JACKSONVILLE – Day-after O-Zone.
Let's get to it … Jayson from St. Augustine, FL:
Can the playoff nonsense stop now? Can the Jags please draft a quarterback next draft?
John: We're probably not going to stop the nonsense quite yet – nonsensically nonsensical though that playoff talk may now seem. Why? Because the Jaguars' playoff situation actually didn't change all that much with the loss to Atlanta Sunday. They still have to win their last two games. If they do that, they will win the AFC South if the Tennessee Titans beat the Houston Texans on Sunday and beat the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17. So, there it is: the Jaguars are looking for help from Mike Mularkey. Chew on that for a spell. (Oh, and the Jaguars are obviously not taking a quarterback early in the draft next offseason. Stop being silly).
James from Socorro, NM:
The lack of a pass rush lost this game with as many third-and-long conversions as the Falcons had. This particular problem had been an issue all year and it won't get fixed until next season.
John: Ummmmm ... yes!
Travis from St. Louis, MO:
I just have to ask, "Did Bortles not watch the Super Bowl last year?" What is his thinking on throwing a pass on first-and-goal on the one-yard line? Run the ball. I just don't get it sometimes. I'm just frustrated and upset because that was ours for the taking and we just choked.
John: This is not to defend Blake Bortles' interception late in the first half, because it hurt – as has been the case with most of his interceptions this season. And I don't know if Bortles watched the Super Bowl last year or not. My guess, though, is before he threw the interception Sunday he was thinking, "We're on the 1-yard line with 11 seconds remaining in the half and no timeouts, so if we run and don't make it the half will end …" Or something to that effect.
Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Next week versus Drew Brees looks very bad …
John: I don't want to think about it yet. Please don't make me.
Mike from Mandarin:
Jags need to draft heavy this upcoming draft on their defense! I know Dante Fowler Jr. was hurt, but they need much more than that. They still need more speed and depth at linebacker. Because of those missing pieces, this is what happens when you play a good quarterback when you have no pass rush from your front four.
John: With or without speed at linebacker, what happened Sunday is what happens when you play a good quarterback when you have no pass rush from your front four. But the stuff about drafting defense? Yeah. Yes. Yep. Indeed. Mm-hmm.
Andrew from Fort Collins, CO:
So much for fixing the red-zone woes...
John: The Jaguars scored two touchdowns on three red-zone opportunities Sunday.
David from Broward County:
We can say for certain one thing about the Gus Bradley-led Jags (based on three-year sample size) – that almost without exception, they start games listless, slow, not setting the tone for the game, always reacting to the tone set by the opponent. This is about coaching and preparation. Gus has shown us nothing to believe that this will change. In other words, I don't believe in Gus. You have told us Gus will be back next season. With the offseason we all expect from Dave, won't Gus be on an incredibly hot seat with a short leash and very small margin for error to start the 2016 season? How is that fair to an up-and-coming young team? P.S., Joeckel is not just fine or OK, but the Jags seem OK to let BB5 learn that lesson the hard way.
John: I don't know why, exactly, the offense has started slow this season, and while you're entitled to your opinion I don't know that it's accurate to say it's all coaching and preparation any more than it could be youth or play-calling or some other multitude of factors. I know the Jaguars have been competitive in 13 of 14 games this season, which means they're far more competitive than last season and much more competitive on a consistent basis than I thought they would be this season. I also very much believe Gus Bradley will be back. Yes, they have left a few victories on the table, but there's no question this roster and team have reached a point where they can be in most games to the end. That couldn't be said the last two seasons. I don't know how hot Bradley's seat will or won't be to start the 2016 season. A seat is only as hot as the owner makes it, and Shad Khan never has said anything to make anyone believe he doesn't believe strongly in both David Caldwell and Gus Bradley. P.S., Joeckel is fine.
Cade from Orlando, FL:
Go ahead and add that to the list of close games we should have won ...
John: Will do.
Matt from Bourne:
Not gonna lie: saw this one coming as much as I wanted to be optimistic. They aren't consistent or good enough to beat the teams that they should. Instead, more often than not, their wins come in "trap games" for the other team or just games against poor teams. This is a classic season where we will wonder what could've been. I wish we had a team that could be as consistent as Steelers or Pats or Packers.
John: The Jaguars (Blake Bortles, second season) also wish they were as consistent as the Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger, 12th season), Patriots (Tom Brady, 15th season) and Patriots (Aaron Rodgers, 11th season). There is a reason those teams win consistently and a reason the Jaguars are inconsistent despite looking very good at times – and despite seeming to have a bright future. (I can't quite put a finger on that reason, but when I do I'll let you know).
Steve from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Third-and-two, third-and-99, third-and-14, third and whatever … If I was the coach opposing the Jags I would tell the refs we forfeit our first two downs and want third down. That would guarantee a b-i-i-i-i-i-i-g play.
John: You have a point. If there was a defining moment in the Jaguars' defensive season, Sunday in the third and fourth quarters may have been it. At the same time, it's not as if the third-down issues on Sunday were that much worse than in other games. When you can't get pressure with your base pass rush, that allows the opposing quarterback plenty of time to throw. When NFL quarterbacks have plenty of time to throw, they usually complete the passes. When you complete passes, you often get first downs. When those come on third-and-long situations, it's very deflating.
Kathy from Jacksonville:
When Bortles threw the interception it looked as though he was playing by himself. He ran and tackled the Falcons player, then ran the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Were there players who were not stepping up or was this all on Blake Bortles who made the mistake and then had to correct it?
John: Allen Hurns and Denard Robinson both gave chase and gained on the play, too. On an interception such as that – on a short pass to one side of the field – there's no way offensive linemen are going to get back in the play and it's tough for receivers on the other side of the field to recover quickly enough, either. These players believe in Blake Bortles and play hard for him. There may be things to question about this team, but not that.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I really do see a bit of Favre in Blake Bortles: an extremely talented quarterback who will win some games that shouldn't be won and lose some games that shouldn't be lost. Oh, is there a player with more heart on our team than Paul Posluszny?
John: I agree that there is some Brett Favre in Blake Bortles, but let's not write the story of Bortles' career just yet. He still throws a few too many interceptions – and no doubt the one at the end of the first half Sunday hurt – but this is still a quarterback in his second season. That's still very, very young for an NFL quarterback. Peyton Manning was still very interception-heavy in Years 4 and 5 and won his first two Most Valuable Player Awards in Years 6 and 7. And yeah, Posluszny has heart and guts and all of those things. In excess.
Dan from Jacksonville:
How in the world is this third-down defense so bad? It seems every time the opposing offense faces a third and long, it's almost too easy for them to convert. What is the reasoning for this?
John: Pass rush – or lack thereof.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Are you ready to talk draft? Season is over; don't see why not.
John: The Jaguars can still make the playoffs if they win their two remaining games and if the Texans lose to the …