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O-Zone: Both sides now

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Sam from Nottingham, UK

Soooo proud of our Jags. Offense looked great, defense committed to stopping the run. Yes, there were mistakes like the squib and some weak secondary play, but young players will make mistakes. Great signs that this young team was a slipped squib kick away from another W.

As a Jaguars fan, you should be proud. And hopeful. The Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans, 33-30, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday – but this was perhaps the most encouraged I've been about the Jaguars following a loss as I have been in 10 seasons since returning to Jacksonville. Yes, this team must improve rushing the passer. A lot. And the slow starts are a huge concern, particularly for the defense. But the Jaguars' offense has been good for two consecutive weeks, which means we can start thinking they'll be productive more often than not through the course of the season. And Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II followed a really good Week 1 performance with another good performance Sunday. He wasn't perfect, but he sure wasn't bad – and that's a good way to describe him right now. And he sure can give this team a chance to win. If this team can stay healthy, I believe it will be competitive and exciting against most opponents. And it absolutely appears to have a talented young roster that's only going to improve this season and beyond.

Lenny from London, Canada

Are the Jags going to have to blitz a lot this year to give them a chance, or do you see our d-line improving over the year enough to do what they want and just rush four?

I think the Jaguars will have to blitz more this season than they have in recent seasons – and more than is ideal. Blitzing isn't always the answer. If that were the case, every team would blitz all the time – though I do realize that that idea is challenged … well, pretty much after any passing play without a sack.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson is better than LF27 ever was here. Not knocking Leonard, because he had no say in his draft slot, but we have someone who has better vision, speed and fit than we had in the past. I was all in after watching his highlights in May. Now we have a subtle stud on a beautiful contract.

This is a well-written email and makes many good points.

Jeremy from Bellevue, NE

So, the Jags lost by the field goal that Head Coach Doug Marrone gave back to Tennessee at the end of the first half ... way to go, coach!

Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo kicked a squib kick into a Titans blocker with :12 remaining in the first half. That enabled Titans kicker Stephen Gostowski to kick a 51-yard field goal on the last play of the half, and it was indeed a costly error. The proper approach there is to not kick it into a blocker. But yes … it's always coaching in the NFL.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Not often can we say that Lambo had a bad game, but he was directly responsible for us losing four points.


Terry from Cordele, GA

There is no such thing as a good loss, but if there was it would look like that! So, overall should we be encouraged and do you think this will encourage or discourage the team overall?

This loss should encourage the Jaguars and I believe it will do so. More than anything, I thought what was significant late Sunday afternoon was how the Jaguars reacted to the loss. Marrone, Minshew, wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. and defensive tackle Abry Jones all spoke to the media afterward and there wasn't the remotest feeling that the loss was OK. Or that it was a surprise to anyone that the Jaguars had played well enough to win. This didn't sound like a team building toward something. It sounded like a team that expects to win. Every week. Marrone was asked multiple times if he learned about his team's resilience in the loss and he wouldn't really expound on it much. He emphasized that he knew that about his team already. This was a team Sunday that expected to play well and win. It wasn't surprised it played well enough to have a chance. It was disappointed to lose. That's a long way from what observers expected from this team. I get the idea this team may continue to defy preseason expectations all season.

Kathy from Jacksonville

I think Minshew is a come-from-behind player. But would you say that there were too many mistakes to come back from?


Bobby from Summerville, SC

Hi, John. After the two better-than-expected performances by this young Jags team against two good teams, how many games do you think they will win this season? I am thinking possibly nine or 10 with a little bit of luck.

I'm sticking with eight or nine victories as the ceiling. Not that I don't think there's talent there, but I'm concerned about injuries and the pass rush. And the slow starts. We'll see.

Don from St. Augustine, FL

Zone, can we start a "Myles Jack Didn't Interfere" campaign?

Have at it.

Catherine from Jacksonville

Sorry the game had to end that way, but hope is alive IMO. Lots to like. What were your top three hopeful things?

Minshew. The wide receivers. The fact that the team continued to come back on the road against a tough, veteran team and should have won.

Boscobel, WI

Hate to see the Jags lose, but I'm very encouraged by the resiliency this team showed playing on the road. We get the turnovers and mental mistakes/penalties corrected this could be a surprisingly good team. Agree?

It has a chance.

Paul from Apalachicola, FL

A division loss is a division loss — but can this 2020 team push for the division? Today made the impossible seem possible.

It's soooooooo early and injuries have so much to do with an NFL season. I believe the Jaguars can make a legitimate push to be above .500. I wonder if experience could cost them a game or two along the way. I don't believe there are going to be that many games where they're uncompetitive. And if they remain healthy at key areas … yes, I think they can be playing important games in December. And I wouldn't have said that 10 days ago.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Dear John, Did Taven play?


Joseph from Sacramento, CA

With the defense not performing well, do you foresee Marrone firing defensive coordinator Todd Wash as he has done to offensive coordinators when there were struggles on the offensive side of the ball? You know like he has done to Nathaniel Hackett, Greg Olsen and John DeFilippo? Why does Walsh get so much slack for his unit to underperform? Jay Gruden's offense is putting up points, but if the defense continues to give so many yards then it doesn't matter how much the offense scores because the defense will be giving more points.

Marrone didn't fire Greg Olson; former Head Coach Gus Bradley did. And I don't believe Marrone will fire Wash unless he believes Wash is a problem and the reason the defense is struggling. I will be surprised if that happens. Very surprised.

Dave from Oakland, CA

We have a real core and a good young team. This was a team loss today and I bet every player will say the same. But this team and four picks in the first two rounds next year is a good place to be. I'm excited for the rest of this season.

As well you should be.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

Do you think it's just going to take a while for the pass rush to get going with the youth, or is the team just not very good there? It appears Josh Allen is having a tough time adjusting to Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell not being there to draw double teams.

There are a couple of things at play here. One is that the Jaguars are without Ngakoue, who clearly would have drawn some double teams and taken pressure of Allen. Another is that the Jaguars have fallen behind early and stayed behind throughout much of the first two games. When teams are leading, they typically are throwing when they want to throw and not in obvious passing situations. That reduces pass-rushing opportunities. But overall … yeah, the pass rush needs to be better. And it can't be just Allen. When it's just one guy teams tend to block that guy.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Minshew is a high-end back up at 5'5" he can't see over the line. Time to Tank for Trevor. We will have to pick him with our pick because the Rams are actually good.

Jerell is not "all in."

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Jags got something with Minshew. Kid can play. Not sold but he is moving me to the "he's the guy" side.

Jerell is … wait … what?