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O-Zone: Development takes time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Josiah from Preuss:
Would it be fair to say that one of the Jags' greatest defensive weaknesses is the offense?
John: The offense certainly hasn't helped the defense much thus far this season, and it didn't help much Sunday, either. The Jaguars' defense was hurt on Sunday by having three rookies playing in the secondary – safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans and cornerback Demetrius McCray. At some point this season, youth was probably going to bite the Jaguars in the secondary and on Sunday, it did. At the same time, it can't be overlooked that the offense continues to have significant stretches of consecutive three-and-outs. A defense loaded with elite players in their prime has a difficult time overcoming that. The Jaguars are not loaded with elite players in their prime, so the task is all the more difficult.
Roger from Valdosta, GA:
I'm a regular reader of this site and my team is the JAGS. But . . . it's bad. I don't know what else to say. It's BAD.
John: Yeah. No doubt. It will get better. But yes, it was bad Sunday.
Tim from Tucson, AZ:
O-man, what are your thoughts on why offensive line is playing so poorly? Are they just that bad or poor communication?
John: It's probably a combination of things. Luke Joeckel being young. Brad Meester being older than he once was. Will Rackley being hurt. But this is an area where it sounds like there could be a change this week. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley talked after the game about examining whether or not using more gap blocking as opposed to zone blocking could be an option. The Jaguars switched to a zone-blocking scheme this offseason, and there could be some movement there.
John from Bainbridge Island, WA:
You know what I saw? Another week where the Jags looked a little better than the week before. The team has a long way to go, but the arrow is pointing up! There weren't a lot of Jags fans at the game, but everyone I ran into was excited about where we're headed! #standunited
John: #Standunited.
Walter from Jacksonville:
When the "Wildcat" appeared a few years ago, Pete Prisco said it was a gimmick for teams without a quarterback, because there is no way you take the ball out of the hands of a real quarterback. Outside of a few weeks when Ronnie Brown ran it with success in Miami, I don't think I have seen anyone – including the Jags – run it with any success. Seeing Robinson fumble Sunday got me thinking: am I the only one who thinks this offensive play is already outdated?
John: I've never been big on the Wildcat as anything close to a base formation. The Jaguars aren't using it as a base formation. They're using it as a complement to the offense. Right now, the offense isn't functioning consistently, so there's not much to complement. Also, Denard Robinson is still a young player – as in, "rookie young" – so it's doubly difficult to get it working. I don't see the Jaguars using it as anything resembling a base formation, but as the offense improves and Robinson gains experience it can absolutely be a complement.
Paulo from New York City:
Ok, that was a really bad loss, but if the goal is to get better, we got better every game so far.
John: Yes.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
It shouldn't be this humiliating to be a "fan" of a team. We get to listen to our friends, news articles, sports radio shows and television personalities make wisecracks at the expense of our team and I can't even say it's not justified. It was 31-0 with 11:41 left in the third quarter and 60 or so yards of offense to show for it. Unbelievable...
John: It's tough. And it shouldn't be this difficult. No argument. The only way out now is to work it and follow the plan. I'm not going to tell you that's the ideal. Ideally, you wouldn't be rebuilding a roster, and ideally you wouldn't have had a few key injuries early. But the players and coaches believe this team is taking the right steps, and in time this season, the guess here is you'll see progression.
Daniel from Section 146 Since Day One:
Fire Caldwell, please, Mr. Khan. Fire him NOW . . . Total incompetence and 100 percent failure to improve the team.
John: Somehow, I get the idea that the whole concept of, "We're rebuilding and it might take longer than three games to show results" might have been addressed in the interview.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
I know a college team cannot win against an NFL team for many reasons you have alluded to, but I do think that the Alabama defense would give the Jaguars offense a hard time. Is that wrong?
John: Yes, it is.
Jared from O-Town:
The problem with trading up is it costs draft picks. If you look at the past drafts, from say, 2000 on, you will find that Pro Bowlers are found in every round and giving away picks only means a lessened chance to find "that guy." Jaguars fans should know that not all top-10 picks are can't miss players.
John: Right. I don't think you'll see David Caldwell doing a whole lot of trading up in the next few drafts. He was involved in the Atlanta Falcons' trade for Julio Jones, in which Atlanta traded a great deal for the wide receiver, but Atlanta was much closer to being a championship contender than the Jaguars.
Eric from Jacksonville:
Daryl Smith has played really well so far this season for the Ravens. I absolutely support the new general manager's philosophy of keeping the roster young, but can we say that it was a mistake not to re-sign Smith?
John: I've said often I would have re-signed Smith. I've also said often there was an understandable reluctance to pay aging players whose history – recent or otherwise – had indicated that there was an injury risk. Smith is in his 10th season, and though he was remarkably durable through much of his career, he missed 14 games last season with a groin injury. Players usually don't get healthier as they age.
Chris from Crestview, FL:
Do you think players are really clutch? I used to see guys like Montana and just knew he would pull it out. However, I have seen a guy who always lost (Elway) win and I guy who never lost (Brady) lose. As well as the Mannings, who you never know what you're gonna get. Is it real with QBs or do sometimes the balls just bounce right or wrong?
John: Wut?
Marko from Jacksonville:
Really disappointed. Honestly, where do I start? I need you to explain: can Blackmon/Lewis be that big of a difference?
John: Can they be the difference between 45-17 against Seattle and winning? Probably not. Can their return help the offense? Absolutely. Cecil Shorts III had 143 yards receiving Sunday. He made big-time plays, although much of his positive performance came in the second half. Shorts is the Jaguars' best receiver, but if there is a difference between him and Blackmon, it's not much. Blackmon's presence will help the offense, and Lewis' will, too.
Josiah Jacksonville:
I saw some good progress against a great team. Only major complaint is Joeckel getting beat over and over and over. Hopefully he'll get better, but I'm starting to feel nervous about that first pick.
John: Don't. I didn't notice Joeckel getting beat, and that's usually a good sign for an offensive lineman – if he doesn't get noticed a lot at first glance. As I read your email on the team plane, I asked Jaguars radio analyst Jeff Lageman – who was watching film at the time – how Joeckel played. He said he played better than the first two weeks. He's not a finished product, but there's no worry about Joeckel.
Jim from Gainesville, FL:
Cecil Shorts had 60.9% of all receiving yards this weekend. How much worse would the offense be without him?
John: Significantly, though I don't have an exact percentage.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
Please don't brag to us about CS3 career day when five of his catches and 120 of his yards came against the backups. Isn't that why you down played Henne's performance in the preseason because it was against the backups?
John: I don't "brag" about the Jaguars, Redmond. That's not my job. And if I did, it wouldn't be after a 28-point loss.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
Maybe it was the dim lighting from the cloudy weather. Maybe it was the light misty rain, but for the first time since we got them, those helmets really worked for me Sunday.
John: Maybe it's me, but I thought they were pretty cool all along.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, the saddest thing is the team hasn't quit, and they still aren't even competitive. It's like watching an expansion team.
John: No argument, Bill. It is a bit like that at times right now.
Ryan from Valdosta, GA:
You probably won't get many positive e-mails today. But what I noticed was Luke Joeckel blocking well, Cyprien is a beast and for a seventh-round pick who Seattle tried to target, I thought McCray played well and has a bright future. You can't fix 10 years of bad drafting in one offseason.
John: You're right about the emails, and also about the Jaguars' rookies. It's their third game. Development takes time. They've shown progress. It will be until next season when we fully see how much these players will contribute for the long haul, but their start has been very, very acceptable.

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