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O-Zone: Bad air

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from St. Mary's, GA

"Good teams don't lose two in a row." We're not good.

Of course the Jaguars aren't good, Steve. They've not only lost four consecutive games, they haven't scored a first-half touchdown during that span. Nor have they led in the second half in the last month. They also have trailed by at least 10 points in all four of those games. That's awful. No one around the Jaguars believes differently. The task now is to use the bye week to figure some way not to be bad – and to in fact be good – moving forward. That's not impossible. If they can figure a way to beat the Colts next week, then figure a way to make the running game at least somewhat functional, perhaps they can start scoring enough points to allow the defense to be as good as it was last season. I don't know if they can do it. Right now it looks doubtful because it's hard to see the offensive line and tight ends reaching a level of run-blocking that will dramatically improve this offense. But it's not impossible. Stranger things have happened and the good news for the Jaguars is 3-5 doesn't mean they're out of contention. It just means they must play exceptionally well in the final eight games.

Mike from Jacksonville


No. O-Zone.

Edward from Los Angeles, CA

I know the Jaguars didn't get rid of Dante Fowler Jr. because they've given up on the season, but is it fair to say that they would not have traded him if they were 5-3 instead of 3-5?

We'll never know for sure, but I think the Jaguars probably would have traded Fowler Tuesday regardless of their record. They got as much out of him as they could for as long as they could, trading him on the day of the trade deadline. Now, would they have traded Fowler had he had eight sacks this season instead of two? That's a different question.

Paul from Section 148

Ya' should always draft a lineman in the first round. Offense or defense ... an All-American. It's all about the trenches. Get the beef!


Renzo from Katy, TX (Born and raised in Duval)

O-Man, defensive end Dawaune Smoot has been a healthy scratch for the first eight games. With the departure of Fowler, do you believe we will see more of Smoot in the defensive line rotation going forward or will it be Lerentee McCray?

McCray. The thing to watch here is whether Smoot is active and in the rotation following the bye. It's not good for a second-year veteran who was a third-round selection to be a healthy scratch the entire season. The Jaguars needed Smoot to show signs of being able to be a contributing part of the rotation next season. That looks less likely than it did this past offseason.

Tony from the Land of Confusion

The quarterback situation is what it is, but does the fact that we're rolling with a third-string left tackle for the rest of the season amount to a tacit admission that we're now looking to next year?

No, the Jaguars starting their third left tackle of the season is a tacit admission that they have sustained major injuries at left tackle and that there weren't players available for a reasonable price to replace them.

Mattman from Bochum, Germany or Section 110 Row P

O Man, just for my orientation: I am just a fan. Is still okay rooting for our team even after we lost a close game against the reigning World Champs? For me it is still privilege to watch our team in the stadium and on television! Please correct me if I should change! #DTWD

Don't change, Mattman #DTWD

Johnny from Syracuse, NY

Mr. O, as of late our "run-heavy" approach doesn't seem so "run-heavy" at all. A downhill veteran running back such as Carlos Hyde shouldn't have only six runs. Do you think they'll use him to his potential next go-around? Do you think it had something to do with his lack of knowledge of our play book or do you think his absence in the run game was due to a stout Philadelphia run defense?

I do think the Jaguars will use Hyde more going forward. I also think the angst and ire toward the Jaguars' offensive approach last Sunday are among the most misplaced ire and angst I've seen in eight seasons doing the O-Zone. The Jaguars struggled in the first half Sunday when they made at least a partial attempt at offensive balance. At halftime, they were down by four points and immediately went down by 11 points in the second half. The Jaguars after that ran just two times, which indeed is an inordinately low number. Here's what else they did: They had their most productive meaningful half in a month with 246 total yards and three red-zone opportunities. Those statistics in the first half were 89 and zero. If the Jaguars had kept to the same game plan in the second half as the first half and produced 89 more yards with no red-zone opportunities, people would have complained about the lack of adjustments. Offensive coordinator Nate Hackett called a good game. He adjusted. Should he have called a run or two in the second half? Perhaps, but for the most part he did his job. And in this case, he did it well.

Joshua from Pittsburgh, PA

2019? First-round … quarterback?

Perhaps. We'll see.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big OL top two left tackles, running backs No. 1 and 3, tight end No. 1 and then most all of the backup tight ends, wide receiver 1, nickelback, and now have of the best corner tandem in the league – to say nothing of the nagging injuries many of the contributors are playing through. Have you ever covered a team with this catastrophic a constellation of injuries?

This is my 24th season covering the NFL, and yes … I have covered a few teams that have been beset my season-altering – and even season-ruining – injuries. I would say this certainly ranks up there with the most-injured teams I've covered, though the Jaguars' plight is far from unprecedented. What's notable about this season's Jaguars injuries are that they conspired so viciously against the Jaguars' running game, which in turn was so critical to the team's overall approach. I've always been a big believer that teams should be able to play through a certain number of injuries, but that teams have a tipping point after which injuries almost certainly will impact outcome. The Jaguars this season fought through the issues to a point – until the loss to Kansas City in which third-team running back Corey Grant and Josh Wells, the team's second starting left tackle, were lost to injuries. That in retrospect seems to have been the tipping point. And boy, did it tip.

Patrick from Victoria, BC

Hi John, I know it's your fault, but I still like you. I just hate losing.

Losing sucks. Fans don't like it. No one does. And no one likes the senior writer, either.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Ereck Flowers was signed two-to-three weeks ago. Has he played at all. Isn't he a top pick in the draft? Didn't they sign him to help the running game? Why isn't he playing more or is he just that bad? Now I'll take it off the air and read your answer.

The Jaguars signed Flowers after his release by the New York Giants because they had lost their top two left tackles – Cam Robinson and Josh Wells – and because Flowers was available. And while he indeed was the No. 9 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants, the Giants released him this season so it's probably not fair to just describe him as a "top pick" anymore. The Jaguars didn't sign Flowers to "help the running game" as much as the signed him because desperate times call for desperate measures. He has been here three weeks. I imagine it's time soon to get him into the lineup and see if he can improve a position that has struggled in recent weeks. The first game after the bye seems like a good time for such a move. If not then, when?

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, aside from the fact that it's hard to lose eight games in a row unless you're the Cleveland Browns, do you see a single win left on the schedule?

Yes. More than one, actually.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Mr. O: You are such a nice guy. Why do you print idiotic comments, not to mention words that I have to look up in the dictionary like "miasmatic"?

I just googled "miasmatic." I learned that it's a theory about bad air. My co-workers sometimes complain that I produce too much "bad air," particularly in close quarters. But miasmatic is a different thing.

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