O-Zone: Pure hate

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Ryan from Reality

John, I'm glad "there's a good feeling between players and coaches," but managing to lose two winnable games has dramatically shrunk this team's margin for error if they hope to get back to the postseason. Especially if we keep playing sloppy mistake- and penalty-filled football.

Thanks for dropping in from Reality. Because that’s where you’re from, I don’t need to tell you that most games in the NFL are winnable and losable because most NFL games are decided in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars have lost a couple of winnable games, and they have won one winnable game. Is their margin for error small? Do they need to start winning? Absolutely and absolutely. But consider: They’re 2-3 through five games. Sixteen teams are either 2-3 or 3-2, which means half the league has a similar margin for error. This isn’t unusual. This is professional football.

Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL

So, he was faking? Sees specialist and cleared to practice.

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey saw a specialist about his back Monday and practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. We’ll see what happens Thursday and what it means for Sunday at some point after that.

Chris from Nashville, TN

Cute writeup, but resiliency or not, losing is losing. Start playing winning football and shut everybody on Twitter up. Unfortunately, 2017 was the outlier and not the trend, John. Maybe one day you will remove your blinders, but I won't get my hopes up for either you or the team.

I’m glad you liked the story. Pleasing every reader by writing exactly what they want to hear and repeating back to them what they believe are critically important to me. I’ll rest easy knowing you’re pleased.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z: You were spot on about the Jags at Carolina, but next week the Jaguars are not going to give up 200-whatever yards rushing, quarterback Gardner Minshew II isn't going to give up three fumbles and they're at home. The Saints will lose and lose big. You can take that to the bank, TIAA ... EVER ... piggy ... blood ... doesn't matter … just TAKE IT!!

You go, girl.

David from St. Augustine, FL

This past offseason, I made the tough decision and gave up my season tickets that I had held for 10 years. My family was no longer having fun at the games and there seemed to be an increasingly dominant attitude among the players that I had a hard time identifying with. I am happy to say that I now regret that decision and will be reaching out to the ticket department to get some tickets for what I can of the remaining games. It’s not just Gardner, although he is a part. The team seems to be having fun while playing, even while not winning every game, they look to be enjoying it. And that is contagious.

I would write something here about the fact that the Jaguars have a good feeling about where they’re headed, but Chris might tell us that’s cute.

Emiel from Texas

Get your popcorn ready for Minshew to wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. Who woulda thunk it?

Very few people.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, you posed the question earlier in the week as to whether we are better off now than when Tom Coughlin arrived after the 2016 season. I would contend that anybody can destroy a salary cap and misuse draft equity to make a team look good for one year, but isn't the objective to build a franchise that can continue to win moving forward as well? If so, the most relevant comparison would be John Lynch, who was brought in as general manager by the 49errs that same offseason after they went 2-14 -- a game worse than the Jaguars-- and drafted one spot ahead of us in 2017. I think most would agree that we could not even line up on the same field as the 49ers right now, and that they are much better positioned for the future. The question is not whether a C-minus is better than an F... the question is: Is a C-minus acceptable in such a results-driven industry?

I wouldn’t say the Jaguars are in as good a shape as the 49ers right now. San Francisco has looked very good so far this season. An argument could be made that the Jaguars have been more successful than the 49ers the past two seasons, but hey … why argue when we can get along? Either way, your question implies that the Jaguars only looked good in 2017 and don’t look like they will fare well this season. I don’t think we know at this point that that assumption is correct.

Kenneth from Jacksonville

Mr. O, we often hear that part of the reason why the Jaguars in recent times have struggled running the ball effectively is that they're facing eight-man front "stacked box" defenses because teams didn't respect our passing game. For the most part, this has worked very well against our rush attack. Are those teams also "gap-based" defenses? If they are, I guess their players are just smarter than our players and know how to play their gap? Maybe our players aren't being coached effectively to play their gaps? We also heard Pat Mahomes talk about every defense they struggled against has been man coverage going back to last year's AFC Championship game. Yet our defensive coordinator decided to "get too cute" and play a lot of soft zone defense that the Chiefs shredded. I know you say that it's always coaching in the NFL, but maybe, just maybe, sometimes it is coaching in the NFL.

It's always coaching in the NFL.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

Do you think poor safety play is the reason for the Jaguars defense’s steep decline this season, or would you attribute it to something else? Not only are they much lower in various rankings than they have been the last three years, but they’re giving up a lot of big plays.

The Jaguars through five games have played two fantastic defensive games, one “meh” defensive game and two really poor defensive games. The first poor game was against the Kansas City Chiefs, and they won’t be the only team to struggle in that situation. They were “meh” against the Denver Broncos, because while they allowed a ton of yards defensively they were really good for a long stretch in the second half and the defense helped the offense get back into the game; that’s the sort of game that will happen in a pass-oriented league. The efforts against the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans in Weeks 3 and 2 were good enough that if you don’t see them as being above the norm then we probably can’t find common ground for a discussion. That brings us to Sunday’s game, which was by any measure a miserable game for the run defense. The effort can be easily explained by a couple of linebackers struggling with gap control, and by two plays that got out and made a really rough game look like an absolutely disaster. That’s the risk of a gap-control defense, that one player out of position can make the entire unit look bad. Linebackers Myles Jack and Quincy Williams had bad games. They got out of position and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is the sort of player who exploits that to a staggering degree. But I don’t believe the Jaguars a “poor defense,” and I don’t think they’ll play that poorly consistently. Stay tuned.

Dana from Jacksonville

Hi John! You've said Gardner has a good enough arm to succeed in the NFL. It appeared he struggled on that last Hail Mary to reach the end zone. Did you notice that as well? Am I wrong? What areas will his lack of arm strength hurt him? Have there been many quarterbacks who purportedly didn’t have an “arm” who’ve succeeded at a high level?

I thought in training camp and preseason Minshew’s arm strength would hurt him. He hasn’t shown a rocket arm in the regular season, but he absolutely has shown enough arm strength to be successful in the long term. It appeared on his Hail Mary Sunday that he was pressured a bit and didn’t have time to set up to get the ball in the end zone. But you know what? If not getting the ball to the end zone on a Hail Mary is the only place his “lack of arm strength” shows up, the Jaguars can live with that. Comparatively few passes of more than 50 yards are attempted in the NFL, and Minshew has thrown the deep ball well. Shoot, he had thrown pretty much all passes well – including passes to the side of the field and deep that require NFL arm strength.

Gordon from Jacksonville

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think arm strength is going to be a future issue for Minshew after watching Sunday …

I agree. Now if only Dana would stop the hating.

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