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O-Zone: The human condition

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Garrett from Edgewater, FL

Zone, are you sick of this yet? I've been on board since 1995 and have been perennially disappointed except for three seasons. I'm just tired, man. And I'm not all that reactionary compared to some readers. But the Jaguars are not better than some readers believe. We're the tune-up game for every struggling team that exists.

Am I sick of this? A couple of thoughts. One is I would love for the Jaguars to win because their fans – and specifically, readers of this column – are incredibly loyal, so it would be cool for them to experience that. Winning would change the storyline, which would be nice after the past few seasons. But I'm not sick of answering questions or discussing this team. That's the job, an enjoyable one compared to many. In the short-term … sure, I'm a bit "sick" of the Jaguars losing in the manner they have lost this season. They have lost in much the same way each of the last five games, which makes answering questions and discussing Jaguars-related topics repetitive. I do the best I can to be as honest and fair about the Jaguars as possible. But when you write/say every week that they're better and close, people tire of that unless it's not accompanied by winning. As for the Jaguars not being better than some readers believe … I don't know how each individual reader rates the Jaguars. I know they're better than they have been the last two seasons and I know my sense is they can build on that improvement. Maybe that improvement will come this season. Maybe it will come in the next few seasons. But I do believe it will come. We'll see.

Andy from Halifax

I hate to use the word "listless," but if the Jags can't beat the listless Raiders than trouble sure is afoot. It looks like a good get-right game for us or them...

I expect the Jaguars to win Sunday. I have not expected them to win every game this season. That expectation is based on a gut feeling that they will eliminate the red-zone mistakes that have crushed them four times in the last five games and that they will get a couple of standout performances to find a way to break out of a slump. It is not based on anything about the Las Vegas Raiders, a team that in fact is a difficult matchup for the Jaguars' defense. The Raiders actually are a pretty difficult opponent Sunday, in part because they will be very motivated after a shutout loss last Sunday to the New Orleans Saints. Still, something tells me this is the week. We'll see.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Why are we so bad? /Looks at first-round draft picks for the last 20 years. Ahh, never mind.

Drafting poorly in the first round sets a franchise back. It has hurt the Jaguars significantly. So … yeah.

Jay from The Vortex

Trevor, Trevor, Trevor, Trevor, Trevor, Trevor, Trevor, Trevor. Did we overpay for wide receiver Christian Kirk?

The Jaguars had salary-cap space and cash this past offseason, and they needed to pay players they thought would fit into this offense to upgrade their personnel and improve offensively. They were 27th in the NFL in total yards last season and are ninth this season; they were last in the NFL in points last season at 14.9 a game and are 20th in scoring 21.5 points a game this season. They paid what they had to pay to improve.

Michael from Westfield In via Jacksonville

John, I see a lot of folks wanting to quit on quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Last year was a wasted year. This really is his rookie season. He has been much better than last year. He can hurt himself, but it takes a team to win. Head Coach Doug Pederson doesn't have all of the pieces yet and won't this year. Hopefully, next year he will have many more and make the playoffs. In Year 3 he should have all of the pieces. As a person who bought season tickets on Day One, we have had a lot of bad times. I still have hope for the Jags long-term. Am I just crazy???

No.

William the Contemplator from Jax

Think back to Weeks 2-3. The Jags looked like a bona fide NFL team with a Top 10 quarterback. They looked like they would have a good shot to beat any team in the league. For a brief moment in time, that team actually existed. Is there any reason they can't exist again this season?

The Jaguars team that as a shot to beat any team in the league still exists. The Jaguars have lost five consecutive games by a score or less with the defense allowing the go-ahead touchdown in the final six minutes in each of the last four games. They have led in every game this season. Having a shot to beat every team is not the issue. Making the necessary plays to win those game? That's the issue.

Justin from Jax

John, this fan base is something else. It's like they've all collectively decided young quarterbacks will not and cannot have time to develop. I know, I know … we live in an instant gratification world, but it really bothers me. Remember what Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was his first two seasons? Remember what former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was his first few years? I get it, Trevor isn't playing at a franchise level, but can we let the process play out a LITTLE bit longer? Please? All I know is, I really hope that if No. 16 starts becoming the franchise guy we all hoped each and every over-the-top-cynical fan eats crow and can just as quickly acknowledge they were premature.

I'm guessing that won't happen.

Steve from Wallingford, CT

Is it fair to assume that if our pass defense was even slightly decent we would be talking about all the fourth-quarter come-from-behind drives T-Law has had to win games rather than all the sub-two-minute drives that have ended with mistakes?

The narrative around Lawrence no doubt would be different at 4-4 than 2-6, and the Jaguars' defense unquestionably has faltered enough late to cost the team multiple games. That doesn't negate Lawrence's struggles in a couple of late-game situations. It also doesn't excuse Lawrence's repeated red-zone mistakes in recent weeks in big situations. Those are more of a concern – or at least as much of a concern – as the late-drive stuff.

Alan from Jacksonville

I get the angst coming from the fans; losing sucks. But so far this season, I have seen a team that hasn't been outclassed by anyone and it wouldn't be too far of a stretch to see them with a nearly perfect record. When both sides are on, they have the weapons to beat any team in this league. I like Lawrence's attitude. He has never tried to shift blame for his mistakes and seems like a true leader with lots of upside. The impatience and willingness of our fan base to jettison him at this stage in his career bothers me more than our close losses. It reminds me when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had Steve Young back in the late 1980s and they traded him to the San Francisco 49ers, where he went on to have a Hall of Fame career. I say we quit pulling up the carrot to see how it's growing and give the guy a chance to succeed.

Fair.

Mike from Eagan, MN

Hey, O-Zone. All this Trevor angst has me wondering ... wasn't Josh Allen from Buffalo a "trash" quarterback his first couple of years? Do you think the Bills Mafia wishes they would've moved on from him two years after drafting him? Just curious.

I've become less inclined over the years to use the career paths of other former players at any position to project the career paths of future/present players. Circumstances vary from player to player and one player's success or failure has no bearing on the other. Yes, Allen struggled as a rookie and had comparable statistics to Lawrence in Year 2 before breaking out in Year 3. That makes it possible Lawrence's career could move that way. Other quarterbacks have struggled as rookies and improved statistically in Year 2 and failed. Lawrence could go either way. It's up to him to improve his decision-making and accuracy to make a leap.

Michael from New Orleans, LA

If Jaguars Owner Shad Khan actually, really, truly cared about this team he would #FireBaalke and crowdsource next year's draft with an online poll. Let the fans decide. Also, trades. By 2023 we would still have running back James Robinson but not Lawrence.

I'm going to assume for the sake of my faith in the human condition that I missed the sarcasm in this email. Please, just give me that much.

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