JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
We had a Top 5 defense for two consecutive seasons with the same coordinator and scheme we have now, but different players. Maybe the problem is not exactly the coordinator. Even if he changed the scheme, the players would be the same. Players, not plays, right?
The Jaguars were sixth in the NFL in total defense in 2016, second in 2017 and fifth in 2018 – and yes, Todd Wash was the defensive coordinator in those seasons. The defense allowed points and yards in those seasons because teams allow points and yards in professional football – particularly in this offense-oriented era of professional football. Would changing the scheme now improve the defense? Would it get the secondary covering better? Would it get the front beating their blocks? People seem to think so, because … well, you know.
Mike from Atlanta, GA
They've blitzed. It's just that the blitz isn't getting home. If players can't execute the plays the problem isn't the play calling. But can the pass rush improve as the season moves along? They have a lot of youth, no preseason, and not a lot of experience. That's different from having seasoned veterans who can't get to the quarterback. Can rookie defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson develop a bit and take some attention away from defensive end Josh Allen or is that a little too ambitious given the circumstances?
Chaisson has a sack in three games. He spoke the media Friday and left no doubt that he knows he must improve – and he said he understands he doesn't have the luxury of a lot of time to do so. He's an impressive guy and it's good news for the Jaguars that he appears to be intelligent, focused and doing the work necessary to improve in the NFL. Pass rushing in the NFL is about physical talent, but it's also about learning how to use hands, leverage and technique to beat the best offensive linemen in the world. Everything I've seen from and heard about Chaisson leads me to believe he will develop into a very effective pass rusher. I believe we will start seeing signs of that this season. Whether he develops quickly enough to be a major factor this season, or to help this pass rush dramatically improve immediately … I would be surprised if the development is that quick. Pass rushing in the NFL is hard. Most rookies don't have the immediate impact Allen had last season. We'll see.
Andy from St. Augustine, FL
How long until the Jags fire Todd Wash and cut Taven Bryan? (did Jess really think you were better than this?
Well done. I will put that question right … here.
Garrett from Edgetown
So, with Leon Jacobs tearing his ACL, is it rookie linebacker Shaq Quarterman's time to shine? I loved him at Miami. Here's to hoping Quarterman can play the strongside better than we have recently.
Jacobs indeed is out for the season with a knee injury sustained against the Miami Dolphins last Thursday; he had played fine at the position the last several seasons. But Cassius Marsh will start at the strongside position for the Jaguars moving forward. Quarterman, a fourth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft who played locally at Oakleaf High School, is a middle linebacker and the Jaguars aren't planning to play him on the strong side.
Arnie from Costa Blanca, Spain
Perspective! My perspective is prior to Game 1 this team looked pretty much to all they may be tanking – which I didn't buy, but I did feel we lost tremendous experienced talent and were likely to be tremendously bad. Albeit with a talented young group. Then we show incredible talent and team chemistry to beat the Colts, show talent again and a no quit and beautiful mentality against Tennessee. Then – lo and behold – we get stomped by a team. We were supposed to be mad and caught off guard that THIS young roster looked young and got beat by a lot against another professional NFL team? No, if I'm surprised by anything it's how well this young core fought against two good teams to start. Now let's see how perplexed folks are when if next week or in three weeks the Jags look amazing! I won't be shocked.
Arnie remains "all in."
Marcus from Jacksonville
I've heard from some talking heads this week that Todd Wash is a poor game planner and the slow starts by the defense are because he has to react to what he sees on the field instead of anticipating and planning ahead. Any truth to that?
That's a theory and I'll credit the "talking head" for at least giving some thought to trying to figure the reason for the slow starts that have plagued the Jaguars' defense through three game. I don't know that the talking head had the same theory from 2016-2018 when the Jaguars were outstanding defensively on early possessions and allowed just one first-quarter touchdown every three games – including three during the entire 2017 season. It's possible that Wash in a two-year span completely forgot how to game plan? Did the talking head mention that possibility? No?
Matt from Bremen, Indiana
John, seems like if we want to finish the season 14-2, this game against the Bengals is a must-win.
Tanking for Tottenham
John: You continually defend Caldwell by saying he can't be blamed for the Coughlin years. There would not have been a need to hire Coughlin if Caldwell was able to do his job.
I don't "defend" Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell. I didn't "defend" him in a recent O-Zone answer this week, and I don't tell fans who they should blame for things. Fans are going to feel about Caldwell however they choose to feel, and they're going to credit or blame him for whatever they choose. I do answer questions about Caldwell when asked, and I did so this week. Caldwell was in charge of football operations from 2013-2016. He drafted a lot of good players during that time and a lot of those players contributed to a very good 2017 Jaguars team. He also missed on players, including quarterback Blake Bortles. A lot of things good things happened in Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin's first season of 2017 and a lot of things went awry after that. Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone are in charge of football operations now, and they appear to have drafted well and executed a lot of important moves well this past offseason. How Owner Shad Khan feels about the direction of the team following this season will remain to be seen.
Steve from Nashville, TN
I remember as a kid watching the Bengals play on TV and thinking those are the coolest helmets ever. I kind of still think that.
You're not wrong.
Paul from Unforgiving Fruit Cove
Yo Zone: I get that it's only Week 4, but this game is pivotal. As a young squad, we pulled the upset in Week 1, hung with AFC Championship contenders in Week 2 – and had the inevitable national spotlight fail Week 3. This game will tell me the tale. How will we react? Will we get pressure on the quarterback? Quarterback pressure is not an "option," it must be done if we are going to beat them. Having our best offensive lineman, our best wide receiver and our Pro Bowl kicker would help. I know probably not all three will make it on the field, but any combination will make a huge difference. Also, I hope that wide receiver Dede Westbrook gets more time and less time goes to Chris Conley. Conley's drop(s) on critical third downs absolutely hurt us last week and Dede if healthy, would be a better option for this game. Just my pivotal points for game 4 sir. Just saying....
You make some good points. This is a key game. There's a huge difference between 2-2 and 1-3 – and I expect how fans feel about this team will be dramatically different with a victory Sunday compared to a loss. Pressuring Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is critical, and I don't know that this pass rush will magically come alive just because that's true. The Jaguars will get wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. back Sunday, but center Brandon Linder and kicker Josh Lambo will remain out. As for Conley, I imagine you will see him less Sunday than last week because of Chark's return. I don't know that will mean a dramatic increase in playing time for Westbrook.
David from Chuluota, FL
Zone – There are eight players on the Jaguars' injured reserve. Which ones are officially done for the season and which ones should return to the playing field this year?
There are currently seven players injured reserve. Out for season: linebacker Leon Jacobs, tight end Josh Oliver, defensive tackle Dontavius Russell. Expected to return: kicker Josh Lambo, linebacker Quincy Williams, safety Jarrod Wilson, running back Devine Ozigbo.
Mike from Port Charlotte, FL
You know what should have been said after our loss to the Miami Dolphins? "We are on to Cincinnati."
That was said.