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O-Zone: Far different team

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Graham from Dundee, Scotland:
On any given Sunday, O. On any given Sunday.
John: Your simple cliché might seem naïve to some, but within it is an NFL truth – and it does apply to the Jaguars this week. It's very much a week-to-week league and there's every likelihood the Jaguars are closer to the team that played well for the most part against Green Bay than the one that played poorly against San Diego. Just because San Diego is the fresher memory doesn't mean that has to be what this team is the rest of the season. And I have no doubt the Jaguars will play far better Sunday than they did in San Diego. The key for the Jaguars is that's not enough; they must play better than they did against Green Bay moving forward, and they must dramatically reduce the number of unexplainable games. In short, those must stop. Can they play better the rest of the season than they did against Green Bay? Can they reach the potential many believed they had entering the season? We'll see. It's understandable for fans to doubt the Jaguars can do that because they have yet to see it. It's time for the team to prove it can. That's what this week is about.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I figured Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers would be tough nuts to crack, but we all got blindsided last week. I always thought going 2-2 and heading into the bye week would be a successful start considering the quarterbacks we will have faced. I haven't given up hope yet. It has been shaken for sure but this is a talented, young team. Ravens and Colts are get-able.
John: That's the hope. That's the task the Jaguars have created for themselves. Now, they must achieve that task.
John from Boynton Beach, FL:
So, to finish with the often-discussed-and-very-elusive winning season, this team now has to finish 9-5. What are your thoughts on that probability?
John: I think it's a good probability if the Jaguars start playing a lot better.
Tym from the Southside:
Hey O-Zone, I asked you before the season started what you thought our record would be after our first four games (all against elite quarterbacks). You said 2-2, although you didn't know which teams we'd beat. Do you still think we will beat the Ravens and Colts to achieve that mark before the bye? These teams look eerily similar to the Chargers who stomped us, having elite quarterbacks and fast receivers.
John: I thought before the Chargers game that the Jaguars had a very good chance to beat those two teams, but after what happened in that game I need to see this team win and succeed before I am confident in a two-game winning streak. I believe it can happen, but at some point this team needs to show it can do it. I sense a lot of fans are feeling that same way, though in perhaps a somewhat more extreme, emotional manner. One thing about the upcoming games involves match-ups. Whereas the Jaguars rarely have played well against the Chargers in the last half-decade, they actually played well against Baltimore the last two years and against Indianapolis last season. Perhaps that means on some level the Jaguars match up better against those teams than they did against San Diego. We'll see.
Tony from Jacksonville:
I read your response regarding the Jags being out of position when Poz was caught on a wide receiver, and it reminded me that this really is a whole new defense. We all knew it might take some time for them to gel. Once the season started, I completely forgot that and expected them to play like a seasoned unit. From the cheap seats, it looked like broken plays cause a lot of our problems versus a lack of passion or talent. If that's the case, then there really is hope that they can fix the mistakes, grow together as a defense and get better this season.
John: That's the hope. That's the task.
Andrew from Toledo, OH:
A lot of questions are revolving around the defense and coaching. Let's talk about Blake Bortles. We have to be a bit worried about his play. Is the play-calling holding him back? The talent they have at wide receiver and tight end suggests this team should not fail in the passing game.
John: Bortles' play against San Diego was not good enough to win. Many quarterbacks have games in which their play is not good enough to win. He must improve from that. So far in his career I have seen nothing to indicate that he won't improve.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I do feel BB should have progressed more than he has. It looks like he regressed. Hence, he is not the answer. Brandon Allen is a cool, collected customer. A coach's son. He can throw a spiral. Have the courage to make the change. Maybe Blake needs to sit a few games. No, I'm not an expert. Just a fan of the NFL for over 40 years. We have a need to do something like this.
John: Brandon Allen is not going to start against Baltimore.
Bruce from Jacksonville:
"Jaguars players being out of position is something that has happened too often." Why does that happen??? Who is responsible for that? Coaches? Players?
John: Yes.
Dave from Section 149:
John, the Ravens appear to be a beatable team. I would fully expect us to win. We beat them last year away. We have beaten them at home in the past. We should win this game. Heaven help us if we do not. There will be no way to stop the snowball rolling downhill if we don't. Why not us this weekend, for all our sake?
John: Yes.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
I have a sinking feeling this Sunday against the Ravens will be another blowout. They want revenge for last year. They are 2-0. Our young team is distraught. We have a lot of injuries and ... well, what have the Jags done to prove that feeling different?
John: The Jaguars did nothing last week to prove that feeling different. That's what makes this game so critical. They must show themselves they were right that they are an improved team – and in so doing, they must earn back the fans' confidence. The two go hand in hand. It's not a complicated thing. They must beat the Ravens on Sunday. That's the task.
Lee from Jacksonville:
I just cannot get excited for Sunday.
John: That's a fair feeling, and it's one I sense from some other readers. It's not the fans' job to be excited if they're not feeling it. It's this team's job to do something to excite the fans. The team's performance on Sunday in San Diego caused you to feel how you feel. It's on the team Sunday against Baltimore to make you feel differently.
John from Fernandina Beach, FL:
When Todd Wash was hired this offseason, he talked a lot about precise execution, knowing assignments and no mental gaffs from the defensive personnel on the field. He is failing at getting the team there.
John: Everything was a failure in San Diego.
Scott from Section 137:
Any chance we might see the Jaguars' offense open up the playbook and start throwing some longer passes or deeper passes on first down – or are we so committed to run first? Even Denver – with a new quarterback – passes to set up the run and I thought our strong point was the passing game. Where has that been?
John: The Jaguars' strong point indeed is the passing game, but it can't operate on its own. If teams don't believe the Jaguars intend to run, the passing game isn't likely to be a strength for long. I wouldn't mind seeing fewer screens and some more plays downfield. I also wouldn't mind a faster tempo early in games. But to go much more pass-heavy has every chance of hurting the offense more than helping it.
Chad from EverBank Field:
Realistically, what do you expect to be the result this weekend? Please don't say, "If they play to their potential, they can win; if they play like last week, not so much." Let's assume it's somewhere in-between, because we are a young team that is going to play inconsistently at times. Do we need our best to beat the Ravens, or will we be able to overcome any mistakes that happen during the game? Can the team handle a setback early in the game – or will they, too, begin thinking "here we go again"?
John: I realistically expect the Jaguars to play well Sunday, partly because they often have followed very bad games with better games under Head Coach Gus Bradley. In years past, such next-game improvement often has not been enough to win because the talent level wasn't good enough to win. I think the Jaguars are better this year than past seasons, so I think they'll play well enough to have a chance to win. As for whether I think they will win, I honestly don't have a feel, but I do think the Jaguars will look like a far different team than it did against San Diego. If it doesn't, that's a major disappointment.

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