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O-Zone: Too late, baby

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Evan from Bremen

Will Trevor Lawrence really be our guy?

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the Jaguars' guy for the short term. There's no reason yet to believe he won't be the guy for the long term, though he has not proven this through 18 regular-season games. This is not cause for panic, though some fans are experiencing that feeling. Remember: Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson spoke often during the weeks leading to the 2022 regular season of the adjustment for a young quarterback/new offensive players in a new offensive system. Don't forget that when discussing – and panicking over – Lawrence's development.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

After having time to sit on my fandom and think, I believe that I need to try my best to grade this team on a different curve. They are more talented, that is for sure. More than one player flashed. We still have players on this team that won't be here next year, but there are less of them than before. That is progress. Seven wins is a realistic number for this year's team. I just do not want to keep seeing old Jaguars mistakes (penalties). That mess quickly brings the Jaguars fanatic out of me.

A couple of thoughts on your thoughts. One is it's indeed understandable to use a somewhat different curve when assessing this Jaguars team. Yes, the team must be analyzed based on this season because there's no sense from anyone around the organization that the objective isn't to win and contend immediately. The Jaguars in that sense failed in too many areas Sunday – red-zone offense, late-game defense, avoidable penalties, regrettable incompletions – in a 28-22 loss to the Washington Commanders in the 2022 regular-season opener. But it's also reasonable to analyze the Jaguars based on where they were in recent seasons compared to where they are now – and where they appear headed. On that front, there were encouraging signs Sunday. Among the most encouraging was that they made a slew of mistakes, didn't play particularly well and still had the lead with a chance to win late. Also encouraging was they overcame a deficit on the road and got themselves in position to win – again, despite not playing particularly well. They must play better, but those are good signs. It's improvement.

John from Daufuskie Island, SC

I have read every O-Zone since last football season and am a bit surprised by the fans' reactions. To me, the game on Sunday was almost exactly as predicted. We hung in the game and had a chance at the end, but failed to close the door and seal the victory. A young team, with relatively inexperienced players, will do this. I also believe as the season progresses that we will "learn" how to close these games, and we will see us win a few more of these than we will lose. As you say, "fans will fan," so I guess patience to allow the team to mature isn't in the fan plan. I saw a lot to like on Sunday and am excited to watch the season progress. I'm predicting 9-8.

Patience, while a virtue, is a weird entity among NFL fans. Few, if any, display it during games. Some manage to find it hours after a game. A few more might display these traits during the week. Until Sunday. Then, chaos.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, on paper, who do you think improved their rosters the most since last year, the Colts or the Jaguars? I feel like we should be a much better team than the team that beat Indy last year.

I think the Jaguars overall improved more on paper, but the Colts are a good team and improved at the quarterback position. Also: the NFL is a week-to-week league. Just because a team beat another team in Week 18 of one season and improved in the offseason doesn't mean they're going to win against that same opponent early the next season.

Ray from Jax

_John: "… a lot of the mistakes Sunday are correctable." Aren't all mistakes correctable? My wife says all of mine are and expresses great frustration with my lack of progress in that regard. _

I've got one of those at home, too. Knowing all your flaws is "awesome."

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville

You keep preaching patience and even Head Coach Doug Pederson has said this will take time. But the reality is other teams get a generational quarterback and turn it around in a year or two at most. So, patience is going to be a hard sell to this fan base who has stuck by this subpar team for almost two decades. Look at the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals who all were contending within a year of getting their guy in place. Playing the long games isn't really the norm any more. Still think Pederson needs to focus on the strengths of the team and RUN the damn ball. That is our identity and needs to be until TLaw is ready to make that next step. Control the clock, run the ball and play the game at your pace on your terms. Gibson ran for 130 on us, which is why they WON.

I don't "preach" in the O-Zone. And I rarely discuss patience because experience tells me fans are going to feel how they want to feel regardless of what I write or preach. A few thoughts on your other thoughts. One, Commanders running back Antonio Gibson didn't run for 130 yards Sunday. He rushed for 58 and had 72 yards receiving. And I imagine Pederson would tell you the Commanders WON because the Jaguars made too many errors and couldn't get Washington off the field on two late touchdown drives. Two, it is true that when discussing Lawrence I have noted that many quarterbacks tend to take a Year Two jump in their second season in an offensive system, and I have noted that Pederson has pointed out multiple times this offseason that Lawrence and these offensive players are in the first year of this system. That probably will be a factor in this Jaguars season. As for Pederson's focus, I get no sense that he will change his offensive approach to focus primarily on the run. The Jaguars produced nearly 400 yards offense against the Commanders, moved efficiently inside the 20s and were a few makeable opportunities from scoring in the 30s – and winning. I can't see Pederson worrying much about fixing something he doesn't think is broken.

Drue from DUVAL

Do you anticipate Jaguars running backs Travis Etienne Jr. or James Robinson getting more snaps relative to the other moving forward (barring injury)? It was surprising to see Etienne get so few touches after being rumored to be the starter. Robinson is solid for sure, but Etienne seems to have a different level of explosiveness.

I expect Robinson to get a few more carries/touches per game than Etienne as the season moves forward. Robinson carried 11 times and caught a pass Sunday for 12 touches; I would expect him to average a few more touches as coaches become more familiar with how they want to use him. Etienne carried four times and caught two passes, and Lawrence targeted him two more times. That's eight attempted touches. I would expect a few more than that for Etienne, but not double.


Pederson is often touted as a coach that features his tight ends in the offense. I think that Evan Engram was targeted four times and no other tight end was targeted Sunday. I know that you have to take what the game gives you, but this seems low for a team that threw the ball 42 times. What say you?

I say one game of 17 is not a significant sample size.

Jason from Jacksonville

John, This seems like an important Week 2 game considering the next two games are on the road against teams with legit playoff/Super Bowl aspirations. Thoughts on how important a win is this week and the odds of the Jags starting the season 0-4 if they don't?

Sunday is big because it's a home AFC South game against a rival. History suggests the following week's game at the Los Angeles Chargers will be tough because the Jaguars' history is they struggle on the West Coast. The next week at Philadelphia? That will be tough because the Eagles are good. Guess what? The NFL is tough, but good teams win in tough situations. It's on the Jaguars to get good and do that.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I was right. I was right. I was right. They're 0-1 and you still suck. Why don't you go do something useful with your life?

I'm 56 and I've written this column daily day since I was 45.  "Useful with my life" got off the bus a few stops back.