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O-Zone: Honest assessment

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Nate from Fogartyville, FL:
I've been a fan since Day One. But it's getting hard to cheer for this team. Thought they would be much farther along than this.
John: Your feelings are absolutely understandable, and believe me, a quick glance of the inbox Sunday night and Monday morning says you're not alone. A lot of people thought the Jaguars would be further along than 1-5 through six games, and if you thought that, then four games under .500 looks really bad. And it's not good. There wasn't a real strong notion within the team this season that the team would be reeling off multiple double-digit victories early. But there was a sense that it would be improved with a chance to be in close games. That has been the case, with five of the team's six games decided in the fourth quarter. They have improved enough to do that, and that by any definition is better than recent seasons. However – and this is a big however – the team has won only one of those aforementioned five games with the result a 1-5 record when it could have been a few games better. The question, then: are the Jaguars where they need to be in terms of record? No, and that's what's causing a lot of buzz, noise and dissatisfaction among fans and observers right now, as well as a lot of postgame frustration and emotion.
Mike from Yulee:
John: Absolutely not.
Daniel from Fort Dodge:
Something or someone needs to be changed, O-Man.
John: I include this email because it's an understandable sentiment, and it's far from the only email expressing this sentiment. In fact, many fans are expressing the sentiment – loudly. I'm not going to say this staff has been perfect, and I won't say there aren't things it can do better. I will say I'm not a big Fire-the-Coaching-Staff guy and never have been. I don't say that because I work for the team. I say that because in 21 seasons covering the league it's my experience that triggers are far too quick and that things lost in times of change far outweigh the benefits of change for change's sake. In the case of the Jaguars this season, I still believe they're a young team that is losing late in games more because of inexperience and avoidable mistakes than because of poor coaching. At 1-5, that's not an opinion many fans share, and if the Jaguars continue to struggle, realistically there may be change or changes because it's a production business. That won't change my opinion, but stay tuned.
Dane from Jacksonville:
It's almost comical, John.
John: Is it? I'm not laughing.
Justa Fan from St. Augustine, FL:
Usually, I get to enjoy Sunday up until 1 p.m., but next Sunday the Jaguars will begin at 9:30 a.m. Any chance my entire day won't be ruined by another loss?
John: Sure, there's a chance. The Jaguars have competed into the fourth quarter in five of six games and there's no indication they're not good enough to do that. If you're good enough to do that, things can break right and you can win. The Jaguars haven't shown they can win consistently and until they do, you're going to see losses and a lot of frustration. But if you're asking if there's a chance …
Kyle from Clearwater, FL:
Zone, the season is done. Instead of competing for playoffs, these players will be competing for their jobs. I fear that may be true for some of the coaches as well.
John: This is always true in the NFL. At 1-5, it is most certainly true – with a dash of urgency.
Brian from Section 238:
I'm not mad. I'm just done. Here are my requests: #morepassrush #moreaccuratepasses #morerungame #morewins #moreexcuses #morelosses #moreofmefeelingsorryforjohnafteralosstobrianhoyer
John: Don't feel sorry for me. As for the other hashtags, I get the frustration. This is hard. Really hard. I don't believe the Jaguars should be winning games going away. I don't believe they're there yet in terms of talent base. I wasn't really even completely shocked at the losses to Tampa Bay and Indianapolis because young teams can lose inexplicably on the road – and the Colts' loss really wasn't all that inexplicable. But was I surprised when the Jaguars let a 14-10 lead turn into a 31-14 deficit in a snap of the fingers Sunday? Yes, that was surprising. And disturbing.
Joel from Boston, MA:
On the bright side, it was only one bad quarter. But, wow, was it a bad quarter.
John: It was actually a bad four minutes. But, wow, was it a bad four minutes.
Shawn from Here:
Now what? I'm at a loss (no pun intended) for words. Spin it DJ O.
John: Ah, another "spin"-themed question. I'm not sure how many ways I can say or write that the Jaguars aren't playing well enough, and that they need to eliminate the mistakes. They're not good enough to win big, and they're not playing well enough to win close games. They're 1-5 and that's not good. Are they better than last year? The facts say they are. Are they better enough to be better than 1-5? Not yet they're not. What will that mean in terms of change going forward? We'll see.
Kevin from Belden, ND:
Is it the defense? Is it the coaching? Blake wasn't perfection, but it finally looks like we have a QB who can win games. Over the last three seasons, it seems like we are one aspect away. Besides "youth," does anyone know why we can't put a full game together?
John: Youth is still the biggest reason. Pass rush – or lack thereof – is the second-biggest reason.
Mark from Basildon, England:
So where do we go from here? Blake Bortles seems to take two steps forward and then three steps back, the defense needs to be reminded that a game lasts more than two quarters – and as such we are looking at the first draft pick again next year. Apart from the draft pick I'm struggling to find any positives from the Texans game!
John: Well, the Jaguars never have had the No. 1 overall selection in the draft, but I'm not going to get into an argument over "facts." As far as Bortles, I'll repeat something I said in O-Zone Late Night Sunday. You'll drive yourself nuts if you try to analyze Bortles or any young quarterback week to week. You won't see progression or regression week to week, or maybe even month to month. You want to see improvement over the course of a season. So far this season, Bortles has shown improvement. Was he as good Sunday as he was against Tampa Bay? No. Was he better than he was early in the season? Yes. If he continues to progress as he has so far this season, he'll be fine.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Will Mr. Khan give a state-of-the-franchise speech or a mid-year report from his eyes as the owner? I'm very curious to see what his take is concerning his team at this point.
John: Khan's approach never has been to give a state-of-the-franchise speech or a midseason report. He typically has spoken to the media while in London. The Jaguars are in London this week. If Khan speaks to the media this week, I imagine the Jaguars' record will be a topic.
Bill from Jacksonville:
Tell me Mr. O, if a kindergartner can see covering DeAndre Hopkins one-on-one isn't working, why is it Bob Babich is incapable of adjusting the game plan? Bring on a Top Five draft pick and a new coaching staff. Yes, please.
John: The Jaguars need to blitz and get creative with pressure because they are having trouble getting pressure rushing four. To do that, you can't always help as much on the back end. Besides, until the fourth quarter, I actually thought House did a decent job on Hopkins. I wouldn't say he was great, but Hopkins made some very difficult catches and it wasn't as if he was wide open. Now, as far as the fourth quarter …
Scott from Points North and Mysteryville:
If not now, when?
John: Later. Soon. We'll see.
Travis from Boynton Beach, FL:
The "prodigy" throws it 53 times???? Definitely not the recipe for success. C'mon Man!!!
John: No, that's certainly not a recipe for success. But watching the game Sunday, I never got the feeling the Jaguars "abandoned the run." I got a pretty strong feeling that the Jaguars struggled to run, and the statistics showed that to be true. If you're struggling to run and you're trailing all but a few plays, that can be a recipe for throwing 53 times – if not exactly a recipe for success.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
We've been bamboozled! ... hoodwinked! ... this team is in no way, shape, or form better...
John: Of course it's better. Now, is it better enough? That is a legitimate question.
Bill from Melbourne, FL:
We're not very good!!!
John: You're right.

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