JACKSONVILLE – Ah, Look-Ahead Wednesday …
'Tis a glorious day each week in the O-Zone, a day when the past magically disappears, a day when we look ahead to the Jaguars' future.
So it is on this day that we put the events of Tennessee last Thursday in the rearview and look ahead to Kansas City. It was an ugly night in Nashville, one that led to a midseason offensive-coordinator change – and a slew of angry days in the inbox.
Indeed, your senior writer took some punches in the last few days. So did Shadrick and Sexton – not to mention the guy who sits in the office next to mine who is absolutely invaluable and whose name I swear to learn soon.
And you know what? We all came out OK – me, Sexton, Shadrick … even the guy. This, too, shall pass. It's still the NFL season. Nine games remain. Plenty of storylines remain, too. Can new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett boost the offense? Can he boost quarterback Blake Bortles? Can a Bortles boost in turn boost a bunch of other things?
Somewhere in those questions are the key storylines to the rest of the season. I suppose we'll start finding some answers this week.
And about that week … it's a week with a football game at the end of it. That's better than the alternative, right?
Let's get to it …
Kris from Neenah, WI:
I'm a fan, so I get it: losing sucks. We have lost for a long time. However, it seems like in every email you get these people are implying the Jaguars' organization is not trying to improve and could care less. Fans gonna fan I guess.
John: Are fans fanning? Darned right they are – and fans absolutely, positively have the right to be historically, monumentally, mind-blowingly angry at what has transpired the past couple of weeks. The loss to Oakland? Bad. The Tennessee loss? I don't know how to describe that level of bad. But if there indeed is a perception that the organization doesn't care, that perception couldn't be more inaccurate. The primary factor creating said perception seems to be Owner Shad Khan's commitment to Head Coach Gus Bradley – and there certainly are fans who believe changing the head coach would solve all that ails this team. But remember: It is the job of Khan and Jaguars leadership to balance short-term calls for action with the long-term big picture. Decisions made for the good of the long term aren't always popular in the short term, but it doesn't mean those making the decisions aren't trying – or caring. And to think that Khan and Jaguars leadership aren't trying or caring is to be so far from reality as to be beyond the point of comprehension. They care, and they're as frustrated as those doing the fanning these days. That doesn't help ease the disappointment, but it is the truth.
Sean from Calder, NC:
The time the Jaguars need to become a very competitive football team is directly related to how well Bortles can recover from whatever is going on. One good year does not make a good quarterback. Whether he is the next Josh Freeman or Drew Brees will determine the success of the franchise. Always the quarterback ...
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
I've never watched a Nathaniel Hackett interview before but that guy has energy. Whatever happens, that guy made me smile.
John: Hackett indeed is an energetic guy. The Jaguars need that energy to infuse life into this offense – and into Bortles. Players seem confident it can play out that way. Will that confidence automatically glean yardage and points? No, but the confidence can't hurt.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Peyton Manning had a fast pace in his offense. Blake Bortles needs an offense that works with his style and tempo. Let him do what he does well. Being safe and predictable is not his style. Let it rip and believe in it and everything will work out. The team still has its health and nine games to go. Things change all the time! Who knows what can happen? Get mad and get even!
John: I'm hesitant to bang the table for a game plan that calls for a struggling quarterback to "let it rip" and play up-tempo, and I don't think that will be the approach. I think it's more likely the Jaguars reemphasize the running game. Either way, I like the enthusiasm – and the exclamation points!
Keith from Sunny St. Augie:
Three OCs, two DCs … something tells me it's not just the coordinators.
John: Of course not. It's never "just" any one thing in the NFL.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
It seems like tackling and offensive line play has gotten worse with less contact in practice and practice time overall. When they made the change, they did it for player health, which seems understandable, but it seems like there are just as many injuries as ever. I don't want to argue against player safety, but I think the NFL may have overcorrected a problem.
John: I agree that the lack of practice time has hurt tackling and line play, though I associate the drop in line play more with the advent of spread offenses at the college level. Either way, don't look for return to the "old days." The current practice rules were negotiated in the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, and adding practice time isn't something the players association likely will approve.
Zeleznoc from Orange Park:
While I fully understand Khan's reasoning in not wanting to change staff in mid-year, I am also concerned that fans are giving up and he's losing the fan base. Following the numerous bad years and promise of things to come that have failed to materialize, the water-cooler talk I hear suggests the team is slowly losing its fan base. Do you think this is a concern and how difficult would it be to regain fan support? Do you think Khan is concerned about Jag fans and losing support?
John: Of course Khan is concerned about Jaguars fans. To think otherwise is to completely misunderstand the situation. Khan wants to win. He wants to win because NFL owners want to win, and he wants to win because of this fan base. As for regaining fan support, that's simple: win.
Renee from Duval:
John! So, I have decided that I'm going to be positive. Can Bortles find his MoJo? Can this offense turn a 180? Can the defense be good or even possibly great? The answer is … wait for it … yes. YES! How? First, don't believe your press. Second, work your tail off. And third, do right by your team. I truly believe we have talent and I saw signs of the Xs and Os working. We may be low right now but the pendulum is swinging. Guess what it is going up! Jacksonville Do you believe in Miracles? I do John I do. GO JAGS!
Logan from Wichita, KS:
You know what, Zone. At least if we don't have the best team in the NFL, we do have the best O-Zone in the NFL.
John: Yes, I am No. 1 out of … oh.