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O-Zone: Different strokes

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, it’s not fair to a fan base that supports this team with hard-earned, largely blue-collar dollars to have this many years of horrible football, then one good season – and now back to horrible. The leadership of this team owes it to the fans to try harder. That they insisted on building this team in the mold of a team from the olden days when the league is doing all it can to make the game “Pass Happy” was always going to be risky. Why didn’t they just build in the mold as illustrated by the Los Angeles Rams?

I have received multiple versions of this question recently, and I do understand the fans’ frustration as a once-promising season apparently goes awry. But let’s not confuse “not trying” with what has happened to the Jaguars this season. And it’s not fair to assume that what ails the Jaguars is all because they took a run-centric approach in a pass-happy league. There’s no safe way to build a team; any plan is risky because you need the players you choose to succeed. Yes, the Jaguars need to revamp their passing offense – and it’s hard to imagine that won’t be a major offseason priority. And if the current trend holds, it’s easy to see them strongly considering quarterback early in the 2019 NFL Draft. But it’s also not fair to overlook the offensive – and now defensive – injuries as a contributing factor in the team’s struggles. Was it wise to build around running back Leonard Fournette? Perhaps or perhaps not, but the plan did enable the Jaguars to win 10 of their first 14 games last season, to win the AFC South and to advance to the AFC Championship Game. They opted to stay the course and improve in that direction – and because they’re now 3-5, it’s easy to paint that as a bad decision. But the reason they didn’t “just build” in the mold of the pass-happy Rams was this defense was a lot closer to being good than the offense when Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone took over. Playing to that defense with a strong running game worked last season. Injuries have prevented us from having the foggiest notion of whether it would have worked this season. But don’t think this organization isn’t trying hard. It is. The effort so far this season just hasn’t shown results.

Rusty from New Iberia, LA

Why does Marrone say always he is primarily to blame for the struggles of this team? Why not hold the players responsible for their mistakes and lack of production?

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone believes a head coach is ultimately responsible for winning and losing. When he says it’s his responsibility, that’s what he means – not that players or assistants have no responsibility. They do, but Marrone – like many coaches – isn’t big on singling out players publicly. Remember, just because we live in a world where the press conferences of NFL head coaches are streamed and therefore available for all the public to see doesn’t mean head coaches say everything publicly that they say behind close doors. Most don’t, and Marrone certainly doesn’t.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King of Funk, to answer Chris from Mandarin it is not that "London fans have soured so quickly on the Jaguars," it is more that there aren't actually that many of us. The NFL and Jaguars (both in the US and UK) continually say the fan base is growing; it is, but no way are there the often-cited "86,000" Jaguars fan in the UK. There are is 86,000 people who have signed up for various competition, which require them to sign up to the Jaguars UK email. There was a huge number of Raven fans at Wembley last year – but with the Jags dominating the game, they had nothing to cheer for. Ron Jaworski at a UK NFL Fan event said that 40,000 Eagles season ticket holders applied for Wembley tickets for their first trip to Wembley; that is nearly half the Stadium. With the Jags playing a game every year at Wembley, Jacksonville fans can pick and choose what game they travel over for. It is just not financially viable for Jaguars season-ticket holders to go to every Wembley game.

Fair points.

Lynn from Jacksonville

At what point does Todd Wash realize his zone schemes are killing the defense? Linebackers struggle in zone coverage all game but for some reason it’s his go-to play in crunch time. Talent only takes you so far. Coaches have to understand their players’ strengths and play to them and Wash seems incapable of doing so.

Wash has been criticized a lot this season for running “too much zone coverage,” and he said last week the defense needed to get back to more press concepts. Remember, though: it’s difficult to run man-to-man all of the time when your offense is struggling and your defense is on the field for long stretches. Corners can only run full speed downfield so many consecutive plays before they need the “break” of playing zone. Remember, too: Jalen Ramsey was the only Jaguars corner Sunday who wasn’t an undrafted rookie. While Ramsey may have been more than capable of excelling in man in key situations, perhaps trying to protect an undrafted rookie by playing zone isn’t the silliest concept.

Chris from St. Augustine, FL

Are the Jags happy with the production they've gotten out of defensive lineman Taven Bryan as a first-round pick? I know there is a lot of talent ahead of him and that limits his chances to make a major impact. I'm not knocking the guy. … I'm just wondering if what we've seen so far has been enough to make the coaches feel confident going forward when some of the that other talent departs.

Bryan has shown some flashes this season. He also has looked lost at times and appears to need the experience he is gaining in a backup role. That’s not incredibly unusual for young defensive linemen. Stay tuned.

John from Jacksonville

O-Man: Don’t you agree the team should bring back Poz as an assistant coach next year? He has the attitude, energy and knowledge to be a great asset for us. And wouldn’t it be nice to see Poz on the sidelines again?

Sure.

Flebro from Lake Butler, FL

O-Man, from first to tied for last. At least it’s a guarantee they don’t lose next week. I know you will deny this in your way but there’s no heart left in this team. For the last three weeks I’ve watched too many players just stand around and not help out or stop before the play is over.

The Jaguars weren’t a team that had quit Sunday. They trailed 17-6 and lost 24-18. They played better in the second half than the first half. They had four sacks. They forced two turnovers and nearly had two or three others. They had three red-zone opportunities in the second half compared to none in the first. They fought. They didn’t win, but it wasn’t a team that lacked heart.

Ben from Anytown, USA

Lately the Jaguars have been playing like complete garbage. First of all, the team is built to run – not pass almost every play (see Eagles game). So, if we want to pass that much why don’t we bring in a new quarterback? And if we want to keep Bortles, why don’t we bring in a proven receiver *cough* Dez Bryant?

Deeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzz!!!!

Hern from MidState Office Supply

Is it smart to pick a starting quarterback based on how much money you owe him?

No, and that’s not what the Jaguars did Sunday. While Bortles’ salary certainly did play a part in how the Jaguars structured the quarterback position this season, it was not why Head Coach Doug Marrone chose to start Bortles this past week.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

O-line play has been suspect at best and please receivers catch the ball!!

Yes.

Sam from Orlando, FL

How come when Blake makes foolish comments to the media or public you ignore them? His scapegoat comments this year were foolish. Him yelling mockingly “Go Jags” last year at fans during training camp was foolish. You push a narrative, man.

I usually answer when I get asked questions. That’s the easiest way – and in this case, I wasn’t asked about Bortles’ scapegoat comment until you asked. It was an unfortunate choice of the word scapegoat, though if you read (which I’m sure you did) the whole story you have a better idea of what he meant. The biggest reason I write what I write, though, is to annoy you. So far, so good.

Bradley from Oceanside, CA

Liked what I saw Sunday (not being sarcastic) coming into bye week and resetting. Looking at the second-half schedule, I can see Jags running the table. Agree?

Running the table? Goodness gracious, no. (Not being sarcastic).

J4 from Jacksonville

3-13. This is not a question.

You and Bradley appear to be following different teams.

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