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O-Zone: Trick or treat

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

_Robert from Manassas, VA       _

If this team is not playing their best and still winning easily, doesn't that mean they are pretty good? And doesn't the longest win streak in the NFL mean something?

Yes, the 2023 Jaguars are good. They are 6-2 entering their Week 9 bye, with four of their six victories by double digits. They have not trailed in the second half of their current five-game winning streak – and the only time they trailed during that streak was when they trailed the Indianapolis Colts, 3-0, in the first half. All Jaguars victories this season have come against teams that were .500 or better entering the game. That means they're beating confident teams with plenty of motivation – and who are usually playing well. Yes, their winning streak means something. It means they're doing things right and playing as well as any team in the NFL. Their 6-2 record means they share the best record in the AFC with the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens – and sharing the best record in the conference means they have a chance to set themselves up for postseason seeding if they play well late in the season. They're in fantastic position, and that's all you can ask as October turns into November. I don't know that the Jaguars are necessarily winning "easily." But they're controlling games and they're mostly keeping themselves out of situations in which they can lose on late-game weirdness. That's the stuff teams that contend consistently do.

Bob from Sumter, SC

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence a game manager? Seriously? The guy routinely makes throws in tight windows not many quarterbacks can make perfectly placed in tight windows. He'll eventually improve in the red zone and with turnovers. Trent Dilfer was a game manager. Lawrence isn't. Not even close.

Lawrence is the quarterback of a team that has won 11 of its last 13 regular-season games. That team has the NFL's longest winning streak. Lawrence mostly has played smart since midway through last season and he has made multiple big plays during that span. He's in his third season and is still developing. He's in a good place. Stay tuned.

Johnny from Westside, irrationally angry side

I'm mad, Zone. We didn't get a touchdown on every play. We didn't strip-sack-fumble return for a touchdown and an interception on every defensive play. Our kicker didn't kick it right down the center. I mean, we stink. We let the Steelers get a point. Fire everyone, trade for draft picks.

Get in line, Johnny.

Emerson from Austin, TX

Hey, John. As I watch our games and compare them to other games, I get this feeling. Our play-calling seems to consistently produce 10-play-plus drives, which is great – but I believe there is a flaw to this method. Mistakes can be made, and when our offense isn't designed for intentional explosive plays that leaves more opportunity for these mistakes to happen. A fumble, a dumb interception. The longer the drives, the more likely we are to make a mistake. Should we be trying to go deep more often? Is there a healthier balance of explosive plays and extended drives? I know we have some explosive plays, but they come from a shorter pass usually where the player has to create the long gain after which again has more potential for a mistake. Curious on your thoughts?

What you're seeing in the Jaguars' offense is a leaguewide trend. NFL defenses increasingly in recent seasons have taken the approach of forcing teams to drive the length of the field and use double-digit plays for the very reason you cite – that eventually the offense is going to mistake and end the drive. Teams therefore are emphasizing red-zone defense and trying to hold opponents to field goals rather than allowing touchdowns. That the Jaguars' offense is struggling in these areas isn't as much an indictment on their offense as a reflection of how defenses are playing.

Brian from Round Rock, Texas

Lawrence is showing his talent – whether it's impressive throws, runs, pocket presence, leadership, command of the offensive. However, he isn't consistent and seems to still make some dumb plays every game. What does he need to do to take it to the next level in the second half of the season?

Continue growing and continue learning.

Geoffrey from Virginia Beach, VA (via Kuwait currently)

Anemic offense? What games are these readers watching? They moved the ball with relative ease against a pretty strong defensive team Sunday IN THEIR STADIUM. Yeah, the Jags usually play well there, but I digress. They're just beating themselves too much on third downs and in positive territory with the turnovers. If they clean that up? They'll probably put up 35 points a game, easy. It's a long season and I am so pumped up to see what these Jags do in the stretch run.

The Jaguars' offense indeed has not been anemic this season. More often than not, it has moved effectively between the 20s. They have struggled at times to score in the red zone and yes … if they get that fixed, a lot changes offensively.

Randy from Jacksonville

Before we were 6-2, I heard we overpaid for a box safety and slot wide receiver (Rayshawn Jenkins and Christian Kirk). I heard we should have kept DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault instead of paying Kirk and Zay Jones. I heard tight end Evan Engram had the drops, right guard Brandon Scherff was always hurt and inside linebacker Foye Oluokun padded his stats on a bad Atlanta Falcons defense. General Manager Trent Baalke has replaced almost every player in three years with little cap damage. This is his team and he proved all us clowns wrong.

One fer Baalke.

Dave from Jacksonville

KOAF, the Jags now have the longest winning streak in the NFL. Doesn't that sound nice? With the bye, that will sure feel nice for the next two weeks. Isn't that nice?

Jaguars fans have waited a long time for success such as this. Here's hoping they can enjoy it. They deserve it. Being a football fan is supposed to be more fun than it has been for this fan base for the last decade and a half.

KC from Grayson, GA

Acquiring Ezra Cleveland in a trade from the Minnesota Vikings seems like a pretty good trade pickup but can offensive lineman generally pick up the playbook pretty fast?

There are nuances and it requires work, but offensive linemen generally can adapt to a new offense relatively quickly.

Catherine from Jax

It appears to me that there are a lot of new "college fans" jumping on the bandwagon. That's a good thing, but how long does it take for them to get that the NFL is not the SEC? Any given Sunday is not a joke and any "W" is a good "W" in the NFL.

Some will never get it.

Jason from The Aug Dog

I remember a time when the Jags went 3-4 seasons without ever scoring as much as 30 points. Now we complain about double digit wins. We've come a long way baby.

The Jaguars indeed did once go three consecutive seasons – 2002, 2003 and 2004 – without scoring at least 30 points in a game. That's quite remarkable.

Bill from Springfield, VA

Zone, You recently said you expected all injured personnel to return after the bye week except wide receiver Zay Jones. What do you know that we don't and can't find out about in the media?


John from Jacksonville

Is Shatley the backup center again? Fans shouldn't fret over Walker Little's playing time. If Scherff goes down again he'll either be right guard or left guard. Agree?

I expect the acquisition of Cleveland to mean Tyler Shatley will moves back to swing guard/center. That very well could mean Little being the swing tackle, but yes … Little in that scenario likely would be the first lineman to play in the event of an injury to any guard or tackle.

Marji from DeLand, FL

Zone 0, please describe what goes on in the typical Jaguars bye week. Do players/coaches take vacations? What does the staff do, any time off for them? I don't think Senior Writers get time off, since we the public want our news and O-Zone, yes?

Coaches typically work until Tuesday or Wednesday during the bye week. Players typically practice until about the same day. Football operations as a whole typically follows the same schedule. This senior writer does whatever damn well he pleases so long as it also pleases my direct supervisor, his direct supervisor, Jaguars President Mark Lamping and Jaguars Owner Shad Khan.

MrDude from PVB

I went trick or treating as Travon Walker, but I had nothing to hold my candy because I couldn't get a sack.

You should have gone as someone who's not particularly funny. You wouldn't have needed to waste money on a costume.