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O-Zone: What matters

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

JJ from Yulee, FL

What a contrast from last year's season opener, huh?

This illuminates a good point. The Jaguars in 2022 Week 1 had a lead in the fourth quarter against the Washington Commanders on the road. They could have won and had every chance to close it in the second half. They lost and Head Coach Doug Pederson spoke afterward of the Jaguars needing to learn how to win. The Jaguars in 2023 Week 1 trailed the Indianapolis Colts on the road in the fourth quarter. They had every chance to lose in the second half. They won, 31-21, and Pederson talked afterward about being able to overcome adversity and win that sort of game being a good sign. This is a more mature, experienced team now than a year ago. That showed Sunday.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John. Do you think the Jags will benefit from the fact that it was a close and hard-fought win instead of an easy game as the favorite? Or does it not matter for the mental preparation for the next games?

I am a believer that winning close games helps you moving forward. Teams can struggle in tight games if they haven't been challenged. It's also cool to be good enough – and playing well enough – to win comfortably most weeks. Those teams are rare in the NFL.

Rick from Rio Rancho, NM

Is Travis E as much faster than Calvin Ridley as he appeared on that sideline route?

Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. and Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley are both really fast.

Jason from Jacksonville

John, It appears contract years can be good for player and team. #41

I didn't sense Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen played all that differently Sunday from many past games. He always has been good and consistently pressures opposing quarterbacks. He also always has played with high energy. The primary difference Sunday was Allen closed on a couple of sacks and forced quarterback Anthony Richardson into short losses on scramble plays rather than short gains. This is not a knock on Allen. I thought he played really, really well. The fact that he had three sacks in a game in which he played well means more people acknowledged that he played well.

Derek from Brookings, SD

A bit of a sloppy afternoon on offense, and they still scored 31 points. The defense only allowed 14 points. Just imagine the possibilities if/when this team gets to be a well-oiled machine.

Good eye.

CAPT B from Fernandina Beach, FL

John, lot of love shown to Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley and rightfully so, but let's not forget Zay Jones and his great touchdown Catch. I believe Zay has become a real clutch performer for the Jags.

Good eye.

Marcus from Jacksonville

If this is how fans react to a 10-point road victory over a division rival, what are fans in Kansas City, Cincinnati and Los Angeles (Chargers) saying today?

"I wish my favorite team was 1-0."

Mike from Duval

It looked as if Trevor was trying to force the ball downfield and choosing not to throw it to his checkdown. Was the Colts' defensive line that disruptive or do you think it's something Trevor may have to learn still?

I thought Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence did a nice job Sunday being patient against a defense designed to take away throws he likes and therefore frustrate him into making mistakes. He completed 24 of 32 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns on a day on which a lot went wrong – and on a day when he was under pressure a bit more than was ideal. He was fine.

Bill from Jacksonville, FL

John, is it just me or does it feel like there's an instance every week where Head Coach Doug Pederson is willing to just burn an entire series. In Sunday's game, it strangely came after running back Tank Bigsby's (first) costly mistake. The interception. He then proceeded to run Bigsby up the middle three times and punt. It almost felt like he was willing to waste a series just so Bigsby didn't feel bad about the interception.

Play-callers call plays they think will work. In the case of run plays, they often call plays because they know you have to be patient with that area of offense – and that diligence early can produce big success late. No play-caller I've been around is "willing to just burn an entire series" every game. I have been around fans who like plays that work and don't like plays that don't work. This is a common trait among fans, actually.


Wait! I think I missed the memo. Doug isn't calling plays this year?

Offensive coordinator Press Taylor will call plays moving forward. Pederson confirmed this after Sunday's game. Pederson called the plays in the first half of games last season, with Taylor typically calling plays in the second halves. Much has been made of this in the last couple of days, and many fans are uncomfortable with the idea. Pederson wouldn't have made the move if he thought it was going to change much about the Jaguars' offense. My sense is that Pederson realized last season that they were calling essentially the same offensive games last season and thought he would be better served managing the entire game rather than focusing on play-calling. I don't expect this to dramatically affect the Jaguars' offense. We'll see.

Jon from Ocala, FL

Hi, O. It's funny seeing fans complain about the play calling. Did Doug say Press Taylor called plays the second half of games last year? Weren't the Jags one of the best second-half teams last year?

Yes, it is. Yes, he did. Yes, they were.

Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hi, John. It wasn't pretty but it's Week 1 and Week 1 has a lot of "not pretty" games. What it was was a win and that's what counts.

The Jaguars are 1-0 and alone in first place in the AFC South with a road victory in the division. All those things count very much if you're trying to win the division.

Don from Marshall, NC

How many times did we watch games like that when Gus Bradley was the coach of the Jaguars. I know how they feel in Indy. They played well and caused some havoc. Tank had a rough start but made a huge play at the end. Offensive line not quite up to speed which is normal. If you're going to put a grade on it, you always get a "A" when you win so A- it is! A 10-point margin of victory and Go Jaguars!

When it comes to winning the regular-season opener by 10 points, Don remains "all in." 

Anita from Springfield

Pretty cool to have an offense get 31 points on a very ~off~ day. What would your "big three" things be to get the offense humming more smoothly? (Also, shout-out special teams and defense for getting the offense better scoring chances.)

I'm not remotely worried about this offense over the course of the season. It not only is "cool" to see the Jaguars score 31 when it was playing a bit sloppy, it's an indication of the quality of this offense. History and this team's talent level tells us there will be games when the offense runs smoothly. Big three? Eliminate little mistakes that stopped a few drives, get some consistency in the run offense early and convert third/fourth down at a higher rate. Those things will come. It's early.

Brendan from Yulee, FL

Play-calling not an issue? OK, let's run two quarterback sneaks in a row, with the first being two yards out. I'm going to lose my freaking mind, KOAF!

Everyone's a play-caller. It's a wonderful world.

Mike from Azores

Hey, John. Please do not overhype the Jags pass rush with four sacks I predicted. Yes, Josh had an excellent game, but the two sacks he was credited with chasing Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson out of bounds were rookie mistakes! A veteran, outside the tackle box, throws the ball away on both occasions!

I don't know what overhype means. I know Allen had three sacks and a couple of other impressive plays Sunday. I expect he will have games this season when he plays well and barely misses a few would-be sacks. He played very well. We can't credit him for that?

Chris from San Diego, CA

Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell is the worst defensive coordinator in football. He is the weak link for this team. His strategy against a rookie quarterback with limited passing ability was laughable. Is he on the cutting block?

The Jaguars allowed 14 points on defense, had three takeaways – including a critical one late – and held the Colts to two net yards on five consecutive series with the game in the balance in the second half Sunday.

Hobo from Random Locations

A win is a win, correct?

Particularly in the regular-season opener.