O-Zone: Close shave

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Rik

Do you think they are saying “must-win” in Pittsburgh this week? Of course not! But once again you talk about our team like they are playing for a college title and they are almost eliminated from contention in the BCS. Please O: try writing like we are a pro team and stop with all this ridiculous pressure in Week 2.

I don’t know what “they” are writing about the Pittsburgh Steelers this week because I don’t cover the Pittsburgh Steelers, but my guess is there’s some urgency around those parts about not starting the season 0-2. Remember, too: Whereas the Steelers “only” lost a game in Week 1, the Jaguars lost a game – and their starting quarterback. As for me “once again” talking about the Jaguars as if they are a college team, I can only assume you haven’t read this column very long, or that you have completely misinterpreted most of what I have written over the years. I typically take measured view of these things, and I completely agree that in a normal circumstance this wouldn’t feel like a must-win. But when you lose your starting quarterback and you start a rookie in his place, and when a defense that is supposed to be the strength of your team struggles as the unit did in the opener, and when you’re coming off a season that got away from you with a fragmented feeling such as last year’s … well, if this isn’t a must-win, it’s not far off.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

Gardner Minshew II is like a distant golden glow on the horizon when you've been driving all night on a long trip and your heart's desire is a Huddle House pit stop. You think the light you see might be a HH sign welcoming the weary, but you won't really know until you get closer to the exit.

Fair.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

The Antonio Brown situation has me wondering. Doesn't his release from the Oakland Raiders and subsequent signing by the New England Patriots set an incredibly bad precedent for the league? Essentially you are telling players if you get traded and don't like the team you went to, misbehave and be such a pain that they release you. Then sign with the team you want to play for. Seems unfair to the Raiders who sacrificed a couple of picks to get him. Does his release get them those draft picks back? Do you think this will change the way teams approach trades with a clause about making the roster before actually giving up draft picks? This whole thing to me seems to set an example and the NFL might see a rash of similar approaches to players getting traded. I would be willing to wager this will be addressed in the CBA negotiations.

There’s not much the league or the players association can do to “address” this. The Raiders didn’t have to release Brown; they chose to do so. They could have kept him on the roster and simply not played him. It’s also important to note that some of this is on the Raiders, who made the choice to acquire a player with a well-known reputation for being disruptive with his former team. Teams can certainly on a case-by-case basis address such concerns with clauses in contracts and in the trade language, but not every problem can be addressed with an overarching rule. You can’t legislate all the world’s ills away.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King of Funk, before we start hailing Minshew as the next Tom Brady I would like to wait and see how he handles the Texans now they have a week to plan against him. Maybe hold off on the celebrations until then?

Minshew got an A on his first exam. The mid-terms and the final will be tougher. Let the semester truly begin.

Marc from Oceanway

Do you think the Jaguars traded for Josh Dobbs with plans for him to eventually start while Foles heals, or as a backup to Minshew?

The idea is that Dobbs will be the backup. How Minshew plays will determine whether the Jaguars stay with that plan.

A.J. from Decatur, GA

I find it interesting how quick we are to call out the defense after one very terrible game but last season when the offense was horrendous for a majority of the games, people kept giving them every excuse.

Such is the burden of expectations.

Michael from Middleburg, FL

When the Chiefs scored their first touchdown on the catch-and-run by Sammy Watkins, I said to my wife, "That's the game. The Jags' defense is going to lose their heads and fall apart now." The pattern has become too predictable. The defense has to know at this point that opposing offenses are going to push them until they cross the line. Until the defense proves otherwise, the book on them is written: score early, get chippy, and watch them completely melt down.

This team has a reputation for losing composure, particularly the defense. It’s up to the Jaguars to prove that reputation is incorrect.

Jimmy from Jags Town

Zone, I just picked Minshew in 3 different DraftKings pools this week, what is happening?

You’re all in on The Stache, baby. Buckle in and enjoy the ride.

Royce from Jacksonville

Mr. O the Jags defense has been top six in spite of DC Todd not because of him, you will see this when he is gone next season.

It’s always coaching in the NFL.

Eric from Columbus, IN

O-Man, there is a lot of talk about all the zone the Jags played against KC. Isn’t the strength of having two dominant corners and linebackers that can run that you don’t need to play zone and can play man? So why all the zone?!?!

Teams typically don’t play all zone or all man in any game, but the Jaguars played more zone against Kansas City than is typical. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash this week took responsibility for this this week and said he perhaps tried to get “too cute” in an effort to give the Chiefs a different look than they were expecting. I would expect the Jaguars to go heavier with man-to-man coverage this week as compared to last.

Hulk from Las Vegas, NV

Zone, it’s apparent that the fans’ main concern this year is on the defense. And what’s sad is there are guys that have been in this system for years but looked like they had no clue what to do out there. There’s legit more faith in our sixth-round backup quarterback than our supposed star-studded defense. The tide has turned. Now, do the defensive players as a whole know they have the fans and team officials worried? Or are they drinking their own Kool-Aid and purposely blinding themselves from the truth?

The defensive players don’t have time to worry about who’s worried and who’s not. Their focus needs to be on playing a lot better than they did a week ago.

Marcus from Jacksonville

Going into the season it seemed like most people were in agreement that this defense had the potential to be very good, with a few questions that needed to be answered – most having to do with the safeties and the linebackers. It seems as if those questions were answered on Sunday. I realize the line and the corners struggled too, and the whole unit gets the blame, but every time I looked up I saw a safety missing a tackle, or a linebacker biting on a fake or running out of position. My question then is, if the poor play was primarily a result of the middle of the field not being covered well, is there any hope for the defense improving moving forward? I realize they won’t be playing a historically good offense every week, so that will help, but I’m worried that for all the talent we have on the line and on the outside, we don’t have enough experience and talent in the middle to make this defense great.

One game doesn’t answer all questions about an NFL team, or an NFL player. But the Jaguars’ safeties and middle linebacker Myles Jack must all play much better if the defense is going to be as good as many expected.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Dear, John: Should we have stuck with Blake since he was so durable?

Sometimes, it’s time to move on.

Chris from Jacksonville

OK, so nobody is asking the question ... is Shad Khan expressed any concerns about his mustache getting such strong competition? I guess if he is intimidated, he can always have a bank account comparison to feel better...

My guess is if Minshew can play well enough to keep the Jaguars around .500, Khan would willingly surrender the title of Best Moustache in the NFL. Heck, he might even shave his.

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