Matt from Gainesville:
Disappointing loss, but what a day for Brad Meester
. A heartfelt farewell to a class act.
John: No doubt. The Jaguars would love to have won Sunday, but that one loss doesn’t do much to the season, nor does it say much about the franchise’s long-term prognosis. What we’ll mostly remember about Sunday afternoon was Brad Meester catching a pass and the postgame ceremony. It was a classy, heartfelt good-bye to one of the truly good people and players in franchise history. He has one more game and therefore one more week with the organization, but Sunday was his last game at EverBank Field. He said that he got emotional at various times. During pregame warmups. When the crowd chanted his name after his first career reception. There were those in the organization who were emotional, too. All in all, a neat day and one a lot of people around the Jaguars will remember for a long time.
Emily from Boulder, CO:
For the first time in years, I no longer feel like the Jaguars are giving teams automatic touchdowns when they get inside the 20. That's improvement. Go Jags!
John: The Jaguars weren’t giving away automatic touchdowns before, but you’re entitled to your feelings, certainly. As for this year’s defense, there’s no question there has been significant improvement in the second half of the season and there’s no question that effort has been a significant part of that improvement. There’s a lot to be optimistic about around the Jaguars. How this defense will play when they begin being able to draft players into the scheme is right there at the top.
Phil from Orange Park, FL:
Pretty weak effort in the second half defensively, O-Zone … pretty, pretty weak.
John: The defense actually only struggled for two series in the second half. Unfortunately, the struggles came on back-to-back possessions, each of which ended in Titans touchdowns. By that point, the offense had reached a point where you just felt a touchdown was going to be very hard-earned.
Vince from Norfolk, VA:
Merry Christmas to you and yours …
John: And to you and yours as well.
Marcus from Palm Coast, FL:
What has happened to the run defense? Ridiculous.
The run defense in the last two weeks hasn’t been close to what it was for the first five games out of the bye. Stopping the run was a huge reason the Jaguars won four of their first five games after the bye, with all five opponents held under 100 yards rushing. The Bills rushed for 198 yards last week and the Titans rushed for 182 on Sunday. What happened? Well, they played two teams each of which has two very good running backs and each team was very committed to the run. But the biggest reason may be injuries, and the season wearing down the defense. Bradley was reluctant to cite that as a major reason, because coaches innately don’t like to use injuries as an excuse. But when asked about the run defense, he said, “We had some things maybe we counted on in the past (that they couldn’t count on Sunday) due to some new personnel in there. We just had to tighten it up a little bit. It was hit and miss. There were some inconsistencies.” The Jaguars were without defensive tackle Roy Miller
, defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick
, linebackers Geno Hayes
and Russell Allen
in the second half Sunday. Bradley said the defense had shown a few bad things regarding run fits even before it showed up statistically the last two weeks. Combine those two factors and you’ve got a team that isn’t stopping the run like it did in November.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I'm glad that Andre Branch
has decided he wants to play football but he needs a new (read: less annoying) dance. Can you please find Andre Branch and teach him a new dance. Thanks in advance.
John: First, I don’t know that it’s fair to say Branch didn’t want to play football. He needed better guidance and he needed to get going in the right direction, but to hear Jaguars coaches tell it, once he got that, he has improved quickly and dramatically. He has five sacks in the last six games, and whereas some sacks – one Branch got against the Rams early in the season, for instance – are statistical in nature, Branch’s sacks in recent weeks have been players where he has applied legitimate pressure and been rightfully rewarded. As for his dance, he seems to enjoy it very much, so it may be here to stay. As long as he continues to improve and contribute as he has, he could do the Riverdance while twirling a baton and the Jaguars coaches would just shrug, nod and move on.