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O-Zone: Looking forward

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Elizabeth City, NC:
I can deal with the loss – even the drops – because those things happen, especially with a young team. I believe it can improve with time. What gives me the doom and gloom is I can't remember the last time we had a guy on either side of the ball teams have to game plan for. We don't have the ability to make a game-changing play offensively. It's almost unfathomable that it has been five years since we've seen an offense that can score 17 points without having to be perfect in today's offensive-oriented NFL. As bad as other teams have been, they can at least score.
John: It's hard to argue vehemently with this point. The more I look at this offense, the more I see the reality that the young players need to get better, mature … something … in a hurry. There is talent on this offense. Somewhere in the mix of T.J. Yeldon, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas, Denard Robinson, Blake Bortles you can see play-making ability. In the cases of Thomas and Lee, some of it is injured. In the cases of Bortles, Robinson and Hurns, some of it needs to work through mistakes. In the case of Yeldon, maybe it's almost there; he was impressive at times Sunday. Whatever it is, wherever it is, there's no doubt the Jaguars need someone on offense to start being a player on which this team can rely. They need more than one player to do it, actually. And soon.
Chris from Heath, TX:
I hope Jason Myers can rebound. The confidence of kickers tends to be fragile. Otherwise, I'm not sure the Jaguars fandom will forgive David Caldwell for trading away the fan favorite in favor of this kid. Missing extra points won't cut it, even if they are now a little farther away.
John: All true. All true. Myers had a tough situation replacing Josh Scobee. He also had a tough situation making the jump to the NFL. It got no easier when he missed two of three very makeable kicks Sunday. This can go one of two ways. The Jaguars have said this was a long-term decision and that they will support Myers, but even Gus Bradley said Monday he and Caldwell didn't expect misses this soon.
Michael from Jacksonville:
Same old "non-Tebow" team … I would think a businessman like Khan would see the dollars and cents and excitement of a Tebow-involved team ... win or lose … at least the spirit would be high …
John: Well, you certainly covered all of the bases. #spirit #excitement #businessman #winorlose
Jordan from Clovis, CA:
So, does this team want to be a power-run team or a passing team? I understand there needs to be a mix of both, but we should at least be good in one area.
John: The Jaguars showed some early signs of running effectively Sunday. The yards per carry were good, and the running game certainly seemed ahead of where it was a lot of the time last season. The Jaguars got away from it on a couple of early series in the second half, then the Panthers drained much of the clock in the fourth quarter and there wasn't time to run on the final series. Long story short: I believe you'll see this team focus on the run a lot more as the season goes on, and I think it will benefit the offense.
Rob from Orange Park, FL:
Hoping the Jaguars at least play better this Sunday even if they don't win. I would think if they perform like they did against the Panthers something needs to happen to demonstrate that it is truly unacceptable to perform like that in the NFL. Bench someone, trade, whatever. Of course if they play well (and even win) that takes care of everything at least for another week.
John: Reactionary trades, benchings and releases make headlines and satisfy the fan base for a week or so. Drama aside, I'm not so sure they have significant impact on on-field performance if there's not someone available on or off the roster better than the released/traded player.
Andrew from Section 203:
Let me preface this by saying I do believe in player development. That said, it seems to me that the real playmakers in this league have it inherently and no 'wait-and-see' approach. I can understand having a guy or two, but looks like the entire starting offense is a big 'IF…'
John: It does seem that way, but it's not always the case that NFL playmakers are playmakers from the start. Take Dez Bryant, for instance: he's one of the best "real playmakers" in the NFL. He caught 45 passes for 561 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie. He developed into a 1,000-yard, double-digit touchdown guy in Year 3. The four best receivers I ever covered were Jimmy Smith, Marvin Harrison, Keenan McCardell and Reggie Wayne. McCardell caught one pass in his first two NFL seasons, Smith caught 22 passes in his first three seasons and Wayne/Harrison both had their first 1,000-yard seasons in Year Four. One factor to consider is that many of the Jaguars' potential playmakers – Robinson, Hurns, Lee, Robinson, Yeldon, Bortles – are in their first three seasons at the same time. You're watching these guys all grow up together, and when that happens, it's easy to forget that there a lot of other future elite players growing up around the league, too. On this team, there aren't many play-making veterans to ease the load. That's an issue.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach and Section 106:
"Just get better every day" - I'm afraid that IS carrying over from practice to game day. "Oh well, I dropped that pass. I have to learn from it and get better next time." John, on game day there may not be a next time. On game day there should be some anxiety, pressure, and stress. I'm just not feeling the sense of urgency from Bradley's teams and I think that's the heart of the problem.
John: A word can sometimes make all the difference, and this case the difference is the word "just." Gus Bradley never has said it's OK to "just" get better and not win; he has said the central theme of the organization is getting better and competing. It's a subtle difference, but an important one nonetheless. There is not a feeling among players that it's OK to drop passes or that it's OK to lose. There is urgency, but your thoughts on the matter are understandable. When teams don't win it's easy to think they lack urgency. But that's usually not the case. Usually, they're just not winning.
Cat from Cathouse:
I keep hearing about these Jaguars "spin" stories... but even you said we would go 1-3, 2-2 in the first four games if we were lucky... I think I missed the article where you said we would go to the Super Bowl this year.
John: I don't know that I wrote that the Jaguars needed to be lucky to win early, but yeah, people read what they want to read and hear what they want to hear … and that's fine. Fans gonna fan.
EZ from Jacksonville:
Just finished watching the television copy of Sunday's game and have a bad feeling Bortles might be the new Mr. Preseason. What say you?
John: I say just as three preseason games didn't make Bortles a Hall of Famer, one shaky regular-season game doesn't make him Mr. Preseason. Remember, as shaky as Bortles was, he still went 22 of 40 with a nice drive at the end of the first half and three more 20-plus-ish throws that were flat dropped. If that's the shaky version of Bortles, that's not terrible.
Joe from Oviedo, FL:
With Joeckel being injured yet again and mediocre (for a Top 5 pick), would there be any possibility to going after another left tackle who has had a somewhat successful career in Jake Long? Veteran presence is needed.
John: Improvement at left tackle probably will not be found on the street.
Pete from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Some veterans can make a unit better while the young guys develop (see Chris Clemons.) They might even serve as a mentor if you locate the right guy who can produce. There is never an explanation why this approach has not been used with the receivers for two years now.
John: This is certainly a legitimate point, and Chris Clemons indeed has been a productive free agent. So have Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller. There have been other free agents acquired by this team over the same period that haven't fared as well, so experience doesn't always mean good, productive players. The Jaguars did pursue Randall Cobb this offseason. Aside from that, they haven't believed there was the "right guy who can produce" as a free-agent receiver. Debate that all you want, but that's the explanation.
Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
Is it "Look Ahead Wednesday" yet?
John: Absolutely.

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