Tough, tough day in the inbox, as expected. A lot of criticism of Chad Henne, as expected.
I'm very tired, as expected.
Let's get to it . . . Sean from Jacksonville:
Let me save you a lot of time and effort in today's O-Zone: "You don't expect to lose your starting running back and starting quarterback in the first half of the same game and blah, blah, blah gotta play better."
John: Well, yeah – the injuries to Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert will be mentioned. And yeah, the impact of the injuries will be discussed. And they mattered. I'm not sure how you could watch that game Sunday and think the outcome wouldn't have been different if Gabbert hadn't gotten hurt. That won't be the only theme today and it wasn't the only reason for the loss, but if you don't want to read an attempt at the truth, you probably shouldn't read on. And with that, we move on.
Mark from Beaufort, SC:
Do all of your Mondays feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day?
John: No, Bill Murray went to bed with Andie MacDowell.
Dan from Cary, NC:
Please explain to me the difference between the flag on Aaron Ross in the end zone where the receiver had his hand on Ross first and the call against Shorts in the fourth quarter. I'm at my wit's end with the NFL's inconsistent calls and the war against defense. If Shorts was wrong, then why was Ross flagged and the receiver not? I've about lost interest in watching any NFL game at all!
John: The main difference was that Ross really didn't turn around and make much of a play on the ball. When the receiver made an attempt at the ball, he ran into Ross and officials usually will call that against the defense. That said, I didn't agree with the call on Shorts. And it hurt. It was a critical play that reversed what seemed like a momentum-turning play. You create your own luck, but the Jaguars have been unlucky at times here lately, too.
Matt from Tempe, AZ:
Jags on their way to a 1-15 season, 3-13 at best. Maybe beat the Colts and Bills, but other than that we're screwed. Where are all the Gabbert haters now??
John: Oh, they're there. They're just resting.
Brendon from Austin, TX:
"The Jaguars need to start Henne," said no one in the O-Zone inbox this week.
John: As you might guess, we got a lot of these. As you might guess, the number was far too many to run them all. This was up there in terms of cleverness. Good effort.
Lee from Duval, FL:
This is the most uninspired football I've ever seen this team play, but look at the bright side, Bryan Anger is our best player and I see a multitude of punts in this team unforeseeable future.
John: I'll pass on your final comment for now, but your interpretation of "uninspired" is different than mine, I guess. The Jaguars struggled offensively and that meant an ugly second half, but you couldn't watch that defensive effort and the way the team fought and think, "Uninspired." At least, I couldn't anyway.
EJ from Jacksonville:
John, we have no say left to words. What do we do now?
John: I guess we could start by helping me understand the question.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
I think we can safely say now that Gabbert is NOT the problem. I hope he heals and continues to develop. My heart hurts for the Jaguars. The pundits will pile on. The guys need a break; they played their hearts out.
John: You know what? I thought so, too. For a team without their starting quarterback and running back, I didn't think you could question the effort. Now, there are things you CAN question, and there's time for that, but I don't question the effort.
Micah from PA:
How do you justify a complete defensive breakdown in the second half?
John: What game was that?
Matt from Bloomington, IN:
A lot of things to get off my chest. We deserved to annihilate the Raiders. Losing MJD and Gabbert hurt badly, and this could have been our turnaround game. However, our own mistakes (Branch and Ross penalties) kept us from winning the game. I loved the onside kick, even saw it coming. I think we would have done it regardless of Gabbert going out. But going for it on fourth down subsequently seemed desperate and I knew we were doomed at that point. It was almost as if this game was choreographed to hurt as badly as possible...
John: I ran your email in its entirety, or close to it, anyway. I agree the Branch and Ross penalties hurt, especially the Branch penalty. You cannot give teams extra first downs in this league. Teams are too good and defensive stops are far too valuable. That's true for the Jaguars, but really, it's true of practically every team in the NFL. As far as the play calling – the onside kick and going for it – I didn't get a desperate feeling. I got the feeling the Jaguars were going after the victory and felt like it was in their grasp. This staff has been criticized for being too conservative, but the team played aggressively on Sunday.
Chris from Delray Beach, FL:
A couple of weeks ago I made a well-constructed argument for pulling Blaine in favor of Chad. Nevermind....
John: Your argument neglected the very critical point that Gabbert is better.
Ken from Keller, TX:
How good is Cox? What is his ceiling and how does that compare to his position? He has been one thing the Jaguars can hang their hat on.
John: I don't know Cox's ceiling, but he has played remarkably well. Sometimes with players, you watch them for a while and realize they're good and then they mature into something really good. That has happened with Cox. What you're watching when you watch him now is one of the best players at his position in the NFL at that moment when he's realizing his potential. It's a pleasure to watch.
Joe from Jacksonville, NC:
That one hurt, John. Our defense looked great and I hope you don't get any more emails asking why Henne doesn't start over Gabbert. He looked like a rookie.
John: Yes, those emails have been few and far between this time around.
Evan from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Clearly Gabbert is much better than Henne, but is the backup quarterback not prepared or on the same page as the receivers? Also what happened to Jennings after Jones-Drew went out with no production on offense?
John: This is not an excuse for how Henne and the offense played. It was an ugly effort in the second half. But backup quarterbacks get few reps with the first-team offense. That makes coming into the game as a backup very tough for most quarterbacks. It certainly looked difficult Sunday. As for Jennings, he performed about as Jones-Drew has performed the last few games. The reality is the Jaguars are going to struggle to run no matter who is carrying the ball until the passing offense works consistently. Teams are stacking against the run and forcing the Jaguars to throw effectively. They have to do that or little else will work.
Tudor from Jacksonville:
First, I would like to say to all those who called for Henne over Gabbert - FAIL! Secondly to all those who say Gabbert can't take a hit and runs from it, how about that touchdown pass where he waited, knowing he would get lit up (and did, resulting in injury) and made a play? I'm all in for Sunshine. But primarily, just, WOW – Henne! Catch yo own ride home bro! Someone call Trent Edwards and get him back here.
John: Let's not dial Edwards just yet, but I agree on Gabbert. Any notion that he's not tough should be over by now. As far as his ability to become a franchise quarterback, it still remains to be seen. It's frustrating he got hurt when he did Sunday, because he was again showing good signs. The naysayers will say he's done that before, and I won't argue, but there were good things going on Sunday and it's too bad we didn't get to see it play out.
Michael from Atlantic Beach, FL:
When are you are going to admit this team is trying to be the laughing stock of the nation so they can easily move to L.A.!!!?
John: When is everyone else going to realize that one has nothing to do with the other?
Scott from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Is our offense really that incapable without Gabbert and Jones-Drew? It was a very poor offensive performance in the second half.
John: On Sunday, the offense was indeed that incapable. It was disturbing and ideally, the offense would be far enough along to not depend on two players. The Jaguars aren't there yet.
Miguel from Jacksonville:
John: Well said, Miguel. Very well said.
Courtenay from Section 241:
We just aren't getting the close ones, John.
John: There's some truth to that. Closes losses are really hurting, and what's too bad for the Jaguars right now is as poorly as they have played at times this season – and they played very poorly in three home losses – they are a whisker from being 3-3 and very much in the postseason chase. Laugh if you want, and I won't try to argue that this is a postseason-worthy team, but the idea that the Jaguars are infinitely worse than every other team in the league is foolish. They lost their starting quarterback and starting running back and still lost in overtime on the road Sunday. All of that said, you have to win the close games and you get what you earn. The Jaguars have earned 1-5 and 1-5 isn't good enough – no matter how close some of the losses may have been.