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O-Zone: Sort of the same

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Jeff from Jacksonville

I believe that turning this team into a postseason winner will take more than one year. There is a saying that you have to barbecue the elephant one piece at a time. Give the team and coaches some time to turn it around.

You're likely correct that turning the Jaguars into a postseason winner will take more than one season. I consistently have said and written that I expect the Jaguars to improve this season, then contend for the postseason in 2023. While I – like many observers – perhaps got a bit caught up in the euphoria of one-sided victories over the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers in Weeks 2-3 and started entertaining the possibility of pushing for the postseason this season, seven-to-eight victories still seems like the reasonable – i.e., non-euphoric – goal. That doesn't mean fans shouldn't want more. Fans absolutely should want the Jaguars to contend immediately and be disappointed if it doesn't happen. But if any of those fans want to consider the big picture, they may see that competing next season – with quarterback Trevor Lawrence in his second season in Head Coach Doug Pederson's offensive system – remains a reasonable and attainable goal. Because, as you say, you must barbecue the elephant one piece … what!?

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

This question might sound sarcastic, but it is not intended to be. Mr. Lawrence and a few other players keep referring to the team as a "good football team." Good football teams win close games.

This is true, but let's be realistic. The Jaguars are a growing, young team with a new head coach and a new culture. They are improved and heading in the right direction. They also have played well at times this season, including two one-sided victories in September. Do you expect Lawrence or any other Jaguars player to say, "We're a bad team?" Is that what you expect them to say? Is that what anyone following the Jaguars wants to hear?

Jefferson from Jacksonville

Is it too early to start the "Jags 4 Jimmy G" campaign?


Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: While Trevor has some accuracy issues, there seem to be a lot of near-miss catches. Is that on the receivers or on Trevor? I've heard in the past that some quarterbacks throw a "more catchable" ball. How would you rate Trevor's catchability?

Dropped passes and near-miss incompletions are rarely completely "on" the quarterback or the receiver. It's usually a combination of a pass that could have been thrown better and a receiver who could have made the catch. A first-half pass from Lawrence to wide receiver Zay Jones Sunday fits this. The pass was a bit high over the middle and Lawrence could have thrown it lower. Jones also could have caught it. That can be applied to a lot of situations so far this season. Jaguars receivers have dropped passes they absolutely could have caught. But overall, Lawrence absolutely could be making it easier for his receivers. It's an area that I expect he will improve as he gets more comfortable in the offense and therefore in the pocket.

George from Blue Ridge

John, it looks as though Trevor has indeed taken a step back in the last two games. Missing wide open receivers and forcing balls into double coverage. Any concern he is not handling the pressure?

I'm not concerned he's not handling pressure. He does need to play better. Most "concerns" over Lawrence can be explained by him being five games into his first season in Pederson's offense. He's having some accuracy issues. Some of those can be explained by footwork issues or making his read a touch late. He's also making some big-time plays that make you realize why he was the No. 1 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. If he's making the "concerning" plays as consistently late in the season as he is now, then maybe go ahead and turn that concern into worry. An NFL quarterback's career is not defined by one game – except on Twitter. And in the inbox.

Jonathan from Jax

In regards to the Juwaan Taylor question. The answer is, he will be signed to a Top 5 right-tackle-sized contract so that we can trade him for a sixth-round pick in 2024. Duh.

It's J-a-w-a-a-n Taylor and why would they do this?

Gary from Jax

John, it may be years off, but if the Jags re-do the stadium, where do you see them playing home games? (assuming the renovation can't be completed in the offseason).

The Jaguars will renovate TIAA Bank Field at some point. I expect they will do so during offseasons and be able to play home games in the stadium throughout the process.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

What are your thoughts on the head coach calling plays? I would think I wouldn't want to call the plays so I could focus more on game flow, decisions and bits of advice, but likely I would if I was someone like Doug Pederson or Nathanial Hackett because of trust issues. My first thought is I would work on preparing someone to take those duties. Maybe that's having the offensive coordinator call his own plays and meeting each week to discuss, and eventually you get the confidence to just pass the reigns. Or has the game and sideline management gotten to the point where it's essentially a non-issue?

It's hardly a "non-issue." It's one that's discussed around any NFL head coach who calls his own plays. I've never covered a head coach who consistently calls his own plays, so I haven't dug as deep or studied as extensively the pros and cons as I have some other NFL-related issues. Pederson has called plays for most of his time as a head coach – first with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2016-2020 and now with the Jaguars. His approach is that he calls the plays and manages the game, and if a specific game situation arises that takes more time or thought – i.e., the need to yell at an official – then he might lean more heavily on offensive coordinator Press Taylor for the ensuing call. I don't expect Pederson to give up play-calling duties because it seems to be part of his DNA as a football guy/coach. But Taylor and Pederson are so in lockstep in terms of understanding the offense and what the Jaguars want to do in given situations that I have no doubt Taylor would be ready immediately to call plays if needed.

James from Socorro, NM

Trevor plays good: the Jaguars win. Trevor plays bad: the Jaguars lose. It seems like they, like a lot of NFL teams, are not talented enough to overcome poor quarterback play.

Good eye.

Jorge from Edmonton

Pederson's refusal to run, especially when circumstances favor it, is becoming a problem. Will he adapt or remain stubborn?

The Jaguars are 13th in the NFL in total offense. They had 422 yards offense Sunday and were in the red zone three times. I don't expect Pederson to significantly change his approach in terms of run-pass balance. The run has been very effective much of this season. Pederson's approach is that a reason for that effectiveness is the Jaguars are running in situations that give them a high percentage chance to be effective. If you run more and in situations that aren't as favorable, you're not going to be as effective. This is not going to be a run-centric, turn-and-hand-the-ball-to-the-running-back-no-matter-what, impose-your-will offense. It's just not.

Chuck from North Augusta, SC

At what point do the players begin to lose faith in Lawrence? Not that there is a better option at backup, but continuously being one of the main reasons the team is losing games has to take a toll. He just doesn't seem to have the competitive spirit needed to play the position.

The NFL is a week-to-week league, so perceptions change quickly. But when you say Lawrence is "continuously" one of the main reasons the team it makes it sound as if it is a season-long – or even a month-long – trend. He had five touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 2-3, playing well enough that he was AFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 3 – and well enough that the "inbox" consensus was that he was deserving of far more national "love" and "respect." As far as his "competitive" spirit, I haven't the foggiest idea what that means. Does he need to yell at his teammates more? Cry after a loss? He cares. He wants to win. He's competitive. I get the frustration over losing, I just can't get my head around thinking Lawrence's issues are in this area.

Andrew from 219

He has all the tools, but he doesn't have the moxie. It just feels like everything has to be schemed. All the greats have shown moments of playing above the Xs and Os. Until he does it, my faith is lost.

Moxie is something like competitive spirit, I suppose. I guess. Maybe.