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O-Zone: Crazy train

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Eddie from Jacksonville:
Remember during the offseason when people would complain that we weren't getting the respect we deserved from the national media? It appears we were. Question: why do you think the Jags changed their London schedule this year? I thought one of the advantages of doing it every year was we would be able to take advantage of having already gone through the same schedule and it would be more usual for us.
John: I do remember the offseason, and in fact, I remember hearing questions about respect from national media since I returned to Jacksonville early in 2011. My stance hasn't changed and I can't imagine it will: respect nationally will come with winning, and it will come gradually when it does happen. It also doesn't mean a whole lot in the big picture and is one of those things that only bothers you if you let it. As for London departure/schedule, the Jaguars are trying to figure out the schedule that works best. They have left for London on a Monday from Jacksonville (2013) and on a Sunday night from a road game (2014, Cincinnati). This season they're trying to make it as much like a "regular" road week as possible. What's better? Once they've done it a few different ways, I imagine they'll settle on a schedule.
James from Socorro, NM:
Under Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell, the Jaguars have improved to ... the worst team in the NFL (according to your ever-important power rankings). It should be better than that by now, shouldn't it?
John: Ideally, it should. Of course. At the same time, the Jaguars started from a very low point in 2013 and are building with a long-term plan in mind. They have improved since 2013 in terms of competitiveness on the field and are a few plays from being well above that No. 32 ranking. In years past, they were more than a few plays away at this point. That's not thrilling improvement, but it's improvement.
Jerry from Ormond Beach, FL:
John, I understand everyone's frustration (including mine) but the people who are calling for Gus and/or David to be fired are not thinking clearly. If we bring in a new HC and GM, we press the restart button and basically start everything all over again. New OC, DC, assistant coaches, offensive and defensive schemes. Many of our good young players get shipped off to other teams with better records to become solid players. We are probably talking about another three-to-four years before we can expect positive results. I say let's stay the course and dance with the one we brought. What do you say?
John: I say I've seen nothing to indicate that anything other than that will happen. That's as of now, with 10 games remaining in the season. Let's let the season play out to see if that changes.
Xander from Bellview:
I keep hearing the excuse that we have a young team and we should give them time to mature and grow. However, there is no guarantee they will mature and grow to become winners. Bad coaching can still attain bad results with good players; it is up to the coaching to help the team reach a place where it can win. How many years have we seen Belichick take whoever or whatever is on his roster and compete with the best in the NFL?
John: If you want guarantees, watch scripted television or go to a movie. There are no guarantees in sports. That's what makes sports … well, not fake. As far as how many years we have seen Belichick take whoever or whatever and win, that's easy to find out: just count the years Tom Brady has been starting.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, I think too many of our blitzes are getting picked up because they're too predictable. The best blitzing teams have the offensive line guessing and off balance. I'd like to see more safety blitzes. Sergio Brown and Josh Evans are feisty little guys with great speed and physicality. If you were coach, what would you do to increase pressure on opposing quarterbacks?
John: I'd mix the blitzes up more and try to be less predictable, and I'd only blitz because four hasn't worked for a month and a half. And when I sent six or seven rushers, I'd hold my breath because eventually there's gonna be something to watch and it probably won't be something I want to see.
Matt from Aspen, CO:
The team's biggest problem is takeaways. The Jaguars are dead last with three – way behind teams that have already had their bye week. Because of this only one team has a worse turnover differential than the Jaguars' minus-6. It's frustrating to watch the defense do nothing while other teams have as many as 17 takeaways. Do you feel it's likely the defense can improve enough to make a real difference going forward this season?
John: If the defense starts getting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, yes. If not, no. The Jaguars haven't been able to do that with four rushers yet this season. The strong sense around the team is that they will bring more pressure with fifth and sixth rushers beginning this week. If that works, that could mean more takeaways. If it doesn't, it will mean big plays allowed. Buckle up, kids.
Kyle from Ohio:
I hate that we have to already look forward to next season, but I think we could be really good next year. The offense is better than some will admit and with another year of seasoning should take major leaps. Why I am optimistic is that defense should be a huge focus this offseason. We have focused mostly on offense and the offense is actually looking decent. Now with a year to devote almost exclusively to defense, I could see major leaps on defense, which will help the offense even more.
John: I hate looking forward to next season already enough that I'm not going to do it often, but your point has some merit. The Jaguars haven't done much in the way of drafting defense in the first three years of the David Caldwell/Gus Bradley era. In three seasons, they have used three selections in Rounds 1-3 on the area: cornerback Dwayne Gratz, safety Johnathan Cyprien and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. It's a safe assumption that the team will focus heavily on that side of the ball in this year's draft – with the addition of an insanely expensive free agent or two over there, too.
Alex from Clemson, SC:
I do not understand the decision to cut a finally healthy Ziggy Hood. His interior pass rush seems very valuable at a time like this. Could you explain this move for me?
John: Because Hood was placed on injured reserve, he could not be activated to the Jaguars' roster during the regular season. Also, time to move on.
Dave from Duval:
One home game between 9/20-11/19. That is a huge disadvantage when home-field advantage is so important to your chances of winning. I know that London is good for the long-term but it is really putting this young team behind the eight ball to play one home game over the course of two months.
John: It's a long time to have just one game at EverBank Field, but the Jaguars have two home games during that period with one being at Wembley Stadium in London. I know that notion irritates some people, but the Jaguars' game in London Sunday is a home game. The sooner the Jaguars figure out a way to make that a home-field advantage, the better. It ain't going away.
John from Savannah, GA:
We've given up conversions on third-and-long (eight yards or more) 17 times this season, and at least two in every game so far. That's not good, John. Is it the only reason why the defense has struggled? No, but it certainly is an important one.
John: Yep. Gotta affect the quarterback.
KC from Bay Area, CA:
John, on paper it seemed like there was a pretty good chance of victory against the Luck-less Colts, and the same could be said about the Buccaneers. Next week we face a Bills team that is down several injured players, and again on paper it looks like the Jags have a good chance at winning. My question is what can you do to stop peoples' heads from exploding if that game slips away as well? I see a crowd bearing torches and pitchforks descending on EverBank if that happens, and hope you've got a secret escape route...
John: People won't be happy, and I won't say I haven't seen a pitchfork or two already. Still, it probably surprises no one when I I'm far more concerned about Lamping not letting me in to EverBank than of a public uprising not allowing me to get out.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Am I crazy to think that if the Jaguars had just a slightly above average pass rush they'd be 3-2, maybe even 4-1?
John: Yes, but you'd be sane to think they might be 3-3 or 4-2.

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