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O-Zone: Credit where it's due

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
At this point I firmly believe you're correct: Shad Khan won't be making a mid-season coaching change. At what point do you feel it's appropriate to begin questioning Shad's ability as an owner? We've seen a rebuild that has not worked, a decision to cater to opposing fans because they can't get any more Jags fans to show up and the worst record of any team in the last few years. Making changes to make changes may not yield results, but this has not, either.
John: Fans can question whatever they want whenever they want; it's absolutely within their rights to do so. That's especially true considering the Jaguars' 2-9 record is not what anyone wants – and considering the expectations were so high entering the season. Considering those factors, it makes sense that people are questioning a lot that's going on around the Jaguars right now. But Shad Khan has made significant moves to stabilize this franchise in Jacksonville, so in that sense I'd call him a successful owner – and that's the part that is under his control. As far as win-loss record, the approach he has taken with the football side was not unsound. Has it had the desired results? No, but I don't see Khan's approach being the reason.
Vishwa from Jacksonville:
Hey, Zone. I understand for obvious reasons why Gus Bradley is on the hot seat. But why does Dave Caldwell get a pass? His first three picks were all top three picks and looks like none of them have worked out – Luke Joeckel, Blake Bortles and Dante Fowler Jr. How can a general manager be considered good if he has that poor a record with three Top 3 picks? Shad needs to clean house, including Dave. Agree?
John: No.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
I think Sunday was Jalen Ramsey's worst game this season. He has been a bright spot on an otherwise terrible team in a dismal year. While his performance wasn't terrible, he was beaten on both of the Bills' big plays. He took a bad angle and LeSean McCoy blew by him on his long touchdown run. He was also beaten by Sammy Watkins on his long reception. At the end of the day, he is still a rookie, although he has played like a Pro Bowl cornerback for most of the season.
John: Ramsey indeed is still a rookie, but he didn't take a bad angle on McCoy's long touchdown run. He played his gap, which was to contain outside. Free safety Tashaun Gipson filled the same gap as Ramsey and McCoy ran through the inside gap. As far as the long reception by Watkins … yeah, Watkins beat Ramsey on the play. Ramsey actually had pretty good coverage on the play, but Watkins won that one.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
John: No.
Bruce from Gotham, NY:
The past few weeks there has been considerable drop off in the run game once Mr. Ivory leaves the game. This was very evident this past game. Did Mr. Caldwell miss on Mr. Yeldon? It does seem that he is more of a No. 2 change-of-pace back than a true No. 1, does it not, Mr. O?
John: Yeldon on Sunday was playing through an ankle injury, so I'm not sure his performance that day is the greatest gauge – and there have been times in his two NFL seasons when he has run very well. But overall, I would say yes: Yeldon looks like he has a chance to be a good complementary back, but I don't know that he's going to be a workhorse, No. 1 running back.
Big Brother from Duval:
You are your record and if your record says you're not talented then you're not talented; 2-9 and zero wins in November means you're not talented.
John: OK.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
Johnny O. It does not matter how talented this team is. All that talent is not coming together into a winning team. That's got to fall on the coaches. How can it not be time for a change at the top? Just asking.
John: It's not time for a change at the top because Khan does not believe a midseason coaching change is the way to go in the NFL. I do not know what will happen at the end of the season, but it stands to reason that all will be evaluated. It has been the sort of season that demands that.
Justin from Jacksonville:
Did it seem to you that Blake Bortles appeared to have a little more zip on his passes Sunday? I noticed fewer ducks and – dare I say – a spiral or two.
John: I thought Bortles played better Sunday than he had in most games this season. He did not commit a turnover and made some big plays with his legs. He also indeed had some impressive passes and overall seemed mechanically better than he has most of the season.
John from Jacksonville:
Of course you re-punt: that's the smart move 95 percent of the time in that situation. You gave up a 15-yard return. Now, you gain five yards and have a shot at a turnover or pushing them back a good 20 yards and eating up another 10 seconds on them by re-punting. The problem wasn't the decision; again, it was execution. Line drive punt and weak coverage.
John: Yeah, pretty much.
Chris from Houston, TX:
Since Tyson Alualu has been comparable to Jared Odrick, it seems like Odrick will be among the veterans who are released at the end of this season. Other candidates appear to be Julius Thomas, Dan Skuta and Davon House. Do you see any of these players remaining on the 2017 squad? P.S. All of these players were major free-agent additions brought in by David Caldwell. Seems like he deserves some criticism for not getting bang for his buck in free agency.
John: I'd be somewhat surprised at this point if the players you mentioned return next season, but I've been surprised before … so we'll see. Yes, they were all major free-agent acquisitions brought in by Caldwell – and because everything's open to criticism at 2-9, Caldwell certainly will be criticized for those acquisitions. At the same time, Caldwell's free-agency approach has been clear from the start: sign free agents to what essentially are two-year contracts and get what you can from those players until you can draft and develop potential core players at the positions. It's very difficult to get "bang for your buck" in free agency. One reason is you're paying so much that it's hard for a player to live up to the contract and another is that there are usually reasons players are available. Caldwell has "hit" on some free agents such as Sen'Derrick Marks, Malik Jackson, Prince Amukamara and Roy Miller III and he has "missed" on others. That's pretty much the nature of free agency and it's why it's best to build through the draft.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
Why would the team spend $90 million on Malik Jackson, only to have him start over a near equal Sen'Derrick Marks? Seems like an awful large waste of money when there are so many other spots needing to be filled with "superstar" unrestricted free agents.
John: While I'm not a big free-agency guy, I will say Malik Jackson is one of the better unrestricted free-agent signings I've ever covered. While it's impossible for a player to "live up" to that kind of money, he's remarkably close to doing so. As for superstar unrestricted free agents … well, I guess I just I always smile when I hear the term "superstar" connected to unrestricted free agency.
Jeff from Troutman, NC:
I agree with Blake: there was a crucial call missed; however, refs do not make or break a game. Plenty of opportunities were presented to pull away in the first half. Our Jags failed us once again. As [Bills Head Coach] Rex [Ryan] said, they are the most talented 2-8 team in the NFL. On the upside, when they start meshing as a team, it could look deadly.
John: I answered enough questions about officiating Monday that there's not much to add today. But your second point is a good one: the Jaguars pretty much lost Sunday's game in the first quarter. They led 7-0 entering the second quarter, but they had missed three opportunities to increase that lead. That's a formula for losing more often than not and that formula bit hard Sunday.
Mike from Jacksonville:
How can you say Bortles played one of his better games? He threw for only 126 yards. You are not going to win many games throwing for that many yards. Check Sunday's stats and see how many winning quarterbacks threw for that fewer yards. I guess because no interceptions makes it one of his better games. Just sayin!
John: Bortles played one of his better games Sunday precisely because he did not throw any interceptions and because he did not make negative plays to hurt his team. He has done those two things too often and he has been criticized when he has done so. Is it not OK to mention it when he does the right thing?

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