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O-Zone: Keen insight

Posted Nov 25, 2013

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it...

Kyle from Clearwater, FL
I think I saw the core of the future against Houston. It was also nice to see the MJD of old, the one who runs like a bowling ball. This team still needs a quarterback and an offensive line, but they were able to win with Chad Henne, who I would love as a backup any day. As for Cecil Shorts III, he needs to start proving he can handle the No. 1 spot. If he is going to complain about not getting the ball enough, he needs to start making the plays when the ball comes his way.
John: Yes, you’re starting to see at least part of the core. Don’t get too carried away. There’s a lot of building to do, but the first hints of what this team might become are starting to come together. And yes, Jones-Drew played well; the Jaguars needed to get the running game going and that happened. As for your final point, I’m sure a lot of people felt as you did about Shorts; when you make the statements he did, you must back them up with your play. The bottom line on his performance is this: I imagine Shorts is disappointed with himself for not making the catch on the long pass from Robinson, but overall, he helped the Jaguars Sunday far more than he hurt them.
Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Let me guess: We should be tanking, not winning – and Denard Robinson needs to play quarterback? #standunited.
John: You’re the first one to mention these things. But it’s still Monday.
Aaron from Edinboro, PA:
Great game! The offense looked competent, the defense played extremely well, and dare I say, the pass rush was actually good for most of the game? A lot of positives to build on!
John: Yes, there were. I’d say the biggest positive continues to be the defense. The unit was struggling at the bye, and made some adjustments to make things a bit simpler. The result has been better play against the run the past three weeks and that has meant the Jaguars having a chance to win at the end. There are some positives and people are starting to see them.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
If I understand tiebreakers, we are no longer in last place in our division, correct? What do you think about our chances of catching the Titans? I know that second place is defined as "first loser," but it would still be great validation of all of the hard work by Gus and our young team.
John: Perhaps, and I understand you feeling that way, but remember: where the Jaguars finish this season really isn’t all that critical in the big picture. Bradley’s “validation” will come as the team starts to be more competitive and as it starts to look more like the team he envisions each week. Whether that means finishing second, third or fourth just isn’t a big deal right now.
Lance from Jacksonville:
You know what? This could have been the third win in a row.
John: Yes, if a few breaks had gone the Jaguars’ way against Arizona the team could be looking at a three-game winning streak. But no matter: as much as people may count victories, whether it was the third consecutive victory or not doesn’t mean that much compared to if you’re seeing the Jaguars improve. That’s what was so important coming out of the bye – that the Jaguars during the second half of the season started showing the improvement a building team shows. Through three games, they’ve done just that.
Doug from Jacksonville:
Henne made a few good throws when he had to, but why isn't he smart enough to not take some of those costly sacks? He throws the crazy, unexplainable picks enough where people wonder what he is thinking sometimes, but he takes costly sacks just too, too much.
John: Henne’s plenty smart. I wouldn’t try to argue that he has been great throughout this season, and I wouldn’t argue that he was great Sunday. But the Texans’ pass rush is very, very good and J.J. Watt is very, very great. A lot of quarterbacks are going to take some costly sacks against those guys.
James from Socorro, NM:
You know what? I think winning might be better than the No. 1 draft pick.
John: Ya think?
Greg from Section 122:
Was MJD running that good or was the Houston defense that bad? He had two consecutive weeks of career lows for rushing yards; this week, he seemed like the MJD of old. Can you please help explain what the difference was or more importantly, was this a fluke? Should we expect MJD to repeat this against the Browns? I am tired of getting my hopes up and being crushed. Seems to be the pattern of the season for us fans.
John: Greg, the Texans had the No. 1 defense in the NFL entering the game and while they were No. 23 in rushing defense, no one would categorize them as “that bad” in anything defensively. As for how Jones-Drew will fare against Cleveland, much will depend on his line blocks – as was the case this week and the past two weeks. I’m struck by the tone of your email, though. You seem to crave some assurance that what you saw this week you will see next week, and that your team will be consistent week in and week out and that there never will be highs and lows. You’re watching the wrong sport, Greg. It’s a week-to-week league and what is effective one week often won’t be the next week. If you want your hopes never to be crushed, then watch scripted television. It’s easier on the emotions.
Lewis from the Villages:
Has the light come on for Andre Branch or just better coaching?
John: Probably a little of both. The Jaguars are certainly happy with his development. Bradley said last week that his improvement began with better consistent effort, and that with that has come better performances. More still needs to be done, but he has two sacks in the last two games and certainly is playing better than he did early in the season.
Doug from Jacksonville:
7-9?
John:Let’s work on 3-9 first.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I'm not an NFL draft expert unlike most of your readers, but as a casual observer, I'm not impressed by Teddy Bridgewater. Why does he seem to be the popular choice of your readers as the No.1 draft pick?
John: Probably because he’s more prototypical than Johnny Manziel and because he seems to get mentioned more by a lot of draft analysts. There are other reasons, but those are two.
Robert from Duval, FL:
I can't help but think the same people that write in wanting the Jags to lose so that we can pick a spot or two higher in the draft also love to point out that we missed Russell Wilson in the third round. I want to win because it ALWAYS feels better than the alternative. Thanks for trying to remain rational.
John: No worries.
Steve from Jacksonville:
So, while the team played well, and most statistical categories looked very good (defense especially), 13 points won't get it done most weeks. Is it just the difference between field goals and touchdowns?
John: Well, no it won’t get it done, Steve. Realistically, the Jaguars right now are probably not going to reel off a long string of 30-point games. The line still needs to improve, and the talent level on offense needs to increase. But look at it this way, too: this offense has come a lo-o-o-o-ong way since early in the season. Remember? When three or four three-and-outs in succession weren’t unusual at all? That’s not the case anymore. The Jaguars have moved the ball fairly consistently since the bye. I think it’s safe to say Bradley would like the unit to do a better job taking advantage of opportunities; drives stalling in opponents’ territory has been too much the norm in recent weeks. Start taking advantage of those opportunities and the offense suddenly looks significantly better.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
Any chance people on our team stop acting like fools? Between Blackmon, Reynolds, and Mincey, I am beyond frustrated.
John: Your frustration is understandable, but it’s probably shared by fans of most NFL teams, too.
Logan from Gulfport, MS:
I do not care to see Scott or Stanzi and don't understand why these loons are clamoring for either one of them.
John: You should be pretty happy the rest of the season then.
Justin from Jacksonville:
First-time writer, long-time reader. Great win Sunday. I say,“Stack them up.” You want improvement? It comes with setting the tone through steady improvement and success. Winning changes the culture; not tanking for a quarterback – regardless who it is. If we choose first, it's because we earned it. If we choose 10th, we earned that, too. I say, ‘Let the draft take care of itself and ENJOY this team getting better every week.’ We've been bad long enough, so embrace crawling out of the mire. Screw the draft.
John: You should write more often.

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