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O-Zone: Angry young man

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
I'm surprised by all of the fans who see 4-8 and think this team is not improved. Last year, we "could" have won maybe four or five more games and maybe "should" have won one or two. This year we "could" have won every game other than the Patriots game and we "should" have won probably four or five of them. Obviously, we only have four wins and that's what matters, but you can't say we aren't better when it has been one or two mistakes each week keeping this team from winning the division and making the playoffs. Especially when you compare it to the last two seasons and the way we lost "those" games. Agree?
John: I do agree, although I'm not at all surprised that fans see 4-8 and don't think the team has improved. Fans aren't supposed to favor the big picture over the short term. Also, fans aren't supposed to think 4-8 is OK, because fans are supposed to want to win every game. Fans aren't supposed to see incremental improvement and think, "Cool, let's win next season." And the team isn't thinking that, either. Still, to say that this team is not improved from the last two seasons is categorically incorrect. It very obviously has improved. Now, it's not incorrect to say you are dissatisfied and frustrated. It's not incorrect to believe the Jaguars should be more improved than they have shown this season. Those are legitimate points and may even be correct ones. But to say they are not improved … no, just no.
Josh from Macclenny, FL:
Gus will be here next year unless they lose these last few games in blowout fashion. With that being said, Gus made a change at offensive coordinator last year and that side of the ball is now becoming good and looks to be elite soon. Do you think that Bob Babich is the next to go? I believe that being a head coach means you have to make these types of decisions or you don't stay a head coach long. I don't see any talk of Babich going anywhere – or at least not like the masses who wanted Fisch gone – but I think a new defensive coordinator is a need for this team. What say you?
John: This is a question I get quite a bit, and I'll start the answer by saying I don't have a real sense for what – if any changes – might be made on the defensive staff. A couple of thoughts, though: don't always assume a coordinator change is the answer. While it has become vogue to criticize defensive play-calling this season, the reality is that without an effective pass rush and play-making safety there has been a limit to the pressure the defense can place on the opposing offense. Also, there is a significant difference between the Babich situation and the Fisch situation: Bradley is much, much more involved in the defensive philosophy/game-planning than he was involved with the offense last season. Fisch was dismissed because he and Bradley couldn't quite get on the same page on some fundamental issues such as how to approach developing the young offense. The Jaguars' defensive approach is very much Bradley's defensive approach, so there is far less chance of him and Babich not being in lockstep philosophically.
Carl from West Jacksonville and Section 115:
I'd like your thoughts on the coaching of the defense. Would you say the blame lies more with the play-calling, or the scheme? We have struggled with the pass rush every year since Gus was hired, even though we've consistently upgraded the players on the line. I thought Gus' comments after the game suggested maybe the play-calling was at fault. I feel as though Babich may ultimately get the hook for the failures of the defense, but when do we say maybe it's the scheme that's not working and as such shouldn't Gus' job be on the line? I welcome your thoughts. Thanks for all you do.
John: I covered a lot of this in answering the previous question, but there's nothing wrong with the scheme that better pass-rushing couldn't solve. While the Jaguars have made moves in free agency the past two offseasons, I don't know that they have consistently upgraded pass-rush oriented positions; in fact, the upgrade they tried to make this offseason, Dante Fowler Jr., isn't playing and neither is their best interior pass rusher: Sen'Derrick Marks . Also, the Jaguars' pass rush didn't struggle last season. It wasn't great, but it actually was relatively effective largely due to pretty good scheming and the effectiveness of Marks. I don't believe the scheme or the coaches went bad in one year. I do believe the pass rush needs to improve, and I believe that will be a major offseason focus.
Matt from Goshen, IN:
John, what is the general feeling in the organization regarding Jason Myers? I'd be OK with riding it out and putting him on a short leash next year, so long as the staff had confidence that this was pretty fixable over an offseason – like Bortles TD/INT ratio last year.
John: The feeling in the organization is people knew at the beginning of the season there would be some "bumps" in the road with a rookie kicker, and that they were willing to ride out those bumps. I don't think they anticipated the road being qui-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ite so bumpy, but I do anticipate the ride continuing.
Howard from Homestead, FL:
Is Blake Bortles the second coming of Jeff George?
John: No, and I mean no in the sense of the comparison being so far off as to be un-understandable and laughable at the same time.
James from Upper Marlboro, MD:
John "Big O" O-Zone, T.J. Yeldon needs 322 yards – or 80.5 yards a game – to reach 1,000 yards. Do you think he will reach it? If so, do you think he will be way over or will he make it by a small margin?
John: It's hard to project him getting 80.5 yards per game the rest of the season when he has averaged about 20 yards per game less than that so far this season. That's as much on him not getting enough carries and some issues blocking on the interior of the line as it on his performance. I expect he will need at least one breakout game to reach it. He hasn't done that yet, but he's more than capable.
Nick from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I think people underestimate how much a pass rush and some more experience on offense would help this team. Call it a stretch, but a handful of sacks on third and long instead of first downs, or a third-down conversion here and there instead of a dropped pass, and we could very well be leading the division right now.
John: I wouldn't call that a stretch.
Ryan from Durham, NC:
Zone, I think we are using Rashad Greene wrong in our passing game. The guy is too small to be running routes in the middle of the field getting smashed by linebackers and safeties. He should be an outside guy only, getting slants, digs, out routes, and posts – sort of a DeSean Jackson type. Now, with Allen Hurns back, Marqise Lee should be getting those slot plays. He's big enough and quick enough to sustain those hits or blow past people. This is how our receiver group should be used for maximum production. Thoughts?
John: My thoughts are that the Jaguars believe Rashad Greene is going to be a very good slot receiver, and that Marqise Lee is an outside receiver. That's how the Jaguars plan to use those players to get maximum production and I've seen nothing to make me think it should be otherwise.
Dale from Jacksonville:
We are so close to being there … I can't wait until next season when I think we will be on top of our division. What do you think?
John: I think you're right about the Jaguars being close, and I think people are tired of reading me saying how I think the Jaguars are close. I don't know about the top of the division, but I think they'll be a whole lot closer. That's what I think.
Braden from Atlantic Beach, FL:
John, in your last O-Zone, you mentioned that we need to get one more wide receiver playing at a high level. Are Robinson, Hurns and Greene (with the potential of Lee) not enough at the position?
John: If those four players were all playing at a high level then absolutely that would be enough, and if they all four were playing at a high level I wouldn't have written what I wrote. Robinson and Hurns are playing at a high level; Lee and Greene have the potential to play at a high level and the Jaguars still need at least one of those players to actually play there.
Eddie from Jacksonville:
Hey O, I am disappointed. I need people in charge to be angry. I don't care what they get angry about, just be angry. This complete lack of anger is making me angry. If no one is angry how do we know if they really care? Heads need to roll. Whose heads roll and where they roll to, I don't really care.
John: Sounds about right.

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