O-Zone: Don't stop believin'

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Mark from Jacksonville and Section 113:
At what point do the fans deserve an apology from the organization? Shad Khan said "playoffs or bust" for Gus Bradley at the beginning of the year and yet – after being eliminated from the playoffs with a 2-10 record – he's still here. The FANS are the reason why the Jaguars are able to have a team, and continuing to put this product on the field is a slap in the face to us. What gives?
John: Jaguars Owner Shad Khan actually never to my knowledge said "playoffs or bust." He did say he believed a winning record this season was a reasonable expectation, though he also never to my knowledge vowed to fire Head Coach Gus Bradley the moment the playoffs or a winning record became impossible. As far as an apology to fans … c'mon. This is professional sports; whether fans believe this or not, Khan, the Jaguars, General Manager David Caldwell and Bradley have worked tirelessly to win. Has that happened? No, it has not, but what the organization owes the fans is the effort, desire and passion to do win. The Jaguars absolutely value the fans and pursue winning, and it matters to the people pursuing it as much and probably more than it does to the fans. So, while everyone with the team sincerely regrets not winning more … no, absolutely no apology is necessary.
Jim from Regina:
I'm sure Gus used to be a magician. He has everyone fooled that this turnaround will now take five-to-six years. They say Rome wasn't built in a day, but I bet it didn't take five-to-six years before Romans started to believe they had something to believe in.
John: OK.
Daniel from 904 Duval:
I have about the same record the Jags do in getting my questions answered. #DTWD
John: How many of your questions were about Romans?
Nathan from Bloomfield, CO:
The Jags are getting better. I may be among the few who see that, but our expectations this season were way above the plan. We were blown out in pretty much every game the last three years (except against bad teams). This year, we have been out of maybe two or three games. That to me is progress. I know a lot of fans don't want to hear it, but we were supposed to just get better. Wins are important, but they will come – and I believe with one final draft class and year of development, we could be looking at a good team next year. The last five games were against solid opponents and we are not getting blown out, which is massive improvement. In fact, only a few plays separate us from a good record. This couldn't be said the last few years. I want to see what the last four games show with more winnable games, but I am not mad anymore and looking forward to 2017.
John: There certainly is some truth to what you say, because the Jaguars indeed are getting better – and yes, progress in that sense is still being made. And I do believe the core is being built that makes the future brighter than the recent past. But while perhaps expectations of the postseason were too high, the Jaguars could be and should be better than 2-10. I'd say the Jaguars minimum "should" be 6-6 and could be a game or two better than that. That they are not is by any measure a disappointment.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
What can Blake Bortles prove over these last four games? IMO, it's nothing at this point. Whoever the general manager is next year I would make sure that there is TRUE competition for Blake for the starting quarterback position next year and I would make it clear it's an OPEN position and will be decided on the field and not because of draft position. Thoughts, John, on this analysis??
John: Pretty good.
Joel from Jacksonville:
Mighty O, so if the Jags are not going to finish the season at 2-14, tell the fans which remaining 2016 season game you think the Jags will win?
John: My belief that the Jaguars will win at least one game the rest of this season has nothing to do with their opponent. They are capable of beating any team remaining on the schedule if they continue to play good defense, and if the offense – i.e., Bortles – eliminates mistakes and plays efficiently. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the defensive part of that equation will happen. As for what makes me believe the offensive part will happen … I don't know … blind, childlike faith I suppose.
Virginia from Tallahassee, FL:
Great news, John! The Bears won this week, meaning we're all set for another Top 3 pick. At least we have something to look forward to now!
John: Yeah, I guess.
Daniel from Urbandale, IA:
Are we sure it was such a good thing to let Greg Olson go? Feel like the defense is getting good at the same time the offense is getting worse. Can't we get it together? I feel like if we'd kept Olson we'd have at least two more wins, which isn't all that much I guess.
John: I wasn't big on the decision to fire Greg Olson as offensive coordinator. That's primarily because it felt like a Hail Mary at the time. But I will say I was at least marginally wrong on that front. The objective was to improve the running game, and that has happened. The Jaguars' offense also isn't as stagnant as it was before the move. It hasn't resulted in victories, but the offense at least has been marginally improved.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I've been going to Jags games for years, and almost everyone I know is not renewing their season tickets. I have a feeling the crowds next year will be horrendous. Is there any way to create a vibe about next season? There was one this year and we haven't won a single game at EverBank Field.
John: The way to create a real vibe that matters for the long term is to win. The Jaguars at some point will do that. They haven't done it in far too long and they need to start.
Nancy from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Zone: the Cowboys, who picked ahead of us this year – you know, signifying their roster wasn't as good as the Jags going in to draft — found a quarterback in the fourth round that already has more wins the first week in December of his rookie season than our No. 3 overall pick in '14 has for his entire career? I'm sure Sheldon Day is a great guy, and we do appreciate his contribution of four tackles as the totality of his accomplishments while serving as a third-string three-technique who rarely dresses; however, I am nonetheless thinking Dave maybe should've pulled the trigger there instead of waiting for the sixth round for a quarterback the team is certain gives them less of a chance to win than one with a passer rating less than 80 and has been personally responsible for more losses than wins this year. Not an indictment of Brandon Allen, but why even waste a roster spot for someone that gives you less of a chance to win than what Bortles has shown?
John: A couple of thoughts on your thoughts. Yeah, the Cowboys drafted ahead of the Jaguars last offseason, but they played much of last season without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, so there's that. As far as why the Jaguars didn't take Dak Prescott … very few people thought Bortles would struggle as he has this season. At the time, the Jaguars were trying to replenish and stock a defense for the future that struggled mightily last season. The Jaguars drafted Allen as a developmental player for the future, which is a fairly common way to try to develop young quarterbacks who might take up a roster spot early while not quite being ready to play. Should the Jaguars have drafted a quarterback in the fourth or fifth round good enough to play in front of Bortles in case he struggled to this degree? Perhaps, but that would have taken some pretty mind-blowing foresight.
Bobby from Doboy Island, GA:
The refs aren't this incompetent. It's one thing to miss a call here or there. They are just human. But they don't repeatedly miss the same pass interference over and over and over and over again. It isn't incompetence at work here. I suspect something far more deliberate and insidious going on.
John: Nah.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
I understand that Gus Bradley is not the most popular guy in Jacksonville, but while people can bash him for the Jaguars not winning he at least deserves credit for how well this defense has played this year.
John: Nah, that would mean admitting that Bradley actually knew something about football. That's not something many people want to acknowledge these days.
Marlin from Newberry, FL:
This season is beginning to remind me of the season after Jack Del Rio was fired. Mike Mularkey was the new head coach, we were just a "player or two away" and Blaine Gabbert was the quarterback ascendant. Instead we went 2-14. We are better than then, right?
John: I believe so. So far, I have yet to be proven right.

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