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O-Zone: The great one

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from Azores

Hey, John. I read many times during the early parts of the season that the Jags should sign Trevor long-term because it will only get more expensive. Now on various talk shows, you say they should wait another year! What changed your mind? Please explain!

I indeed wrote often throughout the 2023 season that the Jaguars likely would and should sign quarterback Trevor Lawrence to a long-term extension this offseason. I didn't write that because it would only get more expensive to sign him; I wrote this because the timing is the norm for young quarterbacks who had shown themselves to be franchise quarterbacks through three seasons. Lawrence for the first part of the regular season seemed on track to establish himself as such. He then sustained a series of injuries throughout the season and didn't play as well in the second half of the season as expected. That made it more difficult to assess the specifics of how a long-term contract might look. I don't know what the offseason will hold on this front. I don't know that the Jaguars or Lawrence know yet. But could it make sense to give Lawrence a while more to solidify his value before reaching an extension? Sure.

Billy from Orange Park and Section412

I'm not really interested in blaming anyone for the season outcome. However, I believe that when it became obvious that we lacked talent to compete with the league's elite, we did nothing to try and improve our team. Other teams, especially the elite ones, found players that they felt would put them over the top. There were 31 other practice squads from which we could have tapped players to fill our holes, yet we did nothing. Sucks!

The Jaguars in retrospect could not beat the NFL's best teams enough in 2023. This is undeniably the case because they missed the postseason. But remember: The Jaguars were 8-3 and competing for the AFC's No. 1 seed six weeks ago. Could they have pursued a trade at the trade deadline? Sure. But the Jaguars' issues late in the season were more about missed opportunities and interior offensive-line struggles than a player or two here or there. As for tapping practice squads around the NFL … I suppose the Jaguars could have done this. I can't see that doing so would have "filled the holes" that kept the Jaguars out of the postseason. Agree to disagree, I guess.

Steve from Yulee

Do the Jags have a coach anywhere on their team who is not afraid to tell the team you have to play every play and every game like it's your last? It's the advice Eric Dickerson gave Derrick Henry that changed his career. Maybe Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson should try that and anyone who doesn't buy in should find another team. After all, players and teams remind each other all the time during contract negotiations of just that.

Jaguars coaches are not afraid to tell players this.

Mark from High Springs, FL

Ben Bartch will be the starting center for the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. If he makes it to the Super Bowl at that position, what does that say about Jaguars offensive line coach Phil Rauscher – who let Bartch go in November while we ran with Fortner, who was statistically the worst center in the NFL?

If Bartch plays well, I suppose it will say the Jaguars made a mistake releasing him. If he does not play well, I suppose it will say something else.

Scott from Daytona Beach

Do you think it would be safe to say that we will be playing a home game and an away game back-to-back in London? If so, it looks as though we will get the Chicago Bears. With the NFL announcing the Bears, Minnesota ikings and Jags, we already get the Vikings at home. Do you think that looks about right?


Chris from Palatka, FL

Now that Jags fans can turn our attention to the draft, I'd like to ask your thoughts on Mel Kiper Jr. Do his contributions to the NFL by turning the draft into a national event warrant Hall of Fame consideration?

As a media member/contributor? Sure, I could see that.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King of all Funk, Fred Taylor for our vacant running backs coach? Has His Greatness ever indicated he wanted to coach before? I can't recall him saying so. Would it work?

Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor absolutely could coach in the NFL if he so desired. He is a high-level communicator with high-level football knowledge. He also would easily have the respect of players. The question with Taylor is the same as that for any former player when it comes to coaching – and that's whether Taylor would want to work the hours, days and months required. It's a big requirement, one not all players want to assume.

Jenny from the block from Ponte Vedra Beach

Dear KOAF, Jags fan forever but my first question. What happens following the final loss of a season? Do they have a team meeting, clear the lockers, have an adult beverage? Seriously, what happens after seasons end?

The schedule on the day/night of the final loss of a season is pretty much the same as after any other game. The next day following that season-ending loss is "getaway day," with a team meeting followed by players meeting with position coaches, coordinators and the head coach. Players also clean out lockers, have a postseason physical and meet with various members of the football support staff to check out for the season. Any adult beverages are consumed away from the facility – presumably in moderation.

Justin from Jax

I've noticed that you, other analysts and – to a lesser, vague extent – the fans have been saying that the interior offensive line needs to be addressed and was a huge weakness for this team. Although technically correct, why don't we call it what it actually is? We have a problem at center. Ezra Cleveland was pretty decent when playing guard and although not at his Pro Bowl-level previously, Brandon Scherff was serviceable at the other guard. The biggest liability was absolutely center Luke Fortner. He may be smart and he may even be good at reading the defense and adjusting the line accordingly, but what good is that if he gets overpowered every other play? We really need to upgrade the position in a bad way. What say you, O Man? Do you see us drafting or signing a new starting center in your crystal ball?

The Jaguars must assess the entire interior offensive line. I expect them to work to re-sign Cleveland and I expect that Scherff's salary-cap situation will prevent his return. From this view, addressing center would be a real possibility. The Jaguars will assess their roster and offseason philosophy in the coming weeks. I don't yet have a sense what that approach will entail at center.

*Edwardmcd from Boynton Beach        *

What does it say that no coaches or front office staff are on any team's interview list?

That they're not being interviewed for jobs this offseason.

Tom from Moncks Corner

You were asked a question regarding Trevor's poor decision making. You immediately focused in on his sprained ankle. For someone who claims not to make excuses, that sounds awfully like an excuse. Please explain to me what a sprained ankle has to do with decisions made by the brain.

I recently was asked a question about Lawrence's decision-making. I answered, to the best of my recollection, that his decision-making from this view seemed to have improved along with his overall play this season until he sustained a high-ankle sprain against the Cincinnati Bengals. His overall play after that dropped off. What does one have to do with the other? When an ankle is injured, it can affect stability. That can affect accuracy. It can affect mobility. It changes the dynamic of play calls and comfort level. Instead of escaping the pocket, a quarterback with an injury might stand in the pocket and throw a pass he might otherwise not throw – or throw differently. Instead of throwing accurately, a quarterback with an injury might throw just barely off – and a pass that might have been a good decision might instead be an interception. On another note … I'm starting to find the whole "excuse" theme a bit tedious, frankly. People ask questions about the Jaguars. I answer them. A lot of times those answers are going to include "reasons" things happen. If people want to see "reasons" as excuses, I can't control that. But answers must include reasons to be remotely "reasonable." That's unavoidable.

Dick from Beaver, Pa.

If you keep telling someone how good or great they are, eventually they will believe you, right?

Yes. This is why I have such high self-esteem. Thank you, readers. Thank you, everyone.