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O-Zone: Making his point

JACKSONVILLE – Sigh. Sigh, sigh, sigh.

Let's get to it … Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Sunday is the first game I really questioned Gus. Two terrible challenges and the decision not to run another play when they had time at the end of the game. Poor decisions that cost the Jags in the long run. I wasn't thrilled with the offensive play-calling, either, but I'm sure we'll talk about that down the road. Do you agree with any of that?
John: I agree with you on the challenges, and Jaguars Head Coach Bradley accepted the blame afterward for not having a timeout at the end of the game because of the challenges. Sometimes, a coach can get into some wishful thinking with the challenge system, and Bradley did challenge two plays Sunday in the loss to the Tennessee Titans that you never really thought might get overturned. And yes, the Jaguars absolutely could have used a timeout at the end of the game. As far as how that end played out, Bradley opted to have Josh Scobee attempt a 55-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining and no time outs. My first thought, too, was that the Jaguars could have run another play, but they were within Scobee's range. How big of a risk was running another play there? That probably depends on the confidence you have in the quarterback/receivers/offensive line to engineer a play that gains yards and gets out of bounds. If I had Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers or some other experienced quarterback working with experienced players, I definitely throw one more pass. With a rookie quarterback working with a team of rookies … let's just say I understand the decision a little more in that context.
John from Jacksonville:
Please cut Cecil Shorts III.
John: Yes, cut your most-experienced wide receiver and a player who had 100 yards receiving Sunday because of a late-game mistake. The mistake hurt. You can't have that fumble, but you also don't cut him for it.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
Why didn't Gus Bradley call time out before the half when the Titans were about to score?
John: I agree about the end of the first half. I'm a guy who believes that when the opponent is in the red zone late in a half with more than a minute and less than, say, three, remaining, the defense should call timeout. That should have been the Jaguars' time to use once they got the ball back.
Jerell from South Carolina:
Sigh … I want you to be honest, OK? This team is worse than last year, right?
John: No. They're not good enough, and I expected a victory or two by now, but to say they're worse than last year … no. Absolutely not.
Ben from Section 101:
Two teams in NFL history have started back-to-back seasons with a 0-6 record, and we're one of them. Should we as fans be proud?
John: Of course, not. You should be frustrated and angry and impatient, which many fans are. Fortunately for the franchise, ownership – while frustrated – is not impatient and realizes this is a long process that takes time. Change direction now and start another building process? Is that what fans want? Really?
Jon from Queenstown, NZ:
Bortles deserves better...
John: Let's slow down on this front a bit, shall we? Bortles is going to be fine. He's the future of this franchise. And he threw for a lot of yards Sunday. I believe he's going to win a lot of games for this team in the future. But it's not as if he is yet playing on a Pro Bowl level with everything else a wreck around him. He's developing. The Jaguars' offense is going to develop around him. That's going to be a long, frustrating process at times, but is it starting? Absolutely.
Andy from Whimple, England:
I'm normally pretty laidback and can set the defeats in the context of a long-term plan. But today, I am really frustrated. Just too many mistakes from Gus down. How you feeling, O-man?
John: I'm feeling fine, but I don't play or coach. Now, those guys – the ones I spoke to on Sunday anyway … yes, there is some frustration. They're tired of talking about being close and tired of making just enough mistakes to not win.
Jim from Meridian, ID:
OK. Take away at least one turnover, and the offense looked very good. Is it safe to say though, the defense is going to have to make one of those "game-changer" type plays for this team to win?
John: I can't say the offense looked "very good." Though the unit started well and faced some very difficult field position throughout, the Jaguars didn't finish drives well enough to be called "very good." And though I do think the Jaguars need game-changer plays to win, I don't know that I'd limit it to the defense. That's what's missing more than anything from the entire team right now. This team plays well in spots. It can play solidly for extended periods .Offensively, it seems to be able to string some first downs together now after not doing so early in the season. But the Jaguars have trouble right now making big, game-changing plays on either side of the ball. In a league that rewards big, game-changing plays, it's tough to overcome not having those kinds of plays.
Cade from Orlando, FL:
Missed... Tackles... It hurts so bad.
John: They sure don't help, and they didn't help Sunday. It didn't seem to be the overriding issue that it was in some games early in the season, but it hurt enough to really be a factor in a close game.
Josh from Dayton, OH:
Not long ago we were dead last in the league in sacks. Now we're third. This isn't to give the defense more credit than it deserves, but it's advances like that that will eventually translate into big-time results as things continue to come together.
John: Yes, advances like that are positives – and indeed if you just look at the sacks and pass rush, the defensive line has played contending, winning football as often as not this season. Positives are tough to emphasize and appreciate at 0-6. Losing makes everything worse than it is.
Rob from Jacksonville:
Every quarterback that plays us looks like a Pro Bowler, middle of the field wide open, Gus making bad challenges ... that has to improve.
John: Yep.
Lance from Jacksonville:
Shame us for Jameis. I'll buy the crab legs
John: Don't let the emotions of 0-6 skew your judgment. Blake Bortles is the quarterback of the Jaguars and will be for a long, long time. And that's a good thing for this franchise.
Kevin from Atlanta, GA:
John: No.
Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
The lack of a running game is really hurting this team. What's up with that?
John: Well, it's pretty much the same thing that has been up since the beginning of the season. And while many have wanted to blame this running back or that running back, I have believed and written from the start of the season that the running game will be a work in progress, progressing as a young offensive line gains continuity and experience working together. While Toby Gerhart has drawn the ire of many, and while many pinned hopes for the running game on Storm Johnson, Gerhart was out on Sunday and Johnson averaged a little more than two yards a carry starting in his place The players on the Jaguars' offensive line have a chance to be good. I believe the core is there for a good offensive line. But it is very inexperienced, and even the more experienced players have struggled for consistency. It was better Sunday than it was early in the season, but not yet good enough. And getting good enough is going to take some time.
Mike from West Des Moines, IA:
You can't ask your defense to do much better than hold the other team to 16 points. It comes down to the offensive line. The backs aren't getting run blocking, and the opposing defenders are in the backfield way too often. I am not sure what is happening, but if Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko are playing the best on the line, then this unit and this team are in trouble the rest of the season. Do you foresee any changes coming?
John: No, I don't foresee changes coming. The Jaguars have changed enough on the offensive line this season. What will help now is playing together. They have their group, and now that group must grow up fast. As Gene Hackman once said … well, this.
Tom from Jacksonville:
You always say building a sustainable winner. I am 74 I will settle for a WIN.
John: Point taken.

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