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O-Zone: Just dandy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jesse from Rosamond, CA:
I think if you told most Jags fans they would be 2-2 after the first quarter of the season, they would take it. Onto the second quarter of the season!
John: I discussed this with Mike Dempsey on Jaguars Today on 1010XL Wednesday. His "question of the day" that day was something to the effect of, "Have the Jaguars in your opinion surpassed expectations, met expectations or failed to meet expectations?" I said if my answer was based on how I felt in the offseason, the Jaguars probably had met expectations; I figured this would be a seven-to-eight-victory team and they seem on pace for that sort of season. I said if my answer was based on how I felt midway through the preseason, then the Jaguars probably had surpassed expectations; it's easy to forget now how distraught most Jaguars observers were during in the dog days of mid-August. I said if my answer was based on how I felt the Monday following the Baltimore game, then the Jaguars probably had failed to meet expectations; Sunday's Jets game was one the Jaguars should have won and losing it left many understandably disappointed. The point of this long-winded answer is that expectations and what fans "will take" change week to week. Are the Jaguars in good shape at 2-2? Sure. Would it have been great to be 3-1? Sure. If the Jaguars go to Pittsburgh and win, the fan base will be euphoric until the next catastrophic loss – which would, by definition, be the next loss. Why? Why else? Because fans gonna fan.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
Zone, thanks for stating the obvious, that "the Jags liked Fournette better than Watson." However, can you please explain WHY Tom Coughlin thought Leonard Fournette could be the first running back in modern times to carry an offense? If you look at the top rushers of all-time they either had weapons around them, or their teams had terrible records. I get maybe not taking Watson No. 4 overall, but why not trade back to eight with Carolina, where there was an incredibly good chance Deshaun would still be available, then use the additional ammunition to get one of the other very talented running backs in a deep draft at that position; along with possibly another offensive lineman as well?
John: The Jaguars didn't want Watson in the Top 10. They didn't think he was a quarterback capable of carrying a franchise. If they had thought that, they would have taken him No. 4 overall. Heck, if they thought that they might have traded up to No. 1, 2 or 3 overall. They thought given their situation with an improving defense – and given the lack of a quarterback in the draft they felt would be a franchise-carrying player – that drafting Fournette and improving the running game was the better option. We're four games into this thing. We'll see if they were right, but we certainly don't know yet. Watson evidently has looked very good the last couple of weeks. Perhaps he will continue to look good. Perhaps he won't. (And we won't know if he's a franchise quarterback next week either, incidentally; these things take a while).
Mike from Jacksonville:
Given the current running-back depth chart in Jacksonville and Minnesota, do you think the Jags could get anything of value from the Vikings for T.J. Yeldon?
John: What do we mean by "of value?" A seventh-round draft selection? A sixth? Perhaps. Considering the physical, bruising style of both of the Jaguars' top two running backs – Fournette and Chris Ivory – the guess here is the Jaguars will need their running back depth by season's end.
Tom from Loughborough, England:
Any chance of accelerating the return of Dede Westbrook? I know he's a rookie and there's no guarantee that he'll perform, but I'm clutching at straws here!
John: Westbrook was placed on injured reserve on September 8, and he under NFL rules is eligible to return after Week 8. Information is limited on the extent of his injury and progress of his rehabilitation, but there's no way to accelerate the NFL rule.
Jared from Pensacola, FL:
If this team can stay around .500 like everyone predicts, maybe this team can clean some things up and make a run in December. Just get to December and see what happens.
John: A good number of NFL teams make the playoffs every season with a variation on this formula – get to mid-November or early December around .500, then try to get hot and make the postseason. That's not the ideal route, but if each conference has one or two teams that look like world-beaters from the beginning of each season to the end, history shows each conference also often has two, three or four teams that make the postseason by getting to December in contention and getting hot. The Jaguars are 2-2 and tied for first in the AFC South. This season feels like one in which being .500 in late November will have you in the hunt in the AFC South, the AFC – or both. Getting into that position won't be easy. The Jaguars frankly have to play better moving forward than they did this past week to get there. Can they do it? Yes. We'll see if they do.
Derrick from Jacksonville:
O, what's getting lost is that the Jags are competing and we are having conversations early in the season about the Jags possibly making the playoffs – or finishing .500 or better. Fans now have hopes that the Jags can return to winning. Last year and the year before I don't think these were the type of conversations we were having. We should just sit back and enjoy the ride though it will be a little bumpy. Go Jags.
John: I don't expect fans to "enjoy" the ride. I expect fans to be thrilled with the rarified, glorious air of every victory and I expect fans to hate every loss to their core. I expect them to criticize and question – even during and after the victories. Are the Jaguars out of what I have referred to as the abyss – that double-digit-loss area where every season looks lost in September? It's too early to tell, but it feels as if that's the case. And if that's the case, that's terrific for fans and a lot of people around this franchise who never have experienced winning. But if you're asking if fans should be content even if the Jaguars go 8-8? No. What's the harm in wanting more?
Bryan from Portland, OR:
When neither the starting nor backup quarterback can reliably throw the ball over the linemen, the final call on the quarterbacks has long since become a foregone conclusion. I, for one, look forward to Tom Coughlin doing the obvious. The question then becomes: draft or Alex Smith/Kirk Cousins?
John: Or both?
Jim from Middleburg, FL:
If this offensive line can stay healthy it's gonna be a beautiful thing. Moving the sticks hides a multitude of sins. The neat thing is that no one stay look past them and phone it in.
John: May I mambo dog face to the banana patch?
Stephen from Glorieta:
Did you have a favorite Tom Petty song? So many have run through my mind since Monday. "Won't Back Down" seem like a good one right now.
John: I wasn't a Tom Petty fan on the same level that I followed and loved a lot of artists of his generation. Perhaps he was a tad too commercial for my "if-it's-on-the-radio-it-can't-be-good" mid-1980s musical snobbery. In retrospect, this was probably my loss because I do like Petty and a lot of his songs. Ones that stand out: American Girl, Breakdown, Here Comes My Girl …
Geoff from Jacksonville:
Irrational expectations are way more fun, John! We're beating the Chiefs in Arrowhead to go to the Super Bowl, but will lose to the Falcons unfortunately.
John: OK.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
How is Myles Jack developing?
John: Quickly – and in encouraging fashion. Jack has been very good in nickel situations – and very good when using his speed and tackling ability to chase and disrupt. It appeared on Sunday there were a couple of instances – the 33- and 69-yard runs by the Jets – that he overran his gap and left a huge hole that helped allow those long gains. I emphasize "helped allow" because those plays were breakdowns on all levels and in no way on one player. A huge reason the Jaguars are the NFL's 11th-ranked defense and ranked first against the pass is their speed and ability to swarm and create havoc. Jack is a major part of that.
Todd from Jacksonville:
"Ah, yes, Zone … I see that this is an inconsistent team that's improving but still developing … and you know what? That's just dandy!!"
John: I need to work "dandy" more into everyday conversation. I imagine I would be happier and those around me might consider me less of a drain on their existence.

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