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O-Zone: Wide-eyed optimism

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

James from Jacksonville

I have been away for a while, but I have never seen anyone suggest that Coach P was responsible for the five losses at the end of last season because he played Trevor even though had practically no reps all week long. Would you agree?

I'll assume you mean that I never have seen anyone suggest that Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson was responsible for the five losses at the end of last season because he played quarterback Trevor Lawrence even though Lawrence practically had no practice repetitions during that time. Pederson was responsible for the losses in the sense that head coaches are responsible for all losses in the NFL. If you're asking if I agree with the thought that Pederson did the wrong thing by playing Lawrence during that time … no, I do not agree. Lawrence is the Jaguars' starting quarterback. The Jaguars needed victories. If he was healthy enough to play and the Jaguars thought playing him gave them the best chance to win, then it was the right decision.


I understand the concepts of being more aggressive and more physical with the new defensive coordinator. The question I keep asking myself: Can we tackle effectively? From my view, that has been an issue, particularly in space. The current coaching restrictions don't allow a lot of work in this area. So, as a player you are either physical or you're not.

There's indeed a limit to how much NFL coaches can control tackling. Teams are limited in how much they can hit/tackle during training camp and the regular season. And even when teams hit/tackle during those times, they're rarely "tackling to the ground." The vast majority of tackling/hitting during these periods in fact is what coaches call "thud" tackling, which is when defenders get in position and make contact with a ballcarrier before pulling back – therefore not completing the tackle. It's absolutely the necessary way to approach practice considering the need to reduce injuries, but it's not a way to improve tackling. Will the Jaguars be a good tackling team in 2024? We'll see.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Strong words from Don. Sounds like your days are numbered.

Don scares me sometimes. On this we agree.

Ray from Vernon

Mr. O, unless I missed it, I haven't read anything on whether Jarvis Landry is still with the Jags trying out for the team. Did he leave Jacksonville without being signed? I figured if he was even close to being back, that his experience would keep him around through camp. Thanks for the daily read, oh mighty Zone.

Veteran wide receiver Jarvis Landry participated in Jaguars 2024 Rookie Minicamp last month on a tryout basis. He did not sign with the team, which means there was no real "story" about Landry and the Jaguars after the minicamp ended. It ended. He did not sign. All parties moved on. A story would have been written had he signed.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

Does Doug have the necessary respect of the team? It felt like his leadership took a hit last year. He must set the right tone from the start this year.

Pederson has the respect of the team. I got no sense that his leadership "took a hit" in 2023, the oft-voiced opinion of a persistent reader from Texas who shall remain unnamed notwithstanding.

Deane from Daytona Beach, FL

Yo, O-Zone! I totally understand your angst about being inconvenienced during the stadium renovations. However, I have a solution for you! Jacksonville is a Navy town (NAS Jax, NAS Cecil Field, and Mayport). They have had basketball games on aircraft carriers (2011 MSU vs UNC; 2022 MSU vs Gonzaga). So, dock a carrier at Mayport and roll out some astro turf on the flight deck! No crazy commute to Gainesville or Orlando; Jaxson de Ville would definitely do some crazy stunts on the carrier, so issue solved!! What says you O-Zone???

This is an outside-the-box idea. Outside-the-box ideas sometimes are the work of geniuses. Sometimes they're not.

Al from Orange Park, FL

So, if the huddled masses of your readers manage to pull together an O-Zone meetup, and we invite the Culligan girl, would you attend?

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Jon from Jax Beach

Anyone questioning the Pederson hire is just lost in my opinion. Who are we going to get with better pedigree that would actually come here? Nobody. He is one of the better coaches in the league and a long-suffering franchise such as the Jaguars are blessed to have him. Also, these same people think offensive coordinator Press Taylor is a bad play-caller. May I remind them he is the same guy who called plays in the second half of that miracle comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers. Our problem has been losing on both lines of scrimmage. You can call all the plays you want, however if any quarterback is as rushed as Trevor has been and the interior of the d-line has had so much trouble standing up to the run, you are going to struggle as a football team at every level. Enough is enough.

My sense is that those questioning Pederson are a vocal few among Jaguars fans, though it's just as true that a head coach will always be criticized in some circles. This is true unless he wins the Super Bowl, and sometimes it's true even then. As for your thoughts on Taylor and the lines … you make good points. Taylor called plays in the second halves of games in 2023 with Pederson calling them in the first halves. Taylor called plays in the entire game in 2024. While many fans criticized Taylor for the Jaguars' struggles last season, the reality was the Jaguars' offense wasn't significantly different in 2023 than 2024. And the Jaguars' season-long inability to run when they needed to run indeed defined the offense far more than play-calling in 2024. None of this means fans/observers won't continue to criticize Pederson and Taylor. That criticism is part of the job. The truth doesn't protect coaches from that.

David from Ada, OK

Jackassery aside, your frequent flyers are the hidden gems in this column. Gary from Saint Auggy is both borderline funny and mildly disturbing. Real party going on here.

Gary from St. Augustine knows where to find me.

Bob from Sumter, SC

The Kansas City Chiefs' defense seemed to effectively bring pressure from different places on any given play, especially by moving Chris Jones around. Sounds like the Jags may do this under Ryan Nielsen, which could be interesting if they use Josh Allen and Travon Walker that way. Here's hoping.

Nielsen, in his first season as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator, certainly plans to be creative with personnel to create pressure. My guess is his preference will be to get pressure with four rushers and play coverage behind it. The Jaguars' ability to do that will dictate at least somewhat how much creativity is needed.

Zach from Jacksonville

I sometimes read about the Jaguars; stadium on social media. There are obviously very many differing opinions, but I have noticed a theme: 1,000 people a day are moving to Florida and Jacksonville is no exception. When I see some people arguing online they don't want taxpayers to have to pay for the stadium I click on the profile to see New York Giants, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, etc. fan. I'm born and raised in Jacksonville and I find it a little annoying they love their hometown teams and their stadiums but because they hold no attachment to the team, they don't want the Jaguars to have the same.

If that's the thing that annoys you most on social media, you're a fortunate man.

Joel from Jacksonville

Trevor Lawrence finished his third year. We have the fifth-year option so he knows he is with the team the next two years. Other than having money in hand now and job security, I fail to see what Lawrence would gain from signing this year. Unless he has some big investment he needs a large sum for, waiting until next year guarantees a larger contract, regardless of performance simply because that is how things are in the NFL. For that reason, I can't see Lawrence signing an extension now.

You say "other than having the money in hand" as sort of an aside. It's not an aside. And I expect Lawrence to sign a contract extension before the 2024 season. That it hasn't yet happened has led to a perception that there's a lot of doubt about whether it will happen this offseason. I don't think that perception is correct.

Marc from Oceanway

John, did you finally get a raise? I read your answer regarding the outlook for our running game. I don't remember you ever sounding quite this optimistic about something Jaguars related, or more accurately, about anything … ever.

What's a "raise?"