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O-Zone: Guessing game

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Devin from Charleston, SC:
Wow ... I love progress. Go Jaguars …
John: Your e-mail drips with sarcasm and understandably so. The Jaguars lost 31-17 to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and what happened at Wembley Stadium didn't look like progress or improving – sure not in the first half. That was why Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley was so angry at halftime. He called halftime a "challenge," which is about as strong as he'll speak about his team's poor play when speaking to the media. It was obviously bad, and it wasn't close to how the team had been playing in recent weeks. The Jaguars have made progress this season, but Sunday wasn't a shining example.
McPadre from Kingsland, GA:
When is this team gonna start making smaller mistakes? I know they're young … I know there are a lot of rookies and second-year players, but man … every mistake we make is huge! It's like every week you watch and just wait for them to happen to turn a win into yet another loss! #sickandtired
John: You're referring, I assume, to the muffed punt by wide receiver Ace Sanders, and there isn't a whole lot of analyzing or breaking down to be done there, is there? It was a back-breaking, momentum-turning play and the kind that really hurts a young team. So, yeah … it hurt.
William from Section 423:
Zone ... the special teams …
John: William … yeah, I know.
T.J. from Huntsville, AL:
Get rid of Jedd Fisch. He is the problem. This is not college football, this dink-and-dunk stuff does not work! I am so tired of watching us not stretch the field. He makes the play calls, it is his fault.
John: Ah, yes … blame the play-caller …
Tom from Jacksonville:
Been patient so far. This is the game where I lost faith in the coaching staff. No blitzes, just let a wounded Tony Romo pick us apart. Don't even try to challenge him. It's embarrassing. They should be ashamed.
John: This is why caution is the best watchword when making instant analysis. I, too, wondered why the Jaguars didn't pressure Romo more in the first half. Then, Bradley said the defense did bring pressure – a couple of different looks, actually – early. The Cowboys' line picked up the blitzes, giving Romo a chance to extend plays against a defense with fewer defenders in pass coverage. That's a dangerous combination – as we saw.
Connor from St. Augustine, FL:
Hey O-man! There is always a guy following Gus around on the sideline with a cable for his headset. It's hard to believe the NFL can't figure out how to go wireless and hide the cables like DirectTV. These are the things I pay attention to after they take a sack right after coming out of a timeout on third down.
John: I'll take time out from the bashing of the inbox to address this one. The NFL certainly knows how to go wireless, but it's tough to do perfectly in a stadium with tens of thousands of people. With time of the essence on the sidelines, no one wants head coaches trying to turn the computer off and on and reenter the wifi code. And yeah, I caught the sack-coming-out-of-a-timeout-on-third down comments. It's wearing, I know.
Maggie from Annapolis, MD:
Listened to the game on the radio. Bill Polian made the comment about all the rookies on the Jags team. Basically it was an NFL team against the Senior Bowl. Hate to admit it, but he is right. Sigh …
John: You may hate to admit it, but in this case Polian is right. And you know what? I'm sure he didn't say it as a negative. I'm sure he said it as a realistic assessment of where the Jaguars are, and why they're struggling. And you know what else? Far better to be struggling with a team of rookies with potential than a team of veterans who you're worried about replacing. You know what? That's what.
Justin from Jacksonville :
John: No.
James from Orange Park, FL:
I'm officially over this youth movement. Losing is awful. Being outmatched is awful. I want some veterans. The fact that we are in this situation is unbearable.
John: It's difficult. It's brutal. No doubt. And I believe the Jaguars will be a lot more active in veteran free agency this coming ofseason. That has been the plan since David Caldwell and Gus Bradley took over. But free agency isn't the end-all, and it's still going to be up to a lot of young players to make a lot of strides. There's no indication they won't do that, but it still has to be done.
Keith from Jacksonville:
John, I have been a season ticket holder for about twelve years and I know that this team is young and LORD knows I'm trying to be patient. But the effort that was displayed today was absolutely horrible. The tackling on defense today was Pop Warner like. SMH!
John: The tackling wasn't good. That was particularly true in the first half, when the game was in doubt for a while. Safety Johnathan Cyprien didn't call it Pop Warner, but he did say the Jaguars played like a college team should play. Cyprien was visibly upset and frustrated in the post-game press conference, pointing the finger at himself more than anything. He said he believed other players were upset, too. You don't get better by being mad or frustrated, but if it helps the focus or determination coming back after the bye … hey, awesome.
Colin from Orlando, FL:
John, we don't have Calvin Johnson, or Demarius Thomas, or cough cough Dez Bryant on our team. But, injuries notwithstanding, we have three receivers on our team (Hurns, Robinson, Shorts) who have the ability to make plays, and at times carry a drive. This is the first time we can say this in a while.
John: The Jaguars' receivers are getting better and showing some signs. Allen Robinson remains particularly impressive. This probably isn't the day to emphasize it, but it's there.
HulkSMash from Las Vegas, NV:
O, what is it gonna take to get all phases to play/be on the same page in the same games? I like what Bradley has done and I firmly do not believe it's the coaching. These players, young or old, need to throw some coal in the stomach furnace and stoke a burning desire to win. This team can compete but one phase of the team or another seem to shoot themselves in the foot at the absolute worse times …
John: They want it. It's not that. Mistakes and missed tackles are often mistaken for a lack of desire. Either way, though, the results are usually the same. Unfortunately. And to answer your question about what it will take to get all phases to play/be on the same page in the same game ... maturity, growth and frustratingly, time.
Willie from the Chocolate Factory:
No offense, but you really don't understand the fans' frustration because you don't sit in the bleachers and listen to visiting drunken fans belittle your team. You sit in an ivory tower called the press box and do not endure verbal abuse while your team loses continuously. You are detached and somewhat insulated. Down in the trenches, we are taking a terrific beating. I also think two games a year in London is a terrible idea that will further alienate fans in Jacksonville. It is difficult to support a loser. It would be even more difficult to support a loser who is AWOL 25 percent of the regular season home games a year. Do you understand the difference in the cognitive domain (head knowledge) and the affective domain (heart knowledge)? We take this team to heart and they are breaking our hearts.
John: It's true that I don't have to listen to opposing fans, though a check of my inbox on Sunday nights and Monday mornings would indicate that I know something about taking a beating. And sorry about the press box thing, but gotta work somewhere. I don't know about all that domain stuff. It's been a while since I've been college, but I do agree two home games in London would be a tough thing to swallow. One home game and one road game seems a lot more palpable.
Tim from the Southside:
Can you clear up something for me? Was that Dez Bryant touchdown at the end of the half on Cyprien for not providing help over the top, or was the play call to actually play man-to-man with a Top 5 receiver in the league with less than a minute left in the half?
John: Bradley said after the game that was the called coverage, and that there are situations when the defense simply expects a cornerback to make play while in man. When asked about it, he also said it's something the Jaguars may look at.
George from Savannah,GA:
"I'd be surprised if they won easily." I guess you guessed wrong again!
John: Yep, it happened. You know what's weird? It will happen again someday.

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