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O-Zone: Onward

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Darren from Jacksonville

Is it a coincidence the team looked pretty good before all the injuries? I am amazed how in all the discussion of the losing streak the injuries are largely ignored. Teams seem to go through a fairly lengthy process to pick their players; to think they'll still be successful with as many as the Jags have out to me seems a bit absurd. Am I making too much of the injuries?

You’re not. The reality is injuries seemingly haven’t been discussed nearly enough nationally, locally or even in this space as the reason for the Jaguars’ struggles. That’s because injuries sound like an excuse, and no one likes to write or talk about excuses. Another reason is coaches – Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone very much included – go out of their way to minimize discussion of injuries, instead talking about “Next Man Up” because coaches know that they must convince healthy players to not use injuries as an excuse for losing. Still, while teams should be able to play through a certain number of injuries, there also is a point where injuries take a toll. To think that teams can overcome unlimited injuries is – to use your word –“absurd.” The Jaguars, remember, were 3-1 early in the season; they had beaten New England and played pretty similarly to how they played last season. They weren’t great all the time, but they certainly appeared good enough to win 10-to-11 games and get back to the postseason. The Jaguars then lost tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, left tackle Josh Wells and running back Corey Grant in a loss to Kansas City to go along with already being without wide receiver Marqise Lee, left tackle Cam Robinson and Fournette. This was in addition to the offensive line already dealing with injuries. The offense since that time has struggled mightily. As a result, the defense has been playing from behind and therefore not as effective as it was last season. It’s a clear if-then scenario. I have said before and will continue to say that the Jaguars could have been better equipped for depth at running back and tight end. But to say that injuries aren’t a major reason for the 3-5 record is to ignore reality.

Shane from Washington, DC

The cruelty of how fast our Super Bowl window closed is inexplicable. Please tell me, O-man, am I overreacting? Are we gonna right this ship next year if not this year? Or are we looking at a rebuild already?

The Jaguars’ record this season actually is quite explicable (see previous answer). You certainly will see changes this offseason; the salary-cap will dictate as much. But I don’t see a rebuild anywhere close to the scale of 2013-2014 in the coming offseasons. There are good, young core players on this team. There weren’t then.

Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington

Receivers who go to the NFL don't drop this many balls in college. Why do they wait to get paid to stink it up?

The NFL is harder. And a lot of NFL wide receivers did drop balls in college. Receivers with suspect hands get drafted all the time because the NFL wants players of a certain size and speed and many teams value those traits over good hands.

Marcus from Jacksonville

Here is what I am concerned about with the Jaguars moving forward. They have to make a decision at quarterback this offseason: keep Blake Bortles, draft a rookie or sign a veteran free agent. The first two scare me because of how they could be perceived by the team and prospective free agents. Because of their talent and cap space, the Jags have been a good destination for players, but that could quickly change. What if cornerback Jalen Ramsey decides he doesn’t want to re-sign with the team if they keep Blake, or if they have to rebuild the offense around a new quarterback? What if good free agents don’t want to come here to play with a liability at quarterback? It seems the best option is to sign a free-agent quarterback, and that rarely works out even if good players are available. I don’t see a clear-cut direction, but maybe that’s why I’m not employed by the Jaguars.

The Jaguars have Ramsey under contract for at least two more seasons with the option to apply the franchise tag the year after that, so I wouldn’t lose sleep over that issue just yet. As far as what the Jaguars will do at quarterback in the offseason, we’ll have a better idea toward the end of the season. If the Jaguars can get back closer to what they were offensively last season, a major move might not be necessary. But if the Jaguars do make a move at the position, it ideally would be through the draft.

Jesse from Hilton Head Island

I went back and watched all of backup quarterback Cody Kessler's throws from the game against the Texans. Some of his throws gave the wide receiver time to catch the ball and turn upfield with time to make the first defender miss. In my opinion. Blake’s windup delivery really hurts his wide receiver in that regard. It seems like as soon as receivers catch the ball and turn upfield, the defender has their hat on the ball. I don't see how the Jags can’t give Kessler a shot; he came in that game and moved the ball up and down the field a few times. With our defense, that is all they need: someone to get a few first downs and win the battle of field position. Do you think the Jaguars signing Landry Jones is a tipping point that they are ready to start Kessler after the bye week?

The Jaguars signed Jones as a precautionary measure. Bortles reportedly sustained an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. While he is expected to play against the Colts on November 11, the issue is serious enough that the Jaguars wanted a player who can be active in that game if Bortles can’t play. I don’t expect the Jaguars to start Kessler any time soon, though I’m less certain of that than a month ago. Four-game losing streaks with no first-half offensive touchdowns do funny things to one’s confidence.

Glass Half Full

Oh, Wizard of Oz, I get it: It's all part of the plan, right? Now, we can get Dante back in free agency (at a reduced rate), and have two draft picks. Next year everyone's healthy, and we make the big run during the playoffs. Problem solved, those Jag management types are way ahead on this, right?

My confidence may be waning, but I’m confident the Jaguars won’t be re-signing defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Khan from Section 104

John, as I see most people have quickly gone into the "Woe is Me" mode because the Jags aren't currently a Super Bowl contender, it makes me wonder why people are fans if their desire is instant gratification. Being a fan of a team is the same as any other relationship. You celebrate when times are good, and you support each other when times get tough. I can't speak for everyone, but I'll continue to support the Jags in their current state. The organization hasn't given up on us fans, so I'm not giving up on them. There is too much to look forward to with a talented team to stomp and walk away. Go Jags!

Fans in a sense are like people: there are as many different reactions to a given situations as there are fans. Some get sad when their team loses. Some get angry. Some talk of walking away and never watching again. Some admonish and make fun of the senior writer – and some do this last thing even when their team wins. Do Jaguars fans want instant gratification? Perhaps. Mostly, Jaguars fans want their team to win. And they expected better this season. A lot better. Hell, we all did.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

One statistic where Jacksonville leads the league: most players on injured reserve (14). Why is it that some teams seem to suffer more than others? Are the Saints (eight on IT), the Packers (six), and the Chargers (four) just lucky? Do we chalk it up to karma? Or could there be other factors at play? Schemes? Conditioning?

The NFL is a violent, physical game. Players get hurt and it’s largely a matter of chance. The Jaguars last season lost just a couple of major contributors to injury for the season – wide receiver Allen Robinson and long snapper Carson Tinker. This year has been substantially different.

Chris from Nashville

Did we go to the AFC Championship game last year? Please remind me again.

Yes, the Jaguars went to the AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots following last season. Why do you bring it up now? Last year’s in the past. Move on for goodness’ sake.

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