JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dan from Jacksonville:
How much was the line affected against the Cowboys by right guard Brandon Linder's injury?
John: It's always difficult to judge how much the loss of one player hurts a team, particularly if that player doesn't play quarterback. That's the nature of football. But the absence of Linder Sunday because of a shoulder strain sustained in Cincinnati the previous week didn't help. He had been playing as well as any member of the Jaguars' offensive line, and that line had looked a lot better in recent weeks. The Jaguars rushed for just 71 yards Sunday after rushing for more than 493 in the last three games. That's not all because of Linder's absence, but he had been playing well enough that his absence hurt.
KD from McAlester, OK:
It is my humble opinion that the Jaguars this Sunday saw what they are striving to become. Agree?
John: Yes, that makes sense. The Cowboys certainly are a team that's further along in the process than the Jaguars, and their talent level is something to try to attain. They have drafted patiently on the offensive line and have developed players who are now very, very good. I thought what was more significant than that on Sunday, though, was the players' attitude after the game. There was more frustration, anger and emotion after that game than we had seen in the last couple of seasons. You would hope there would come a time with this team that it grows up and matures and starts mastering the little things that take a team from being close and competing to being good. Maybe that time is now. The Jaguars felt for a few weeks that they were nearing that point, and in that respect, Sunday felt like a punch in the gut. They have a week to figure out how to respond to that punch. We'll see.
Cory from Madison, WI:
So that play before half was "called coverage?" With less than a minute left in the half? Did we just assume they were gonna run clock? Wow, does that ever show a tremendous amount of incompetence. Another example of this staff's lack of situational awareness.
John: I'm not "all in" with the another-example part, but yeah, it's pretty safe to assume that was one the staff would have liked to have had back.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
John, I dispute Bill Polian's analogy of the Jags being a Senior Bowl team. Only about a third of the first- or second-year Jacksonville positional players getting significant snaps were invited to the Senior Bowl, as the majority were not considered among the top 100 college seniors in the country for their respective year.
John: Wow, feeling a bit argumentative today, aren't we, Scott? Polian wasn't trying to make the point that all the players on the Jaguars were invited to the Senior Bowl. He was talking about the youth – particularly on offense – and the challenge of having such a young team playing against teams with players far more mature mentally and physically.
Hunter from Orlando, FL:
I think it may be time for a Jaguar media hiatus. You are saying the same thing every week. The players are saying the same thing every week. Bradley is saying the same thing every week. The Jaguar radio shows are saying the same thing every week. Did you ever see the movie Groundhog Day? Did you ever see the movie Groundhog Day?
John: I don't consider my job to come up with something new and outlandish to say every week and to flip flop opinions for the sake of doing so. I try to analyze the team and explain what's going on best I can best I can.
Corey from Orange Park, FL:
I honestly think we lost Sunday because we have no elite-level talent on the defensive line and the Cowboys do. Their offensive line has played elite all season and we couldn't play the defense we normally want to. Am I off base here, O-sir?
John: There without question is a talent difference, though I don't know that it's accurate to say the Jaguars have no elite talent on the defensive line. Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller have played too well too consistently this season to say they lack talent. That said, there was a pretty clear talent difference Sunday. The Cowboys' offensive line. Dez Bryant. Tony Romo. DeMarco Murray. There are a lot of mature play-makers there and the Jaguars don't have mature play-makers yet. It's a significant difference.
Sue from Section 225:
At least we have a STAR RB. If only we'd let him run more. He takes the pressure off the quarterback and gets touchdowns. #BlueKnowIT #GoJaguars #GoShoelace!
John: I didn't have a sense of the Jaguars going away from the run too soon Sunday. I did have a sense of the running game not being very effective after Denard Robinson's 33-yard touchdown run and that being a reason the offense stagnated. It shows you how important the run game has become to this team in recent weeks, because the difference was really noticeable.
Mike from Section 238:
The untimely turnovers by Ace and Denard were the turning point in the game, but the defensive line was what disappointed me the most. I know the Cowboys have a very, very good offensive line, but I expected our D-line to get some sort of pressure on a gimpy Romo in the first half.
John: Yes, so did the Jaguars. They even dialed up some different pressures in the first half to try to make that happen. When those pressures didn't get home, Romo had a chance to extend plays and that created more issues for the defense.
Nayah from Baltimore, MD:
Second-year coach with a second-year group of players that fits his system, and I see no improving. This is not good! Last year we were better than we are now. With this year draft class I expected a six-win season. If this team don't improve after the bye week, is it wrong to want change?
John: It's not wrong to want change, but it's going to be frustrating if you expect it. There are a couple of reasons. First, offensively not really a second-year group of players; it's a lot closer to a first-year group of players. Secondly, through most of this season the Jaguars have been better than last year. Many people don't want to accept that, but it's truth. And as I said often last offseason, if you're expecting a draft class to come in and make a mammoth difference in victories and losses, you're probably expecting the wrong thing. Rookies in the NFL are typically learning, and making contributions in spots, but to expect them to turn the team around is to create unreasonable and unreachable expectations. I'd look at it like this: if truly believe the Jaguars aren't in better shape than they were last season, then then by all means call for change. If you see them improving – and many, including Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, do – then you absolutely don't want to change. That would mean starting over, which just makes the end of the road that much further away.
Chris from Houston, TX:
This "improvement" is tough to watch.
John: I agree that Sunday was tough to watch, but I didn't consider Sunday improvement, especially in the first half. The last six weeks before that? I considered that improvement, and there were plenty of times during that stretch when the Jaguars weren't nearly as tough to watch.
Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
How does Gus, Dave and Shad's version of "close" compare to Mike Mularkey's version of close? Because to me it just sounds like semantics.
John: I could see how people would say that. Fans hate hearing that teams are close because close means losing and losing stinks. The difference is that 2012 team had a whole lot of veterans who weren't going to be part of the core going forward. They also signed a couple of high-priced free agents before the season that in retrospect didn't make a whole lot of sense. That team really had no future. You also with that team didn't see a whole lot – if any – improvement from the year before. The last part is probably the biggest difference; this year it's not hard to see improvement from last season if you look beyond the record. The defense has played better. The running game largely has played better. There are also some young players who are beginning to show signs of being good. Mostly, they have competed and played good teams tougher than last season. In that sense, Dallas was something of an outlier. The Jaguars had played much better in the two months leading to that game than they had most of last season. One game doesn't change that.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
You posted an article saying the Jaguars are sick of this. Well O, we as fans are also SICK of hearing the same excuse that these players are saying. Such as we have to look in the mirror, we are angry, we did not play are best, we need to get better. We are 10 games into the season and we are 1-9 and I'm hearing same excuse from you, the coaching staff and the players. We are sick of it!
John: Yes, I'm aware.
O-Zone: Oh-so aware
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dan from Jacksonville: