O-Zone: Perfect circle

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Don't even say it was a close game, John. The Vikings missed two opportunities in the red zone. You can't spin this one.
John: Ah, nothing like starting a next-day Monday O-Zone with a "spin" question. That's fine: bleak times call for such questions. I guess the only way to address this is to shrug and say that a game in which a team has a lead in the fourth quarter and then has possession twice more with a chance to take the lead is by definition a "close game." The fact that the Jaguars have lost six consecutive such games is not a compliment. Nor is it a positive. Nor is it "spin." It's just how it is – as frustrating, season-defining and disastrous though that may be.
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
I am starting to think that Julius Thomas is a busted free-agent signing, much to my dismay! What do you think?
John: The Jaguars placed tight end Julius Thomas on injured reserve Saturday. That ended his second Jaguars season, a season in which he caught four touchdown passes. He caught five touchdown passes last season. I hesitate to call a player who has scored nine touchdowns in two seasons a "bust." There certainly have been free agents in NFL history who have fared far worse. But it's safe to say the Thomas signing thus far hasn't worked out the way either side hoped.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
I know Sen'Derrick Marks is getting older, has an injury history and is almost through his contract, but I'm not sure I want to just write off a dude that makes plays in the moments he does.
John: Fair point.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
John: Also a fair point.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi, John. With the missed tackles, penalties and critical lapses in pass coverage Sunday, the one word I kept thinking of was "undisciplined."
John: Also fair point.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
Only the 2016 Jaguars can strip the quarterback and the offense still convert it for a first down - and it not be a surprise. #murphyslaw
John: You're referring to a first-half play Sunday on which Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue stripped the ball from Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford only to have Bradford pick up the ball and complete a pass for a first down. The pass meant that instead of a sack – the normal result of a defensive end stripping the ball from a quarterback attempting to pass – Ngakoue instead got credited only for a forced fumble. It prevented Ngakoue from tying Tony Brackens' franchise record of seven sacks for a rookie. In a sense, it defined a lot about the weirdness and frustration level of this Jaguars season. And yeah, it was pretty unreal.
Jon from Portland, OR:
Just wanted to say that I've been a Jags fan since birth, and despite the recent struggles of the franchise, (and constant heckling from coworkers) I'll continue to be one. This team has a bright future and I'm convinced the core of a very, very dominant team is in place. Just gotta be patient and let Khan make the right decisions. #InKhanWeTrust
John: #DTWD
Fan from Jax:
The No. 6 defense is what some of us knew they are.
John: I'll assume you're referring to the Jaguars' defense, which entered Sunday ranked No. 4 in the NFL in yards allowed – and I'll assume you're implying that the defense played well below that ranking Sunday. I don't think anyone watching this defense closely this season believed it was the fourth-best defense in the NFL, and the unit has had some times when it hasn't gotten off the field in big situations. Sunday was one of those times. I'd say this defense continued on Sunday to be what I've thought it was all season: a unit that's much better than it was last season and one that has been good enough to keep this team competitive had the offense been functioning at the expected level all season. Is the Jaguars' defense great? No. Has it been playing well enough for this team to be much better than 2-11? No doubt.
Tim from Jacksonville:
I keep hearing on the radio that as long as the quarterback doesn't turn the ball over or hurt the team, then he qualifies as a franchise quarterback. That is the reason why the Jaguars will never be winners. Our quarterback has a very low standard of quality to meet in the eyes of the local media and fans. Why is that? Why is sub-par performance tolerated? Why can't we just go out and get a better quarterback? Why does every other team in the league seem to be able to find quarterbacks that are better? Why is everybody still defending this performance?
John: First off, nothing that is said in the local media or on radio is a reason why "the Jaguars will never be winners." Second, while I don't know everything that is said on the radio, anyone saying a quarterback who just doesn't turn the ball over or hurt the team is a franchise quarterback is incorrect. While a quarterback must not hurt the team with willy-nilly, avoidable turnovers, there is far more to the position than that. Mostly, he must not only put the team in position to win, but he must on occasion be the reason the team won. He must do special things and be capable of high-level – and relatively mistake-free – performances far more often than not. I find one of your questions more curious than others, though. You ask, "Why can't we just go out and get a better quarterback?" I don't know the answer, but I know many fired NFL head coaches and general managers reading that question would smile a very wistful smile.
Vikings Fan from Jax:
With Jared Odrick and Thomas on injured reserve on a two-win season is it more beneficial to cut ties at the end of the season and allow the Jags to have $13 million more on the cap space entering next year or are we still wanting to hang on with this roster and hope it works out?
John: I doubt either Odrick or Thomas will be back next season. I could be wrong on that, but I doubt it.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Jaguars Nation lost one of its most dedicated souls on December 3. Last week's game was probably the first he ever has missed. Our friend and brother, Rob Rivera, was a wonderful person. He loved the Jags like they were family. Through ups and downs, he loved the team. When I went on my rants about the Jags, he reminded me to stay positive. He liked you too, John. Whenever I criticized you, he defended you. He just turned 30 this November. He was young, full of life, full of energy. This one cuts deeper than I could ever have imagined. I wish he knew just how much he was loved. Just wanted to share. Thanks for listening.
John: RIP, Rob.
Dave from Duval:
How did Fowler go from a standout, unblock-able defensive lineman in preseason to "he has a lot of work to do?" He looks wildly out of control at times rushing the passer. I understand he needs to work on his technique, but why draft a guy that needs this much work at No. 3?
John: The vast majority of pass rushers have a lot of work to do during their first seasons playing in the NFL. If you're unwilling to draft unpolished pass rushers, you're going to have a hard time selecting them early in the draft.
James from Elizabeth, NJ:
Should the jags hang out more during not the season and get mentors TG hat been there like Michael Irving or drink Sanders for Jalen Ramsey
John: Kgh fer ot ghh deg
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
You constantly make smart comments about coaching questions. How in the hell can you keep defending a coach that will lose 50 games? There are plenty of teams winning with terrible quarterbacks. Those teams aren't great, but win more than the Jags do. You don't think continually losing by one score is just on the quarterback? How can the coach not hold some responsibility in your eyes? Hell with it, let's just keep everyone here that sux.
John: It's always coaching in the NFL.
Steve from Vancouver, BC:
Hi John, you glossed over Don from Richmond's question recently regarding the Jags' staff coaching Derek Carr in the Senior Bowl. At this point, it seems like a huge miss. Does coaching the Senior Bowl not actually give that much insight into players, or is quarterback development just that much of a gamble? Thanks.
John: The Senior Bowl does give insight into players. The Jaguars after seeing Carr up close didn't think he was worthy of the No. 3 selection in the draft. They believed Bortles was worthy of that selection. Before this season, it was debatable if the Jaguars were wrong about that. Right now, it appears they were very wrong. Time will tell if that will continue to be the case. As for quarterback drafting and development … it's absolutely a gamble. The teams that get positive results get big rewards. The teams that don't get positive results find themselves gambling again and again and again.

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