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O-Zone: The right call

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dave from Ontario, Canada

Hi, John. I am just curious what makes you think Trevor will be fine watching him throughout this year, especially the last eight weeks? I get you are a more astute observer than myself and you watch the team and talk to the players regularly, but many experienced reporters and former players turned analysts talk about Trevor regressing and looking like a shell of the player he was at Clemson. Perhaps they have an agenda or are not informed – or perhaps you are wearing a pair of rose-colored glasses?

Perchance you are new to these parts. I say this because this has been pretty much a daily O-Zone topic in recent days, weeks and months – and my thought on Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence hasn't changed much in the last few weeks. Or the last two months. And I can't see it changing any time soon. I thought at midseason Lawrence likely would be unfairly and harshly criticized over the last half of the season; it felt like the offensive limitations that were beginning to hamper him – primarily, the receivers' inability to consistently stretch the field enough to change how teams defended the Jaguars – wouldn't likely get solved this season. I figured that would lead to rough games for Lawrence, and I still see that as the major factor causing the struggles of Lawrence and the Jaguars' offense in the second half of the season. That's not to say Lawrence has been good enough. He has played poorly at times. He has been inaccurate at times, and he has made some bad decisions. But most rookie quarterbacks have those issues. That's especially true of rookie quarterbacks in bad situations. Lawrence by any measure has been in an awful situation this season. So, why do I believe Lawrence will be fine? Mental makeup, skill set, football intelligence, work ethic and a realization of the extent of the difficulty of his situation. Perhaps I'll be wrong. I've been wrong before. Either way, you might be stunned at the extent to which I don't care if ex-players or other media agree/disagree. They're entitled to their opinion. But having played or having a national forum doesn't make them right. Not even close.

Chris from Niagara Falls, Canada

Hey, Zone. Am I wrong in thinking the correct general manager may be more important than the correct head coach? Even a bad coach could win games with a good roster, but not the other way around.

They're both important. While I'm fond of sarcastically saying "it's always coaching in the NFL," what I mean by that is specific play-calling and game-planning at times can be overrated or vastly misjudged by observers – and those things mean little if players can't execute. But a head coach matters very much in the NFL because he sets the organizational tone – and if players and coaches don't believe in the head coach, everything else gets much more difficult. A general manager obviously matters because he is responsible not only for identifying players, but ensuring there is a long-term financial and talent equation that makes sense. One must have the other to succeed. It's rarely one thing in the NFL.

Mike from Duval

The term "rock bottom" has lost all meaning. Just end the season.

Fair.

Donna from Jacksonville

What if anything can be done to replace Shad Khan? He is the one making the wrong decisions on choosing the head coach and assistants. I've never heard of it happening, but I can't believe I'm the only one who feels this way. Trevor will want to leave like the rest of all the other quality players who have wanted to get on a team that is not re-building for the last 20 years!

Shad Khan owns the Jaguars. He will continue to own the Jaguars until his son, Tony, owns the Jaguars. Owners don't get replaced. They replace.

Claudio from Barcelona, Spain

Hello, John! I'm a little surprised that suddenly Trevor Lawrence seems to be the biggest problem in the franchise. This team would be just PERFECT if Trevor was the biggest problem. In fact, I would love that in Week 1 regular season 2022, we have only to worry about Trevor. Not head coach leaving his team behind after a loss on the road, nor a first-round selection traded on his second season, or an offense that forget who is his best offensive weapon, or wide receivers that can't get open, or that Logan Cooke is our most reliable player on the roster.

Good eye.

Rob from St Augustine, FL

I know we can't really grade draft picks early, but could you give an assessment on how our free agents have been this year?

Some of the Jaguars' 2021 unrestricted free agents – cornerback Shaq Griffin and defensive linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and Malcom Brown – have been OK-to-good. Others such as safety Rudy Ford and returner Jamal Agnew have exceeded expectations. Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. would have been OK with more around him. Linebacker Damien Wilson also has been OK or perhaps better. The players signed last offseason for the most part haven't performed poorly given expectations. The Jaguars didn't try to hit home runs in this area last offseason. Mission accomplished.

Chris from Fernandina

Spade McQuade. Oh … you have to hear his version of "Fairytale of New York!"

I have. Top-notch.

Fred from Wadesboro NC

Ordinarily, my upcoming question would never be asked. There is almost universal agreement this gentleman will never play again following Sunday's antics. But should we maybe sign Antonio Brown for Sunday's game? In this debacle of a season could it hurt? At least it would generate some genuine interest in the proceedings on the field. What is there to lose at this point?

It can always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always get worse.

Mike from Nocatee, FL

First-year season-ticket holder. True Trevor Lawrence has looked awful, but the poor guy is constantly running for his life. He is making rookie mistakes, but a quarterback is only as good as his offensive line. As good Andrew Luck was, he was constantly injured and had to retire because his line couldn't protect him. The fans have to give Trevor a break.

Fair.

Linda from PONTE VEDRA BEACH

Why the heck did the Jaguars allow the big stadium call to be DUVAL? I think that's a reason they are failing as a team. They are NOT the team of ONE COUNTY, are they? Or does St. Johns, Clay and other counties not matter? It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Steeler fans do not shout "Allegheny!" when the Steelers play in that great sports town. It annoys me every time I hear it. As a season-ticket holder with a friend this year, from St. Johns County, I do not want to renew next year since I am not even considered part of your fan base. Also, it sounds like booing when heard aloud. Can this stopped, please, and stop promoting it?

I'm sorry you're annoyed, Linda. The spirit of the "Duval" chant is one of unity, not of exclusion. St. Johns, Clay and other counties do matter. Very much. But Jacksonville is in Duval County. The Jaguars are located in Jacksonville. And the chant was borne of the us-against-them feeling with which many Jaguars fans identify. The reason the team "allowed" the chant is that the team really didn't have much to do with its popularity at all. The popularity happened as most such things along these line do – organically, gradually catching on because a lot of people enjoyed it and identified with it. Either way, I don't see it stopping. Nor do I see the team not promoting it. My advice? Lean back, loosen up the neck and let out a good "Duuuuuuuvaaaaal!" I just did. I feel better. It was cool. I liked it.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Please don't field any questions from fans next year when the '22 schedule comes out about no Jaguar appearances in a Monday or Sunday night game.

Fair.

Munchie from London

Hi Zone, why would we need to wait until after the game this Sunday to "make a decision" on Baalke? If Shad is going to fire him, what would the negatives be of him not being around this week? I can see plenty of negatives of keeping him here, but none of moving him on now. Am i missing something? Thanks

I don't know when Khan is making a "decision" regarding General Manager Trent Baalke. Perhaps it already has been made. Perhaps it still has been made. Perhaps it will be made as Khan gathers more information during the coaching search. Perhaps not.

Gary from Fleming Island

Regarding Lawrence's development, looking back, do you think it would have been better to start former Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II this year and have Trevor come in at some point later in the season?

No.

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