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O-Zone: Coloring book

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mark from Archer, FL

John, I am a bit confused when people say the defense and secondary are very young. The starters on the defensive line are veteran players for the most part. The linebackers are all seasoned veterans. Aside from cornerback CJ Henderson, aren't the other starters in the secondary seasoned veterans also? I know we have a lot of rookie reserve players but almost all the starters are not rookies. Am I missing something?

I guess it depends on your definition of "seasoned." When I say the secondary is young, I mean that in Thursday's 31-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins a rookie (Henderson) started opposite a third-year veteran who barely played as a rookie (Tre Herndon) with two players with a combined 17 NFL starts (Josh Jones, Andrew Wingard) starting at safety. That's young. The Jaguars' two most-talented pass rushers – Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson – are in their second and first seasons, respectively. There's also the reality that there's not much front-line experienced talent anywhere on defense if you consider "experienced" players those in their second NFL contracts. Linebacker Joe Schobert and Myles Jack fit that description of front-line veterans, but that's about it. It's a comparatively young group that hasn't played much together. I honestly don't know if that's why the unit is struggling – and it absolutely has struggled to the point that it will be difficult to win if it plays like this moving forward. What is this defense? Really? Time will tell, and it may be that the players overall just aren't good enough. But the group absolutely is young by NFL standards.

Bill from Jupiter

Not having a preseason didn't help the Jaguars accurately evaluate the defensive talent. Is that an accurate statement? Or perhaps the lack of a preseason means young players don't get a chance to develop in time for the opener? Maybe some of our rookies will come around midseason.

Preseason games wouldn't have changed much about how the Jaguars evaluated the roster – particularly not the front-line players and starters. The lack of preseason games – and the overall lack of playing together – could be at least a small part of the reason for the slow starts.

Michael from Orlando, FL

I thought the officiating was very bad on Thursday. I know the NFL refs grade each other for the purpose of deciding who refs the postseason, but I wish they'd share those grades, game by game, with the public. Tell me they're seeing what I'm seeing. Give me some assurance that they're trying to do better.

The NFL grades officials and takes officiating seriously. The league has no reason not to do so and every reason to do so. NFL referees take their jobs very seriously, and have a difficult job officiating a game that is very fast and very violent. They for the most part do a very good job. I don't anticipate the league making officiating grades public any time soon.

Jason from Jacksonville

John, the front office, the coaches and perhaps you cannot have it both ways. We can't be told "We like the guys we have here and feel good about this team" and then be told the reason for the struggles -- specifically on defense – are due to less talented, inexperienced players on all three levels. They made the decision to go in this direction, so they have an obligation to make it work WITHOUT excuses.

I haven't heard anyone involved with the team say publicly the struggles are because of less-talented, inexperienced players. I've said and written that I don't know that there are enough front-line experienced players to expect this defense to be really good this season. But me writing and saying that is me saying what I see from the defense so far. It is not the team stating it or making an excuse about what's happening.

Devin from Charleston, SC

Looked like the same O line from last year. Wait.

Many things ailed the Jaguars against the Miami Dolphins Thursday. Aside from a play or two, I wouldn't have put the offensive line high on the list. And when you're playing from 14 points behind and the opponent pretty much always knows you're going to pass … well, there are very few NFL offensive lines that will look good in that situation.

Matty from St. Augustine, FL

I keep seeing the so-called fans say, "They got beat by a bad team" The Donk-fins were eager to get a win and just out played us. Plain and simple. They have a fearless quarterback that knows he doesn't have anything to prove as he is a fill in for Tua. He can play as he wants. So, he went out and played with reckless abandon. We will learn from this and build. We knew going into the season we would have growing pains as all young players do. If people really expected us to just win, win, win are they really fans at all?

Fans gonna fan. It's what they do.

Travis from High Springs, FL

Does this last game prove that Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. is a true No. 1 receiver? Even though he's not consistently beating double teams or catching a lot of passes every week. His presence, or lack thereof, seems to have a really big impact on the rest of the offense.

I don't know that Thursday showed beyond a shred of a doubt that Chark is a "true No. 1" but you're absolutely right that it helps the case.

Jim from Jacksonville

If you can't bear to call him a bust, can you please just admit that Taven Bryan is just "a guy."

I'm always amused when readers think I can't "bear" to say or "admit" things about the Jaguars – as if me "admitting" things would be some magical confirmation of some wrong or some mistake. As much as I hate to disappoint people, this ain't that. Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan was a late first-round selection who hasn't played at an elite level. He's a solid starter and I don't see him being a Pro Bowl selection. He's disruptive at times but doesn't make plays above the Xs and Os much. I don't know if that makes him a guy or a bust or just an NFL player. It's just what it is.

John from Boynton Beach, FL

Love how Taven Bryan is good for at least one encroachment penalty per game. He is keeping his streak alive.


Zachary from Palatka, FL

I turned the game off Thursday because I couldn't stand to see another check down. Minshew would scan the field, but end up always checking down, why is this? Do our wide receivers really have that hard a time getting open? Bad play design? I just don't see how we could check down that many times and have any slight hope.

This isn't a question with one answer; checkdowns happen for many reasons. What you hope is they're not happening because Minshew doesn't believe he can drive passes downfield into tight windows. That would be troubling. But I don't know the answer.

Jaginator from (formerly of) Section 124

I have the foggiest idea what "coaching them up" means. It's the idea that New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick would win a Super Bowl with ANY group of 53 players. It's the idea that there would never be a single draft "bust" – if only those darn coaches would "coach them up". It's the idea that new players enter the league as blank slates - with no skills or knowledge - and they can only do their job if they're "coached up." "Coaching them up" is actually an old Sanskrit phrase that roughly translates to: "I don't understand how NFL football works."

Well, it sure sounds as if you're in the ballpark.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

The most concerning thing to me in this scenario is that it really mimics what happened at the end of last season. Once teams get some tape on our team, it seems very easy to develop a game plan to neutralize us. Is this a coaching issue? Is this a player experience/preparation issue? I am not looking for a smoking gun here or maybe I am. When a team just gets dominated like we did, it is only natural to want answers I suppose.

The Jaguars changed offensive coordinators after last season, so it's likely not a coaching issue. The Jaguars didn't get stifled in their first two games, so maybe it's a week-to-week-league issue. We'll see.

David from Ada, OK

Doesn't coaching them up mean turning rookies into third year players after three NFL games without any preseason and restricted training camp? I mean, the playbook got pictures. If you really coach them up, they can get years of experience looking at the pictures. Ain't that right, ma man?

I like books with pictures. Especially color pictures.