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O-Zone: Sounding off

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Kyle from Palm Harbor, FL

John, 4-2. When was the last time the Jags could say that? Success early in the season is an amazing feeling for starving fans.

The Jaguars were last 4-2 in 2007. As important as them currently being 4-2 entering Thursday's game against the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome, they have won three consecutive games and are alone in first place in the AFC South. Curiously, they never in 28 previous seasons have been 4-2 and in first place in their division. They have been in first place with other records, but not that one. What's also curious is that while many fans indeed are reveling in the "amazing" feeling, just as many seem irritated at how the Jaguars have arrived at 4-2. They are irritated with the offense, the play-calling, the offensive line, the pass rush … something. In a sense, this is understandable. Fans fan. It's what they do. But here's the reality: 4-2 in the NFL is good. Really good. A 4-2 record and first-place status in the division sets you up for the rest of the season. The Jaguars control their destiny and have every chance to move forward, win the division and have a memorable season. Their defense is playing well, their offense – while sporadic at times – has been productive enough with enough talent to give you a lot of confidence it will find a groove moving forward. Most importantly, they are finding an identity. They're a tough team learning how to win and finish games. That bodes well for this season. This is a good start, an encouraging start. This is what winning and competing in the NFL is about. Enjoy, if possible.

Al from Orange Park, FL

The trend has been toward high-powered offenses that score a lot of points. This year, look at our last two games (heck, maybe all of them?), the New York Jets this week and the Cleveland Browns this week. The Detroit Lions every week. Could the pendulum be swinging the other way? Back to defence wins championships?

Defense almost always ultimately decides the biggest games, even in this offense-centric era. Perhaps it's "only" a huge sack or defensive stop at the end of a high-scoring game, but if you're going to win in the postseason you must get off the field at big moments. And there do seem to be more really good defensive teams this season than in recent seasons. But don't look for the pendulum to swing too much toward defense. The teams with the elite quarterbacks who can score consistently are still going to get to the postseason and be in the biggest games more often than not.

Bill from Hammock, FL

Zone, I wanted to get your opinion on covering receivers. I see all the time on sideline passes where the cornerback tries to out jump the receiver who is attempting to high point the ball. Why don't we see more corners positioning themselves to simply push the receiver out of bounds when he leaves his feet? It is now legal so why isn't this ever done?

Good question.

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. Wanted your opinion on some words. Is it too early to say that the last few weeks you can actually see the team's "confidence?" HD does bring us closer to the game when not at the stadium. Offense and defense both seem to have the body and facial language that gives off a calm "confidence" during the body of the game. Also being an old-school running game guy, I have been trying to come up with a definition of Etienne's running style. The announcer on Sunday called it "slippery." Does that work or does it imply some negativity? I mean how he bursts out the end a tunnel of bodies on a constant basis is uncanny. Starting to become a regular thing.

When you work with words, words are your work. The Jaguars are playing with more confidence. It seems they found an identity in two victories in London and are increasingly comfortable that they can win "dogfight" games by making key plays late on both sides of the ball. Also: The Jaguars have won three consecutive games, and winning has a way of making teams confident. As for running back Travis Etienne Jr.'s running style … it's unique. I don't know that I have a word to describe it. He does a nice job breaking tackles consistently, getting the most out of every carry and giving himself a chance to break long runs when the opportunity is there. And while he's breaking a lot of tackles, and while he's running with notable toughness, he's not taking nearly as many big hits as he did last season. Maybe we don't need a word to describe the style. Maybe he's just "good."

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Is this the most interesting game of the year (so far) whether Lawrence goes or not?

This is an interesting game for the Jaguars for many reasons. How will they respond to a third game in 12 days? How will they play through multiple injuries? Will quarterback Trevor Lawrence play through a knee injury? Can they play well on Thursday night as the road team? All those factors make it tough. I suppose that means it's interesting, too.

Steve from Wallingford, CT

According to next Gen stats, TLaw is on fire when facing four or less rushers. Sounds like with an improved O-line, we could yet again be seeing fireworks.


Corey from Get Off My Lawn

O-Dawg! I think we go into NOLA. Steal a W, eat a Beignet, lose to Brock Purdy, and don't lose anymore! Vegas Bound! Is this premature excitement? Yes. Haven't been this excited since a certain someone got fired.

Goodness me, you do seem excited. Good for you. Excitement is cool. People like it. But remember to be nice. We talk a lot here in the O-Zone about the importance of being nice.

Mike from Jacksonville

I see a lot of people are saying jaguars will lose if T. Law can't play. Did they forget about them gimme that Boyz?

I guess.

Bob from Bobsville

John, it seems there are more injuries (or at least ones impacting availability) today than there was, say, 20-30 years ago. This seems to apply to positions, but particularly quarterback. Based on your experience, do you think this is a valid observation? My take is that this is a result of the players just being so big, strong and fast it is inevitable. Also, if you agree with this do you think it could impact football long-term?

I don't know that there are statistics to support this, and I don't know that I would read much into statistics either way. Injury statistics are tough to compare adequately because it's difficult to know if teams are better/worse at reporting injuries across eras and it's also difficult to factor severity of injuries if you're comparing injury reports. I don't get the idea that there are more injuries overall, though. Football always has been a high-risk, violent game with ligament tears, broken bones and head injuries an inherent risk of intense movement and contact at high speed with high impact.

Steve from Shreveport, LA

If we flex a game in the next window (Weeks 5-10), I think the San Francisco game in Week 10. Lots of games between now and then, but it would great. I know the Jets and Raiders have a big national following, but by then it may pit two very bad teams and the Jags-49ers would a much better match up. Thoughts?

I wouldn't rule it out.

Marcus from Jacksonville

I know he has been there, so I'm not concerned about it, but how does Head Coach Doug Pederson shift the mindset of this team from a back-against-the wall, come-from-behind, scrappy team to a front running team that needs to stay on top? Maybe there's no real answer, but I'm really curious about how the Jags will handle this change. Last year was a masterclass in coming from behind and finishing strong, both in individual games and in the season as a whole. This season, at least so far, they're standing at the top of the mountain trying to fend off the teams that are trying to knock them off. We know how this team responds to losing and being in the hole, so I guess the question is, how do they respond to winning and being in the lead?

The Jaguars have led throughout the second half in three consecutive victories. That indicates they're figuring it out.

Cliff from Everywhere with helicopter

Really great stuff from the Production, Media, Communications, Technology, etc. folks. "Sounds of the Game" is tremendous every week. As someone who's been watching the NFL since before network use of "instant replay" became common, the content provided today is so impressive in it's ability to connect the fans with the players and coaches.

"What's a "Sounds of the Game?" Why isn't something like this promoted and praised more?