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O-Zone: New kid in town

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Rob from Jacksonville

You asked Kevin "How do you explain 3-2?" Like this: The Jags are 3-0 against teams that are a combined 6-9 – and 0-2 against teams that are a combined 8-2. And they squeaked by the New York Giants AND you never felt comfortable about the PATS game until the final whistle. Someone is going to blow up and go off about this quarterback situation; the total meltdown will commence. I'm sure BB5 is a great person, but I know a lot of great people that I wouldn't exactly call NFL starting-caliber quarterbacks.

You're referencing an O-Zone e-mail this week in which I responded to reader named Kevin who was outlining a list of Jaguars issues and boldly concluding that there "would be no playoffs for the Jaguars this season." My response indeed was, "How do you explain 3-2?" My point in responding this way was that the Jaguars somehow – perhaps by miracle – have won three games and lost two this season. I didn't expect my answer to calm the panicking, angry masses; experience has long since taught me that my answers ain't that good. Here's reality: Seven NFL teams have better records than the Jaguars. They have lost twice – once by three points in a tight game, and once in a game that looked bad. They are not a bad team. But the most notable thing about your email is the complaint about the margins and style of a couple of Jaguars victories. If you're worried about this, perhaps you're watching the wrong sport. Squeaking victories and winning games when you don't feel comfortable is how you win in the NFL. If you want a season of one-sided victories and comfortable endings, perhaps watch college football. It's not as entertaining, but it's significantly less stressful.

Bleak Lobster from Celina, OH

Seriously, what is the harm going to Cody Kessler? Only three people think Blake Bortles is the better option and two are being paid to think that.

The harm is you're giving yourself less of a chance to win. That's not the right approach.

TD from Festus, MO

I believe Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone gets the best out of his linemen; if he is doing so, then is this the best we have? Should we address this now? It could be the thing that haunts us for another 18 years.

Pat Flaherty coaches the Jaguars' offensive line, and he's considered one of the NFL's best in the position. He got a lot out of the unit last season, and he's currently working with a line that is battling through injuries. Four of the starters – right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), center Brandon Linder (back) and guard Andrew Norwell (foot) – played through injuries last week. The fifth starter – left tackle Josh Wells – was playing for Cam Robinson, who is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament; Wells left the game with a groin injury and the team's third tackle, Josh Walker, finished the game. Walker will start Sunday, meaning a third player will start at left tackle in five games. So, yeah … the Jaguars are beat-up on the offensive line. As far as addressing it, there's usually little of note to be done to "address" personnel situations during the regular season. You play with your guys and do the best you can. The time for addressing personnel in a major way is the offseason.

Eliah from Eldon

I have read in previous questions that this offense lacks weapons, but I feel like we do have weapons. Do you agree we should focus more on the offensive line? I feel like Bortles is always on the scramble and our receivers are playmakers. If we improve our line, that should give Bortles more time and open gaps to prove our backs are weapons, as well as the offense as a whole.

The Jaguars drafted Robinson in the second round, Linder in the third and Cann in the third. They signed Parnell and Norwell as unrestricted free agents. They have addressed it adequately. Offensive line play in the NFL isn't great right now; it's a league-wide issue. A beat-up offensive line allowed far too much pressure on Bortles last week, but that was an outlier. This line overall has been at least OK if not better over the last season and a half.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

With ASJ done for the year, how much worse off is the o-line?

Jaguars tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is not done for the season; he is on injured reserve and there is a strong possibility he can return in mid-December. His absence won't help the Jaguars' run offense; he had performed better than expected as a run blocker.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Why haven't we seen anything on Blake being released yet?

Hi, Jerell!

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, the other day a friend who is also a longtime season-ticket holder said he doesn't think Fournette will get a second contract from the Jags citing his general unavailability. I first thought no way, however in looking at reality he may be right. To be honest didn't Fournette have a lot of nagging injuries in college? Maybe Pete Prisco is correct: Don't waste a first-round draft selection on a running back. Go Jags.

I would be surprised if Fournette gets a second contract mega-deal from the Jaguars, but that has as much to do with the nature of running back as a position in the modern NFL as with his "general unavailability." Remember, a running back playing effectively for more than eight NFL  seasons is relatively rare. Maurice Jones-Drew won the rushing title in his sixth season but never had a 1,000-yard season after that. Fournette is under contract for four seasons with the team holding his option for a fifth. Would they renegotiate a long-term deal after that? The odds are low – because of the position, not because of the player. By the way, who's Pete Prisco?

Red from Jacksonville


Nah. We good.

Tom from Monks Corner

Please explain why this much-vaunted defense has such a hard time stopping the run? A team with good running backs gives them fits. A team with a mobile quarterback gives them fits and their kryptonite is a team that has both. If we only had a running back that was half as good as we allow other teams to run things would be different.

Mobile quarterbacks are a challenge for most teams, and I don't get the sense that the Jaguars' defense struggles against them any more than most teams with good defenses. As far as offenses giving the Jaguars "fits," the Jaguars are the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL – first against the pass and 14th against the run. No, this defense is not shutting out every opponent and outscoring opposing offenses. And yes, the Tennessee Titans ran effectively for a half and the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive speed gave the defense trouble Sunday. But I'm not sure anyone has found a kryptonite, and I'm not convinced this defense is the franchise's overriding issue right now.

Marcus from Jacksonville

Are we starting to see the downside of the Jaguars roster construction? We rave about the defensive lineup while also recognizing that it is not a sustainable model. Now that we are faced with a rash of offensive injuries, are we seeing why it might have made more sense to put some of that money into quality backups on the line, at tight end and at running back? Right now, the team has about 50 percent of their salary cap going to 11 defensive starters, which makes for an incredible defense but means that 42 other guys are having to split the other 50 percent of the money. That leaves us very thin in the depth department, particularly on offense. The hope is that the defense would be good enough to keep us in every game, but when we have to trot out practice-squad players to play meaningful snaps, we're going to have trouble winning consistently.

Most NFL teams are thin in the depth department. This is particularly true on the offensive line, where many NFL teams don't have five quality starters. Show me a team with true offensive line depth and I'll probably show you a team before the salary-cap era.

Jami from Wye Mills, MD

If the Jaguars win their next three games, they'll complete the second quarter of the season much like the finished the first quarter. That will leave them at 6-2. Am I missing something?

No, but you're assuming the Jaguars will win their next three games. That's a difficult ask for a team as beat-up as the Jaguars are on offense; hell, it's a difficult ask for a team not as beat-up as the Jaguars are on offense. I agree it's not time to panic, and I believe the Jaguars will win two of their next three. If that happens, they'll enter the second half of the season 5-3. That would be cool. Fans might not like it, but that's OK. People don't have to like everything.

John from Jagsville

Ok Sonja is now my new favorite... more Sonja less Jerrell (but still include the really crazy emails).

Hey, one fer Sonja. And one fer crazy Jerell – i.e., Jerell.

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