JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Judy from Jacksonville
I've been following football for the 15 years we have lived in Jacksonville and have been to a vast majority of the games. No matter who has been coach, I have always heard the season was set during camp and preseason; obviously that presumes the right talent is brought in. So, isn't it fair to say when the players had a soft camp and preseason because of Marrone's fear of injuries, we set ourselves up for this type of year? Once the season starts the practices aren't about strength and tackling.
Training camp at least somewhat sets a tone for the regular season, but few teams in this era play starters extensively enough for preseason to dictate an entire regular season. Either way, while this has been an oft-asked question – and a popular theory – I just don't believe Head Coach Doug Marrone's approach to training camp and preseason is why the Jaguars have lost five consecutive games. The Jaguars, remember, were 4-4 and had overcome the loss of starting quarterback Nick Foles. They had gutted through a month of weirdness caused by cornerback Jalen Ramsey and had made it to .500 despite not having him after three games. But I guess my main problem attributing the season to Marrone's preseason/training camp approach is I generally believe NFL games and seasons are decided by quarterback play – and players in general – rather than coaching, offseason approach and the multitude of other secondary issues. The Jaguars were .500 through eight games this season. They seemed on their way to the sort of season I expected – i.e., somewhere between 7-9 or 9-7 and perhaps contending if the offense improved late in the season or if they got some breaks. Then, the run defense collapsed and they haven't been able to stay close to anyone since. Is there more to it than that? Sure, but that seems to me the core of the Jaguars' issue this season – however they approached preseason and training camp.
Al from Orange Park, FL
You keep writing that only Jaguars Owner Shad Khan knows what he will do. I hate to disagree with the mighty O-Zone, but – like Khan – I'm an engineer. He does not know what he's going to do. YET. Because he doesn't have all of the data yet. He might have some ideas and several options in mind, but he won't KNOW until at least 12/30.
Right. That's what I meant.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL
Zone: How about running back Leonard Fournette? He's been a bright spot and has continued to have success, even with our maligned offensive Line. More impressively, he's been a consummate professional during what are objectively rock-bottom times (they better be, at least). His approach and talent are the type around which a team can be galvanized. Go Jags!
Fournette is one of the better stories of a bad Jaguars season. He is on pace for a 1,200-yard-rushig season and he was on pace for a 1,600-yard-rushing, 2,000-yard-total-yards season before the defense collapsed. That collapse kept the Jaguars from playing with leads, keeping Fournette from having enough opportunities in the second half of the season. Maybe Fournette never will "live up to his draft status," but he is maximizing his potential and he is an asset to this team. That wasn't necessarily the case last season.
JT from Fort Worth, TX
I think one of the things that hurts the most as a fan is that our front office never had the insight to see what these dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL could be. When I watch Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens look like he is a cheat code, it disgusts me as a Jags fan since Day 1. We need people in that front office that aren't afraid to see the future of the NFL.
Bryan from Reston, VA
The only thing quasi-exciting for me at this point is going through mock drafts and realize I can keep scrolling to a second entry further down the list. Let's not mess these up please if you can pass that along...thanks.
Brian from Cranford, NJ
Maybe we'll get 40 years of losing, but one day we'll win it all. If we were winning and losing were a joke, we'd go outside the sidewalk and celebrate.
OK. I think.
CD from Fleming Island, FL
Hey John, when a new front office is hired, do they rebuild the scouting department also? I think I've read in a few places here and there that new regimes generally keep the scouting department intact. Is that correct? If it hasn't changed for the Jags in many years, is it fair to call it an area for improvement? How important do you feel the scouting department is as it relates to final roster decisions?
This varies, but general managers/top decision-makers often retain at least a portion of a team's area scouts. That's because area scouts' jobs aren't as much about opinion as gathering data and covering a region. Decision-makers often make changes at the higher levels of football operations -- directors of pro and college scouting, for instance – and it's these positions along with the general manager that often most influence a team's decisions. The higher levels of scouting typically shape the roster.
Bob from St. Mary's, GA
How many years do we have to wait to see o-line improvement?
Garrett from Edgewater, FL
So, I think we call agree that rookie defensive end Josh Allen is really good. We're struggling at linebacker. While he was at Kentucky he often used as a linebacker or in pass coverage. This ship has probably sailed for this season, but going forward would it be a viable option to try him at other positions? We could re-sign defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and use Allen as a backer and solve some problems without having to pay too much for it.
How Allen – and Ngakoue, for that matter – will be used moving forward will depend largely upon the team's scheme and coaching staff. At this point, many things are possible.
Aiden from Jacksonville
With three games left, obviously players and coaches want to finish on a better note. With that said, what needs to happen here? With a team in free fall such as this and having an extra 1st round pick - how does one figure out where to start and whom to keep? It seems like a very complicated mess and no one has any answers.
Where to start and whom to keep will depend upon the team's scheme and coaching staff. At this point, many things are possible.
Jason from North Pole, AK
I would love to see the Jaguars sign Yannick, but with the team in the middle of the worst stretch of football the league has seen in my lifetime, why would he want to re-sign here? I'm afraid his price may be increasing as we fall further into rebuilding mode.
Ngakoue's price largely will depend on the market. I don't expect the market to be what he believed it was last summer. Whether the Jaguars re-sign Ngakoue will depend upon largely on the identity and philosophy of the team's decision-makers. At this point, many things are possible.
Josh from Harrisburg, PA
You were asked earlier in the season and curious on your thoughts now with the current state of the team. Calais Campbell yea or nah for next year?
RealityGuy from Jacksonville
I get that, "phoning it in" doesn't make logical sense, but as you have pointed out in the past, players are human. People all day, every day, "phone it in" despite all of the incentives for not doing so. Players have admitted the difference in injury status based on whether the team has a chance at the playoffs. To say coaches and players at the end of a losing season and are eliminated from playoff contention, are working as hard, or are as focused on winning as if they were in the heat of a playoff race, flies in the face of everything we know about people – and even competitive athletes. Maybe they didn't quit, but they aren't at the same level as before.
NFL players and coaches don't typically quit. Do they focus on the wrong things? Do they become discouraged? Do they try to do too much? Do they become more focused on playing well individually than on the team? Do they have a here-we-go-again feeling when things go poorly? Of course. I have written and said this often. But players for the most part do not quit because everything they do on the field is recorded and available for every NFL team to see. Their reputations – and more importantly – their future is on the line.
Chris from Nashville, TN
He's already a bottom-of-the-barrel coach. Of course his comments don't knock him down any further. Like the Jags organization as a whole, no place to go but up!
Thanks for writing.