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O-Zone: Small if any

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

I believe that the single most important factor in the team's late-season swoon was the loss of Christian Kirk. Will he be on the team in 2024 or will he be a "cap casualty?"

The Week 13 loss of wide receiver Christian Kirk indeed was a major reason for the Jaguars' late-season issues, and it was no coincidence they lost five of six games after he sustained what turned out to be a season-ending core-muscle injury in a loss that week to the Cincinnati Bengals. I would put his absence a close second to the quarterback Trevor Lawrence's persistent injury issues as the main reason for the late struggles. It's not as if Kirk is the entire Jaguars offense when healthy, but Lawrence's trust in Kirk makes the wide receiver critical in big situations – and without that go-to element, Lawrence's mistakes seemed to increase late in the season. I would be stunned if Kirk isn't on the team in 2024. I thought when he first signed as an unrestricted free agent in the 2022 offseason he might be a comparatively short-term signing. That's not uncommon for veteran free agents. Kirk matters to this team and to Lawrence much more than that.

James from Jax, FL

If the players are not allowed to talk to coaches in the offseason, how do they ask Trevor for his thoughts on draft prospects and other player-acquisition decisions?

Coaches can talk to players in the offseason, but they're not allowed to get into football specifics such as game plans, strategy, etc. The rules are designed to prevent coaching and preparation, not casual discussion. Coaches and personnel officials in theory might occasionally talk to current players about college or other professional players, but how much does any player realistically know about a draft-eligible player? Or even another NFL player? And how much input does a player usually get? Some. Occasionally. That input usually isn't going to steer the franchise.

Shawn from Moore County, NC

Washington calls and says they will give us this year's one and two, next year's one and two and a 2026 second-round pick. Do you take that deal? I would because it resets our quarterback market and we have so many needs on both sides of the ball the next two years.

If any team called and said it would give me that much draft capital, I would take it. Would they want something in return or is that team just being "nice?"

DMiz from Jax

Hey, KOAF. For years, it has seemed like everyone spoke of the Jags not signing players to second or third contracts. Now everyone is talking about cutting players and how bad our general manager is. We went from two TERRIBLE years in a row to two winning seasons. It's clear we have a much-improved roster, and we need to find a way to keep the core players. Of course some players will move on, but keeping the core players is essential. Firing General Manager Trent Baalke at this time is a bad idea and people saying we should fire Head Coach Doug Pederson seems like one of the most ridiculous suggestions fans can state. He's been our coach for TWO seasons and both seasons were winning seasons. We haven't had that in a very long time. Firing the two individuals that completely turned the ship around? Those suggestions seem a bit ridiculous.


Mike from Azores

Hey, John. Thank you for "being nice" in your response to my suggestion of how the NFL could grow revenue! It is the No. 1 priority. Why else would they take six games away from fans to play games in the UK, Germany and now Brazil and soon to be Spain? My extended season does the same, increases revenue! But do you really suggest that the NFL needs preseason games? Who plays in them? Not the star players or even many starters play at all or a combined one quarter over those three games? Yet, us fans pay the full ticket price for these meaningless games! Coaches often state that they get just as much or more benefit from controlled practices with other teams! Would that not work? Also diluting the regular season with additional bye weeks would weaken fans interest, really? What games draw the largest viewership? The Super Bowl? Any playoff game? Monday, Sunday, Thursday night football? All games that fans of 30 NFL teams aren't involved in! My suggestion of an extended season of four weeks gives the NFL what it is all about, MONEY from television revenue and fans have proven they will watch games even if their favorite team isn't playing! "Be nice."

You recently suggested adding five bye weeks to the NFL regular season and eliminating preseason. I did say that the NFL needs at least a few preseason games for player evaluation and to prepare for the regular season. Many, like you, believe differently. OK. I also said that adding so many bye weeks would make the season drag and dilute the weekly schedule. I think adding any bye week would sap a ton of the energy from the regular season, much less five. Would the NFL ever do this? I doubt it. But the league has implemented bad ideas before. It once decided to make pass interference reviewable. That worked out great.

Jon from Jax Beach

I was referring to the Texans' far superior talent acquisition and the outlook of their future due to such superior talent acquisition, not their respective mediocre records.

I knew what you were referring to. I can't predict the future. I sometimes feel I'm alone in this.

Cliff from ORANGE PARK

I am an older Jag fan and remember when former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell took two violent and likely illegal hits. I believe it was 2000 or 2001. The effect on Brunell the remainder of the season was obvious for a while. Do you think that sometimes we underestimate the effect the beating Trevor took this season had on his play? Especially the concussion, those things can linger even when cleared to play.

I do think the overall effect of injuries took a toll on Lawrence late in the season. As for concussions specifically, the NFL has worked since Brunell's playing days to ensure players remain out until it is safe to return. I don't know that there's a perfect system for this. Lawrence was cleared to play in Week 16 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after sustaining a concussion the week before. Did it affect him? He says it did not. I don't know how to know beyond that.

Kevin from Mandarin

You keep referring to Kirk's injury as an excuse (reason) for TL's downfall, but you seem to forget that it was another off-target throw from TL that led to Kirk's injury. You also claim that you own a pair of $8 sunglasses. They are obviously a cheap pair of black-and-teal Walmart specials. The record that you keep harping on is not very good unless you just want a team that is merely competitive in a bad division. I guess in reality you are not the KOAF after all.

I have discussed Kirk's Week 13 injury here in the O-Zone and will continue to do so because that – along with Lawrence's injuries – coincided with the Jaguars' late-season struggles. The timing of both shouldn't be forgotten when discussing why the Jaguars' finished the season as they did. There were many reasons the Jaguars finished as they did. Injuries to Kirk and Lawrence were not the only reasons. But they were reasons.

John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF. I think an error in judgement by the head coach cost us the AFC South last season. Declare the starting quarterback out due to injury and start the backup. If the backup wins, which he is capable of, Trevor gets recovery time and we get the win. If the starter loses, Trevor gets recovery time and doesn't get the blame. Starting Trevor when injured gave us the careless losses and he ends the season on a sour note. I think the head coach rolled the dice and lost. You might say that the backup only won against the bottom team, but I think we would have lost that one also with our injured starter because the Carolina Panthers were playing good ball late in the season.

You're not alone in your thinking. Pederson started Lawrence in four of the last five games of the season because he believed Lawrence in his condition entering those games gave the Jaguars the best chance to win. We'll all have all our opinions on this one and we'll never know.

Crash from Glen Saint Mary

Obi Wan! How much room under the cap will the Jaguars have when the raise kicks in?

I don't expect to get a raise this offseason. If I do, I don't expect it to affect the Jaguars' salary cap.