NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Well, that was frustrating. Really, really frustrating.
Let's get to it …
Hank from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What. Was. That.
John: That wasn't good, but mostly the Jaguars' 42-39 loss to the Titans Sunday was weird. The Jaguars Sunday by any measure played more than well enough offensively to win. The defensive performance was surprising in one sense and not surprising in another. Was it surprising that the Jaguars couldn't rush the passer and gave up a bunch of points because of it? No. Was it surprising that the Titans were able to run effectively? Yes, that surprised me. That hadn't been the case all season and that's the one thing on which I believed the defense could rely. The shame was a really good offensive performance went unrewarded, and the result is a 4-8 record that should be a few games better.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
Embarrassed by another rookie quarterback, another loss for Jason Myers and a defense that has thrown in the towel. Tell me why you don't see this team at 4-12 and drafting early AGAIN?
John: First, I don't recall ever discussing where I thought the Jaguars would draft next offseason – and I don't recall predicting a final record, either. The reason the Jaguars can finish better than 4-12 is they have been competitive in 11 of 12 games this season. The way the season has gone I expect the final four games to have the same coin-flip feel that the vast majority of games thus far have featured. A whole lot of coin flips have favored the opponents. I figure a few of these next few coin flips perhaps go the Jaguars' way. As far as the defense "throwing in the towel …" nah, that ain't it. They don't rush the passer well. That makes it look like they're throwing in the towel, but there's a difference.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Can they really justify staying with Jason Myers at this point?
John: We'll see. It's a lot tougher to justify now than it was nine days ago. You can say the obvious – that there were many, many reasons the Jaguars lost and that Myers was far from the only reason. At the same time, his missed extra points accounted for three lost points: the two misses and a failed two-point conversion that never would have happened had it not been for the first missed extra point. He has made big field goals this season, but I've been writing for the last several weeks that Myers had to make makeable kicks. The reason for that was the Jaguars likely would be playing close games, and missed makeable kicks at some point could haunt them. On Sunday, they haunted.
JD from the Villages:
Wow, what a game. An offense that can score almost at will is a work of art. And the defense can be fixed with the draft. We got somethin' here. Hate to say this so close to Christmas but the little fella has to go. Wouldn't you agree to all of the above?
John: I've addressed the little fella – and the answer is, "We'll see." As far as the rest … yeah, there are a lot of good, good signs. They're tougher to see the worse the record gets, but they're there if you look.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Jags are a joke. Tell me about the progress they are making again?
John: This was the much-anticipated first email of the game. It was a bad start and a bad game, and on those fronts it was surprising. Is there progress? Sure. Did it look like it Sunday? Well …
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Third downs are killing the Jags. Offense and defense. And the underneath to intermediate pass defense is terrible.
John: This was not the much-anticipated first email of the game. But yeah … what you said.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Not even mad about the loss, John. What I saw from Blake was a quarterback that played and racked up statistics when the game was on the line and didn't turn the ball over. That was the first step to making me a believer. Now, he needs to string them together but I was surprised at how clean he played.
John: I rarely include two emails from the same reader in one O-Zone. When I pick myself up off the floor, I'll consider if I regret doing so in this instance.
James from Socorro, NM:
Good thing the defense is built.
John: Look, I understand that every third email and every second tweet I receive after a loss is going to make reference to the whole "built" thing, but the reality is the defense isn't "built." The Jaguars are without Dante Fowler Jr. and Sen'Derrick Marks – two critical elements of the pass rush – and the vast majority of the team's draft resources have been focused on offense the past three off-seasons. I expect a lot more building (read: drafting) on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason. When that happens, I expect the defense to improve the way the offense has improved this season.
Joe from Duval:
I guess that's a win. We only lost by three.
John: No, that's definitely a loss.