O-Zone: Nowhere near an end

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Anooj from Decatur, GA

Our run defense seemed absent; did we forget about No. 22? Also in regards to Minshew, rookie gonna rookie. Don’t drink that Minshew Mania Slurpee too fast; you might catch a brain freeze.

You went one for two, Anooj. That’s good if hitting baseballs, but not if you’re trying to get to the NFL postseason – or any postseason for that matter. The Jaguars’ run defense indeed was unbelievably absent Sunday, though it wasn’t an issue of forgetting about Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey as much as a horrible day overall controlling and fitting into gaps. A gap-control defense can look really bad when linebackers have a few bad plays – and the Jaguars’ linebackers had more than their share of bad plays Sunday. That was your “hit,” which brings us to your miss – and it was a big one. That’s because while Minshew indeed fumbled three times Sunday, it’s a huge reach to say this loss was on him – or that his play was a matter of him being a rookie. The fumble that led to the 56-yard touchdown by Panthers linebacker Brian Burns wasn’t remotely Minshew’s fault; that was a matter of Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell managing to get to the quarterback and hit him remarkably fast for a man of his size. Yes, Minshew must improve some ball security techniques. You can’t fumble three times no matter the circumstance and expect to win. But Minshew also kept the Jaguars in the game Sunday and is playing better than any quarterback for this franchise in recent memory. So, suck that Slurpee for all it’s worth. Fumbles or not, the kid is for real.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

Shame that defense is swiss cheese ... offense deserved better.

Indeed.

Jeffrey from Atlantic Beach, FL

Tough loss, but the more I see of Minshew the more I'm convinced he's the long-term answer at quarterback. As poorly as the Jags played Sunday, I never felt that we were out of the game because of him. I can't say that for past seasons.

The Jaguars will have a serious decision when starter Nick Foles returns from his broken clavicle. Foles is capable of playing as well as Minshew; he has, after all, won a Super Bowl. But if Minshew continues to play at this level, can you bench him? I suppose, but … wow.

Mark from Archer, FL

John, I think the Jags’ defense needs to stop walking around acting like they are one of the best defenses in the league. They are just too inconsistent, in my opinion. They may have talented players, but they are just playing horrible.

Fair.

Eric from Columbus, GA

Time to admit our defense isn’t very good? They’ve played well in two of five games…

It’s time to admit the defense has been inconsistent. The unit isn’t as good as many expected. It’s not dominant. It’s not elite. But it’s a bit of a reach to say it “isn’t very good.”

Mark from Crescent Beach, FL

Do you think Jack is a major liability as an undersized linebacker? Looks small ... doesn’t play smart …  keeps making same mistakes.

Is Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack a major liability? No. Is he playing as well as he needs to play? Again, no.

Dan from Las Vegas, NV

No question, just a statement. Jaguars defense is a liability!

It was too often Sunday. I don’t think the defense’s body of work to date indicates it will be a liability for the entire season, though with Sunday’s game fresh in the mind I understand why fans would vehemently disagree.

Scott from Wichita, KS

It seems as though every week we're talking about things that are "fixable" and "we'll clean that up.” Well, then FIX IT or CLEAN IT UP, for crying out loud!

Welcome to the NFL.

Todd from Frederick, MD

Hey, John. The outcome stinks, but damn this team is fun to watch. Hoping the kid learns to hold on to the ball a little better, but I think we have a special player on our hands.

Agreed. Minshew’s poise and accuracy are impressive, but what’s most impressive is his decision-making. Coaches and personnel people around the Jaguars speak of Minshew’s football intelligence, and ability to process information and use it on the field. He has shown it in his four starts, and it appears to be improving with each game.

Robert from Manassas, VA

I have more faith in our offense than our defense. How things have changed.

Fair.

Chris from Jacksonville

As bad as the three fumbles hurt, I feel like our complete lack of run defense hurt worse ... am I just overly infected with Minshew Mania or is that accurate?

Both hurt. If the Jaguars had “just” allowed 285 yards rushing and not lost any fumbles, they would have won the game. But they had “just” lost the three fumbles and allowed just 100 yards rushing, they also would have won the game.

J. Hooks from Fleming Island, FL

Wow, John. Is it safe to say that we actually have a good offense?

Yes. And a good quarterback. And a good wide receiver or two.

Eric from Jacksonville

Two-part question: 1) With so much invested in the defensive line, how is a performance against the run like Sunday even remotely acceptable? 2) As a coaching staff, how are you not embarrassed with the lack of discipline as a team unit that results in an average of eight penalties a game for close to 100 yards?

Both parts are good questions. In a gap-control defense such as the Jaguars play, a player out of a gap can lead to gashing runs that make the entire defense look bad. In the case of the Jaguars’ defense Sunday, Jack and linebacker Quincy Williams had some costly mistakes that allowed the Panthers some ridiculously easy runs. And while I know no one is any mood to hear or believe this after a loss such as Sunday’s, the sort of mistakes that led to the Panthers’ huge rushing day are more often correctable and therefore not season-defining. As far as the penalties, I would guess everyone associated with the Jaguars would be embarrassed. Penalties are always blamed on coaching, and it’s always coaching in the NFL. But I would think the players committing the penalties might be at least a smidge embarrassed, no?

David from Maplewood, NJ

John, I could check the records, but I'm guessing in the history of the NFL teams minus three in the turnover ratio who also give up 200 plus rushing yards for more than eight per carry are oh for forever or something close to that. I know there are no such thing as moral victories but with all that in mind we had the ball twice in plus territory at the end of the game with a chance to tie. Even the losses feel different with this kid. Figure out how to not fumble and play a little run defense and I think they'll be pretty good.

I imagine you’re right about teams that give up 200-plus for more than eight yards a carry struggling. I can’t imagine how much teams struggle when they give up more than 10 yards a carry.

Johnny D from Duuuuuval

Oh, Master-O: Less of a question and more of an observation, but THE PENALTIES!!! They’re killing us! It seems we have to otherwise execute with near perfection just to account for so many ill-advised or un-warranted penalties. What dost thou say, oh Master of funk?

I doth not have much more to say. I mean, what elth is there to thay? Or something like that.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, will this game be the game that sparks Minshew to take it to the next level?

Your question implies that Minshew should somehow be motivated by something he did wrong Sunday, get his butt in gear and start playing well. While Minshew certainly would love to have his three lost fumbles back, it’s hard for me to say he needs a spark. He is playing very well and seems to be improving by the week.

Fred from Naples, FL

Our run defense really struggled against the Panthers. Marcell Dareus gets a citation for marijuana earlier in the week. Coincidence or not?

One has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

Dan from Las Vegas, NV

How is it possible to have the biggest disciplinarian in the NFL inside the building and to have the dumbest, undisciplined team in the league?

Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin isn’t the head coach, and when you’re not the head coach you don’t have much influence over what the players do or don’t do on the field.

Jami from Wye Mills, MD

John, everyone knew the Panthers' game plan. Yet, the defense was unable to stop them. That's two weeks in a row they appeared pretty inept. Three turnovers didn't help. Is Minshew Mania already over?

Over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

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