O-Zone: Hmmmm?

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … David from Maplewood, NJ:
John, I'm on the fence; probably some other fans are as well. Doug Marrone becoming the permanent head coach would allow some continuity, which is a point that cannot be ignored. The rate of young quarterback success reduces significantly the more systems they have to learn and I'm not ready to give up on Blake Bortles – if for no other reason than there isn't an obvious franchise quarterback option in the draft. That being said, it wasn't all Gus Bradley … the rest of the staff and, of course, the players share responsibility. This is complicated – and it's frankly more complicated because of how the team performed Saturday.
John: This will be the No. 1 topic this week among Jaguars fans and observers – and considering the Jaguars' level of play in Doug Marrone's first game as interim head coach, it's an understandable, important topic. The Jaguars on Saturday had their most impressive victory of the season — and one of their most impressive victories in several seasons. This was a Titans team with their season on the line – and it was a Titans team that was playing at a high level. They were a Top 10-ranked offense that had just won on the road against Kansas City, a team that has a real chance to go deep in the postseason. The Jaguars didn't fluke into beating the Titans; they led the entire game and held Tennessee to its second-lowest yardage total of the season. The Jaguars also played their best offensive game of the season. Was this all because of Marrone? Was it a pressure release after Bradley was relieved of his duties the previous week? Was it the post-coaching-change surge that is relatively common in the NFL but often not sustainable? Those questions are hard to answer. You don't want to overemphasize one victory – impressive though it was. Teams often play well immediately following a coaching change because of the urgency associated with the shakeup – and many teams settle back down to earth. That's the argument for pumping the brakes somewhat in this situation. At the same time, Marrone is a very capable head coach who almost certainly will be an NFL head coach soon. He showed himself very capable for two seasons in Buffalo. It would be very unwise to ignore a very, very good candidate just because of familiarity.
Daniel from Duval:
RAMSEY!! He is gonna be a shutdown corner for 10-plus years.
John: Jalen Ramsey indeed appears as if he's going to be a front-line cornerback for a long, long time – and he's going to be intriguing to watch. I don't know that he's quite the lock-down cornerback on the level of a Darrelle Revis in his prime, but that's all-time, all-time stuff. Ramsey's physicality, his ability to defend the ball in the air, his ability to play the run, his ability to separate receivers from the ball … well, I don't know that I've ever seen anything quite like the way Ramsey does those things from the cornerback position. He is headed for greatness. Soon.
Roger from Valdosta, GA:
Hey, just wanted to let you know that I took the Jags in my weekly football pool because you said they would not lose. And guess what: I won the pot. Forty-six other people took the Titans. Thanks, O. You ever in Valdosta, buzz me. Beer is on me.
John: Good for you, Roger – although it's still beyond me why more people didn't realize the Jaguars simply were not going to lose Sunday. It was right there for all to see.
John from Clearwater, FL:
I keep reading something that concerns me more than the losses, the uncertainty of a coach or just about anything else. I keep reading that there was too much pressure on this team and now the season's over and there's no pressure and they played well. We've seen this in games where once it's garbage time, the team suddenly plays different. It's very concerning going forward that we have a team that cannot even be competent because the game is on the line. How do you fix that? Gus Bradley seemed to be the most easygoing coach ever and there was still too much pressure, apparently?
John: I'll be honest: I don't know quite how to interpret that storyline, either – though I do think when it comes to the team as a whole, the "too-much-pressure" theme has been a little overblown. On an individual basis, quarterback Blake Bortles indeed said afterward he may have been placing too much pressure on himself – and that he was able to exhale and play loose Saturday. If so, then that's a good sign that he can play at a high level – and it's a concerning sign that he was unable to do so for 14 games for whatever reason. I don't know that the rest of the team was all that loose on Saturday, because I don't know that "looseness" is that big of a deal outside the quarterback position. It seemed the rest of the team played with a real urgency, so perhaps that was the difference. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to know how pressure did or didn't impact the team. I do think I'm smart enough to know whoever is the head coach next season needs to figure out how to get Bortles to play as he did Saturday. If he plays to that level, the pressure on everyone – including himself – will lessen a great deal.
Mario from Orlando, FL:
If coaching changes translate to teams playing better and getting wins immediately, then coaches would be fired and hired left and right. Time to enjoy this win, but it's also time to keep things in perspective and take it one day at a time. Go Jags!
John: Nah … it's time for knee-jerk reactions and jumping to conclusions. Those things are easier and a lot more fun.
Kent from Jacksonville :
One of the biggest differences between Gus Bradley and Doug Marrone was summed up to me after the Chris Ivory fumble. Marrone was in Ivory's ear coaching him up whereas Gus tended to be their buddy more with a pat on the shoulder and a good job buddy we'll get 'em next time. The team looked like what everyone thought they would look like back in September. Guys played like they were being held accountable for the first time since Gus Bradley took over. Just some thoughts, what do you think?
John: The Accountability Issue is a hot topic among Jaguars fans this week, and understandably so. Marrone without question brings a harder, old-school persona. He brought that style last week with a few tweaks in approach. Did that wake players up? It's quite possible, even probable. Such is the nature of change – and there's no doubt that accountability is a big thing for Marrone. Could Bradley have been tougher and more old-school hard line in this area? Sure. At the same time, it's incorrect to say there was no accountability under Bradley and that players were never accountable in the past four years. That's going too far the other way.
MrPadre from Kinglsand, GA:
It's kind of ironic that when Bortles plays poorly and the Jags lose it's all because of the quarterback but when they win and he plays great it's all about the "team." sigh
John: Bortles played as well in the first half against the Titans as he has in any game of his NFL career. It's probably not a coincidence that the Jaguars had fuller control of the game than they have had in any previous game in his NFL career. When the quarterback position is shaky, a team often is shaky. Bortles was steady in the first half and the Jaguars' hold on the game felt correspondingly steady.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
Who do you think is our biggest rival John? I know everyone says the Titans. And that's certainly plausible. Early on, I think it was clearly the Broncos. For many years after that, it was surely the Colts. If you asked the players, who do you think they would say is the current most hated rival?
John: I could list the Colts or the Titans, and I suppose they would qualify because of history and/or status as divisional opponents. But I honestly don't think the Jaguars have a real rival right now. I don't get a sense Jaguars players have any real hate or animosity toward any other team – at least not enough to make things interesting. It's hard to have a rival until one team or the other is losing/gaining something from winning or losing, so it's hard to have a rival when your team is losing double-digit games every season. When the Jaguars begin to win again they'll develop rivals soon enough. That's when a whole lot of things will get fun again, too.
Jags Fan 818 from Jacksonville:
WOW - I finally lost my voice this season!!! So excited!! Go JAGS!!!
John: What?

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