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O-Zone: Misery loves company

JACKSONVILLE – Next-day O-Zone.

Tough, tough, tough, tough, tough …

Let's get to it …

Eric from Orlando, FL:
We beat ourselves. No way to sugarcoat it. We had plenty of chances to win and we lost.
John: This statement pretty much sums up Sunday. The Jaguars lost to the Colts in overtime, 16-13, and it indeed was a game they absolutely had every chance to win. They had eight chances as a matter of fact – as in, eight possessions in the second half and overtime. On six of those possessions the Jaguars drove past midfield and they did not get a point. As I wrote somewhere on Sunday, that's almost impossible to do. There are games when you can look at a team's out-and-out deficiencies as a reason for the loss; the Jaguars certainly have had their share of those in recent years. But as was the case against Carolina, Sunday wasn't about the Jaguars not being as talented as the Colts. Sunday was about not taking advantage of opportunities and not making plays. The NFL is about those things and this is twice now this season the Jaguars haven't done it.
Gamble from Washington, D.C.:
Before the season began, I thought if Bortles broke Garrard's passing touchdown record and the team gave up less than 45 sacks, they could win six-to-seven games and set Bradley up for a critical fourth year. Do you think the Jags will reach either of those marks?
John: Yes.
Keith from 103rd Street:
We've now played four games. What is the timetable looking like for Sen'Derrick Marks and Julius Thomas to return?
John: I'm guessing each has a real chance to come back Week Six against Houston. Neither has been ruled out for Tampa Sunday, but I'd guess each is out at least one more week.
Josh from Eyota, MN:
Didn't beat the Colts backup. This was devastating.
John: Yeah, that's the only way to frame it. I still believe Sunday wasn't a "must-win." I believe that because if the Jaguars win in Tampa and at home against Houston they will be 3-3 with everyone feeling pretty darned good about things. But Sunday was a chance to break serve and beat the defending division champions on the road. It was also a game when the Jaguars played well enough in a whole lot of areas to win. It wasn't a game the Jaguars "could" have won; it was a game the Jaguars "should" have won. So, devastating? Yeah, I can't argue you using that word. It hurt.
Scott from London, England:
Did we just lose to Matt Hasselbeck?? Game may have been closer, but this certainly feels worse than the Patriots game.
John: Yes, it does.
Steve from Stevensville:
John: It was that sort of game, the kind that punches you in the gut and leaves a bad feeling. So … "Man?" Yeah … man.
Mark from CT:
Wow. Talk about a second-half shut down.
John: This was far from the only email along these lines – and yeah, the second-half shutdowns are a concern. The Jaguars have shown some really good things offensively in the first half of three games this season: Carolina, Miami and Indianapolis. In all three of those games, the offense went away in the second half. The curious, frustrating thing is that the Jaguars moved the ball on Sunday in the second half in Indianapolis. They had 11 first downs after halftime, so this wasn't like a lot of games the past two seasons where the Jaguars were overwhelmed and ineffective. There were opportunities and the Jaguars didn't take advantage. That's better than recent seasons, but it's not better-enough.
Michael from Jacksonville:
I see promise in this team.
John: I get the sense that's what's bothering a lot of people this morning – that the Jaguars are showing some promise, but mistakes and missed opportunities are making it really hard to see. Blake Bortles at times this season has played well – much better than as a rookie. The offensive line is playing better, and skill players on offense are showing up. Allen Hurns. Allen Robinson. T.J. Yeldon. All of that is stuff that needed to happen this season, and yet the Jaguars couldn't score in the second half and overtime Sunday. That's tough to resolve. The result was a loss to a team with a 40-year-old quarterback and to a team that didn't play all that well. That's maddening because it gives the impression progress isn't being made – or of it is, it's not enough. The solution? Win, and the Jaguars need to do that a few times in the next few weeks.
Andrew from Section 203:
Mind-blown, John. I give up.
John: Sunday was indeed mind-blowing.
Max from UK:
I'm absolutely shocked … and mightily depressed. Do you think that Coach Bradley and David Caldwell are going to face criticism over trading Josh Scobee after this? Yes, Scobee has had a bad run of form, but I think that in a Jaguars uniform he would have made both of those missed kicks. Can't blame the rookie ... but come on. This is a hideous loss ...
John: There are indeed some who will criticize Bradley and Caldwell for trading Scobee; I've heard from a fair share of them in the hours since the game. But the criticism feels more like gut reaction after a tough loss. Scobee's performance in Pittsburgh wasn't the Scobee Jaguars fans knew. Wishing Scobee was here in Jacksonville feels a little like wishing for something that doesn't exist anymore.
Cory from Madison, WI:
Where's the progress, John? Gus is a nice guy, but another week of second-half no show. Getting old. This, given the circumstances surrounding the Colts this week, was probably our most winnable division game of the year. They blew it. They blew it bad. No way to spin it. I think the clock has struck 0 on the head coach.
John: You're right that there's no way to spin it. Bad loss. I'll point out some progress later in the week, and the reality is the offense is functioning better than it did last season. But the reality, too, is it's not functioning well enough to score – and that's the point. As far as the head coach's clock, I don't get a sense we're there yet. It's obviously and understandably something that's getting discussed among fans and observers much, much more with each loss, but I wouldn't spend time checking your Twitter feeds for head coaching change news any time soon.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
Mr. O … zero points in the second half is not my definition of getting better.
John: Yeah, it's not anyone else's, either – and the second-half scoring seemed to be the most maddening thing to players and coaches on Sunday. The offense actually moved OK at times in the second half. The Jaguars had 11 first downs and were in Colts territory on six of eight possessions after halftime. Somewhere in those numbers you should be able to find three, seven, 10 points … something. That the Jaguars didn't would seem impossible if you hadn't seen it.
Cade from Orlando, FL:
Turn those field goals into touchdowns in the red zone and we aren't even talking about two missed game-winners at the end. Maybe one day...
John: You're right that the Jaguars had opportunities to win well before Myers' misses, but the bottom line is when you get opportunities from 53 and 48 yards to win a game in the NFL, you have to make at least one of those kicks. They're not easy, but the NFL isn't about easy.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
That's three games where the defense not only played well enough to win but held the other team to a manageable point total. I'm not big on blaming coaches but can there really be any other explanation for the difference between the first- and second-half offenses? We scored 13 points in a game where Bortles played well and Yeldon racked up 100 yards … has to be someone's fault, right?
John: Blame is easy throw around in the wake of a loss, but yes, the defense played well enough to win. And while some will frame this as the Jaguars losing to Matt Hasselbeck, the Jaguars' defense really didn't allow the "40-year-old quarterback" to do too much damage. As far as play-calling, it was good enough to get Bortles 298 yards and Yeldon more than 100, so it was doing something right. It wasn't good enough to win, so it wasn't good enough.
Sean from Chicago, IL:
Zero points in the second half. The Jaguars have consistently been a terrible second-half team for the last few seasons. What's the deal, O-Zone?
John: This is turning into the Million Dollar Question. The Jaguars indeed have struggled in the second half in recent seasons, and they absolutely have this season. The easiest thing is to "blame" coaching for lack of second-half adjustments, and who knows? Maybe that plays a factor. I don't know how to quantify that, and I wish I did. On Sunday, the Jaguars moved well offensively in the second half and only allowed six points after halftime. It was hard to point to anything specifically that they could have done differently in the second half from a scheme point of view. They drove into Colts territory six times and did so pretty efficiently. The drives just bogged down. So, what's the deal? I wish I knew. It's awfully hard to win games when you shut down in the second half.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Tired of losing.
John: You are not alone.

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