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O-Zone: A lot to evaluate

LONDON – Jacksonville Calling.

Let's get to it . . . Cory from Philadelphia, PA:
After playing with a lot of pride on the line against the Broncos, we seem to be regressing; not getting better. This was another game where the Jaguars were not even competitive.
John: During every season, no matter how good or bad and no matter the end result, there are relative highs and lows. Within the context of a difficult season, the past two weeks have been low points. It's probably understating it to say it needs to improve coming out of the bye.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I don't see how it is beneficial to any season-ticket holder to miss a home game against the 49ers and a home game against the Cowboys.
John: It's phenomenally beneficial in one crucial sense. That sense is that any game in London makes a significant amount of money, and helps build the franchise's international brand. That in the long-term is part of the plan to keep the franchise financially viable in Jacksonville. That's pretty beneficial.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
Please do not tell me the offense is improving. When the score hit 28-0, San Francisco had 290-plus yards and the Jaguars had 56. We gained more yards the rest of the game. Was it a case of us starting late or San Francisco knowing the game was over? I knew the game was over, so I am guessing San Francisco did.
John: I wouldn't make much of a case that anything improved Sunday, although Maurice Jones-Drew did look stronger than he had in the first seven games. I'll stop there for now.
James from Pitt Meadows:
"Over the moon brilliant." Sorry Jaxson de Ville, I have a new favorite team mascot. Please tell me you got that guy's info!!!
John: Don't mess with Jaxson, but yeah, that's Stephen Douglas. He's from Scotland. He's the man.
Damien from Jacksonville:
I saw Brewster entered the game. Was Rackley hurt or is the team starting to check out other guys at other positions? Thanks John, have a safe trip back.
John: Rackley sustained a blow to the head in the first half and did not return.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Are you going to wait until week 16 before you agree that 0-16 is a possibility???
John: It's obviously possible. They're 0-8, so it's possible. I've written that I don't believe it will happen, and I still believe that.
Corey from Orange Park:
You know what John? I'm infuriated. I'm not happy. But I feel as if this needs to be said. I like where we're going. We're probably only going to be mildly competitive next year as well, but I do see progress and I do see a team with the right leaders in place. So, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to Khan, To the Weavers, to Bradley, and to Caldwell. Better days are ahead. I just hope they come soon.
John: This is not a day when many emails agree with you. The day after losses is a tough day for perspective. You're right, and in the long haul this is a solid plan, but it's reasonable for fans not to like it right now.
Daniel from Section 146:
It's obvious that Mr. Khan is a business genius. It can't take much longer for him to realize that Caldwell is destroying the team and undercutting the team's long-term business goals due to inexperience and incompetence.
John: If you've read the O-Zone for long, you'll know I'm not big on confrontation or criticizing readers. So, I won't do that here. I will say that Shad Khan is indeed a business genius and a man who knows leadership skills. He couldn't be happier with David Caldwell's competence, so if you're waiting for a "realization" to the contrary, strap in and get comfortable. It's going to be a long ride.
David from Jacksonville:
I have to say this pass defense has continued to impress, but Iguess when a team has such success running the ball you don't need to pass: 221 rush yards? That's just plain, flat-out unacceptable. By anyone's standards.
John: Yes. If anything in the first half of the season has been disappointing above all else, that may be it. The Jaguars for various reasons have allowed teams to be able to control momentum and flow of the game by running. When you do that, it's very difficult to stay in games because the opponent is able to be in positive down-and-distance situations, which makes first downs easier to pick up. Run defense isn't impossible to fixmidseasons. Players can improve run fits and that can make a difference. That needs to happen coming out of the bye.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
You write about hope for the future, then never address it in more than vague terms. We need at least 12 players to be a legitimate contender. On offense we need: quarterback, running back (MJD is shot), fullback, left guard, right guard and center. On defense we need: right defensive end, left defensive end, left defensive tackle, middle linebacker (Poz will cost too much next year), strongside linebacker, and weakside linebacker. We are not going to fill all these holes or find backups in the next offseason. How long will it take to fill these holes and when will we be a legitimate contender? Give it your best shot at a guess. We are tired of waiting and nebulous answers.
John: I answer in vague terms only when questions are asked that require vague answers. First of all, no team has front-line players at every position. You mention fullback, right guard, left guard and center. Teams often have average players at those spots and cover them if players around them - particularly if the quarterback is playing at a high level. I agree that the front seven must be addressed defensively, and it wouldn't be surprising to see an approach much like that which was taken in the secondary this season. It will probably take two offseasons to completely fill all holes, and perhaps a third – although to be fair, no team ever fills all of its holes. I have written more than once – although obviously too nebulously for your taste – that I expect the Jaguars to be significantly more active this offseason in terms of signing long-term, bigger-contract free agents. You couple that with another draft class and the improvement of this draft class, and the plan is that you will see improvement next season. This was a significant build and it was starting from something very close to Square One. That makes specific timeframes pretty tough to project.
Jerry from Atlanta:
I need to post what I and many other fans feel. We constantly hear the team discuss loyalty from the fans. How does sacrificing our best home game every year to the NFL engender fan loyalty? Is seeing the Cowboys and 49ers once in 16 years in Jacksonville supposed to inspire that loyalty? Does the product the ownership has on the field inspire loyalty???? As a 10 year season ticket holder and one who drive over five hours to each home game I deserve better. I have been patient through all of the rebuilding and the new ownership, but the fans have their limits – even if the ownership and NFL do not care!!!
John: You have every right to feel frustrated about how team is playing, and make no mistake: ownership cares. The reason for the change in regime last offseason was because Shad Khan absolutely does care about winning. If he didn't, frankly, he wouldn't have let go a front office and coaching staff and continue to pay their contracts while bringing in a new regime. If he didn't care, he could have let that play out for a couple of years a lot cheaper. What's happening on the field is the first difficult year of a build, and while it's tough for Jaguars fans considering what they have gone through in recent years, it's a necessary step toward building success that is sustainable for the long-term. As for losing a home game, I know fans are upset about this, too, but the reality is it's being done to help the franchise be viable in Jacksonville for the long haul. The Jaguars believe London makes them more viable in Jacksonville, and that's the formula for the next three years.
John from Georgetown:
Has a law been passed that forbids cornerbacks from using their arms and hands to wrap up a ball carrier? Too many missed tackles by trying to block the runner down.
John: This is not a day to argue this point.
Travis from Washington, DC:
The reality was screaming for Chad Henne was always dumb. He won't be here next year unless he lit it up like Manning. His contract is up and he was washed out after not making it in Miami. Gabbert should be played to see if he can be a serviceable backup, and if not, then we need a starter and a backup next year. We are not going to the playoffs; we knew that weeks ago. Now we need to know who should be on the roster next year. Henne was never going to be. The whole controversy was stupid. I do believe that the coordinator has struggled a LOT!
John: The quarterback situation will remain an issue until someone separates himself and shows himself to be the future. With eight games remaining, time is running out on that happening this year. I don't see Bradley going away from Henne quite yet, but the bye week is a time for reevaluating. I'd expect the Jaguars to reevaluate a lot.

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