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O-Zone: May we walk

JACKSONVILLE – Organized Team Activities Week 2.

Let's get to it … Norman from Palm Coast, FL:
Dear Zone, do you find it difficult to have to defend your answers day in and day out? After all, we write in questions to hear … your opinion!! Not everyone will like it and you have said repeatedly that you get that. I for one enjoy the answers – some serious, some silly – but I also know if I don't like it I can do what my mom always told me: if you don't like the site, then stop getting on it!! One fer Mr O!
John: I don't actually find it difficult to "defend" my answers day in and day out. That's because while some questioners do assume an attacking tone at times, I try not to "defend" in my answers. There are a couple of reasons for this. I try not to "defend" myself because this forum isn't about me; rather, it's about the Jaguars. I also try not to "defend" the Jaguars, because it's fair for fans to show anger and discontent – and because for the most part the people making decisions, coaching and playing for the Jaguars don't need me to defend them. What I try to do instead is answer questions as honestly as possible, with as much insight as possible while trying best as possible to take the emotion, anger and immediacy out of the equation. I also try to not worry much about whether or not people like the answer because if I worried about that, the answers over time would seem disingenuous. In the case of the last few years, it would be easy to write that former Head Coach Gus Bradley, General Manager David Caldwell, quarterback Blake Bortles or any number of other primary characters in the Jaguars' story were awful in their roles and singularly to blame for all that has ailed the Jaguars. It would have been particularly easy last season and this offseason to categorically take the approach that Bradley was the primary reason the Jaguars struggled the past four seasons. When coaches get fired, organizational cultures shift and all that came before it is painted as the culprit. This is an easy approach to take because it allows fans to believe that the "problem" is solved and that things will magically improve. There typically is far more to be done than simply changes coaches, and that's the case with the Jaguars. But I digress … the point here is that, no … not everyone's going to like that opinion or a lot of others. And that's OK, but one fer Mr. O? Nah. One fer those who don't like Mr. O's opinions but keep reading. Bless 'em – and may we all keep not getting along and kinda, sorta getting along at the same time.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Is it true that Bortles has never won a division road game and has only two division wins at home, one of which came in London? That can't be correct, can it?
John: It's not correct. Bortles and the Jaguars indeed haven't won a division road game in the last three seasons. They have won five division home games, including one in London.
David from Munich, Germany:
I felt the team kind of lost its way last season after the Week 1 loss the Packers; they were (in my opinion) the better team and got screwed by some bad calls. I felt the disappointment and loss of confidence after being close but not getting there – paired with the terrible game against the Chargers – derailed the whole season. Could you imagine an alternate universe in which the Jags would have won at least seven – maybe even nine – games last season only based on the different vibe around the team after beating Green Bay in Week One? This idea gives me hope for this season. I feel like if the team wins close ones early it could snowball into a really good season.
John: A good start absolutely can help a team; it would behoove the Jaguars to start well under Head Coach Doug Marrone this season and it would have behooved them to have started well under Bradley last season. That's because there's a belief factor for any team, a factor that is particularly important for a team that has lost as much as the Jaguars in recent seasons. I don't know that the Packers loss changed everything, though, just as I don't know that I buy the theory that Bradley "lost" the team in the awful loss at San Diego in Week 2. The Jaguars responded to that start with a close loss at home to Baltimore that they could have/should have won, then won back-to-back games after that. The season to me started to turn bad fast against Oakland in Game 6 – and then after that … well, yeah. How important are the first two weeks for Marrone and the 2017 Jaguars? They're important, to be sure, because a good start always is important. But I don't know that they're make-or-break games. I think this is going to be a pretty mentally tough team. And a mentally tough team should be able to overcome some early adversity.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
I'm not as down on the preseason as most. Yes, it's boring, bad football and every fan hates to watch a key player get injured in a meaningless game, but what would happen if you eliminated it? These are warmup games for the regular season, and you can't really simulate that practicing against another team. The first couple weeks of the regular season are usually sloppy enough; if they get rid of the preseason we'll be watching bad football until Week 6 or 7!
John: That's indeed the dilemma. I believe front-line players need at least two preseason games to get some level of preparation for the regular season, and I believe you need at least one – maybe two – more to get enough evaluation for roster players. That's probably the old-school guy in me talking, and perhaps the league could make due with three preseason games. It's not that I love watching them; I don't. But I do believe in the preparation/evaluation value. None of that means I think the old-schoolers will win out on this in the long run. I don't – and I believe that at some point in the next 10 years or so we'll see a shorter preseason.
Nathan from Provo, UT:
O-Sure, let me get this straight . . . the man who took an NFL franchise to a record, most successful first-five seasons, went on to coach another team, to two Super Bowl victories over the dynamic New England Patriots (both times against Tom Brady) is now again involved with this franchise? With the talent I'm seeing on paper, I am excited for the future. Here's one for the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars!
John: Tom Coughlin indeed is back in Jacksonville, and that indeed has a lot of people excited about the 2017 season. I like this question for its simplicity and its truth – and because it might get us back looking at the present and future of this franchise rather than bickering over its recent past. But to answer your question … yes, the man who took an NFL franchise to a successful first five seasons and who went on to coach the New York Giants to Super Bowl victories over New England is now again involved with the Jaguars. That doesn't mean the past doesn't count, and it doesn't mean the past five, six, seven or more seasons haven't been long and frustrating for the Jaguars and their fans.
Mark from College Park, MD:
Not living in Jacksonville anymore due to work, it looks like Daily's Place is a real hit. Did you let your hair down this weekend and jam out?!?
John: I didn't. But many did. Daily's Place indeed is a hit. That's not a surprise. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan took a big swing at a game-changing pitch. His swings usually don't miss.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
We all know Dante Fowler Jr. is a bust. The guys we could have drafted other than him should have got Dave Caldwell fired on the spot. John, I know you got to laugh at the fact Dave still is with the organization. If you don't you should; because his performance is pathetic. He was never meant to be more than an assistant. You'll support the organization as you should but if there is anything I can guarantee it's that Dave Caldwell will not be the general manager after next year and he will never have a job as general manager again.
John: Few things are of more value to a man than a wise confidant who can tell him when he must laugh – and for that matter, who can tell him generally speaking what he should do and how he should feel about things. Rare it is to find someone you can trust to do these things who also can give you a sound, clear, level-headed road map for the future. I don't know much, but I do know enough to take note of such a man, thank him and make sure I walk with him through the rocky road of life. So, you are noted, Tommy. Thank you. And may we walk on, you and I, down our rocky path. Yay … may we walk.

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