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O-Zone: Streaking

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

William from Jacksonville Beach, FL

C'mon, Zone. Does Trevor play or not?

Will quarterback Trevor Lawrence play or won't he? This remains the question of the week and I suspect it will remain as such until the Jaguars play the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome Thursday night. Lawrence sustained a knee injury late in a victory over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, giving him a little more than four days between the injury and Thursday's kickoff. Head Coach Doug Pederson on Monday called Lawrence day to day. Lawrence on Tuesday practiced limited, saying he is optimistic he will play and that he will do everything possible to do so. My sense is Lawrence will play. This is not "inside information." This is not fact. This is a sense based on Lawrence speaking about the issue and being limited in practice. He was wearing a brace on his knee Tuesday. While he didn't do much during the time the media was at practice, he seemed to be moving OK. He said he liked the progress he has made since the injury. I wouldn't stake my house on this feeling. Or anything really valuable. But if forced to guess, I would guess he will play.

Dave from The Forest

There has been talk about the Jags getting a pass rusher before the trade deadline. With how good the defense has been playing and the injuries to the offensive line, do you think getting o-line help may be more of apriority?

It's possible, but I doubt it. The Jaguars aren't likely to trade for a tackle and they like center Luke Fortner. Left guard Walker Little seems likely to return from a knee injury around the bye week. I'm not saying the interior has been great all season, but I don't know that the team would trade to address the position.

Marc from Jamaica Estates

The Jaguars have four running backs on the roster, but they really only use Travis. Do you think that is more because Head Coach Doug Pederson has no faith in Tank Bigsby, or because they don't really intend to give Etienne a second contract, so they are all for overusing him at this juncture of his career?

I think they're using running back Travis Etienne Jr. because he's a really good player who's playing at a high level and it's hard not to use good players when they're playing at a high level. I don't get any sense that it's about rookie Tank Bigsby or about wanting to wear down Etienne. Not all motives are untoward.

Tom from Cairo, Egypt

Is the defense "very good?" We have won thee games on the bounce extremely comfortably by NFL standards because they have absolutely strangled teams for the first three quarters of each game. If that's not very good, what is?


Josh from Green Bay, WI

Consider myself of the group that were high on the offense and low on the defense at the beginning of the season. But I'm man enough to admit I was wrong and that while not 2017 good on defense, 2023 defense looks to have the makings of something special.

The Jaguars are really good against the run and really good at creating turnovers. They're a better run defense than the 2017 defense, though not as good rushing the passer. When you're really good against the run you tend to make other teams throw in situations they don't like, and when teams throw in situations they don't like good things – such as turnovers – usually happen for the defense. The Jaguars have forced 15 takeaways, are 4-1 in games with two or more takeaways and have played well enough defensively to win five out of six games. These things aren't fluky. The defense is good.

P Funk from Murray Hill

Not perfect, but three convincing victories in row. About as good as you can get in the NFL. Will Zone be featured in the Prime TNF pregame local media montage?

These are good times for the Jaguars. Why screw that up?

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, I agree that the Jaguars' defense is playing well. Can you please remind me of Caldwell's background?

Mike Caldwell played 11 NFL seasons, then spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach before joining the Jaguars as defensive coordinator in 2022.

Anita from Springfield

I feel like our whole defense is criminally underrated, but one fer linebacker Foyesade Oluokon. That dude's a monster against the run, he's seemingly single-handedly fixed our screen defense, his blitzing is top tier, etc. But above all, he's clearly a phenomenal leader that takes pride in improving those he plays with. Besides Josh Allen, who ranks with Foye as most important defensive player in your mind?

Outside linebacker Travon Walker and cornerback Tyson Campbell, along with Allen, from this view are the Jaguars' three most important defensive players.

Colin from Orlando, FL

Hey, O. As you see it, if Tyson Campbell is out for Thursday, do you think Herndon will move outside or stay in the slot?

I expect Campbell to miss Thursday's game. I would expect Tre Herndon to stay in the slot with Montaric Brown playing outside opposite Darious Williams.

Kyle from Ingalls, IN and Terry Parker Alum

Any chance the Steelers game gets flexed to Sunday night? The Steeler matchups always seem to be must-see TV.

The NFL can flex two games to Sunday night between Weeks 5-10. The Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers play in Week 8. That means it's possible, though I don't know that either the Jaguars or Steelers are playing quite well enough to inspire a flexed game.

_Biff from Jacksonville   _

You'd think, by now, folks would be cool with the nuances of what a 17-game season looks like. Some still aren't. How soon is now?

Fans fan. It's what they do.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

Any time we can be over .500 it's a great day to be a JAGS fan. Two games above .500 is gravy. Do you still expect us to win 11-12 games this year?

I thought before the season 11ish victories, maybe 12, was the right range for this team. That still feels about right. Ish.

Dan from Birmingham

J.O., the concerning trend I see is the defense giving up too many "easy" plays that turn comfortable leads into not so comfortable leads. My concern is this will bite them at the most inopportune time. Do you see this being an issue?

Jaguars defensive players have spoken this week of "finishing" games better, and they indeed have allowed multiple quick fourth-quarter touchdowns in victories over the Buffalo Bills and Colts the past two weeks. I guess this is a trend. I don't sense it being a major problem. NFL defenses often allow touchdowns late in games when protecting leads because they're playing a bit softer to drain clock. Remember, too: It's hard to completely shut down teams or even hold them under 10 points in today's NFL. Offenses are good and the rules favor them. The Jaguars held the Bills to seven points through three and a half quarters and held the Colts to six points through the first three quarters. If the defense keeps playing that way, this team will win much more than it loses.

Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

Have you noticed improvement from ETN? He took a lot of grief last year about taking big hits, but I don't notice that this year. I think he ran more upright last year, but he seems to get low this year. I'm hoping we can just give the guy credit where it due.

It's hard not to notice improvement from Etienne. He is running with more discipline and patience, and he's also taking yardage that's there more often. This was a major point of emphasis for the Jaguars and Etienne in the offseason. Pederson believed Etienne setting up blockers better and running with his shoulders squarer to the line of scrimmage would mean dramatic improvement from Etienne and the running offense overall. He was right. I don't know that Etienne's running all that much lower this season, though I wouldn't argue that too vehemently. Etienne does seem to be taking fewer big hits, which is obviously a good thing. Etienne is one of the most impressive stories on the Jaguars this season. He's adapted his running style to the NFL. That's not always easy to do, but he has reaped the benefits. Good on him.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Hellozone: Is this where we start to pull away from the rest of the division?

The Jaguars have a chance to do this. They have a one-game lead over the Texans and Colts with a sweep of the Colts and loss to the Texans. It's early, but they have set themselves up nicely. Not ideally. Ideally would have meant beating the Texans in Week 3.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Hard to believe, but even on a three-game winning streak, you suck.