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O-Zone: Boomtown


Let's get to it …

Bill from Springfield, VA

Zone, Are we really this bad?

The Jaguars have lost five consecutive games. They have allowed 30 or more points in each loss, including a 34-16 loss to the Detroit Lions at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday. They have trailed by double digits in each of those games. They haven't had realistic chances to win late in the last four games against four teams – Detroit, Houston, Miami and Cincinnati – that by any measure were struggling entering the game. NFL teams can improve. Circumstances can change. But until they prove otherwise, the Jaguars are exactly what they have shown in the last four games.

Rov from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey, John: What's up? Are the Jags going play some other rookies so they can get some experience?

There's not actually much the Jaguars or most NFL teams usually can do in this vein, though it is an annual question when teams are struggling as the Jaguars are currently struggling. The reality is most players on a 53-man roster play, and most rookies on rosters typically get a chance. And you don't want to overplay rookies all over the lineup because it can create situations where neither the offense or defense function at a high enough level to do the evaluating you're trying to get done with the approach. I suspect we'll see a few rookies some more as the season goes on; cornerback Josiah Scott and tight end Tyler Davis come to mind. The Jaguars also could increase wide receiver Collin Johnson's repetitions. But I don't think we'll see rookie quarterback Jake Luton replace quarterback Gardner Minshew II soon and I don't think we'll see an influx of rookies in the starting lineup. It's one thing to play rookies for experience. It's quite another to force unprepared players into the lineup. That does no one any good – the rookies themselves or the players around them.

Adam from Wescosville

Another blowout. The defense looks like they are playing hard, though. Kinda feel bad for the kids.


Al from Orange Park, FL

Who was No. 98 playing for the Jags in the Detroit game? Not on the roster....

It was defensive end Jabaal Sheard. Good eye. He signed this week and played as well Sunday as any player on the Jaguars' defense.

Renee from Jacksonville

John, Jags defense … doesn't exist. This is so painful. You know I love this team. It's killing me.

I get it.

Chiana from Munich, Germany

Still defending the Harrison Trade?

I don't defend things; questions that imply I do bore me. If you're asking if I believe the Jaguars' defense would be better with Ronnie Harrison – the safety traded to the Cleveland Browns shortly before the 2020 season for a fifth-round selection – no, I don't. In fact, I would still say a fifth-rounder for Harrison was a good deal for the Jaguars.

Hugh from St. Johns

Are you actually watching these games?

But of course.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

Been a while since I turned off a game early. When we got the ball down 21 in the fourth quarter and started with two passes behind the line of scrimmage, well … that did it for me. Where is the Minshew that took apart the Titans and Colts?

Teams are game-planning against Minshew. They're taking away what he does well. They're making him win from the pocket, preventing him from throwing a lot of deep passes to the outside of the field and forcing him to make throws into tight windows that require velocity and vision. They're giving him check-downs that don't hurt the defense much – and he's taking them. He hasn't shown he can do beat this approach consistently yet, and he doesn't appear to be seeing the field or to be very confident right now. None of this must last. Perhaps he can pull out of it. We'll see.

Mark from Daphne, AL

Offensive line was supposed to be our strength this season? What happened?

It has been.

Sean from Jacksonville

Someone on the coaching staff should be fired. Shouldn't matter that it isn't even later in the season because we are bad. Really bad. There are so many things the team cannot do on offense or defense. I like Doug, but I think it's time to move on and make offensive coordinator Jay Gruden the interim coach.

I don't know what Jaguars Owner Shad Khan will do in this vein. Firing a head coach at 1-5 is possible because – as Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone says often – it's a results-oriented business and head coaches get fired when teams lose. And I don't believe Marrone will make changes to the staff as long as he is the head coach, and he specifically said Sunday Todd Wash will remain the defensive coordinator. But I can't tell you that I believe a head coaching change is imminent and the thought here is it shouldn't be imminent. While you're right that there are so many things the team cannot do on offense or defense, I have seen nothing to make me think coaching is the cause. I understand that fans want change when teams lose, but this doesn't seem like a coaching issue. This is an issue of quarterback play and experience/talent on defense far more than it is coaching.

Donnie from Ponte Vedra, FL

You doing all right, O-man?

Doing dandy.

Paul from Columbus, OH

Does the Khan family even really care about the fans, or winning? If they do they need to show it by firing the entire coaching staff right now.

First, firing coaches doesn't show that owners care about fans. And NFL teams don't fire entire coaching staffs during the season. A head coach might get fired. Or a coordinator. But teams don't fire entire coaching staffs. If they did, there would be no one to … you know … coach the team.

Paul from California

Do Shad and Tony Khan care about the on-field success of this franchise at all?

Without question.

Bill from Jupiter, FL

Now can we see Luton? Minshew is limited. The offensive line isn't that great but Minshew is skittish too early in the pocket. BTW this might sound crazy, but Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence isn't a sure thing. He throws to a lot of wide-open receivers.

I don't see the Jaguars switching to Luton soon. BTW, every college quarterback is throwing to wide-open receivers. Because compared to receivers in the NFL, college receivers are almost always open. Sometimes incredibly so.

Charles from Savannah, GA

The Trevor Lawrence chatter is getting louder and rightfully so. However, it's clear that it's going to take more than the top 2021 quarterback draft prospect to turn this around.

You're right that a great young quarterback isn't everything. But it's lot. An awful lot.

Ron from Tallahassee

Hi John. Do you see a scenario in which an uninjured Minshew is benched? Personally, I think it'd be pointless, but curious to hear your opinion.

Imminently? No. Eventually? Perhaps.

Art from Drexel Hill, PA

Todd Wash should keep going with this zone defense, it's working great!

Considering the players available to him, I feel more than safe saying Wash is doing the best he can with what is available. The Jaguars aren't rushing the passer well and they have a young, struggling secondary. Wash in theory could let those secondary players play a whole bunch of man coverage and blitz opposing quarterbacks steadily. That would make him a really mean man. Those young secondary players don't deserve to have that done to them.

Me from the Orbit

Don't say it's not tanking.

OK (but it's not).

Hunter from New Hampshire

Ironic that a kicker with no experience makes a field goal after two previous kicker trials.

You're talking about Jaguars kicker Jon Brown – who indeed never had kicked a field goal or extra point in the NFL or at any level of football – making a 31-yard field goal Sunday after more experienced Stephen Hauschka missed twice last week. That's interesting, certainly. Frustrating? Perhaps. But it's not particularly ironic.

Nick from Milton, FL

So, are we officially the worst team in the league now?


Ryan from Detroit, MI

Finally got to watch a game on television and man was that depressing! It looks like Gardner isn't going to be our quarterback of the future, the receivers can't stop doing passes, the defense can't stop anything, we don't have enough depth to accommodate any injuries, and we don't have enough (any?) stars who can take over a game on their own. With the hard part of our schedule still looming after the bye, can you give me anything to look forward to the rest of the season, John?

I couldn't come up with an answer. But I was writing late Sunday night. Give me time. I'm sometimes better on Mondays. Except on those occasions that I want to shoot, shoot, shoot … the whole. Day. Down.