JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Ed from Jacksonville and Section 205:
Please help me here, Zone. We seem to be basing our feeling for improvement with the Jags this year on a belief that the defense is going to be much improved. Last year after four games we had given up 110 points (and that included a 51-point game against the Pats). After four games this year we have given up 111 points. Not sure why I should feel improvement this year will be based upon our improved defense. Yeah, we seem to have more talent, BUT we also seem to have OVERALL more talent now than in Gus' first year but with no real change in results. Seems to me it all points to coaching. So why should we really be encouraged?
John: The optimism over the Jaguars' defense right now indeed has more to do with the eye test and projection than the hard, cold statistics. It also appears to be trending in the right direction because the unit has played better the last two weeks than it did the first two games. There were significant stretches during those games it played winning football. The same was true of a lot of the Green Bay game. Another positive is the Jaguars are doing it largely with young players and a slew of players who never had played with one another before this season. It has the look and feel of a defense that can improve. There's no way to know until it happens. So, why be encouraged? I don't know … if you watch the defense and believe it looks better, be encouraged. If you don't like what you see, don't be encouraged. Either way, we'll find out in the coming weeks and months if this defense indeed is improved. If it is, then this team has a chance.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
I am tired of people being tired of people wanting to fire the coaching staff. If Sunday is an "L," Gus Bradley has got to go. Chargers fans were calling for Mike McCoy to be fired and he was beating Gus 35-0. Four years with one win in September. Four years with one win in September. Four years with one win in September. Four years with one win in September.
John: I think I'm just tired of being tired.
Reinie from Glendale, AZ:
Do I have reason to be concerned that Myles Jack has played less than 15 percent of all the defensive snaps so far? When will this number increase?
John: I have neither the information nor inclination to tell you what needs to concern you. I'm good, but I'm not that good. I can tell you that Myles Jack now is starting at Otto linebacker, so I imagine that percentage will rise.
David from Broward County, FL:
O-Man, did you realize that in Bradley's tenure, the Jags are 5-20 on the road – and three of those road wins came in 2013 with the worst roster? The last two years and one road game – with much better talent – the Jags are 1-16. They haven't won a road game in over a year. This is damning. Regardless of roster talent level, that alone would get any such coach fired. They are playing the 1-4 Bears on the road. Must win can't really even describe this game. Your thoughts?
John: I think the Jaguars really need to win Sunday. I think I've been saying and writing that much of the week.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
You know with everything going on with Hurricane Matthew and the bye week it just now really hit me that if the Jags win Sunday we are right back in this thing. I said before the season if the Jags can get to midseason still in it, they should be a much better team the second half of the year. What say you?
John: I think that's the overriding theme for the Jaguars entering Sunday's game. If they can win, it indeed casts the next month – and perhaps the rest of the season – in a strikingly different light. In that respect, it's like a lot of games last season when the Jaguars had a chance to get in the playoff chase with a victory. They never could quite do it last season for a variety of reasons – mostly because they simply weren't good enough on defense or experienced/good enough on offense to take advantage of the opportunities. This situation feels the same with the important difference that the team feels more ready to take advantage of it. The defense looks better. The overall talent is better. There is a bit more experience on offense. Bottom line: it just feels like time. It felt like that a couple of other times earlier in the season and the Jaguars squandered opportunities. It's time for the squandering to end.
Eli from Orlando and Rio de Janeiro:
John, I think you are the man! I enjoy your humor and agree with most of what you write. But please, please, please do not compare Gus Bradley to John Fox and Bill Belichick. Fox is a proven head coach. This Bears team has a bad roster with many key injuries. They are losing despite of coaching. Bill was not an idiot in Cleveland. He was building something long-term there. The problem he faced was that the year when he finally he had his roster/players in place, the move to BLT was announced which deflated the team. Last year and especially this year, young players or not, this is at the very least a .500 team talentwise. Now considering how last year shaped out with how bad the division was, and how many second string QBs we faced, we should have had more wins. We lost to Hasselbeck twice! Twice! We made Brian Hoyer look like an All-Pro. If this team cannot win games, Gus should be fired. Anyway, good luck Sunday and enjoy your trip to Chi-town!
John: The Jaguars beat Matt Hasselbeck's Colts team 51-16 last season at EverBank Field last season.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, as healthy as it feels the Jags have been, it surprised me to see that seven Jags are currently on injured reserve: Luke Joeckel, Jeff Linkenbach, Luke Bowanko, Josh Wells, James Sample, Michael Bennett and Jonathan Woodard. Do you think there's anybody on this list that the Jags are high on, that could make a significant impact next year?
John: It wouldn't be surprising if six of those players – Joeckel, Bowanko, Sample, Bennett, Wells and Woodard – are on the team next year, and it wouldn't be surprising if at least Woodard and Joeckel are starting.
Frank from Fleming Island, FL:
If we can score more points than the Bears on Sunday we are definitely going to win.
John: I googled this. I'm almost sure you're right.
Bob from Sumter, SC:
I've kind of revised my expectations of Blake Bortles. I see him as having the potential to be an effective Andy Dalton-type quarterback who can win with a good team around him and have success. Third season and still having some of the issues you've mentioned tells me the elite level talent isn't there. I hope he proves me wrong. But being a good solid quarterback is not a bad thing at all.
John: I think we'll know a lot more about Bortles' direction and career at the end of this season, and maybe even after the next month or so.
Gamble from Brasilia, Brazil:
If we break the remainder of the Jags' 2016 season into quarters – Tony Dungy-style – then this staff needs to go 7-5 or 6-6 the rest of the way to prove that this team is on the rise. Shad Khan has never given an exact demand for wins, but doesn't a rising 7-9 or 8-8 seem reasonable?
Jimmy P from London:
I've been dazed and confused for so long, is it true? There's a lot of people talking and I think they just don't know. I don't know where we're going, but I know where we've been. I have a Whole Lotta Love for this team. We don't need any more Communication Breakdowns in No Quarters. I Want us to Ramble On John, Zone, Hey, Hey, What can I do?
John: I think you can go Over the Hills and Far Away and realize if the Jaguars don't win Sunday then you're probably going to feel like a Fool in the Rain.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
I've got a bet going at work with a Bears fan. If the Jags win, he wears custom-made lobster bib designed by me all work day; if the Bears win, I wear a teal full body snuggie all workday. It's gonna be 85 degrees in Denver on Monday ... please don't make me have to wear that snuggie, Jags!
John: I think your friend will be wearing a bib Monday. If not, always remember: Any day is a good day for a snuggie.
O-Zone: Any day is a good day
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Ed from Jacksonville and Section 205: