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O-Zone: Always something

JACKSONVILLE – And now, we look ahead.

Let’s get to it …

Matt from North Jax

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm seeing a trend with the Jags. The offense seems to feed off big plays, no matter which side of the ball it happens. No big plays = lackluster offense.

Perhaps there’s something to this. Look, here’s the story with the Jaguars’ offense: it’s not as good as the Jaguars’ defense. It wasn’t as good as the defense last season and it’s not as good as the Jaguars’ defense this season. Here’s the story behind that: it’s not supposed to be as good as the defense. That’s not to say the offense won’t try to be as good as the defense. That’s not to say the Jaguars never want the offense to be as good as the defense. That’s not to say the Jaguars want a bad offense. But it is to say that the way this team was built it’s unreasonable to think the offense is going to be as good as the defense. The number of high-dollar, long-term contracts and the amount of draft equity spent on defense compared to offense dictates that be the case. That’s even true of quarterback Blake Bortles, who while clearly improving just as clearly was not paid last offseason as a front-line, Top 10, elite quarterback. What does all of this have to do with your question? Perhaps this: the offense does feed off big plays and it’s going to be inconsistent at times. This is not a terrible offense – and there are times it’s a decent offense. It was good enough last season to rank sixth in the NFL in yards and fifth in points. It was good enough for the Jaguars to score 27 or more points nine times last season, including a playoff victory, and it was good enough to score 31 against New England in Week 2. I expect it will be good enough to score a lot of points in a lot of games this season. But I imagine there will be other games such as Sunday’s that the offense struggles and the team needs to win dog-fight, grind-it-out, defensive-oriented games. You can win the Super Bowl with that formula. Can the Jaguars can win the Super Bowl with that formula? Stay tuned.

Mark from Archer, FL

John, it seems in many games that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles struggles it all starts with his receivers dropping very catchable passes. Then that is when Bortles starts to throw horrible passes. I am not saying this is the cause; it just seemed like a very large pattern: they drop the passes, it gets to Bortles, he starts trying too much and ends up playing worse. Am I crazy?

Wow. A big day for theories – and considering how the Jaguars’ offense played Sunday, that’s understandable. And there indeed may be something to this – although Bortles has thrown inaccurately early in games that went bad, too. He had a pass that bounced wide of wide receiver early Donte Moncrief Sunday against Tennessee before a receiver had a dropped pass. To your point: When a few things go bad offensively, sometimes more things tend to go wrong. And yes … when things aren’t going well, that can spiral at times.

Sean from Jacksonville

I can't help but feel sorry for you again now that the Pittsburgh Steelers are listening to trade offers for running back Le'Veon Bell. "Fournette is injury prone! Yeldon has issues this week! The sky is falling!" and other nonsense. *Sigh*

I literally have received only one email besides this one on this topic. Besides …

Brian from Zeeland, MI

The roughing-the-quarterback issue has me wondering if NFL management wants the sport to look more like soccer.

No, NFL management wants its most recognizable players – the players who most dictate overall quality of play – protected from unnecessary injury. The roughing-the-passer penalty to which I assume you prefer – the one that makes it illegal to unnecessarily land on the quarterback with full bodyweight – is designed to do that.

Sam from Orlando, FL

What was with the Jags uniform combo on Sunday? Black numbers, white jerseys, teal pants looked really weird. Was it something the Titans were wearing that caused them to have to wear teal pants?

No, it’s the home team’s choice. The Jaguars have three different jerseys and pants. They experimented with a new look, wearing teal pants and white jerseys for the first time in franchise history. Opting for white jerseys at home in September makes sense because it’s kinda, sorta hot at that time of year. Some people liked the combination. Some didn’t. It happens.

Howard from Homestead, FL

Once again, “at the risk of being ridiculed,” am I the only one who is sick and tired of us allowing other teams to wear their home jerseys on our field? I get that it’s hot, but as a fan, I want my team to say, “We don’t need white jerseys to kick your #@$%!. It’s our home, we wear home jerseys. We’re gonna win anyway.” The players may not care, but this drives me nuts. Good teams establish an identity. The uniform should be a part of that.

OK.

Josh from Lynchburg, VA

Those teal pants are cool. I like 'em.

One fer the teal pants …

Gamble from Brasilia, Brasil

Forget Bortles and the offensive line — shouldn’t we really blame the white jerseys and teal pants combo?

… and one not fer.

Tom from Charleston, SC

If you can't remember, let me remind you. Almost daily since January you have made reference to the Jaguars making it to the AFC Championship Game. What they did last year in no way guarantees that like results will happen this year. In case you haven't noticed, though the defense is good it is not producing like it did last season. And, with the exception of the Patriots game, the offense is virtually nonexistent. Do you remember now?

I’ll probably keep referring to the Jaguars making the AFC Championship Game when it’s pertinent to a discussion – in fact, I’m sure of it. Me referencing that in no way implies that it guarantees anything, though it does indicate that the team is capable of a deep postseason run. What I’ve noticed about the Jaguars’ defense is it’s absolutely as good as it was last season. In fact, it’s better. The Jaguars’ defense in Week 2 last season let the Titans turn a close game into a rout; on Sunday, it held the Titans to three field goals. For the season, the Jaguars have allowed three touchdowns – none with the Jaguars leading by less than 10 points. That defense also has “produced” a key, game-deciding moment in both victories and came within a hair – and a penalty – of producing a momentum-changing moment in the third game. I’ve noticed this season, too, that the Jaguars are 2-1 through three games, which is where I thought they would be at this point in the season. Though I can’t remember much else about what happened in the offseason, I don’t worry about this. There’s usually some incredibly polite person far more knowledgeable and qualified than myself to remind me. I consider myself lucky that way. Everyone, in fact, should be so lucky.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

"It’s too hot outside" is not a valid excuse. I was embarrassed by how empty that stadium was. Bunch of scrub fans.

Nah.  Not even close, actually.

Blake from Minot, ND

By no means do I want to give up on the kid, but I saw Monday you wrote that punter Logan Cooke was playing well. He certainly converting opportunities to pin the opponent deep, but we need him to hit more consistent big balls to flip the field. Field position in the second half could have been the difference.

You’re right – and Cooke needs to get better there. He’s three games in. The Jaguars have faith that he will start flipping the field better soon.

Logan from Wichita, KS

Any word on the offense this week? I know last week they decided game planning was for chumps and didn't do any. This week gonna be any different?

A bad offensive day doesn’t necessarily mean a bad offensive game plan. And an offensive day that doesn’t feature certain plays doesn’t mean those plays weren’t called. But you knew that already. Either way, you’re right. Because it’s always coaching in the NFL.

Adam from St. Johns, FL

Hey, it's Alan. I'm back!! This time it's not the coaching; it's the NFL. You keep saying it evens out … well, the NFL is trying to eliminate teams like the Jaguars. How many roughing calls has Blake gotten? The Titans hit the Jags twice out of bounds. When is it going to even up? Guess what? It's not. Myles Jack was down because the NFL wanted him to be.

Welcome back, Alan. A lot has changed since last we spoke. It’s still always coaching in the NFL. But it’s always officiating now, too. I know it’s a lot to process. Best of luck.

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