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O-Zone: Plot twist

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeff from Rutland, MA:
Short of getting a win, what I'd really like from Gus and David is some honesty about when they think this team will truly be competitive. Maybe the Jags are progressing along exactly as those two have always expected. Fine. Just give some insight on when an 8-8 season is realistic. 2016? 2017? Thanks.
John: This is a sentiment I get a lot, that they just want the Jaguars – specifically, Head Coach Gus Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell – to be "honest," or to somehow give the fans more transparency. I honestly wonder how much transparency people expect. Caldwell said upon taking the position it was a long build. The Jaguars were 4-12 last season and closer to being a lot worse than that than being a lot better. They added another draft class to that, and are starting a lot of young players. One of those players is a rookie quarterback who is showing signs of a lot of potential. Were the Jaguars supposed to come out before the season and say, "We are going to win 'X games … We are not going to make the playoffs …?" What team does that? What team enters a season with low expectations? Is this a sane thing to expect? The Jaguars have been improved from the first three games of the season, and they have had more stretches of more games in which they were competitive than early last season. The thought was they could win some of those games in which they were competitive, and that hasn't happened. That stinks. That wasn't expected. But would it really make people happier if the Jaguars had said before the season, "We're going to be terrible?" C'mon, Jeff, you're better than that.
Lucas from Buffalo, NY:
John, the offensive line is absolutely not fine. Many are pointing their frustration at the running backs, but it doesn't matter who runs if there is nowhere to go. The line gelling will not make them stronger; they get no push whatsoever. I see at least one big money move on the line, and possibly a high pick as well.
John: I agree the line must play better. I also agree you may see action there in the offseason. I think Luke Joeckel, Luke Bowanko and Brandon Linder are guys who will be here moving forward, and I think it remains to be seen about the rest of the line. I also think that we're saying these things in mid-October and that we'll know a lot more after 16 games with this bunch than we do after six.
Ryan from Toronto, Canada:
Every time I see Denard Robinson run the ball, I get the feeling he's just about to bust something open. In his limited touches, he consistently looks better than any other back on our roster. Why is the coaching staff so down on him? He had more yards than Johnson with half the touches.
John: I don't think the coaching staff is down on Denard Robinson. I think the coaching staff very much wants one of the running backs – or something in the running game – to be "up on." And I think they're going to keep trying backs until they find something that works.
Greg from Section 233:
How can we differentiate inexperience from just plain bad?
John: Sometimes, it's very, very tough, but I think you can see a significant difference on offense. The Jaguars scored 14 points Sunday and that's not good. But you also saw a season-high in yards and first downs and you saw a team that turned in three or four long drives. Inexperienced teams struggle to finish drives; bad teams never drive at all. I don't know that that's some overriding NFL truth, but it could fit here.
Tom from Keystone Heights, FL:
If not used in the first half, can you carry over the challenge flag to the second half and have two?
John: Yes.
Adam from Saint Johns, FL:
You say fans want winning, and that's not entirely true. We want progress and you can't tell me this plan of progress is working. We're not stupid. You're allowed to win one game while you rebuild. I don't think that is asking too much or unreasonable as you make it sound.
John: It's not unreasonable to win one game. Not sure I ever said it was, but I answer a lot of questions and write a lot. Maybe I forgot. I am almost certain I never called fans stupid, though again … a lot of answers and a lot of questions, so who knows? As far as the plan of progress working, time will be the judge.
Fred from Waycross, GA:
Yea. Stevie Nicks was (still is) a fine looking woman! Who was the O-Zone's "dream girl" back in the day?
John: Deborah Harry. Was there an alternative?
Al from Orange Park, FL:
When do we think Marcedes will be back healthy?
John: Marcedes Lewis is expected to be ready to come off the injured reserved-designated to return list in time to play against Indianapolis November 23.
Bill from St. Petersburg, FL:
John, how are football players paid throughout the year? Is their salary divided up by games or spread out through the year like every day folks like us?
John: Players get paid weekly during the season. They receive bonuses upon signing and often at various times of the year based on their contracts.
Frank from Mount Vernon, IL:
Help me understand why it seems our defense cannot cover players between the numbers? We give up too many big-yard plays to wide open receivers. I don't see that happening when I watch other teams. Yes, players get open in the NFL, but it really seemed a little too easy and too often when playing our defense. What gives? Are they confused out there?
John: It doesn't seem to happen as often to other teams as it has happened to the Jaguars this season, and as is often the case in the NFL, there's really not one reason. Sometimes, it's teams throwing over an interior of a defense that has committed to stopping the run. Sometimes, it's players not playing their zones correctly. Sometimes it's confusion. Sometimes, it's players getting beat. None of it's good, and it's why there are times it looks like confusion.
Ben from Section 101:
Do you see Gus Bradley losing players in the locker room if we don't improve soon?
John: No.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Some draft picks had better start developing pretty soon; Gus and Dave's jobs depend on it!
John: Exclamation points aside, the jobs of a general manager and head coach usually are going to depend on how draft picks develop. An exclamation point won't mean that it has to happen on some hard, fast level in the next month, but yeah … the young players on this roster need to develop. That's the foundation of the franchise.
Wil from Corpus Christi, TX:
I believe in Gus Bradley and believe he will coach this team into a respectable and competitive unit. With that said, he really needs to stop sounding so repetitive during his post-game conferences. I know that "football talk" is full of "cliches" and repetitive statements but when the fan base is upset that only makes things worse. I can't think of any way that Mr. Bradley can say the same thing any differently but I'm sure Coach Bradley can figure out a way.
John: While I understand fans' frustration, and understand that fans tire of hearing the same answers following consecutive losses, Bradley's responses in those situations aren't all that important – nor are they unusual. Bradley's not going to hammer players after games and he's not going to be theatrical just for the sake of being theatrical. Above all, a coach has to be consistent and true to himself to be an effective leader, and Bradley has been that in a year and a half with the Jaguars.
Zach from Jacksonville:
Looking at the Jags' stats, I can see why this team is 0-6 instead of 2-4 or 3-3. We have only one interception and are 1 of 5 on fourth-down conversions. This team is better than last year, but it's not good enough to lose the turnover battle and still win.
John: No, it is certainly not.
Paul from Washington, DC:
John, you can defend this coaching staff and general manager all you like, but if they go 0-16 this season then there has to be change. There has to.
John: Well, if I go out and park illegally I have to get a ticket, too, but that hasn't happened yet and I don't plan to do it. Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley were hired to build this team for the long haul. I don't see them not being here next season to continue doing that.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
John, according to the graph I just made plotting Jaguars-versus-opponents' scores in games so far, the Jags will win the next game.
John: Go with that.

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