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O-Zone: Sour grapes

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Emerson from ATX

Hey, John. I understand the negatives, but I still don't feel awful about this loss. Seems kinda similar to Washington. We had our chances in the worst of possible conditions. There were too many missed opportunities, but the game was always within reach because our defense did their job well enough. Am I overly optimistic about what I saw left on the field, or are we a good team that just needs more time to mature in adverse situations?

You're closer to realistic than overly optimistic. You're also far from alone. And that's what's striking about the aftermath of the Jaguars' 29-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday – that the sentiment of this email is hardly uncommon. Yes, the Jaguars lost at Lincoln Financial Field. No, they did not play well. Yes, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence played perhaps as poorly as he has in a game in his 21-game NFL career. But even with all those things being true, the Jaguars indeed had a very real chance to take the lead in the third quarter Sunday. And they had possession just past the two-minute warning with a chance to tie. They struggled against the run but played well enough defensively in enough key spots to stay in the game. Lawrence struggled with ball security, but the offense still managed to piece some extended drives together to stay in the game. And this indeed all happened on the road against a team playing as well – maybe better – than any team in the NFL. That doesn't mean Sunday was good enough. And Head Coach Doug Pederson was right Monday when he talked about needing to learn from learning experiences such as Sunday's quickly; if you don't, the season can get away quickly. But this very much feels like a team that can compete with most teams in the NFL. And it still feels like a team that has a chance to win more games than it loses. This feels like a team that can be in the postseason conversation for a long time this season and grow into something special. It has been a long time since that was true about the Jaguars.

Mike from Jacksonville

Take away what they want to do offensively that day. Stuff the middle and stop the running back and quarterback from running inside. Make them run outside where you have fast linebackers and defensive back to chase to the boundary on a wet field. Am I crazy?

You're not crazy – and the Jaguars wanted to do this Sunday. They didn't do a good job defending the inside runs on run-pass option. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and this Eagles offense are committed to that approach and they're good at it. The Eagles' offensive line won a lot of battles with the Jaguars' defensive line. Hurts and Eagles running back Miles Sanders are good in that system. The Jaguars' young defense hadn't faced that scheme together and didn't stop it well, with the result being a lot of defenders out of gaps and what appeared to be too much confusion. They won't face teams that committed to that offensive approach very often this season. But when they do face that sort of team, how they approach stopping it will be a major storyline. They must figure out a way to do it better than they did Sunday. A lot better.

Tucker from Nashville, TN

My biggest problem is the Jags' defense can't stop a read-option play to save their lives. It seemed like the Eagles kept running the same play over and over.

Pretty much.

Andrew from 219

Do you think Trevor's propensity for "trying to do too much" is costing us in game tying/winning scenarios? Just seems like he hasn't rallied this team when the game is on the line.

Lawrence played a rookie season in 2021 in difficult conditions with few realistic chances at comebacks. He has played four games under Pederson, with two blowout victories and two chances at late-game comebacks. He indeed committed game-ending turnovers in both opportunities – an interception with 1:10 remaining in a Week 1 loss to Washington and a lost fumble with 1:56 remaining Sunday. It is imperative Lawrence be good in this situation – the sooner, the better. How he performs in that situation will go a long way toward defining his career. It is not cause for panic or concern that it has not yet happened in comparatively few opportunities.

Clayton from Shawnee, OK

Jaguars running back James Robinson and Travis Etienne Jr., combined for 16 carries and a respectable 3.8 yards-per-carry Sunday. Given the rainy conditions and multiple turnovers by Trevor, namely fumbles, shouldn't the coaching staff have run the ball more?

There certainly were spots in Sunday's game the Jaguars could have run more. They ran effectively at times, particularly early. But remember: It can get tricky as a play-caller to "stick to the run." You can't run on every first down. If you do, the opponent knows what's coming. If you throw incomplete on first down, it gets particularly difficult to run on second down because you're in second-and-10 and that's not a "manageable" distance. That can lead a play-caller to getting away from the run without really intending to do so. The biggest issue Sunday, as Pederson noted immediately after the game, was that the Jaguars' five turnovers led them to running only 49 plays. By comparison, they ran 75 against the Los Angeles Chargers the previous week. When you run 49 plays, it's hard to get your entire offense.

Trevor from Jacksonville

Hey John, I'm not a doomer. I don't think Lawrence is a bust. With that being said, can we not force that young man to wear some gloves in the rain? I mean c'mon now, he can't blame anyone else. There were other issues, but that one was way too obvious. Just put your ego aside and wear the dang gloves.

Pederson on Monday said the team will discuss with Lawrence the idea of wearing gloves in future wet conditions. He also said it's not something he or the team will force. I don't have the impression this has anything to with ego. I expect Lawrence will do whatever he feels will help him hold the ball better.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

Has there ever been a team that turned the ball over five times and won?


Jason from Green Cove Springs, FL

Can Trevor bounce back from this? That was a nightmare performance for him.

Lawrence absolutely can "bounce back" from Sunday. I would be stunned if that didn't happen. If Lawrence had thrown five interceptions Sunday, there might be more cause for concern. If he was throwing to defenders as if he couldn't process what he was seeing in the pocket, there might be cause for concern. If he looked panicky or shaky, there might be cause for concern. None of those things were happening Sunday. Remember: Lawrence played as well as he has in the NFL in back-to-back victories in Weeks 2 and 3. He had a bad game in difficult conditions Sunday, but that bad game mostly was about not handling a slippery football. That shouldn't hurt a quarterback's psyche or growth and I doubt seriously Lawrence will have any lingering issues.

Matt from Bradford, FL

Zone, I was feeling really negative Sunday night but after some thought we only lost by eight points to the best team in football on record, turning it over five times. Obviously, Trevor has to do better. Ball security is everything, especially in those conditions. It's up to him to show he is improving, can be elite and this was an outlier. I believe he will, but time will tell.

Good eye.

Mark from Richmond VA

I am enjoying this season immensely. We are 2-2 and that's better than any of us expected. In both losses, as bad as they were, we still had a chance to win or tie late in the game. This team still isn't ready to win that type of game yet. We will soon. Onto Texans, and fast. Move on Monday Night.

There is some truth here. Remember: The Eagles are not only a good team and a hot team, they are an experienced team. Their core, including very good offensive and defensive lines, are experienced units with elite veterans. They are also in their second season running their offensive scheme under Head Coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. They're therefore at least a season further along in their development than the Jaguars, so yes … it's reasonable to assess that the Jaguars weren't quite ready to win that type of game yet. Indications are they're moving in that direction. Stay tuned.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I cannot believe how many "sourpuss" fans write to you.

We emphasize being "nice" here in the O-Zone. Calling fans a "sourpuss" is not being "nice."