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O-Zone: Way up there

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars' defense struggled mightily Sunday. And then some.

The Jaguars (4-8) lost to the Detroit Lions, 40-14, at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. They allowed 437 yards and 31 first downs. The Lions (5-7) scored on their first eight possessions until kneeling on the final, game-ending possession. That's rough stuff. Really rough.

An effort will be made to not have this next-day O-Zone be all-defense, all the time. I doubt we'll have much success.

Let's get to it …

JT from Palm Coast, FL

The only positive from this game is Trevor looks like he's going to be alright. Only thing good about that game.

I fear this may be the lone non-defense question of the day – and indeed this was a key storyline Sunday. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence sustained a frightening hit on the final play of the first half Sunday and was down for an extended time. He returned during the Lions' third quarter-opening drive and played most of the second half. It's true that the Jaguars' defense was abysmal enough Sunday that it must be the main topic around the team today and probably for some time. But Lawrence being healthy is critically important for the short- and long-term. And yeah … from the Jaguars' perspective it was pretty much the only positive Sunday.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Improvement? Playoff possibilities? Not from this game. This was a 2020/2021 loss.

I expected a few one-sided losses for this Jaguars team because young, building teams with first-year head coaches often have a few such losses. Sunday was the first for the Jaguars this season. That's the good news. The bad news was the defense was really bad. Even with a few injuries in the secondary, the unit shouldn't have been quite that bad.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

Among the many reasons the defensive performance was disappointing is that the Jaguars probably could have rushed for 300 yards if they didn't fall behind so quickly.

Good eye. The Jaguars indeed appeared able to run effectively Sunday, as evidenced by two early big runs by running back Travis Etienne Jr. and their 95 yards on 19 carries for the game. The Lions controlled the ball so much – and led by so much – that the Jaguars were unable to run more. Etienne didn't help matters on this front with an early lost fumble that gave the Lions an early extra possession, but this was among multiple areas in which the defense hurt the cause Sunday.

WJBIII from Yulee, FL

Didn't take long for someone to let the air outta the balloon!! Does it seem to you that our defense takes two step backwards(*Lions) whenever they take one step(Ravens) forward?

I don't know that the Jaguars have taken many steps forward defensively in recent weeks. They held the Baltimore Ravens in the red zone at times a week ago, but they also allowed 27 points and 415 total yards in that game. They last held an opponent under 20 points on October 9. There have been more steps back than anything else lately.

MrMakersMark from Sec408 RowA

Sadly, this is the Jaguars we have gotten used to in the past 10-plus years. Hopefully this is just an anomaly this season.

The Jaguars have played 12 games this season. All but two of their eight losses have been decided in the final minutes by a score or less. After losing 10 games by double digits last season, they had lost one by such a margin before Sunday. Sunday against that backdrop absolutely was an anomaly.

Wade from Westside

And now back to our regularly scheduled losing. No more playoff questions - we are not even close.

OK.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

So ... now we can just start talking draft. I keep hearing Jim Mora's famous presser when he said... "Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?" Yeah, that was a short-lived fantasy.

Jaguars players and coaches talked about playoffs last week and you know what? They should have talked about playoffs because what else should they talk about when they have yet to be eliminated from the postseason? I expect some to still talk about it this week for much the same reason. But the Jaguars last week probably needed to win all their remaining games – or at least go 5-1 over the last six games – to make the postseason. Considering the current state of the defense, such a late-season run was very unlikely. But you know what can happen this season? The Jaguars can show enough good things that you feel good about the future. And Lawrence can continue developing. That was the realistic and important objective at the beginning of the season, and that's still very attainable.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

They're going to have to invest a lot into the secondary, particularly cornerback. They've invested so much into cornerback over the last several years starting with that bad back guy who probably needs to be moved to safety and have gotten little return on investment. I think what they do at that position is the main storyline for the 2023 offseason. Ideally, they would use a high draft pick, maybe some investment later in the draft and supplement in free agency but they might be handcuffed on that by the cap. Am I being too pessimistic?

I think the Jaguars need to improve at least one cornerback position opposite Tyson Campbell – and possibly nickel corner. I think it will be hard to ignore the position early in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, but I also think it will be tempting to address defensive front. I don't know that you're going to get a front-line player in free agency – partly because of the potential cap situation and partly because it's hard to find front-line players in free agency.

Gerry from Jacksonville

Do you think that Travon Walker is being used correctly? Should he be playing inside with Devin Lloyd as an outside pass rusher?

I expect this will be something the Jaguars explore in the short- and long-term. I don't know how realistic it is to expect that the moves will be made full-time immediately. They're rookies and it's tough to ask them to assume entirely new roles quickly at this stage of their careers.

David from Eau Claire, WI

Did anyone show up to play Sunday?

It's difficult to see details of all positions on first watch from the press box. I usually rewatch the games Monday morning.

Tommy from Jacksonville

Ugly game in all three phases. Let's see how they respond.

Yep.

Jason from Green Cove Springs, FL

Lawrence showed some grit Sunday playing through injury. He played so well last week and I was really rooting for him to have a second good game in a row but he really struggled. What happened?

Lawrence had had three consecutive good games entering Sunday's game. What happened Sunday? A lot of dropped passes in the first half didn't help. Then, he spent halftime dealing with the aftermath of the hit. After that, the Jaguars were down 30-6 and it can be tough to play good quarterback down 24 early in the second half.

Pass rush from Missing

You could have the greatest secondary in NFL history playing and they would be picked apart by our lack of pass rush. It's nonexistent.

The reality is the issue for the Jaguars defensively is a little of everything. The coverage is an issue, and the pass rush isn't dominant enough to make up for a deficiency at corner. The pass rush isn't great, and the coverage isn't close to good enough to allow the pass rush to make plays. Which is the priority? What's more important? I always believe the defensive front dictates all else and that a great pass rush can cover many flaws. Bottom line: This pass rush isn't dominating anything right now.

Eric from Jax Beach

The Lions Sunday looked like who we thought we were going into the game.

A little. The Lions playing well on offense wasn't a surprise. I worried entering the game about the Jaguars' ability to stop a very good offense with a very good offensive line. I was a little surprised the Jaguars' offense scored just 14 points. I expected a shootout, but I didn't expect the Jaguars would have to get into the 40s to win.

Kyan from Le Mars, IA

It is honestly impressive at how good the Jags are at letting their opposing teams best wide receiver get wide open.

The Jaguars are flawed in the secondary. Teams know this and take advantage of the flaw. This has been a pretty consistent storyline since around October-ish. That contributes to the opposing team's best wide receiver being open a lot. And their other receivers, too.

Crash from Glen St. Mary

O Man! The Jaguars are the reason we drink! Barmaid! More Duke's Cold Nose Brown Ale!

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