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O-Zone: Team effort

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Nick from Annapolis, MD

Is there enough evidence since the bye week to conclude the Jaguars' defense is actually pretty good, if not really good?

It increasingly seems this could be the case. The Jaguars since the bye have lost to the Seattle Seahawks (31-7) on the road, beaten the Buffalo Bills (9-6) at home and lost to the Indianapolis Colts (23-17) – with the loss to the Colts coming Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. A common thread through those games has been some very good defensive efforts – particularly in the second half against Seattle, through the entire game against Buffalo and for the final three quarters Sunday. The Jaguars' defense has allowed just two touchdowns in the last 10 quarters – one in the third quarter against Seattle and one in the first quarter Sunday. More importantly, the unit is getting consistent pass rush – and it's getting consistent quality play from linebacker Myles Jack, linebacker/defensive end Josh Allen, defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot and multiple others. Among those multiple others is defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who has stood out two consecutive weeks. This isn't a great unit yet and it must continue to develop as it has in recent weeks. But is the Jaguars' defense at least "pretty good?" Yeah, that's accurate.

William the Contemplator from Jax

So, O, is Trev's regression his fault, the fault of the coaches, the fault of his teammates or all of the above?

While I understand the hue and cry over this issue, and while I understand he has not played well at times in recent weeks, I'm hesitant to view quarterback Trevor Lawrence as "regressing." He struggled at times against the Colts, and he was correct afterward that he must be more accurate. But rewatching the game Monday confirmed what I suspected during and immediately following the game – that the Jaguars' wide receivers inability to create separation remains a critical weakness. Lawrence in the first half Sunday went 3 of 14, and I counted two passes that appeared off target. He particularly can't make throw down the right sideline early that was nearly intercepted. But far too often he was throwing to well-covered receivers and having to fit passes into too-small spaces – if there was any space at all. Jaguars receivers also dropped at least five passes Sunday, which continues a season-long trend. Lawrence missed a few receivers in the second half. Lawrence absolutely must improve, but his statistics (16-of-35-passing, 162 yards) made the day seem like a disaster. It wasn't that. Not yet.

Jeff from Jacksonville

Sooooo you're saying that help is not on the way until the next draft?

Free agency is before the draft.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey John, I'm starting to wonder if Trevor really is the franchise quarterback we all hope.

He is. He has some areas to address. But there remains no reason he can't be the franchise quarterback for the future.

Duke from Jacksonville

How can you say Jaguars running back Carlos Hyde played well against Buffalo? He had a 3.2 yards per carry average, 1 reception for only 6 yards and no touchdowns. Even excluding the fumble, that's not good.

I watched the game. I also considered more than statistics when answering the question, such as some key runs late in the game when the Jaguars were trying to control the clock. Mostly, I watched the game.

Ed from Jacksonville

How many dropped passes? Too many. How many open receivers? Not often. How many times receivers make a contested catch? Seldom. How many times is the quarterback crushed? Too often. How many yards of offense lost to dropped passes and offensive penalties? Lots. I know everyone will want to blame the rookie. But with all of this ineptness outside of the rookie, how can you honestly determine how he is doing? And to think that was one of the main things we needed to really assess this year. Beyond disappointing.

Fair. But remember: Jaguars coaches will be able to assess Lawrence whatever is going on around him, and however the statistics play out he is the quarterback for the long-term. I hear a lot of people calling for him to be benched. No. No, no, no.

Al from Orange Park, FL

To me, a blocked punt is on the O-line, not on the punter. Agree? Disagree?

A blocked punt almost always is on the blocking. That certainly was the case on the Colts' blocked punt Sunday. The issue was on a lineman on the left side of the line.

Alexander from San Francisco, CA

Long time O-Zone reader and, unfortunately, a long-time Jags fan. Frustrating to see fans and others blame our offense's dismal performance on our lack of playmakers when New England is looking great with Mac Jones. His weapons? Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne? I'm old enough to remember Blake Bortles and Blaine Gabbert getting excuses during their terrible rookie years. Players shouldn't get a pass because they were a high draft pick. Lawrence needs to step it up.

I never know what "pass" means. I do know that coaches aren't "excusing" or "blaming" Lawrence; they're coaching him and trying to put him – and the offense – in the best position to win. Lawrence must improve and he will continue to do so. He also is playing against defenses that are phenomenally compressed, which is largely due to very few plays being made downfield. The lack of playmakers is a huge issue – really, the major issue on this team right now.

Royce from Jacksonville

Mr. O. Trevor seems to get fed up with what he has to work with, I hope we are not headed toward Ramsey sickness.

We're not.

Mark from Greenville, SC

What are we going to with Manhertz? Three critical penalties again on Sunday.

The Jaguars are going to keep playing Chris Manhertz as the primary blocking tight end and emphasize not committing critical penalties.

Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL

Tyron Johnson was claimed off waivers because of his speed. Speed is what everyone says is missing from this wide receiver group. Why is he inactive every week? At least let him try to stretch the field.

Meyer said recently that Johnson's issue was learning the playbook and detailed route running. He's not playing because coaches believe other receivers are better options – even with the glaring need for speed at receiver.

David from The Island

I'm a young quarterback and want to be very successful. Do I pattern my game after Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning?


Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey, Zone. At what point do you expect the Jags to play Jordan and Andre? They are the future.

You're referencing Jaguars rookie defensive end/linebacker Jordan Smith and rookie safety Andre Cisco. Neither has played extensively. I don't know that we'll see much of Smith; the Jaguars selected him knowing he needed time and the defensive front currently is playing at a high level. I expect to see Cisco sooner, but remember: the defense is playing very well right now overall. I don't sense a rush to make changes with that being the case.

Tucker from Gallatin

Weird. I thought most of the complaints would be on Andrew Wingard. Missed assignment on the blocked punt. Missed tackles on Taylor. He struggled Sunday.

Wingard didn't miss an assignment on the blocked punt. His responsibility was to shade to the other side. The missed assignment was on the line of scrimmage.

James from Titusville, NJ (no typo)

Winning is way more fun than noticing improvement.


Eric from St. Augustine, FL

Am I mistaken, but it sure looked like they resigned quarterback Blaine Gabbert to play this game at quarterback. Trevor is getting nervous and seems edgy behind center now.

It seems his eyes in recent weeks have been a little less downfield in the face of the rush than before, and that's an area to watch.

Paul from Mean streets of Fruit Cove

Zone. We had plenty of cap space going into this season, correct? Speed has been the theme of the new staff, right? Now 9 weeks in, who would you rather have on this roster at wide receiver? Tavon Austin and Laquon Treadwell or Keelan Cole and Chris Conley? Just wondering …

I wouldn't mind having Cole.

Billy from Shreveport, La

Hello sir, Jamal Agnew doesn't seem to have the same speed on kick returns he did earlier in the season. Has increasing his role as a receiver taken away his threat as a returner?

Agnew scored on a 66-yard run Sunday and pulled away from the Colts' defense remarkably easily. I have seen nothing to indicate he has lost speed anywhere.

John from Cape May Court House, NJ

Boy the excuses sure are piling up for Lawrence. It's been 12 quarters of bad offense and some point we gotta start blaming the quarterback. He was drafted to make plays and he simply has not done this on a consistent basis. The second down throw to Marvin Jones on the penultimate drive was what really stood out. He short arms a back shoulder fade. You gotta make those plays in those moments John, plain and simple.

Lawrence must play better. He's far from alone.