O-Zone: No laughing matter

O-Zone: No laughing matter

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it…

Bruce of Green Cove Springs, Florida

In early March, head coach Doug Pederson essentially said this would be a rookie year for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. At the time, I thought that was a strange thing to say. But as things go, I think I get it. This will truly be TL’s first NFL season with a “real” NFL coach and (hopefully) better personnel, game planning, offensive tools, and team preparation. More importantly, TL’s comments make me think he “gets it” too. Will this, along with an improved defense, be enough to be a playoff team this year? I’d love to see it, but I think the Jaguars are still a few players short of realistically competing. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t think Trevor Lawrence received that memo. If you truly believe this team can compete this year, could that belief/attitude be the difference between wins six to seven and wins nine to 10?

I did not find Pederson’s comments about Lawrence strange. Lawrence played out his rookie season under strange and difficult circumstances, and Pederson’s job is to calm things down around Lawrence to give Lawrence, and the team, the best opportunity to improve, develop and succeed. From Pederson’s point of view, the best approach is to start Lawrence like he’s starting from scratch and allow the quarterback to develop in this system. As for Lawrence’s approach… I’m sure he’s going into this season believing the Jaguars will compete and he’ll play well. I’m sure his only goal. I don’t know how to quantify what that belief will mean, but I’m sure he has it and it can’t hurt the Jaguars’ chances this season.

What area do you think we need to see the most improvement in the wide receiver room? Dropped passes? Separation? Do you know our routes? Anything I haven’t listed? Do you think our acquisitions will achieve this? If you’re bored, I’m curious how many failed passes we had last year and where we ranked in the league.

The easy answer is all of the above. It is also the correct answer. The quickest way for Jaguars wide receivers to improve in 2022 is to execute the basics, which would mean more consistency and fewer missed passes. The Jaguars, according to one list, dropped 26 passes last season, which according to that list was the sixth-most in the NFL. These lists are not official and other lists had different numbers. Either way, knockdowns were a problem for the Jaguars last season, a problem that needs to improve. Overall, I expect newly acquired Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram to create more separation and help improve the entire receiving corps.

Dear Abby’s question made me laugh. I used to be more of an Ann Landers fan. (They were twin sisters, you know.) But you have more in common with them than you think: the calm, sane voice when others are lost in the madness they themselves have created.

“Such a bad team for so long and all of a sudden their franchise quarterback shows up.” Let’s see: Brady/Patriots, Montana/49ers, Brees/Saints. Green Bay sucked every year between Starr and Favre. And tell Diego I’m funnier in my own mind than he is in his.

Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers are a good example of this, as are Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, and Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. I can’t put the New England Patriots and Tom Brady in the category. New England made four postseason appearances between 1994 and 2000, seasons before Brady took over as starter; they weren’t exactly “so bad for so long”.

Do you remember the headache that was Coughlin before he left? The coaches were not allowed to speak to the media. He was a control freak even though he was a decent trainer.

I assume you’re referring to Tom Coughlin when he was the Jaguars’ head coach from 1995 to 2002. Yeah, I remember what Coughlin was like back then. I covered the team from 1995 to 2001, so I saw it firsthand. Yes, he was a “control freak” and his many rules were something of an urban legend. He was far from the only NFL head coach to take this approach, though dealing with him as a member of the media was certainly “tricky” at times.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

Or, he has suggested the Jags can win seven games this year. I think our AFC South division is weaker than it has been in the past, but the overall Jags schedule is tough and the Jags have had a terrible road game winning record. So which teams do you think the Jags can beat?

We’ll know the difficulty of the Jaguars’ schedule five or six weeks into the season; anything before that is premature. If the Jaguars improve, they should have a chance to beat a lot of teams on their schedule, including some teams that currently look like very tough opponents. And they should be much better in away games.

I think if the Jags score more points than they give, they’ll win the division. What you say? If Trevor completes seven of the 10 passes he throws, I think he’ll have a 70 percent completion rate. Mark it!

Farnborough Pedal Bin, Hampshire, UK Sean

Oh Mighty ‘O’/King of all Funk, could you suggest to Gary from Suffolk, VA the following as possible “musts” for a visitor to London? 1) See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (usually at 11:00). Get there at least 30 minutes early if you want to see more than just the backs of other tourists. 2) Have afternoon tea in a top hotel; it can be terribly expensive. The Savoy is the obvious choice depending on how deep Gary’s pockets are. Prior reservation essential. 3) The Tower of London/Crown Jewels. 4) Rover boat cruise on the Thames to Hampton Court Palace 5) St. Paul’s Cathedral. 6) Westminster Abbey (where all our Kings and Queens are crowned). 7) The British Museum (see what items we took when we had an Empire!). 8) Seeing a West End show Oh, and communicating with BCB UK/Jags Across The Pond on social media, we’ll look after him and his wife.

So… Are you a Jaguars fan? If so, how did you decide to become a fan?

I’ll check this again because I seem to get asked once a year or so. I don’t consider myself a “Jaguars fan.” I write and talk about the Jaguars as objectively as possible, and to do so, I remove “fandom” from the equation as much as possible. A fan gets angry and excited to see the team. A fan rejoices and is excited to see the team. My job is to analyze and report on the team and being overly emotional makes that difficult. I’d rather the Jaguars win. I want them to win. As the games draw to a close, I expect the Jaguars to make the key plays that allow them to do so. If they don’t, I usually don’t carry emotions with me for two or three days. There was a time in my life when I was a huge fan of some teams. He knew those emotions, anxieties and feelings. What I feel for the Jaguars is different. Some people do not believe this. Some people think I’m a fan. Some people think I’m not a fan but that I should be. Those people are free to believe as they believe.

KOAF, we heard running back Travis Etienne Jr. is back in action, and few REALLY know how he and James Robinson will fare this year. With such extreme injuries, how good are these surgical procedures, and how likely are each to make a “full” recovery? We hear both injuries can be career-ending for runners. How realistic is it that one or both will actually succeed in the future? I guess only time will tell, but it’s funny how successful these surgical procedures really are for elite athletes.

This is the main question facing the Jaguars running back position heading into 2022, with Etienne returning from a Lisfranc injury and Robinson returning from an Achilles tendon injury. I wish I had a better answer. If he did, he would know the future. I don’t know the future. As you say, only time will tell.

Oh, I’ve always found you funny, but your telling us Jags fans who watched last season that most NFL games are close was good! I’m still laughing.

Most NFL games are nearby. Many Jaguars games last season were not close. That’s why they were 3-14 and really bad. That’s not supposed to be the norm.

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