JACKSONVILLE – Quick disclaimer:
The astute reader may find this morning's answers lacking – yes, even more so than usual. And not for the first time in recent weeks, I don't know how much new there is to say.
The Jaguars have lost four consecutive games – and Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans at EverBank Field felt like it happened for much the same reason as last week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City.
It felt that way Sunday when I was answering questions for O-Zone Late Night and it still feels that way as I push through the inbox for the Monday O-Zone.
Quarterback Blake Bortles is struggling with accuracy. The special teams are struggling with coverage and ball security. The defense is playing well but not forcing turnovers. The offense isn't playing well enough early to get a lead and it's also committing turnovers.
The Jaguars are playing well enough overall to keep games close and lose games late – and in the NFL that's pretty much the same thing as not playing well at all. That's because keeping games close and losing is still losing. Losing still stinks and that's where we are.
I'll do the best I can to have something new to say. We'll see how that goes.
Let's get to it …
Mark from College Park, MD:
Is there still hope?
John: For what?
JT from Jacksonville:
I'm so sick of this playing from behind and losing John. I'm sick of it!
John: In your understandably frustrated email is a very key point. The Jaguars have played from behind an extraordinary amount this season. They haven't led in the last four games and the only time they have led in the last five games is when they took the lead against Chicago with 2:49 remaining. With the exception of a victory over Indianapolis in London in which they led the entire game, the Jaguars basically have led for about one quarter this season. Playing from behind not only taxes an offense that must throw into the teeth of a defense playing to rush the passer, it also strains a defense that rarely gets to play an opponent in obvious passing situations. You are in essence playing uphill the entire game, which means even the slightest of mistakes often put you in insurmountable situations. That scenario is caused largely by an offense that has started notoriously slow over the last two seasons. I don't have answers, but I do know the situation makes everything difficult every week.
John from Jacksonville and Section 202:
Furious that Fowler is still getting flagged for stupid fouls. Can we bench him for a game?
John: I doubt that happens. But considering he has eight penalties this season – and considering he has two really bad unsportsmanlike personal fouls in the last three games – I wouldn't call the idea ridiculous. I have said often that Fowler's season has been more defined by penalties than production. That was true before, and it's even truer in recent weeks.
Travis from Boynton Beach, FL:
Only way to sum this game up is with explicate words. $&#- #+%* jags
John: Well put.
Trae from Jacksonville:
John, I watched the Jags game and I wasn't entertained. I'm currently watching Fletch for the first time; this is entertainment.
John: Well, I'm not even sure that's a crime anymore. There have been a lot of changes in the law.
John from 227 Duval:
Did not expect anything different, but somehow knew that Bortles will throw a pick-six, defense will not be able to rush and Fowler will remain an IDIOT! Dare you to post it, Johnny.
John from Thornton:
The Titans are in Year Two of their rebuild and already they are a million light years ahead of us. We are the worst team in the NFL. What did we the fans do to earn this terrible a team?
John: Nothing. This isn't the fans' fault.
Nick from Panama City Beach, FL:
This is the most undisciplined, unprepared team in the league. I get that firing Gus Bradley may not accomplish anything this season, but keeping him isn't accomplishing anything, either.
John: I don't expect Jaguars Owner Shad Khan to make a midseason coaching change. His philosophy is clearly that he doesn't believe in them in the NFL. If he didn't do it after Tennessee, I don't think he will change his mind.
Tommy from Corona, CA:
I am so exhausted. ... It's maddening. Defense playing well and we get bad quarterback play, bad special teams play. Another observation: This scheme constantly leaves the defense susceptible to the tight end. Seattle has the same problem. Too much talent for these results. Nathaniel Hackett has done a nice job but this quarterback is killing us and the kick coverage has been brutal all year. I don't believe we are losing to more talented teams. I feel sorry for Gus. I like the guy but they just aren't getting the message. Sorry. … I just needed to vent.
John: No need to apologize. This 2-7 record stinks. It should have been better. There are a lot of reasons for it, and the reasons keep showing themselves each week. This team is minus-24 in turnovers over the last two seasons. You lose a lot of games when you play that way. The team also is struggling with accuracy at the quarterback position. You make a lot of turnovers and miss a lot of big plays when that's the case. Both of those things make it hard to win in the NFL.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
John, can we sit him yet?
John: You're asking about benching Blake Bortles. I understand the question, but I get zero sense that the Jaguars are anywhere remotely close to even remotely considering benching Blake Bortles.
Jacob from NC:
Another loss … what more can be said. At this point do you just copy and paste previous articles? Or has that been going on for a while?
John: That's not what I do, but I understand the confusion. This loss looked a lot like last week and when you've lost seven of nine games a whole lot starts to read and look the same.
Tony from Fedup:
I can only imagine how all the other players on the team feel knowing they have a good team but can't win because the team has to see if No. 5 is the guy. Every play is an adventure. The receivers get open but either it's a pick, overthrow or they have to dive for the ball with no chance to run. I think only reason why fans still come to this deplorable website is to see how you try and spin this dumpster fire or what will be the teams talking point for the week.
John: Yes, it's the website's fault.
Josh from Eyotam, MN:
Every week special teams does something to put the game out of reach. I'd like to see the punt team abolished. Seriously, this team just kills itself over and over.
John: Yes, it does.
Tony from Atlanta, GA:
Is Sen'Derrick Marks' willingness to complain publicly about his playing time a sign that the locker room is in turmoil? He seems like a stand-up guy, and it can't be a good sign that he'd be that open about his frustrations.
John: I wasn't around when Marks said what he said, so I don't know the exact context. I know Marks is an honest guy who says what's on his mind, so if he was bothered by not playing more I'm not surprised he said it. It's never a good thing when things like that make headlines, but it's not a shocking thing considering the frustration that goes along with a season of unmet expectations.
Ronnie P. from Jax Beach, FL:
Considering Bradley has gone through coordinators like diapers, how does Mike Mallory still call himself special teams coordinator? The unit is playing just horribly.
John: Three lost fumbles in four weeks, two long punt returns … no, it hasn't been good. A long punt return is roughly equivalent to a turnover and the 57-yarder that set up the short touchdown in the third quarter Sunday … well, it was a killer. No doubt.
Mark from Basildon, England:
Dear John, apart from Jason Myers' kicking I'm finding it increasingly hard to draw any positives from another disappointing result. It's painful being a Jags fan right now!
John: I know.
Miguel from Section 144 and Duuuvall!!:
Another infuriating game. With four turnovers last week, two this week and still in the game with two minutes left? What if they didn't turn the ball over???!!!! This team could be contending for the division. DON'T TURN THE BALL OVER!!! AAAARRRRGH!!!
John: Your frustration is well-placed. I've said it so much in recent weeks that I'm sick of hearing myself say it, but for all that is wrong with this team right now – lack of pass rush, struggling quarterback, etc., etc., etc. – the minus-14 turnover ratio is the most glaring statistic of all. The Jaguars have committed six turnovers in the last two weeks and forced none. They haven't created a turnover in the last five games. They are minus-24 turnovers in the last two seasons. Cut away everything else and that's the overriding reason for the 7-18 record during that span. Aaaarrghh? Yes, Miguel. Aaaarrggh.