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O-Zone: Memories

JACKSONVILLE – Last day for looking back to Tennessee, and oh, hasn't that been fun.

Let's get to it … Sid from Pittsburgh, PA:
As bad as the secondary and O-line have played, I see hope in the future. Even if we finish 0-16, I see this team being a force in two more years. Should I see a mental-health provider?
John: No, but be careful saying that sort of thing in the O-Zone. It's thick, bitter and angry in here, and that's a scary combination for those who see brighter days ahead.
Joseph from Sacramento, CA:
There are teams with less talented players winning football games – one, at least. So why shouldn't any coaches on this team be let go like they're letting go of players?
John: I'm not sure there are many teams with significantly less talent than the Jaguars. There are good players on this team, but right now it's lacking mature, elite-level playmakers and you need those to win in the NFL. You usually need to draft-and-develop those guys, and it takes time to pepper your roster with them. As far as coaches, at some point they will be let go if they don't win. But if what you're advocating are mid-season changes to the coaching staff, that's not typically a path that yields desirable results.
Mike from New York, NY:
Got some upside from the game for you. This will be the closest game the Jaguars will play this year. From here on, it's nothing but blowout losses again. 0-16.
John: #DTWD
Renay from Macclenny, FL:
Could someone tell Chris Clemons where to line up on defense? It's hard enough to win, but when you beat yourself with stupid penalties that keep opponents on the field, that's part of is preventing winning. I recall at least two times in the game where a drive was extended simply because Chris was lined up in the neutral zone. And this wasn't the only game. They keep talking about getting better. How about practicing simple fundamentals?
John: No argument here, although the Titans did convert a first down on their own on one of Clemons' penalties. Still, no argument. The defense overall played well enough to win Sunday, but giving away free first downs in the NFL is the most inexcusable way to allow points.
Logan from Bartow, FL:
I'm tired of all of these calls for Dave and Gus's head. A successful franchise has to have continuity in order to be successful. Dave and Gus inherited a franchise that was run into the ground. Have some patience, people! Changing your head coach and general manager every two years will ensure that that the team will be a perennial loser. Wait and see what happens. Give these young players a chance to develop. There is no need to go jump off a cliff.
John: The point you make couldn't be more accurate, and order and direction indeed are needed in the NFL. It's what Shad Khan knew was needed when he hired David Caldwell and Gus Bradley in January of last year. What he also knew was going to be needed was patience and time to develop. It's not reasonable to ask fans to be patient. Fans want winning and they want it now. But in terms of setting a course and sticking to a plan, that is what's needed. Developing takes time. That's where the Jaguars are right now.
Dane from Jacksonville:
I don't want to blame too much of the loss on play-calling. After all, how are we supposed to be aggressive and throw the ball vertically when the offensive line is a sieve? But, what is the purpose of running play action during the hurry-up, two-minute drill? It seems like a waste of time to me. No one on Earth is going to be fooled by play action when you've run the ball 12 times for two yards per carry.
John: I agree on the play-calling. While Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has come under heat for "being too conservative," it's really difficult to call plays that go downfield when your quarterback is getting sacked six times and under pressure most of the game. That said, there were plays designed to have downfield options on Sunday that just weren't there. As for the play-action pass in the hurry-up, this is not a thing unique to the Jaguars. A lot of teams run it in the hurry-up when it seems sort of silly. They're play-action plays by design, and they're run as they are run. It's one of those NFL things, sort of like the phantom out at second base in baseball – only not really.
I am Groot from Jacksonville:
Why did it seem like they put the reins on Bortles?
John: It seems that way because he wasn't throwing downfield as much as fans want. He's not throwing downfield as much because of factors mentioned in the last answer. Appearances don't always tell the whole story.
John from Ramsey, NJ:
I realize 0-6 is a tough pill to swallow. My wife keeps telling me I should find another team to root for. That sentiment has carried over to my sister-in-law as well. I say, the winning is sweeter after you've suffered through so many losses. I'm seeing the improvement, slowly and steadily. Or am I just a "glass-half-full" kind of guy?
John: If you're sister-in-law has a say in all this, then you've got bigger issues than what's going on at EverBank.
Josh from Eyota, MN:
How does this defense make a quarterback that has been a career backup look like a superstar? I am not upset the Jags lost this week; I just don't understand how they can play so awful for huge chunks of every game.
John: The Jaguars allowed 16 points and Charlie Whitehurst passed for 233 yards. I'm not sure that was a superstar performance. The defense didn't play perfectly, but you can win games with the level of defense the Jaguars played Sunday.
David from Jacksonville:
How many times does Gus have to give the same postgame press conference? How many weeks in a row? How many times can "we just have to look at it and learn" be said before it is actually done?
John: We'll see.
David from Lighthouse Point:
This Jags' defense is bad! No matter what the Titans run, seemingly more than one guy was badly out of place, or over-pursuing. At this point I believe this is coaching. They are supposed to be much better than this. The staff is not getting the most out of this unit. What do you think?
John: I get that the reaction is always to blame coaching, but coaches can't play for players, and they can't pursue for them, either. And while the defense is drawing a lot of ire, the Jaguars' opponents have scored 17 and 16 points the last two weeks … it hasn't looked pretty a lot and there have been players running open too much, but 17 and 16 points … you can win giving up that many points.
Kyle from Clearwater, FL:
So sick of the reasons, sick of the excuses, sick of 'seeing improvement.' JUST WIN A GAME! Is it too much to ask, John?
John: It shouldn't be, Kyle … it sure shouldn't be.
Jarred from Las Vegas, NV:
I really like Gus, but I don't see Mr. Khan wanting to keep him if we have two 0-8 starts in a row. Is the youth of this team a good enough excuse to keep this staff together another year?
John: I don't know about excuse, but it's certainly a major reason for Jaguars are struggling. As much as people hate hearing it, there's a huge difference in the NFL between players who are 25 and 26 and those who are 22 and 23. Right now, the Jaguars are young. They're unbelievably young on offense. They have almost no core, drafted players from 2011 on back. It's very difficult to win in the NFL without core players of that age. The Jaguars are drafting players with the idea of building that core, but that process doesn't happen in one offseason. Or two.
Mark from Middletown, NJ:
Seems like no running back can really get the running game going for the Jags. Is this a problem with the offensive line or do we need to get a better back?
John: In the NFL, a struggling running game is almost never solely on the running back. There are a handful of backs who can produce without consistent blocking, but it's rare. So, yes, the problem is usually the offensive line, and right now, it's a problem for the Jaguars.
Andrew from Ocala, FL:
Does Blake Bortles like throwing the ball to the other team? I think he should stop doing that.
John: He thinks so, too, but interceptions weren't the overriding issue on Sunday. They didn't help. They never do. And yes, Bortles threw an interception in the third quarter Sunday. But had the Jaguars as a team played better that play could have been overcome.
Biff from Jacksonville:
Stevie Nicks has aged well, but do you recall how stunning she looked back in the early Fleetwood Mac days? I let those memories fill my head after games like this.
John: I do recall that. And thanks.

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