JACKSONVILLE – I don't like Mondays. I want to shoot the whole day down.
Let's get to it ...
Logan from Wichita, KS:
I am starting to think that everyone who said before the season started that "this is a talented team" is an IDIOT. This team is worse than mediocre talent-wise and 2-9 proves that. With this losing environment and lack of ACTUAL talent, we won't win another game until 2019 or later. I'm sick of this.
John: You're far from alone being sick of what's going on, Logan. The current six-game losing streak is bizarre, disheartening and frustrating on a pretty grand and epic scale. Not only was a 2-9 record unexpected, a 2-9 record in this fashion is just strange. The Jaguars now have played four consecutive pretty good teams very tough and easily could have won any of those games. Instead, they won none of those games. But to say that this team is "mediocre talent-wise" is to pretty dramatically miss the big picture. Yes, losing stinks – and 2-9 stinks right now. But the last few games also show that this team indeed has talent and is closer to being good than it has been in a while. That doesn't make 2-9 better, but it should mean some victories before 2019.
Emily from Richland, WA:
Just punt the ball out of bounds. Ridiculous.
John: Well … you're not wrong.
Daniel Since Day One from Jacksonville:
So sad ... better in several areas, but still not good enough. I have never understood why we have a nose tackle in a hybrid 4-3 defense, but Abry Jones did a great job the last few weeks and I certainly didn't think that it hurt us. Sunday, no nose tackle and I certainly didn't think it hurt us … in fact, it helped get more sacks on a highly mobile quarterback?
John: The reason the Jaguars use a nose tackle in base situations is the same reason they have a strong-side defensive end. It's because of the defense's emphasis on the stopping the run on early downs. The Jaguars' defense has played well in recent weeks with or without a nose tackle, and yes … having Sen'Derrick Marks and Malik Jackson on the field at the same time does give this defensive front a speedy, athletic element that can't hurt against mobile quarterbacks. It didn't hurt against the Bills' athletic, multi-look running game, either. Would the quicker look have worked as well against a run offense based more on power than that of the Bills? I don't know.
Tony from Murray Hill:
Tyson Alualu is better than Jared Odrick.
John: There's certainly no drop off from one to the other. Alualu always has been a good, solid, reliable player for this team. He is proving to be that again. That has been important in light of the five games that Odrick has missed this season.
Mike from Jacksonville:
How do you compete when three possessions are taken away from you? That's the equivalent of three turnovers – "forward progress", "DPI", and a no call on A-Rob.
John: Yeah, I know the plays you're referencing. I usually don't spend a lot of time rehashing/discussing penalties because they usually balance out. I didn't see a lot of balancing getting done Sunday.
Dakota from Fleming Island, FL:
I feel this needs to be said, so here goes. We aren't good enough to clearly beat average teams. We need to be better (execution, coaching, players, all of it overall) so we can beat these teams. But this season the officiating in these close games has been brutally against us. The Green Bay game was bad, there were some very questionable calls in some close games early in the season and Sunday may have been the worst. From the supposed non-fumble early on all the way to LeSean McCoy clearly stepping out of bounds on his own in the last drive and them running the clock. … We probably didn't deserve to win but the officiating has not been anywhere near fair towards both teams and has taken away opportunities that we needed for us to win close games.
John: You're not alone in your feelings. Nor are you necessarily incorrect.
Mark from High Springs:
I have never seen such a blatant showing of bias by a referee crew in all my years of watching the sport. This is not the first game this season heavily influenced by the refs, but it seems to be the most obvious. What can we do when the integrity of the game seems to be in question: bad ball spotting, the missed PIs, the clock moving while McCoy is a yard out of bounds, all favoring the home team? Is this what we can expect for the remainder of the season?
John: I don't know.
Brian from Section 238:
Time for another rebuild. Only way this pathetic excuse for a team gets better.
John: No, no, no, no, no. No. I understand the frustration and I understand a six-game losing streak is unacceptable and inexcusable. I never would have predicted it and I doubt many other people would have predicted it, either. I don't know what the end of the season will hold and I don't know what direction Owner Shad Khan will choose. I do know that whatever the direction this is not a team in need of a dramatic rebuild. Not even close.
Ed from Jacksonville:
We are hard on Blake for his decision-making in Year 3 and rightfully so, but how about good 'ol Gus? Let's have them re-kick a punt when our punt coverage has been horrendous and are now gassed when we had them on about their own 40 with our defense playing great. Or how about calling a timeout on fourth-and-1 while they are sending their kicker out for a field goal with less than a minute to go in the first half. Or how about not calling timeout in the crucial fourth-and-4 on our last drive in which a coach with any clue would have done in such a critical situation!! Seems like our fourth-year coach still can't get some of the basics down yet, either. But Wow: we have a great culture with Sen'Derrick Marks celebrating he didn't actually jump offside on their late fourth-and-inches. Wow. What you think?
John: I think people criticizing Bradley in the wake of Sunday's are understandably upset about Bradley's record and therefore see every decision he makes that doesn't turn out favorably as bad decisions. Re-punting late in the first half made sense because the Bills had just returned a punt 16 yards and it was reasonable to assume that Brad Nortman would punt the next punt better than he did – and that the Jaguars could improve their field position. I get that the Jaguars' punt coverage has struggled, but a head coach can't make that decision assuming his special teams will allow a long return. Bradley's decision to call timeout late in the first half was made with the idea of getting the ball back for the offense, which is a perfectly legitimate strategy with a minute remaining in the half. As far as not calling a timeout at the end on fourth-and-4 … yes, that would have been a decent idea. At the same time, the clock was stopped after an incomplete pass. You shouldn't have to call timeout in that situation to get a play off.
Travis from High Springs, FL:
Hi, John. Do you believe if Nathaniel Hackett had started the season as our offensive coordinator that our running game would have been better earlier in the season and led us to some more wins? It just seems to me that our offense has been way better or more competitive since he's taken over. Do you agree?
John: The running game has been better since Hackett took over as offensive coordinator four weeks ago, and there certainly has been noticeable improvement when running back Chris Ivory has been able to get into a rhythm. Part of the improvement, too, has come from Bortles running more decisively/effectively at times. At the same time, while the Jaguars have improved offensively in recent weeks, they have lost all four games and have been unable to score at critical times – particularly in the fourth quarter. So, has it improved? Sure. Would the Jaguars have won more had it improved earlier? Harder to say.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Blake actually looked like a backup quarterback or once this year. That's a major step in the right direction for him.
John: I was going to admonish Jerell for being mean here, then I realized that I'm not sure I've ever seen Jerell be quite so nice. And you know what? I was proud of Jerell. He's making progress. But yes – Bortles played one of his better games of the season Sunday. He didn't throw interceptions and he was pretty decisive taking off and running. Maybe it's something on which he and the offense can build.