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O-Zone: Wasted talent

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I know it's way early to draw any conclusions, but how is Trevor looking compared to the other top QB picks as of late?

I haven't done a deep dive into the other young quarterbacks in the NFL, though I do know that in recent weeks Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence's statistics are starting to come in line with and even succeed most of the other rookie quarterbacks. The truth is I don't care that much how Lawrence is doing compared to, say, Justin Fields and Justin Herbert. I care about how he looks – and Lawrence over the last few weeks is developing exactly how the Jaguars hoped – and he perhaps is even exceeding those expectations. He's improving by the week, making better decisions, showing more poise, reducing mistakes and increasing his good plays. Most significantly, his pocket awareness remains off-the-charts good. His eyes remain downfield – and he remains unpanicked and poised under pressure. He has pretty much every trait you want with the exception of not being as accurate as would be ideal in some circumstances. Either way, he's on his way to greatness. That's apparent. That's what matters. Not how Zach Wilson and Tua Tagovailoa are playing.

Enrique from Bargersville, IN

Hey, John. What's the deal with Jordan Smith and Andre Cisco? When can we expect these two guys to hit the field and show what they got?

Defensive end/linebacker Jordan Smith was considered a developmental player when the Jaguars selected him in the 2021 NFL Draft and that still appears to be the case. Safety Andre Cisco was considered at the time of the draft likely to play more quickly. Head Coach Urban Meyer said this week Cisco is close to being ready, and defensive coordinator Joe Cullen said this week Cisco played well against Miami in a package designed for him to cover running backs out of the backfield. When will Cisco be ready for more? Stay tuned.

Pradeep from Bangalore, India

Hi John, as a mark of respect to Lambo for the great accuracy at TIAA, can Jags mark 50 yards or center of the field as 'Lambo field' at least for one home game? He was clearly a shining star on a losing team during his time. He set very high standards on and off the field.

They're not going to do that, though former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo will – and should – be remembered for three seasons-plus being very, very good for this franchise.

WJBIII from Yulee, FL

It looks as though the Texans are trying our 2020 formula to get the 2022 overall #1 overall pick. What do you think our chances of making the playoffs this season?


Michael from Lakeland via Jacksonville

I hate to ask, but with multiple long stints of unavailability when do the Jags begin exploring the heir to Brandon Linder at center? Linder is a monster when he's healthy but the fact he's only played one full season is concerning.

This has long been a concern. The Jaguars have for the past several seasons approached center essentially with a two-pronged approach of Linder when healthy and having Tyler Shatley ready to fill in capably. That seems the likely approach for the short-term future.

Ryan from Charlotte, NC

O, I haven't heard much about Tyron Johnson since he was signed. I get the Chargers let him walk for a reason, but he was the only player General Manager Trent Baalke put a claim in for after initial cuts and given the injury to wide receiver DJ Chark I assumed he'd carve out at least a limited role as a deep threat guy, similar to how the Rams are using Desean Jackson. Should we be expecting him to contribute more as the season goes on or is he just buried on the depth chart?

Most observers thought Johnson – a wide receiver claimed off waiver from the Los Angeles Chargers shortly before the 2021 regular-season opener – would have a role. He has not had a significant one thus far – and he was inactive against Miami this past Sunday. When Meyer discussed Johnson recently, he discussed detail in route running: "It's detail is exactly what it is. To give Tyron [Johnson] credit, the last ten days, and [wide receivers coach] Sanjay [Lal], his detail has improved drastically. Is it to the point where he's a starter in the NFL? No, not yet."

John from Cape May Court House, NJ

For a guy that has been getting some criticism of late, I thought Josh Allen played his best game of the year on Sunday. Although he didn't register a sack, he was applying constant pressure all game and not to mention he was the one that came down crashing on the line to make that fourth-down stop. Hopefully this is the start of a trend.

Allen, the No. 7 overall selection on the 2019 NFL Draft, was never playing poorly. But neither was he standing out. And yeah … seeing him stand out in the last few games is a really good sign.

Sean from Jacksonville

We have seen incremental growth of the offense since the season began and it clearly shows on the field. We have not seen that growth from the linebackers and defensive backs. We continually get beat from wide receivers and tight ends every week. What is Cullen doing to change the scheme or player's responsibilities? As the old saying goes "Doing the same thing over & over and expecting different results..."

The Jaguars are already playing significantly more zone than was the case when the season began. Cullen will continue to adjust and do whatever he can to put players in the right position to make plays. But there's a limit to how much adjusting scheme will do. As the old saying goes, "if all your guys can't cover all their guys, you're going to give up a lot of plays in the passing game." Well, that may not be an old saying, but it ain't wrong.

J from Columbus, OH

John, has your win projection on the season moved at all? Five wins doesn't seem unreasonable looking at the schedule remaining. Eight out of the last 11 games are against teams with sub .500 records. If we're able to find a way to win half of those, and Trevor continues to progress, we'd be right about where most thought by season's end.

I thought the high end for this team this season was about six or seven victories when the season began. I sort of think the high end for this team now is about five or six victories.

Tony from Richmond, VA

With the trade deadline approaching, do you see the Jags possibly being buyers to add some playmakers? Evan Engram or an OBJ for a mid-round pick? Or is this team still in wait and see mode?

I wouldn't expect the Jaguars being "buyers" in the sense of giving up significant draft equity for aging players. That's generally speaking. There are sometimes exceptions.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Do you think they could use wide receivers Laviska Shenault Jr. and Jamal Agnew a little the way they planned on using Travis Etienne Jr.? Those two are versatile and have some skills that could be used in that way like having them run routes out of the backfield. Agnew has some legit speed and Shenault is like a running back playing receiver. The problem I find with that is if you're taking Shenault out of the starting receiver spot on a given play, who do you put in his place? I just think if they so desired, they can move both of them around and be creative with them. I'm not sure if either is a possession receiver and maybe it would be better to use them in a non-traditional way.

I think the Jaguars are using Shenault and Agnew – particularly Agnew – as close as possible to how they would have used Etienne, and they in particular have been creative in recent weeks with Agnew. It's trickier to get creative with Shenault because he's more tough and physical than he is fast so you're trying to get him in position to break tackles and use physicality as opposed to letting a player such as Etienne get in space to use speed. I'm not sure how much closer they can get to how they would have used Etienne; Etienne was a running back first and wide receiver second whereas Shenault and Agnew are wide receivers first and running backs second.

Gary from Wesley Chapel

Ol' JohnnyBoy, I know exactly what you're doing! You're keeping all my brilliant insights, which I've been sharing with you lately, confidential! That way you can take full credit for them when you explain them on, and no one will ever suspect that they came from me! Very clever sir! Very clever indeed! The only thing I haven't quite figured out yet is - why you haven't actually used them yet ... Hmmm ... that's just weird.

Good eye.