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O-Zone: So in it

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Greg from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Zone, to quote the late, great Vince Lombardi, "What the hell is going on out there?"

The Jaguars lost to the Cleveland Browns, 31-27, at Cleveland Browns Stadium Sunday. It was the sort of loss that spawns multiple postgame storylines and also spawns much angst among readers – much of it extreme and much of that extreme angst extremely warranted. The Jaguars (8-5) have lost two consecutive games. The positive news is they remain in first place in the AFC South by a game with tiebreaker advantages over the 7-6 Indianapolis Colts and 7-6 Houston Texans. Other Jaguars news isn't as positive. A defense that was a team strength for the first 10 or 11 games of the season has allowed 65 points the last two weeks, allowing reserve quarterbacks 300-yard passing games in each loss. The defense also continues to allow too many breakout plays – which perhaps on Sunday stemmed from multiple starters out in the secondary. The offense has scored 58 points the last two games, but the unit committed four turnovers Sunday with multiple communication errors. The Jaguars' injury situation and a tough Browns defense that plays very well at home made Sunday a tough matchup. It's not surprising the Jaguars lost. That loss neither ends their season nor makes them a bad team. But just because they're not bad doesn't mean they're playing well enough. They're still good enough to make the playoffs and win the AFC South, and the thought here is they will do so. But they must cut out avoidable mistakes on offense, and they must get back to the defensive identity that carried them early and that has been lost in recent weeks.

Richard from Orange Park, FL

I still think we should have played backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, but what do I know? Trevor's timing was off all day long and it only makes sense seeing he didn't practice fully all week long.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence on Sunday played through a high-ankle sprain he sustained six days before in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He completed 28 of 50 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions. His timing indeed seemed off, which can happen when you don't practice. The thought here is that Lawrence with off timing still usually gives the Jaguars the best chance to win.

Joe from Jacksonville

Injuries are no excuse for pathetic play. We just got stuffed in a locker by a backup quarterback with no NFL experience a week ago, and a 50-year old who was just relieved of babysitting Sunday. All teams are banged up. The Jaguars actually have an advantage over most others in the sense that our starting quarterback has been available.



Isn't there something very wrong when an experienced player like Adam Gotsis jumps offsides at a critical moment in the game – on a punt, no less! It can't be an unfortunate mistake, not accidental or thoughtless. Rather it seems like a complete lack of commitment to his team, to winning, to his profession. As a teammate there must be serious issues for his lackadaisical performance. It's not easy to blame any one person for a loss, but in Adam's case, he stands alone.

Jaguars defensive tackle Adam Gotsis jumped offsides in the fourth quarter. It was an unfortunate mistake. It was not a complete lack of commitment to his team. He is not to blame for the loss. It was not a crime against humanity, opinions from Ponte Vedra Beach notwithstanding. The Browns also punted on the same drive shortly after Gotsis' penalty.

Dean from Rochester, NY

I don't understand the going for two at the end. Made no sense.

I don't completely disagree. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson opted to go for two after a touchdown 1:33 cut the Browns' lead to 31-27. Pederson said felt it was time to be aggressive, that the Browns were on their heels and that whatever the outcome of the two-point try the Jaguars would know what they needed had they recovered the ensuing onside kick – which they did not. Lawrence was sacked on the two-point conversion. I would have kicked the extra point to be able to tie it with a field goal had the Jaguars recovered the onside kick. But Pederson's going to be aggressive in that situation. He's "newer school" than I am.

Jason from via Extreme SW Duval (aka Tampa)

Mighty O, I know I have more than my share of Pollyanna in me, but I find myself really encouraged by Sunday's loss. Not only did Trevor come out playing through pain like Game 5 Willis Reed (albeit with a different outcome to the game), but we had a lot of guys out and made a lot of self-inflicted mistakes, yet we still had a shot at the end. Even with a slew of key guys out, between this week and last week we lost to two good AFC North teams by a combined seven points. I love this team's heart and fight. I still think at a minimum we're a tough out in the playoffs. If enough guys get healthy, I still believe we can hang with anyone. Is my optimism misguided?

I again don't completely disagree. Considering the circumstances – particularly Lawrence's injury and the Browns being a very good team playing at home this season – I thought this would be a very difficult test for the Jaguars. I said multiple times that it would be one of the most impressive victories of Pederson's tenure if they won. The defense indeed is a concern, though. This was a stout defense that was mostly reliable for the first 11 or 12 games. I expected a response Sunday after a tough game the previous Monday. That they didn't respond is unusual for this group.


Colts lost, Texans lost, a zero-sum game am I right? Why gripe about this more than we should? Trevor was hurt, O-line was banged up and we were in the game into the 4th quarter, NFL is hard!

That it is.

Joel from Watertown, MA

Hey Zone - Calvin Ridley was brought in to be a No. 1 wide receiver. He has had a decent year and done some things (drawn double teams, interference penalties) that don't appear on the stat sheet. I'm just disappointed that he hasn't improved as the season has gone on, particularly in terms of the communication with his quarterback. Particularly with Christian Kirk out, this is when a No. 1 would step up. Are we just expecting too much from Ridley?

I never know how to answer questions about expectations. Different people expect different things from different teams and players. The thought here is that Ridley is very good and has helped the Jaguars' offense in multiple games this season. The thought here, too, is that there are multiple games this team wouldn't have won without him. But I can't say that he has taken over games or played like a "true No. 1 receiver." If you were expecting that, that hasn't happened.

Mike from Jacksonville

Do our receivers know the plays? Not looking for ball, running wrong way.

I believe you're referencing a second-quarter interception by Browns cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. on a pass from Lawrence. The pass was intended for Ridley, who appeared to not be looking for the ball. I wouldn't use this play to categorically say all Jaguars receivers don't know the plays. But that play hurt because the Jaguars were driving for a potential tying touchdown late in the first half. You have to be aware.

Roger from Whitehouse, FL

Lawerence ankle was bothering him with the overthrows. Then the wrong routes run by Ridley didn't help.

Good eye. Fair.

David from Broward County FL

Ozone, this offense is not right, totally out of sync and timing. Not the offensive line. Quarterback and receivers totally out of sync, and it's Week 14. What gives?

The Jaguars played with their fourth left tackle of the season, Blake Hance, for the final three quarters Sunday. They played without one of their best wide receivers, Kirk. Lawrence played through a high-ankle sprain. The opponent was the No. 1 pass defense and No. 1 defense overall in the NFL. The Jaguars scored 31 points Monday in a loss to the Bengals and they scored 27 Sunday against the Browns. This is not to say the Jaguars' offense was good enough Sunday. But there were reasons for the inconsistencies.

Bill from Jax Bch

Well, there's always the Wildcard!!!

The Jaguars lost no ground in the AFC South Sunday because the second-place Texans Colts both lost. They therefore lead the division by a game – essentially two because of tiebreaker advantages. Sunday combined with last Monday makes for an awful feeling. But this team is still the favorite in the division and there's no reason it can't win it.