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O-Zone: Tackle football

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Pain from Sadness

Wish a speedy recovery for Travis. Where do we get our additional speed now?

You're referencing Jaguars rookie running back Travis Etienne Jr. being placed on injured reserve Tuesday – reportedly with a serious Lisfranc injury sustained in a Preseason Week 2 loss at New Orleans Monday. Because he was placed on IR before next week's cutdown to 53 players, the move ends Etienne's season. The Jaguars probably won't replace Etienne's speed this season – particularly not with a player of Etienne's talent level at running back. And they probably can't adequately replace Etienne as the hybrid running back/wide receiver that Head Coach Urban Meyer envisioned when selecting him No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Meyer believed Etienne fit uniquely into what Meyer believes is a critical offensive role. It's a serious blow. Really serious.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John. Even if the defense seems to be improved against the run, it doesn't look like they are improved against the pass. And the running game looks not that good as well. Is it because of schemes and preseason or is it really a big issue?

The Jaguars have struggled in multiple areas during the 2021 preseason, and they struggled in multiple areas in New Orleans Monday. Run blocking. Covering the deep pass. Rushing the passer. Field goals. There were more issues than strengths. Why? Because the Jaguars are a young team with a lot of newness everywhere – and because they're transitioning from 1-15 into new schemes, personnel and approach. A potential positive: You're right that the Jaguars are improved against the run; that should enable them to get teams in obvious passing situations – and that never hurts a pass rush. Another potential positive: this Jaguars' offensive line was a solid run-blocking unit last season, so it stands to reason it should be at least functional in that area again. Those could be potential building blocks. If you stop the run and run efficiently, it gives you a chance. Stay tuned.

Brian from Section 234

Through two games, this offense is putrid. No?

The Jaguars' first-team offense hasn't scored a touchdown in eight preseason possessions. Label that as you see fit.

Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL

I thought the Urban losing thing was nonsense. But his body language makes me think differently.

Meyer doesn't like to lose. People who have covered him will tell you it's a real thing and very much not nonsense. People who have been around Meyer will tell you the same. Has talked since taking the Jaguars job of training his mind to handle losing better in the NFL than he did in college – not because he wants to accept losing but because he knows handling losing better is key in the most difficult football league in the world. At the same time … what is he supposed to do? Like it?

Abs from Jacksonville

Howdy, O-zone man. Why does the offense remind me of Head Coach Doug Marrone days? The boxes were always stacked, we couldn't run the ball well even with Leonard Fournette. The plays weren't hard to guess: run, run and pass (third and long). I am seeing the same theme here: Run, run and pass (third and long). Just get your new shiny quarterback to throw a short pass on first down and get the chains moving. Darn, it is not that hard. Not a fan of Darrell Bevell designing or calling plays. He is a typewriter in the age of smart phones.

The Jaguars have played two 2021 preseason games.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

John, if the book on a defensive back says he can't find the ball in the air, is he worth the 33rd overall pick? How 'bout $11 million per year for a free agent that can't defend the deep ball? Would you consider that good value?

If the book is correct and the defensive back gets beat constantly, then no … he probably isn't worth the No. 33 overall selection. And a cornerback should be able to defend the deep ball. And no, players that can't do those things aren't good value. Of course, a few preseason plays don't necessarily define a player's entire career. That's important to remember, too.

Artsalfa from Jacksonburg

No pass rush/defense, no pass separation/offense, no run blocking, how are we going to get a W?

By improving.                   


I heard Urban say that the team lacks an offensive identity. Could that be because the team doesn't know who the starting quarterback is, and the first string aren't practicing together everyday?

Perhaps, but it's more likely because it's a group that is coming together with new coaches and new players and has only played a couple of games – and a few series – together. Lawrence has worked eight series with the first team in games, and that's a significant amount for a rookie starter. The fact that Lawrence has split repetitions with Gardner Minshew II in practice has drawn lot of criticism. I expect Meyer will change that dynamic soon. Really soon. We'll see.

James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

O-man, I didn't expect us to be playoff contenders this year. We just lost to two teams that are. Let's try to win some games this year against the middle of the road teams. To me that will be an improvement. Heck, we were the worst team in the league last year.


Craig from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I keep hearing (or in your case, reading) that the offensive line will be better once healthy. Were there not any decent lineman available when we took another running back when we have one that is considered a Top 100 player? Seems like that's where the Jags need depth more than a position that has lost its value in recent years.

I do believe the offensive line will be better when healthy. As far as last April's draft … there were linemen available when the Jaguars selected Etienne (tackle Walker Little was), but the Jaguars weren't selecting Etienne for depth. They selected him because they believed they needed the kind of speed that makes the offense dangerous from anywhere on the field. Etienne had that kind of speed, and it made him a unique player. He was going to play a different role than Robinson in the offense.

Green Cove Springs, FL

Trevor Lawrence was drafted to be the starter, and he probably will be on opening day in Texas. Certainly, the hope is that Lawrence will be "the man" for the next decade or so. But would you be totally shocked if Meyer went with Minshew? Texas should (in theory) be a very winnable game, and obviously our offensive line still needs to jell. Minshew is used to being thrown into the fire. Lawrence might benefit from at least one "watch and learn" game.

It almost sounds as if you're asking if I would be shocked if the Jaguars started Minshew II over Lawrence Week 1. Yeah, I'd be shocked.     

Matty from Saint Augustine, FL

We had three core starters not playing Monday night. If I were Meyer, I would be MAD. Bevell doesn't want to use the schemes they have been practicing during camp. He is running a basic play book. If anyone is to blame, it's Bevell 100 percent!! They should be playing with at least part of what they have learned in camp so far this season instead of confusing them and breaking their chemistry by implementing a play book they won't use during the regular season.

You question implies that Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is somehow going rouge – and installing an offense and running it without Meyer's approval. Believe that if you like …

Drangus from Duval

During the telecast, they threw up the top seasons for No. 1 pick quarterbacks. Aside from the Andrew Luck outlier, six is an outstanding season. This was a sobering statistic.

Teams that pick No. 1 overall have to lose a lot of games to get there. Going from a record such as 1-15 or 2-14 to eight or nine victories is a herculean improvement. Herculean improvements are by definition outliers … so yeah, if you were expecting double-digit victories or playoff contention from team the season indeed could be sobering.

Mark from High Springs

Travis Etienne's season ending injury just reminded me of Nick Foles. Our starting O-line this season looks to be the exact same players that started Week 1 in 2019: Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann and Jawaan Taylor. The same players that allowed Lawrence to start his first preseason game with a crushing sack. The same players that allowed the Chiefs to break Nick Foles' collarbone. I can't help but think we haven't been learning from our mistakes.

So, the offensive line caused Etienne to sustain a Lisfranc injury? I understand that everything these days is the line's fault, but we do understand that NFL running backs get tackled, don't we?