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O-Zone: The right words

JACKSONVILLE – One more day until Look-Ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Al from Fruit Cove, FL

John, we know it's a win-and-we're-in situation. But what if the Jags lose Sunday? What else has to happen for us to make it as a wild-card team?

The Jaguars indeed can win the AFC South with a victory over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday at 1 p.m. If they win that game, they can finish in no worse than a first-place tie in the AFC South with the Indianapolis Colts or Houston Texans. Those two teams play Saturday night in Indianapolis, with the winner finishing the season 10-7. The Jaguars with a victory Sunday would also finish 10-7 and would hold the tiebreaker advantage over both teams – by virtue of a season sweep of the Colts and a better division record than the Texans. That's the easiest way for the Jaguars to make the postseason and the Jaguars cannot win the South with a loss Sunday. The other way the Jaguars can make the postseason is as a wild card, which for the Jaguars would mean losing to the Titans and having the Baltimore Ravens beat the Steelers Saturday with the Denver Broncos losing to or tying the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday. With the Ravens and Steelers playing Saturday, the Jaguars could know by kickoff Sunday that they can't make it as a wild-card team. But because the Broncos and Raiders play at 4:25 Sunday, there is a chance the Jaguars could be waiting on the results of that game to find out if they're going to the postseason. That's no way to spend a Sunday afternoon/evening.

Bill from St. Petersburg, FL

O, is there a chance we see Christian Kirk and Zay Jones back in the lineup this week?

Yes. The Jaguars have played without wide receiver Christian Kirk the last four games – since he sustained a core muscle injury in Week 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He has been on injured reserve since then and is eligible to have his window to return opened this week. Head Coach Doug Pederson on Monday said this could happen and that there is a chance Kirk could play Sunday. The Jaguars have played without Jones in eight of 16 games this season, including the last two weeks because of a hamstring injury sustained in Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens. Jones was listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week last week after practicing limited all week. Pederson on Monday said there is also a chance Jones could play Sunday. These are two of the Jaguars' best offensive players – and two of their most reliable players. Their return would be huge.

Brad from Section 38

How would a Colts-Texans tie affect the Jaguars playoff possibilities?

The Jaguars would win the South with a victory over or a tie with the Titans Sunday if the Texans and Colts tie Saturday night.

Tim from Peoria, IL

John. No question here. Just wanted to give a shout out to running back Travis Etienne Jr. this year. We need to use him more in this offense with Christian Kirk and Zay Jones still banged up. Side note: He has fumbled the ball zero times this season. which is great given there were moments last year where it looked like it could be a problem. Hopefully Tank Bigsby can fix his ball security issues with time in the league, too! DUUUUUVALL!!!

Etienne rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries in a 26-0 victory over the Carolina Panthers Sunday. The Jaguars would love to use him more. The reason they haven't done so has less to do with Etienne and more to do with the offensive line/running game in general being inconsistent much of the season. When there's little push on the interior offensive line, and when run plays up the middle are getting one yard and negative gains, you tend to go away from the run. It becomes difficult to trust. Either way, you're right that Etienne deserves credit for addressing his ball security issue this season. Players can improve, and a player's performance in Years 2 and 3 can be dramatically different than Year 1. Etienne worked on this area. Good on him.

Garrett from Edgewater

Zone, Happy New Year! No question here. Just a quick shoutout to Boselli for being right about Allen and Walker sack numbers. I know how he likes being right. Take that, Prisco.

Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli, now a Jaguars analyst, indeed predicted before the season that Jaguars outside linebackers Travon Walker and Josh Allen would combine for 23-to-25 sacks this season. It was a bold prediction considering the two combined for 12 sacks last season. Allen now has a franchise-record 16.5 sacks this season and Walker has nine sacks. Good for Boselli. They should figure out a way honor someone that "awesome." Maybe some sort of career achievement award. Or something with a jacket. Spit-balling here.

Gregory from Boise, ID

What about Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor's horrible play calling, and Pederson's horrible decision making? No one is talking about that, I'm so confused. A win but ...  but ... but the play-calling and decision-making – I hope they coach this bad for as long as they are here.

It's always coaching in the NFL.

Charles from Savannah, Ga

Hi, John. It's bad enough when fans behave inappropriately at games, but team owners? David Tepper has a temper. Who holds team owners accountable for their actions? Is it Roger Goodell?


_Nick from Virginia Beach, VA   _

Glad the Jags pulled off the win. Glad for Josh to have the franchise record. Do we have enough cap space to keep Josh Allen?

Allen set a franchise record for single-season sacks Sunday. He now has 16.5 sacks this season with three three-sack games – including Sunday. Yes, the Jaguars will have salary-cap space to retain Allen. I expect the Jaguars to either sign him to a long-term deal or apply the NFL's franchise tag to him.

Mark from Sobieski, Wisconsin

I drove 1,300 miles for this? Just kidding. Though not as exciting of a game as I would have liked, it was a win on a beautiful sunny Florida day. Winning is awesome.

Drive safe.

Tom from Tallahassee, FL

We can only hope that TL was watching his backup play QB – taking what the defense gave with no hint of "hero ball."

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence attended Sunday's game and was active on the sidelines despite not playing because of an AC joint sprain. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard played and threw for 178 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. It's true that Lawrence could benefit from not always trying to make a play when a play is essentially done.

Brad from The Avenues

Great game. Thank you CJ for stepping up and keeping us in it. Congrats Josh on the new team record. Congrats all around. Side note: Maybe not time to start celebrating yet but I think it deserves mentioning that Sunday marked our first back-to-back winning seasons in nearly twenty years. GO JAGS, DUUUVAAL, IT WAS ALWAYS THE JAGS.


KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF - Granted we played the Panthers, but the Jaguars played with poise but not spectacular on offense, a tenacious defense and good special teams play. Assuming a comparable performance next week against the Titans, do you think they will win the division if quarterback Trevor Lawrence is out? I imagine letting him rest for the playoffs would make the most sense. What do you think?

I think the Jaguars will win Sunday if they play as well as they did against Carolina – and by that, I mean running well, protecting the ball and playing sound defensively. I think that's true whether Lawrence or C.J. Beathard plays quarterback. I think Lawrence will play if healthy. I think the decision about playing Lawrence will be more about availability and ability to play well than letting Lawrence "rest."

P Funk from Murray Hill

At this point in his bright career, what could Trevor have learned from the sideline watching a less-than flashy but mistake-free veteran quarterback performance in a convincing victory?

That every play need not be a big play.

John from Jacksonville

Sunday's shutout was boring? Seriously? The team is a dumpster fire, we need to trade Trevor and replace him with the practice-squad quarterback, they can't run the ball or stop the run, the o-line stinks, etc. All comments from O-Zone readers. I've been trying to put how I felt about those comments into words but could not find them. In your New Year's Day column, Richard from Jacksonville found those words. Thanks Richard. You nailed it. It moved me. Here's wishing you good luck getting through your hard times.

Richard from Jacksonville wrote a heartfelt email about the Jaguars and this community. It was in Monday's O-Zone. It was cool. Fans liked it, as one would hope. It can be read here.