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O-Zone: Fear not

JACKSONVILLE – Looking ahead on a Wednesday.

Let’s get to it …

Graham from Reading, UK

Hi, John. Never have I been more depressed as a Jags fan than I was after watching the Monday Night Football game! It is going to take two-to-three seasons to build a team that can win in this new era of the NFL – and in the meantime, we will be wasting the talent we have on the other side of the ball. This sucks!! Do you think we are trading up for a quarterback pick in the draft next year?

I wasn’t depressed watching Monday Night Football this week as much as I was bored. While many observers and fans delivered hallelujah choruses with the offensive performances in the Los Angeles Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs – hailing it as the harbinger of a glorious, exciting era – I lost interest and fell asleep in the fourth quarter. I like quarterback play as much as anyone, and I never have been a “get-off-my-lawn” guy pining for the old glory seasons of defensive-oriented football. But I do think we’ve reached the point in the NFL that offense in some cases has become too easy – the Jaguars’ current situation notwithstanding. There were times on Monday I felt as if I was watching someone playing Madden in Beginner Mode. I felt like saying, “It’s time to move up a level.” But to your point: you’re right that it’s going to take time for the Jaguars to get their passing offense functioning at that level. If the offseason route is drafting a quarterback – and I believe that could be the case – and acquiring wide receiver to get to the level of the Rams and Chiefs, that sort of explosion and that sort of talent is not going to be acquired in a single offseason. This doesn’t mean the Jaguars can’t compete. I still in my heart don’t believe that playing the style of the New Orleans Saints, Rams and Chiefs is the only way to win in the NFL. I do admit the results of this season so far are testing that belief.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

Defense is officially dead; 54-51 is being dubbed an "instant classic." Yuck. Might as well watch college football, less commercials.

I couldn’t agree more.

Herb from Midstate Office Supply

I see the Jags released Landry Jones. What was the reason for signing him again? Does this mean we're doubling down on Blake the rest of the way??

The Jaguars signed Jones during the bye week because Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had a non-throwing shoulder issue. Jones was signed as insurance; speculation that he was anything more was just that. The idea was to have a backup quarterback to Cody Kessler in the unlikely even that Bortles couldn’t play in the weeks following the bye. That issue is behind Bortles now, leading to Jones’ release.

Alejandro from Mexico City, Mexico

The NFL will be in Mexico next year. Is there any chance that Raiders host Jaguars in that game, or does the London game prohibit that possibility? Duval and Mexico TWD!!!

I would be surprised if the Jaguars play an International Series game anywhere but at Wembley Stadium in London.

Logan from Wichita, KS

The trade we made for Carlos Hyde looks really, really stupid now. Add in that we have cap hell looming and we are in for another rebuild. This is extremely depressing.

The Jaguars’ trade for Carlos Hyde added a running back behind Leonard Fournette who rushed for 44 yards on eight carries Sunday. He likely will be the Jaguars’ backup running back next season, a necessary addition considering Fournette’s injury history. It actually looks the opposite of stupid.

Jordan from Jacksonville

I'm probably in the minority of fans, but I don't think the issue on offense is offensive coordinator Nate Hackett and his play calling.

You’re right. You are in the minority.

Jeff from Orange County, CA

Do offensive and defensive coordinators strategize with each other as to what the game plan of the other will be either before or during games? I'm wondering if defensive coordinator Todd Wash would ever have any influence with Hackett on taking some shots late in the game versus ultra conservative and punt, hoping the defense can step up at each and every call.

The Jaguars do game plan offensive and defensively with an eye on the total strategy for the game. This is discussed extensively preparing for the game, and it’s monitored and executed in in-game situations by Head Coach Doug Marrone.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

If you had to sum it up in one word, what made the big difference between last season and this season?

Injuries.

Tyler from Jacksonville

I think mobility has little to do with taking sacks. Pocket awareness, a quick release, and decisiveness all play a much larger role. I think it is time to see if Cody Kessler is better at those things than Blake.

I don’t completely disagree. But the Jaguars aren’t there yet. The belief is still that Bortles gives them the best chance to win. As maddening as this may be to some fans – or many fans – that’s still the belief.

Brandon from Athens, GA

I think what is frustrating is that we had a chance to sign a quarterback this past offseason. The injuries may still have happened, but maybe a quarterback like Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith would have helped us win one or two games that we have lost with Bortles. That would have kept us in the race for the playoffs this year at least.

Perhaps. At the same time, remember: The Minnesota Vikings made the NFC Championship Game last season and are now 5-4-1 with Cousins; the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last season and are 4-6 with Carson Wentz; the Green Bay Packers are perennially really good, and are 4-5-1 with Aaron Rodgers. I agree the Jaguars could and should be better at quarterback. Would that have made all the difference considering everything going on around the rest of the offense in terms of injuries and personnel? I don’t know.

Bob from Sumter, SC

The most disappointing thing about this season is that I thought the Jaguars were at a point where they might not make it back to the AFC Championship Game – a lot has to go right – but at least the team was at a point where the bad old days of double-digit losses were passed and we would have a team in the hunt that was fun to watch again. The only difference is that there is more legitimate talent now than in the past. I do think it’s time for a new general manager – not because "everyone should be fired," but because it’s time for a fresh set of eyes to evaluate the personnel.

The rash of injuries to the offense is the biggest reason the Jaguars are back to the “bad old days.” I don’t think the Jaguars would be 9-1 if they were healthy, but I absolutely believe they would have somewhere between five and seven victories. As for your feelings toward Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell, that’s a fair thought. I don’t have a feel for what the offseason will bring, but your thought is understandable.

Jimmy from the Neighborhood

Zone, have you had a confrontation with The Belldozer? Did you let him know who really locks down the bank?

He knows where to find me.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, I get that professional players and coaches and their short life spans are not apt to quitting on a season once the playoffs are out of reach. I get that players thrive on digging deep and finding character. I get that the players even have fun playing the spoiler role. But as fans, given that we are looking at a rebuild, shouldn’t we want the Jaguars to lose out to have a better shot at a Top 5 pick?

Fans are going to want what they want. I wouldn’t blame the fans at all for wanting a Top 5 selection. That has nothing to do with how the team will function on game day or in game-planning.

Justin from Jacksonville

John, Bortles is obviously not the future for our franchise. Why don’t we see what we have in Tanner Lee then? Why do we keep subjecting ourselves to this sorry QB play?

The Jaguars are not going to start Tanner Lee. I expect them to continue to start Bortles until they feel he’s not the best chance for them to win – or at least for the next several weeks. When you’re 3-7 and have lost six consecutive games, much can change. We’ll see.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

The Jaguars’ front office could look at this disappointing season, chalk it up to being hit with an unusual amount of injuries and not see the need to make any significant changes. It's a reasonable argument to make. Would that be a mistake?

I don’t think you need to worry about the Jaguars not seeing the need to make significant changes this offseason.

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