

I agree with Adam – AKA, Alan – that in the NFL it's always the senior writers.

Always, always, always.

Art from Glassboro, NJ

At some point the team has to see what Walker Little can do. I know we just extended Cam, but we know what he is: an average starting tackle. But we're not good enough to have a second-round pick as a swing tackle.

Little competed with Taylor at right tackle in 2022 Training Camp. That's when the team saw what he could do compared to the starters. Little at this point is the swing tackle and I would be stunned if he starts ahead of either Robinson at left tackle or Taylor at right tackle this season.

Mike from Cortland, NY

Are we as fans delusional about the talent on the roster? I understand all the reasons you've stated as to why we aren't there yet, and why we're 3-7. However, if I was to compare our roster to other teams with five or fewer wins, position by position, it feels like the Jags should be better. Are you not surprised that the New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons are performing so much better than Jacksonville? Are any of those rosters convincingly better than ours? Are any of them convincingly better coached? I understand why we aren't ready to be in the top quadrant of the NFL. Being multiple wins behind those aforementioned teams however is entirely beyond my comprehension.

I don't cover other teams and I confess to not doing a deep dive on every NFL roster – not just into the perception of all rosters, but how every roster is really playing. What I know about the Jaguars is they have an offense that is effective moving the ball and they have a young, developing quarterback that has made a few key mistakes this season in the red zone. They also have a defense that has struggled in coverage and to create significant pressure in big situations late in games. The red-zone offensive struggles and late-game defensive struggles have caused them to lose a lot of close games. Those issues, in this writer's view, have defined the season more than coaching or overall roster quality.

David from Oviedo, FL

KOAF – In 2001, we're you in the room when Jim Mora gave his famous "PLAYOFFS!?" speech? I googled the Indianapolis Colts' record that year to see they ended up 6-10 and out of the playoffs. It was when the Colts were still in the AFC East with the Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and Jets. Do you remember why that Peyton Manning-led team was so bad that it caused Jim Mora to give that infamous speech?

I indeed was in the room for former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Mora's playoffs rant. That was my first season covering the Colts, and it was a strange season that ended with Mora being fired and Tony Dungy replacing him as head coach. The Colts struggled so much that season because their defense was poor and because running back Edgerrin James sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cost him the final 10 games of the season. They also weren't yet the offensive force they would become in the coming seasons, in part because wide receiver Reggie Wayne was a rookie and caught just 27 passes for 345 yards – an example to remember, perhaps, when assuming that first-round selections who struggle as rookies are "busts" and never will contribute.

Mario from West Kelowna, BC

Hi, John. I have a secret for you. It's always coaching and especially positional coaching in the NFL. In all seriousness (not that I wasn't being serious in my previous sentence), great coaching doesn't always work because of the same reason that a great teacher can't make all students good students.

Shhh.

John from Daufuskie Island

I did it. Stopped in at Strings on my way to Cape Canaveral. Great atmosphere, good food and now I also know, the only thing better than a Bullet Bob is two Bullet Bobs!!! My question, since I am now a HUGE Bullet Bob fan, can that help the Jaguars maybe pick up an extra win this year?

Consuming a Bullet Bob does not help the Jaguars win. Consuming two Bullet Bobs does not help the Jaguars win. Consuming three Bullet Bobs does not help the Jaguars win. I don't expect consuming four Bullet Bobs will help the Jaguars win. We'll find out soon enough.

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

Seriously, how do we have salary cap worries? We don't even have a good team/roster. We don't have one super star on a super star contract and don't even have a franchise QB contract to worry about. Isn't this indicative of a horrible front office?

Whether the Jaguars have salary cap "worries" depends on what you mean by "worries." They currently project to be over the cap in 2023 but they should have little difficulty making moves next offseason to be in line with the cap. They project to be in very good shape against the cap in 2024. That was the plan entering the 2022 offseason – that they needed to spend big in the short term to raise the talent level. When you don't have a lot of homegrown talent you sometimes must spend in free agency to make up for that. The general idea was to have drafted players from 2021 and 2022 develop around Lawrence, then be able to supplement a developing young roster with free agency in 2024.

Rob from St Augustine, FL

I usually skim through questions relatively quickly when I'm reading the Zone. But when I see that your response is "good eye," I go back and read the question/statement thoroughly. Because it was obviously a pertinent one.

Good eye.

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