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O-Zone: Get over it

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Logan from Wichita, KS:
This Sunday is either going to be really good or really, really, really bad. What team shows up? The one fighting to prove it belongs next year or the one broken by a bad record and losing its coach? I am begging for it to be the first one because I DO NOT want to be blown out like a bunch of rejects by the Titans again.
John: I can guarantee you the Titans will not blow out the Jaguars Sunday. I will go a step further and guarantee they will not beat the Jaguars Sunday.
Daniel from Duval:
I really think Abry Jones can keep the starting job next season the way he has been playing lately. He is a great run stuffer.
John: I think you're right on both points, and I also think Jones is a pretty good pass rusher for his position. The thought was the Jaguars would really miss nose tackle Roy Miller when he was injured earlier this season against Oakland. Jones has played well enough in his place that Miller hasn't been missed nearly as much as many thought.
Clif from Washington, DC:
I think it's hilarious people want to blame Blake for Gus being fired. The Texans have a worse quarterback situation than the Jags and yet they somehow managed to win eight games this year without Watt. Gus is a bad head coach. It's not a debate.
John: Yes, because it's always coaching in the NFL.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, please help us understand the decision to play Myles Jack only in non-running situations. He can't defend the run? Why? Because of his high-level athleticism? Is it the fact that he understands the run game intimately? His otherworldly speed? I mean, c'mon. It's not a knock on Skuta, but let's remember that but for a concern about Jack's long-term health, he was in the conversation for being picked over Jalen Ramsey and Ramsey is THE future of the Jaguars defense.
John: I understand the confusion over this issue. Many fans want Jack to play more and I get it. I think Jack should be playing more, too – because I'd like to see what he can do in a full-time situation. Jaguars coaches believe Skuta is the better option in heavy run packages. Considering that the defense has played at a pretty high level for the most part against the run, who knows? Maybe the coaches are right in this case.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
John, can you put in a good word for Sean Payton? I think he'd be 'purrfect' for the job. Maybe he could bring Drew Brees along, too. Wouldn't that be something? Mention his name to Shad for me, would you?
John: Will do.
Cary from Montreal, Quebec:
I was wondering why the NFL doesn't have full-time refs? I feel like I've seen more suspect calls and non-calls this season than I can remember. And there is definitely more criticism by player – or at least it seems that way. The NFL makes so much money … why are the refs part time? Heck, the CFL refs are better than the NFL; they are more consistent.
John: The NFL reportedly does plan to hire 17 full-time officials next season, and it essentially would add a referee to each crew. I'm fine with adding an official to each crew, and I guess there's some benefit to a limited number of full-time officials. The new additions reportedly will focus on training and consultation year-round, and I suppose that makes some sense. Still, I honestly don't see much reason to go crazy in this area. I've never been a big proponent of full-time officials because I can't for the life of me figure how it will help improve officiating all that much – or for that matter what they will do to fill a 40-hour-a-week, 52-week-a-year job.
Ray from Jacksonville:
John: If everything was so amicable, why was the Bradley news conference conducted away from the facility?
John: He was no longer the head coach of the Jaguars.
Derrick from Jacksonville:
Let me start by stating the obvious: Gus is a good man. I understand that coaching is not the only reason for the Jags' failure this year. But as the head coach, the buck stops there. Gus was the victim of his own decision-making when it came to Blake Bortles. He should have made a change and sat Blake Bortles for a game or two. Continuing to do the same thing expecting different results is by definition insanity. You keep stating that the organization believes in Bortles. The more important question that needs to be answered is does the other players believe in Bortles? Do you really think they still believe?
John: I've seen insanity defined as "extreme folly or unreasonableness," but amazingly enough I've never seen it defined "continuing to do the same thing expecting different results" – although I've seen it attributed to Albert Einstein. Whatever. As for players' belief in Bortles … I think human nature would make it reasonable for teammates to have at least some doubt. The team is 2-12 and he has struggled at times this season. But I think this offense has to have a lot of doubts all around – and that goes far beyond Bortles. The struggles have been extreme and involve more than one player.
James from Socorro, NM:
Referencing a recent email, one could say based on last year: "Bottom line for 2016. Offense is well on its way to being very good. Defense has a loooooooonnnngggg way to go." Many were expecting the offense to be good this year and it clearly was not. Who is to say that the defense will be good next year?
John: There obviously is no guarantee that the defense will be good next year. I would say the same thing about the Jaguars' defense this season as I said about the Jaguars' offense last season – that while it has made strides from the previous season, there are still strides to be made. The offense last season improved from the season before, but it clearly needed to improve as a running offense and quarterback Blake Bortles clearly still needed to develop in some key areas this season. Neither happened. The defense this season improved from last season, but it clearly needs to make more impact plays and needs to create more pass rush next season. If that happens, then there are pieces in place around which a solid defense can be built. If not …
Travis from a land far, far away.:
O'Bro, with a weak quarterback class in the upcoming draft, and the intense scrutiny of the fans to can Bortles (which I disagree with), how do you think the team will approach this offseason to solidify the quarterback position?
John: I don't think anyone will have the faintest idea what the Jaguars will do at quarterback next season until we know more about the next head coach.
Jeff from Yulee, FL:
Correct me if I'm wrong, Zone, but under the Gus Bradley regime – and still under the David Caldwell regime – the Jags seem to focus all in on one side of the football field each offseason. In 2014, offense was terrible, defense was better though not great, so Gus/Dave went mostly offense. In 2015, offense was much better, defense was much worse, Dave/Gus focus on defense in 2016. This year, defense is much improved, and offense is a disaster. It almost seems as if Gus/Dave spent all their time and energy on improving one side of the ball while completely ignoring or doing very little to improve the other side of the ball since in their mind it didn't need "fixing." Just an observation, and perhaps one of the reasons Gus didn't work out. I think the inconsistencies on the offense this year and the defense last year, fall mostly on Gus/Dave's shoulders. What say you O-man?
John: Well, of course the inconsistencies on a particular side of the ball in recent seasons fall on Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley; they have been the general manager and head coach, so on their shoulders do such things fall. As far as recent offseasons emphasizing one side of the ball or the other – yes, things played out that way. The Jaguars focused heavily on offense in the 2014 NFL Draft and the 2015 offseason, and until this season it seemed that focus had paid off. This season has cast serious doubt on that notion. The 2016 NFL Draft and offseason seem to have improved the defense dramatically, and that improvement seems to be real. I expect focus on both side of the ball this offseason, though it certainly seems reasonable to think offense could have a touch more emphasis.
Bill from Danville:
Jack is not a typical strong-side linebacker. The other two linebackers are playing his typical positions and are doing better than the rookie could. END OF STORY, GET OVER IT!!!
John: Oh yeah – that, too.

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