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O-Zone: Tough task

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

And just like that, the season is over.

I have received and continue to receive multiple emails like this since the Jaguars' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Stadium this past Monday – mostly, one would assume, because quarterback Trevor Lawrence sustained a high-ankle sprain in the final minutes. The difficult loss of game and quarterback understandably cast a pall over the fan base – and caused many observers to believe the season over. The reality, of course, is that's far from the case. Five regular-season games remain. The Jaguars (8-4) lead the AFC South by a game over the Houston Texans (7-5) and Indianapolis Colts (7-5) with tiebreaker advantages over both teams. But while the season's not over, what is true is that the Jaguars' game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium Sunday suddenly feels very important. And very difficult. The Jaguars are injured. Lawrence's status for the game is very uncertain. The team got gut-punched Monday. It would be understandable if its confidence was shaken. The Browns are very good, particularly defensively and particularly at home. That makes this a difficult matchup for the Jaguars – and one of the most important games in Head Coach Doug Pederson's two seasons as head coach. This team has been mature and resilient this season. It will need to be at its most mature and most resilient to win in a difficult circumstance Sunday.

Joel from Wausau, WI

The Jaguars and fans got ready to play and hyped for the game and even the analysts were saying the Jags could win and were the better team at the 'Bank against Kansas City. The Jags lost a close game and there was a sense of letdown in the support base. The Jaguars and fans got ready to play and hyped for the game and even the analysts were saying the Jags could win and were the better team at the 'Bank against San Francisco. The Jags lost a blowout game and there was a sense of letdown in the support base. The Jaguars and fans got ready to play and hyped for the MNF game and even the analysts were saying the Jags should win and were the better team at the Bank against Cincinnati. The Jags lost a close game with some key injuries and there was a sense of letdown in the support base. There is a pattern of the Jaguars not performing as well as they should at the 'Bank when the support and hype is for them. How does Doug Pederson and the team overcome this hurdle going into the playoffs?

I don't know that the Jaguars were overwhelming favorites against the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers this season, but your point – that the Jaguars have been disappointing at home this season – is fair. But I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the Jaguars can't win at home. The late-season run to the 2022 AFC South title, remember, was built largely on a remarkable run of five consecutive thrilling victories in Jacksonville. Some years you kill the bear. Some years the bear kills you. Or something like that. 

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

Our seats are located on the west side of the stadium. We watched in horror as the cart was making its way to the Jaguars bench where Trevor was taken. We watched as the cart slowed and then pulled away when waived off. The moral of the story: Do not believe the national media talking heads who know nothing, but like to assume just to get a few extra clicks.


Deane from Daytona Beach, FL

Yo O-Zone! First off, I hope all our injured Jags get to feeling better soon! Secondly, I have a theory why the Jags are having a difficult time at home, especially the offense. I believe that deep down, they put too much pressure on themselves to be the super-explosive offense that can go down and score at will, that some Jag fans expect them to be every game. That they don't want to let their hometown fans down and by doing so, play to always have that must make a touchdown on every play mentality. I get it, they are professionals and fans are going to fan; but I think the Jags need the game to come to them and then just play Jags brand of ball. What do you think, O-Zone? Any possible credence to this?

I do think the Jaguars' offense pressed a bit early in the season, particularly in home losses to the Chiefs and Houston Texans. The Jaguars have scored 37, 34 and 31 points in three of their last four games at home. It just doesn't feel like they're pressing offensively in Jacksonville lately.

Scott from jax by way of Rehoboth Beach, DE

Like Freddy T said, this one just hits different, O-man. For some reason, the rest of the season feels so unattainable after just one primitive loss to a backup quarterback. What say you, O?

I say Monday was gut-wrenching – as gut-wrenching as any Jaguars loss in some time. They were minutes from being the No. 1 seed. Instead, they're now in the No. 4 seed with an injured quarterback and without one of their top offensive weapons in wide receiver Christian Kirk. That makes it feel like a lost season. It's not a lost season yet. It's up to the Jaguars now to recover emotionally and save it. That won't be easy, but it's doable. Sunday is critical.

Gibran from Aledo, TX

O! Just a point for Jag fans. Watching the Philadelphia Eagles/San Francisco 49ers game Sunday, there were almost as many 49ers fans as Eagles fans in the stands. Just proves your point about best traveling teams.

I am the king of all funk.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

We absolutely need some more hosses on our interior line because we are not good at run blocking.

Run blocking has been an issue most of the season. The Jaguars have run effectively at times, but they have struggled much of the season on the interior and in short yardage. They haven't run well enough when they need or want to run this season. This will be perceived as an issue until the Jaguars prove it's no longer an issue.

Jay from Fruit Cove, FL

Was the Monday Night Football loss so hard on you that you replied "good eye" to the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor? You are usually better than that, John.

Every. Single. Time.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

The coach's son gets elevated from the practice squad for MNF. Sounds suspicious to me. Is this an effort to get him some playing time on the national stage to advance his career? Sorry, but that smells rotten from here. How does it smell in Duval?

Someone needs to have their smelling checked. Tight end Josh Pederson was elevated from the practice squad Monday because a foot injury made tight end Brenton Strange unavailable.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

Are we going to have an emergency third quarterback available for this Sunday's game? If backup quarterback C.J. Beathard starts, who would the third quarterback be?

The Jaguars signed quarterback Nathan Rourke from the practice squad for their Week 7 victory over the New Orleans Saints because Lawrence was questionable that week. I would expect the Jaguars to make the same roster move this week.

Greg from Atlanta, GA

With the team taking care of business early in the season, the Jags have put themselves in a great spot to win the division with possibly just going 2-3 down the stretch due to the tiebreakers they hold. With the last three games very winnable (Carolina, Tampa, and Tennessee) does it make sense to let Lawrence recover the next two weeks and hope he can come back fully healthy the last three weeks and playoffs?

It makes sense to let Lawrence recover if he needs to recover and can't protect himself. If he can protect himself and feels he can play – and if doctors believe he isn't risking further injury by playing – then he should play.

Rocco from Southside, FL

O-Zone, if it wasn't apparent before with the lack of protection for Trevor, and the inability to run the ball when we needed it, it should be evident to the front office that major help is needed on the offensive line. Is there anything that can be done before the end of this season or is it too late?

There are no roster moves to be made, at least none of significance. The offensive line, while being harshly criticized in the wake of Lawrence's injury, for the most part pass-blocked OK Monday. Their interior run-blocking – and their run-blocking overall – has struggled at times. Offensive lines can improve through continuity, cohesion and experience. If the Jaguars are going to improve on the offensive line, that's the formula.

Frank from Jacksonville

Why can't we have nice things?

The NFL is hard. It's the hard that makes winning so thrilling.