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O-Zone: Not-so-accurate assessment

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bryan from Tampa, FL

Well, John: I think it's safe to say that the utter lack of talent on the defensive line is the defining characteristic of this team. Going to be a long year.

I do think the lack of experienced, front-line defensive talent along the front could prove to be a defining characteristic of this team. While players such as defensive ends Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson have talent, Allen isn't yet capable of dominating with offensive lines completely focused on him. Few players – even really good players – are capable of that. And Chaisson is still very much a rookie who's learning the details of the NFL. But I wouldn't say the issue on the defensive line is nearly as glaring as in the secondary. Rookie cornerback CJ Henderson is a front-line talent who appears likely to have a very bright future. There are solid role players in the rest of the secondary, but I don't know that there are many long-term core players. The injuries Sunday to Henderson and weak-side linebacker Myles Jack accentuated the issue. There is some talent on this defense. A lot of it is young. A lot of it is now injured. Will it be a long year? I'm not sure. It sure has been a long couple of weeks.

Clayton from Gambier, OH

The call to go for two after wide receiver DJ Chark Jr's touchdown was a microcosm of the second half: poor coaching decisions and adjustments.

Nah. The inability to stop the run – and the mistakes of rookie corner Chris Claybrooks overpursuing on some long runs – defined the second half. I didn't agree with the decision to go for two when Chark scored in the fourth quarter, but I'm an old-school guy and that was a new-school decision. But that didn't define the second half and it didn't cost the Jaguars the game. A defense that couldn't get off the field the entire second half did that.

Renee from Jacksonville

John?????? Defense anyone?????

Not by the Jaguars in the second half Sunday. The Jaguars' defense doesn't have a lot of front-line talent. Without Henderson and Jack, it has a lot less.

Nicholas from Rockville

Can we please get a defense?

In the middle of the season?

The Other Michael from Middleburg

If you're a struggling offense, there's nothing like the Jaguars' defense to cure what ails you. This might be the worst defense in franchise history. It's nearly unwatchable.

I could probably just repeat my previous answer. It feels it's going to be very applicable in the coming days.

Noel from St. Augustine, FL

Looks like we're back in the running for Trevor Lawrence ...


Paul from Duval

Memo to Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell: just pay wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., just pay him ASAP. Pay him before the price goes up. Pay him before he gets insulted that you won't pay him. Just pay one good player for the love of god.

The Jaguars aren't allowed to extend the contract of wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. until after this season; teams can't extend contracts of drafted players until after their third NFL season. I agree that the Jaguars need to extend Chark as soon as possible and I expect they will try to do just that next offseason. He's exactly the sort of player on and off the field that you want around as long as possible. Not all Jaguars players in recent seasons have fit that description. Chark does.

CC from Duval

Maybe it's time for defensive end Josh Allen to be more professional during the interviews with you guys and on the football field. He's doing way too much laughing and joking and interrupting our quarterback's interviews to be a high draft pick and a no factor this football season. Somebody had to say it O. Just saying.

Yes, you said it. You're off-base and incorrect. But yes … you said it.

Jon from Brentwood, UK

So Zone, sixth-choice kicker and they opt for the field goal?

It's professional football, not college. When you sign a kicker who has made a Pro Bowl you expect him to convert 48-yard field goals. Aldrick Rosas missed from that range early Sunday, but you can't coach expecting him to miss.

Bryan from Reston, VA

Holy injuries Batman.

Let me preface this answer by saying injuries did not cause the Jaguars to lose Sunday – though an argument can be made the absence of Jack and Henderson hurt the run defense very much. But the injuries sustained Sunday – to Jack (ankle), Henderson (shoulder), cornerback D.J. Hayden (hamstring), rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) and left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) – are important. Head Coach Doug Marrone will update many later Monday. If Jack is out long-term, that matters. If Henderson is out long-term, it matters. That's not an excuse. It's just true.

Ben from St. Augustine, FL

Zone, General Manager David Caldwell asked the fan base to let this team play a couple games before passing judgment, but all they've done is reinforce what we already knew. The Jags are exactly who every pundit, sportswriter outside of Jacksonville, and NFL fan around the league thought they were. By all appearances, this season will only continue to get worse.


Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey John, do you have any explanation for the nonexistent pass rush? Will that be better as the season goes on? If not this will be a long season I guess.

The pass rush is nonexistent because there is one very good pass rusher in Allen and a player with potential in Chaisson. The interior rush doesn't get significant push in the middle and quarterbacks therefore are relatively unbothered in the pocket. I don't know that it will get significantly better as the season goes on, though I do expect Chaisson to improve as he gains experience. If it doesn't improve will it be a long season? Yeah, that's fair.

Scott from Rehoboth Beach, DE

O-man, is 117 pts allowed in four games bad enough to start changing their defensive scheme? Looking a little ridiculous out there....

Change the defensive scheme to what?

Derek from Albuquerque, NM

How do you give Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II an honest assessment when he is playing from behind 90 percent of the time? Not only playing from behind, but playing from two scores down almost every game?

This point was pertinent in Weeks 2 and 3, when the defense allowed opponents to get leads far too quickly. It doesn't feel as pertinent regarding Sunday, when the Jaguars' had ample opportunity through three quarters to lead or be even.

Rog from Heidelberg, Germany

This team is clearly missing one thing: killer instinct. If you are in the red zone you don't settle for a field goal. You go for the touchdown.

Like ever? And always?

Matthew from Washington, DC

When you suggested this team was going to win six-to-eight games during the offseason, that comment was tongue in cheek right?

I suggested this team had a chance to win six-to-seven games – maybe eight – and I said many times I thought that was the ceiling. I was not being tongue in cheek about that being the ceiling.

Drinks All Around from Jacksonville


Oh, and I just love it.

Richard from Duval

Every week Minshew looks more and more like an amazing backup or below average starter.

I'm not ready to without question say Minshew can't be a front-line NFL starter. But yes – every week that he struggles with decision-making in the pocket and making throws against a soft zone designed to keep him in the pocket it becomes more of a concern. I've said this elsewhere and I'm sure I'll say it again this week. We entered the season wanting to know if he's the guy. After four weeks, we still don't know.

Mike from Cortland, NY

I understand that offenses can shade protection toward Allen, but if he's the gold jacket guy we thought he was, this miserable pass rush doesn't happen. Wildly disappointed with how pathetic this defense is. I expected struggles due to youth, but I didn't expect complete incompetence at all three levels.

I understand your frustration, but one pass rusher doth not a defense make.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Finally, something goes right for Jack. Helluva interception!

You're referencing an interception by Jack in the second quarter. On the play, Jack ripped the ball from Bengals tight end Drew Sample. The interception turned a would-be touchdown into the Jaguars' first takeaway since Week 1. It indeed was a "helluva" play by Jack – the kind he is more than capable of making routinely. But it's not as if something "finally" has gone right for Jack. He has played at a high level all season – and through four games a strong case can be made that he is the team's defensive most valuable player. That's what makes his injury so difficult – for the team and the player.

Brian from Cranford, NJ

I blame Shadrick.