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O-Zone: Not so baffling

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Craig from Sacksonville:
We clearly are not as bad as we played Sunday. Like the Texans in Week One, we were coming off a major distraction. This week, our team did the same. We also had the distraction of our team thinking they had arrived. Next week will balance out.
John: I can't in good conscience say the Jaguars' Week 1 or 2 results were about distractions, although I do understand that will be a logical talking point. And I really didn't have a feeling this past week the Jaguars were a distracted team or that they thought they had arrived. So, what happened Sunday? The Jaguars played an opponent (Tennessee) with a significantly better offensive line than the one (Houston) they played in Week 1; as a result, the Jaguars were unable to dominate the line of scrimmage Sunday as they had in Week 1. And as a result of that, they didn't win the turnover battle 4-0 as they had in Week 1 – and they didn't get points directly off turnovers as they had against Houston. Instead, this game turned the other way and the Jaguars were playing with difficult down-and-distance situations throughout much of the second and third quarters. That's a bad situation for any team, but it's one that this team will have a very difficult time overcoming. I think there's a good chance the Jaguars' season does indeed balance out. But if it does, it will be because the Jaguars reduce mistakes and get back to controlling the lines of scrimmage. That's likely to have more of a balancing effect than whether or not they are distracted during the week.
Curious G from Jacksonville:
Zone, going back to 2010, every year we have had a major disaster game in either Week 2 or 3 (mostly Week 2). Check it out. Why, oh why, do you think that is?
John: It usually has been because the Jaguars haven't been good. That's why teams have disaster games. I don't think Sunday will be a season-long trend because I think this team will usually run and play defense well enough to stay competitive. We'll see.
Brian from Section 235:
Pathetic showing by the offense Sunday. I'm pretty sure Chris Ivory got tackled by a leaf at some point.
John: I'll check the All-22.
Weston from Jacksonville:
The defense was on the field too long and knew the offense can't do anything to win, so they gave up. I don't blame them at all. I quit, too.
John: I'm never big on writing or saying that players quit, and I didn't see the Jaguars' defense quit Sunday. I did see a defense that played very well and made some big stops in the second and third quarter to keep this team in the game, then got gassed late in the third quarter and fourth quarter once it was apparent that the offense wasn't going to function. Defensive players didn't say that, and they wouldn't say afterward they were worn down. But is it fair to say this game had that feel in the second half? Yes, that's fair.
Kyle from Danver, PA:
Annnnd, that was the Jags' play I am used to. It was fun while it lasted O, but the Titans made us look like mess. Where do we go from here? I had dreams of winning the division suddenly, and reality quickly set back in.
John: The Jaguars are tied for first in the AFC South.
Ted from Ponte Vedra, FL:
We're deep at receiver?
John: This is a fair point, and it's one I discussed quite a lot during the offseason. There was a perception that this receivers group was deep and one of the best young receiver groups in the NFL. The reality was it is a group with some talent and potential, but that had just two 1,000-yard seasons as a group entering the season. Allen Robinson had one and Allen Hurns had the other, with both coming in 2015 when the Jaguars threw a lot in the second halves of a lot of games while trailing by a lot of points. Now that Robinson is out for the season, the Jaguars still look OK at starting wide receiver. Marqise Lee is a fine starting receiver, and Hurns has shown he can produce. But deep? You're only "deep" if you can lose your best player and not feel it in a major, major way. On Sunday, the Jaguars seemed to feel Robinson's loss in a major, major way.
Adam from Lynbrook, NY:
One step forward, one step back … What's next?
John: The Jaguars will play the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Joe from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I may be in the minority, but I do not think this loss is on Blake. The first fumble was on Cam Robinson. The first interception … tipped passes happen. The third turnover was behind Lee, so that one was on Blake. But when you are in first-and-20, second-and-20, etc., there is not much you can do in those situations. Is this something the Jaguars can clean up quickly and challenge to play meaningful games in December?
John: You indeed probably are in the minority, but Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone is with you. He and a lot of Jaguars players talked a lot after Sunday's loss about penalties making the offense play behind the chains; to many, it was the theme of the game. Marrone also seemed to agree with you about what plays were "on Bortles" and which ones weren't – and yeah, the third interception was pretty much the one "on Bortles." I can't say Bortles played great outside those plays – and at some point you do need your quarterback to play great from time to time – but he wasn't as awful as three turnovers sometimes indicates. As for cleaning up the penalties, sure they can be cleaned up. How? Don't commit them. Don't put yourself behind the chains. It can be done. It must be done. Will it be done? We'll see.
Frank from Bryceville, FL:
I'm struggling to find anything positive to say. It's been a long time since we haven't had a losing record after Week 2?
John: That's a start, and the truth is there's not a lot positive to say about Sunday's game. But I'd say the hope is this: the Jaguars are a team that's going to have to play to a formula and we saw the formula in Week 1: run, play defense, get a lead and pressure the opposing quarterback. The formula is not going to be to throw the ball all over the yard willy-nilly. The formula also doesn't include committing 10-or 15-yard penalties on five of six drives offensively. The Jaguars did that during the second and third quarters Sunday. In retrospect, it's probably not shocking that the offense committed three turnovers during that stretch and punted three other times – or that the Titans took control of the game during that span. This offense is not probably not going to be consistently very good in second- and third-and long. That means they Jaguars are going to be playing in a pretty thin margin offensively this season. It means their objective is going to be to not make those kinds of mistakes. Week 1 showed that that formula can work. Week 2 showed that the Jaguars aren't a great team. I think most of us knew that already. In the wake of a one-sided home loss it's difficult to remember that the formula did work. But it did. And it can and will work again. Enough to get to the Super Bowl? Likely not. Enough to be improved? Very possibly.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
John: Nah.
E Nuff from Banner Elk, NC:
Ahhh, there are the good ol' Jags we know and loathe! Why wasn't Blake Bortles pulled after his second turnover? And why in the world is Leonard Fournette not in the game on third down? Especially third-and-short?? Questionable coaching in this one. They had a chance to correct this one before it got away from them, but their insistence to stay with a struggling quarterback cost them. Baffling? What say you?
John: I wasn't baffled by Sunday. This game showed why it's difficult to win by simply emphasizing the run. And Bortles did struggle through a stretch in the second and third quarters Sunday. But I wasn't surprised Bortles wasn't pulled from the game, and I wouldn't have agreed with the move had it been made. His turnovers on Sunday came on a sack/fumble and two tipped passes. I've written often that Bortles needs to protect the ball better when under duress, but Sunday's lost fumble happened so quickly and violently it would have been difficult for any quarterback to avoid. And while the passes that were deflected weren't great passes – particularly the one thrown behind Marqise Lee – it would have been tough to pull him after a couple of passes that bounced into the air and weren't really bad decisions. As for not playing Fournette on every play, look: he runs hard. He's going to take a beating. He can't play every play, though considering his talent level you're going to notice when he's out of the game.

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