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O-Zone: A good thing

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Wayne from Orlando, FL:
You still think we shouldn't trade away draft picks for impact defensive players? I would give away my whole draft for a J.J. Watt – or anyone that could make a quarterback anxious, for that matter – because our guys up front just can't get it done.
John: This is in reference to an O-Zone question last week – and perhaps you didn't read my answer, Wayne. That's OK. I don't read everything, either. When asked about trading draft selections for impact defensive players, I said I would be hesitant to do it – but as importantly, that I doubted it would happen. It's just not very realistic. That's because in order to trade for an impact player another team must be willing trade … wait for it … an impact player. Trade your whole draft for J.J. Watt? Sure – not that the Texans would do that. Trade draft selections for other impact players? Sure, if you can find a team wanting to relinquish, good, consistent, reliable difference-making players. I look forward to seeing that happen.
Andrew from Section 203:
I turned off the game Sunday at 14-6 because I knew the defense would be in for a long day. The defensive line needs to seriously reconsider their moniker of the 'Hit Squad'... please, enough with that.
John: Wow. You missed a pretty good game. As far as the defensive line, I'm not sure what more there is to say about the group right now. For the most part, players such as Roy Miller, Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu have played well in their roles this season. The Leo pass-rushing position has been a different story – and that story has been told with the lack of pressure from the position much of the season. That's probably not going to change this season. It has to change a lot next season.
Sam from Boston, MA:
I feel so sorry for the fan base. Not just for the last decade or so of watching this once-proud franchise, but also because they are still multiple seasons away from being truly good (assuming they even get there with this leadership). By my count they are eight-to-10 NFL-starting-caliber players away from being a winning team. That won't happen in one offseason. Care to opine?
John: Sure. My opinion is the Jaguars are not eight-to-10 starting-caliber players from being a winning team. I think they need to get better on the interior of the offensive line – which will be helped a great deal by the return of Brandon Linder – and they need to get one more wide receiver playing at a high level. I think they need to get better at free safety, and maybe one or two linebacker spots, and add a third cornerback. They also obviously need at least one more pass rusher in addition to Dante Fowler Jr. That's not the comprehensive offseason list, but it ain't far off. But if the Jaguars get the pass rush fixed just a bit there could be a significant jump at the end of games. That would be a big step.
Michael from Newport News, VA:
So which current starters do you see being cut prior to next season?
John: Some of these players are free agents, so it won't exactly be a "cut" situation, but I think there could be changes at left guard (Zane Beadles), center (Stefen Wisniewski) and Leo end (Chris Clemons/Andre Branch). I also think you'll see a new starter at free safety.
Gary from High Springs, FL:
John, Gus Bradley babies these players too much. Yes, we need a coach that can encourage but we also need a coach that can give these players a kick in the butt. Using the word better … a better coach would have had eight-to-10 more wins over this three-year stretch.
John: That's a common theme, and I get that question a lot. Remember, how Bradley talks in a press-conference situation isn't necessarily – or at all – how he talks to players behind closed doors. He's not going to openly criticize a player publicly, but the players know when they make mistakes and they know expectations. As far as a record with another coach, you're entitled to your opinion. But how many coaches would have kept the locker room together and playing hard in the first two seasons of a major, major rebuild? I don't know how you measure that, but I do know a big part of the role of a head coach is to keep the players playing hard and to keep the direction of the team moving in the right direction. Bradley has done that. Absolutely.
Bill from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
John, would I be wrong to characterize Gus Bradley in Sunday's press conference as him not only having no idea why the pass rush isn't better, but also giving no clue as to how he and the coaching staff plan on rectifying the issue? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: I think Bradley and the staff know the issue with the pass rush. Now, is it rectifiable? That's another issue.
Brian from Section 238:
Well, now that we're back in reality and have stopped this playoff la-la-land talk, can we talk about how bad this defense truly is? The secondary needs an overhaul. The defensive line needs an overhaul and we need a backup linebacker who can at least fill gaps better than "Thursty for the bench" Armbrister. I blame Dave. Too many holes in this team. Still. It's year three. C'mon man.
John: There's no question the defense will be addressed in a major, draft-heavy way in the offseason. I don't know how extensive an overhaul is needed. This unit for the most part this season would look a lot better with better pass rush and more of an impact from the free-safety position.
John from Jacksonville:
It's obvious the playoff ship has sailed unless a miraculous finish of winning the last four games and slipping in as a wild card. We are essentially three games out of the division lead with four games remaining. I wonder how different our season and Carolina's season would have been if we squeaked out that first victory. Although we have played most opponents into the fourth quarter, it's a shame that most of the outcomes went against us. Just a couple of plays make the difference of how we could be neck and neck with the Texans and Colts today at 6-6.
John: I don't know how much of a difference winning the opener would have made, and the outcome in retrospect makes a lot of sense. Carolina has proven all season to be a team that wins close games and the Jaguars too often have proven to be the opposite. And yes, it's true that the difference between being neck and neck with Indianapolis and Houston is a couple of plays. The NFL is about winning close games. The Jaguars aren't yet a team that does that consistently. I believe they're closer to it than they were the last couple of years, but they clearly aren't there yet.
Brad from Yankton. S.D.:
Have the defensive players quit on the coaching staff?
John: Not even close.
Michael from Jacksonville Beach:
Not sure Gus Bradley is going anywhere, especially since it will mean a third offensive coordinator in three years for Blake.
John: I'm not sure he is, either – and that's only part of the reason.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I appreciate Shad Khan and the dollars he has invested in the Jaguars franchise. However, his silence about the team lately has been deafening. I'm not saying he has to be meddlesome like Jerry Jones or Al Davis, but Mr. Khan needs to speak to the fan base and express the dissatisfaction most of us feel and put people on notice. It isn't enough to say we're learning and getting better every day.....I do appreciate the emergence of BB, A-Rob, Yeldon, and Telvin but it's not enough. I don't want to see this team become the Browns or the Jets. This town deserves better.
John: You're entitled to your opinion, but Khan hasn't been "silent about the team" – and his "silence" hasn't been unusual at all. He pretty much has stuck to the same schedule discussing the team publicly he has followed since purchasing the team. He speaks to the media during training camp, and when the team goes to London. He also speaks a few times in the offseason. That's not a huge difference from the amount of times per year many NFL owners speak to the media. Besides, Khan spoke in detail about pretty much all of the issues facing the team in late October while in London. I doubt he thinks there is much more to say until the season plays itself out.
Glenn from Jacksonville Beach and Section 146:
"Bortles's five-touchdown, no-interception performance with more than 320 yards passing Sunday made him the youngest player in NFL history to accomplish the feat." WOW. That's my takeaway from the game, John. The loss hurt, but reading that just makes me excited. Let's just say next year is going to be fun with there young guns!
John: That feeling you have is hope. And hope is a good thing, Glenn. Maybe the best thing.

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