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O-Zone: That's a wrap

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL (via Fort Lauderdale)

Zone: As more of the proverbial dust settles, and with hope springing eternal (as I believe it must for a seasoned Jaguars fan), I find myself seeing more value to the collapse occurring over the last six games of the 2023 season. A Week 18 win for the Jags would certainly have leant to the assertion that the Jags' back-to-back division titles and playoff berths signaled a positive trajectory for the franchise, especially given the attrition experienced down the stretch. Maintaining status quo under that scenario would undoubtedly have been more palatable, if not encouraged. Interestingly, I feel the "collapse" may galvanize a stronger effort to right the ship and a more genuine reflection on what needs to be done to give this team a legitimate chance to contend. I'm not sure the collapse deserves a one fer, but it is an interesting observation on how a play or two here or there can have a meaningful impact on material decision-making for a billion-dollar organization, and arguably for a city (although I still might have preferred quarterback Trevor Lawrence connecting with wide receiver Calvin Ridley on that fourth-quarter deep shot against the Tennessee Titans followed by an overtime win). Looking forward to adding some pieces and a great 2024 season. Thanks and Go Jags!!!

The NFL is a game of inches. It's a week-to-week league. It's a game of moments where one very small issue – or one weird twist – can have huge long-term impact. If a field goal goes through the uprights late against the Cincinnati Bengals, or if wide receiver Christian Kirk doesn't get hurt in that game, or if Lawrence doesn't get hurt in the same game, perhaps the Jaguars are playing in the postseason right now. Does that mean changes wouldn't have been made after the offseason? Doubtful. Does that mean a different trajectory now for the franchise? We'll never know, because the NFL is a league in which on-field results – whether they occur because of injury, chance, coaching … whatever – often result in change. Decisions aren't made by algorithms or machines. They're made by people. Now, the people running the Jaguars will set the direction. That's what on tap for the coming weeks and days. Will the results of the past few weeks influence those decisions? Certainly. Does it mean those decisions will positively influence the future? Stay tuned.

Dave from Jacksonville

Are these still "the good times" of being a devoted fan to this team? If so, I'm going back to scripted television.

I wrote often this season that these were good times for Jaguars fans. I wrote that a lot when they were leading the division. What are these times now? That's harder to say. They're not great times. Missing the playoffs on the last day of the regular season is not a "great time." But it is part of being a fan. I still vividly recall as a ninth-grader watching the Dallas Cowboys in the final game of the regular season play the Washington Football Team, the latter of which at the time mattered a great deal to me. Washington lost the game and the NFC East title after leading by 13 points with under four minutes remaining. I ran down our Arlington hallway in tears, punching the walls and not wanting to go to school the next day. Was that fun? No, it hurt. But it was better than the team going 4-12 and therefore not experiencing all that led to that game. The memory of that '79 season is a better one than the next season when Washington went 6-10. It was better than the team being irrelevant. This is not to say that missing the playoffs on the final game of the regular season is OK. It is to say that contending all season is better than being awful, which doesn't make collapsing in the final weeks not suck.

David from Ada, OK

This is the first time in a while I've been so happy for the NBA making me forget the NFL. Thunder are cheering me up.

One fer the Thunder, I suppose.

Jimsure from DBS

It's way too early but which line needs more of an upgrade and who would you want?

The interior of both Jaguars lines must be better. We're two months from unrestricted free agency and three-and-a-half months from the 2024 NFL Draft. I have no idea who will be available in free agency, though I absolutely could see interior offensive line being addressed in the draft.

Darrell from Fernandina Beach, FL

One reason I think the franchise keeps Press Taylor is that he runs the type of offense Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson likes. Also: Keeping Taylor means Trevor does not have to learn a new system this year. Also: I believe it was written that Trevor got input on what he liked and didn't like. So don't think all on Press. What are your thoughts?

The franchise will keep Press Taylor as offensive coordinator because Pederson wants him as offensive coordinator. This is at least in part because they are in constant communication and Pederson trusts how Taylor runs it. This is Pederson's offensive system. If Pederson were to change offensive coordinators, he almost certainly would continue running the same system he has been running. I don't expect Pederson to change coordinators. I would be stunned if that happened.

Dave from Jacksonville

Wow. The Texans have a much better team than the Jags already. QB, organization, play-calling are ahead of ours, and I don't think it's particularly close. I guess we're back to being also-rans for another 10 years. Excellent.

The Houston Texans played well Saturday in a Wild Card Playoff victory over the Cleveland Browns. Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud is good. The Jaguars and Texans split the season series this season and the Texans won the division by a game.

MrMakersMark from Sec 408 Row A

Mighty O, I thanked the schedule makers earlier for not making us play in those monsoons that happened late in the season. I thanked T-Law for not making Calvin Ridley look too awesome so we can re-sign him at an affordable level. I thanked Dougie P for handcuffing Taylor just enough so he wouldn't leave for a head coaching job after an outstanding season. All of this is so when the Jaguars get new "forever" uniforms next season, it will be memorable. It happened for the New England Patriots (although I love Patriot Pat helmets) and for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; now' it is the Jaguars' turn.

You seem to believe the Jaguars are getting new uniforms in 2024. I don't know this to be true, nor do I expect this to happen.

Rob from Orange Park, FL

Do you think there is any validity in the defense getting discouraged by the offense scoring field goals and committing turnovers rather than touchdowns? I think it would be difficult to go out there every series thinking if you get a stop the offense won't do anything with it. I doubt the defense simply didn't try but it might just affect their "sense of urgency."

Did Jaguars defensive players ever get discouraged when the offense struggled? Sure. I'm sure the reverse is true, too. That's human nature. Did this happen to an extent that it changed the Jaguars' season? I have seen no evidence of that.

Fony from Johns Creek, GA

O, so many fans want Press Taylor gone. This appears to be unfair. It's not his fault the offensive line was weak in the middle, thus, making the run game nearly nonexistent. The injuries were not his doing. There's only so much an offensive coordinator can do when the players are unavailable or not up to the task. Plus, he had to deal with Trevor's lack of ball security. A good draft and free agents should help right the ship.


*Tom from Roswell, GA *

Hi, John. Regarding tackling ... this is a difficult thing to do in the NFL. Players are so fast and shifty, sometimes it's hard to even lay a hand on them. I get it's taught to wrap up and this can be done when a tackler is chasing or straight on, but that's seldom the case. And if the tackler tries to wrap up when in an awkward position, then they are subject to broken arms, dislocated shoulders, etc. I believe the fear of being injured is the reason why players tackle the way they do with using their shoulder pads most times and not wrapping up. What are your thoughts on how Coach Pederson should address this with the team?

I don't know that Pederson will or should address fear of being injured as a reason for missed tackles. This is because – despite your belief – I have no evidence this is true. I expect Pederson will address tackling moving forward the way all NFL coaches do – by working on it in training camp and in the available padded practices during the season, then by simulating it as best as possible in other situations. That's not an ideal approach. Given the current rules, there's not really a better one.