JACKSONVILLE – Happy Tuesday.
We'll spend today talking about New England one last time, and I'm certain we'll all enjoy that.
Let's get to it … Dave from DUVAL:
O-Zone, the Jaguars must get healthy if they are going to compete the rest of the season. They began the Patriots game with six starters and two key second-line players out with two of these – Sen'Derrick Marks and Julius Thomas – being their best two players. They lost two more starters during the game to injuries. If they don't get healthy, they won't compete. Not an excuse – just the truth!
John: Maybe it's just my long-standing, stubborn belief that NFL teams must overcome injuries, but I can't in good conscious spend much time emphasizing injuries early this week. Besides, the big picture in a 51-17 loss to New England Sunday just wasn't about that. So, I can't write that the Jaguars would have beaten the Patriots if fully healthy – and I can't write that it would have been all that close at the end, either. I can write that a fully healthy version of the Jaguars would have been more competitive and that it perhaps could have gotten the Patriots off the field a time or two more. I also can write that I believe the situation will be better this week. It sounds as if Johnathan Cyprien and Sergio Brown have a chance to play Sunday, and perhaps Andre Branch and Dwayne Gratz, too. Those guys wouldn't be the difference if they were playing New England. The good news? New England's not on the schedule any more this season.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
I remember rationalizing to myself when Sen'Derrick went down that it was a long offseason and he'd be OK. What a fool. I'm sorry, but I think that game is very different yesterday if Sen'Derrick and Dante are playing. Maybe still a loss, but not like that. People don't want to hear that, though.
John: No, people don't want to hear about injuries after a loss. And I don't like writing about injuries after a loss, either. The Jaguars certainly would be better if Sen'Derrick Marks were healthy – and if Dante Fowler Jr. were healthy and something close to what the Jaguars expected when they drafted him. Could they have gotten more pressure without blitzing had those two been in the lineup? Well, considering that's what they're expected to do, you sure hope that would have been the case.
Jeremy from South Korea:
So many on the team and in the organization are delusional. Poz is the only one who said – and meant – that the excuses on not playing well have to end. The excuse-making and downplaying is pathetic. Contrary to what Gus Bradley said, this loss does validate the team. It shows exactly where they stand. They are years from contending for a Super Bowl.
John: It certainly appears that way after a loss such as Sunday. If the Jaguars play well and get this thing straightened out, it won't look so dire. They may not be as close to beating New England as many fans had hoped, but my sense is they won't be the only team this season in that category.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
John, the 2008 Cardinals who made the Super Bowl that year were trounced by the Patriots in New England during the season, 47-7. Not saying we're a Super Bowl team just yet ... just a reminder that looking bad in Gillette Stadium doesn't make a team bad, nor does it imply the season is over. The Patriots have a tendency of making teams look bad there.
John: Indeed they do, and NFL history is indeed littered with teams that have been blown out during the regular season and still had fine seasons. The 1998 Jaguars lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 50-10, and won the AFC Central. The 2006 Colts lost to the Jaguars 44-17 and won the Super Bowl. The 1994 49ers lost to the Eagles, 40-8, at home and won the Super Bowl. The 2003 Patriots lost the regular-season opener, 31-0, to the Buffalo Bills and won the Super Bowl. It happens. Often. The problem for the Jaguars is they haven't done nearly enough for fans to reasonably believe they are capable of such a turnaround. Because of the recent history of losing, games such as Sunday's seem more the norm than an outlier. The only thing the Jaguars can do now is focus on the coming week – and in that sense, the coming few weeks are key. They need to play better, win and get to 3-3 or 4-2. If they do that, the one-sided, disheartening nature of Sunday is long-forgotten. If they don't, then the season could be in a whole lot of trouble.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
Please explain to me why we can't blame this on coaching. We draft at the top of the order every year and the Patriots draft at the bottom and they keep coming up winners and we come up losers. Does this have to do with the general manager and the coach or both? I say both. What say you, John?
John: It's a little more complex than blaming this person or that person – or this area or that area. The Jaguars had a miserable game Sunday, and the understandable tendency is to enact immediate, swift blame/punishment. The belief is that one game won't be how this season is remembered, and that one game isn't fully indicative of the building process … but the immediate aftermath of such a loss is no time to review all of the things that have gone on: long-term goals, building philosophies, etc. If it helps to assign blame, blame whatever and whoever you want. Blame me if necessary. You won't be alone.
Tony Can't Put Up With it Anymore from St. Louis, MO:
So, they thought that playing prevent all game was a good idea? At some point you got to say, 'Hey, this is not working … maybe we should switch it up.' Why even make the trip if you're that scared to play?
John: I can't say the Jaguars were scared to play, though I get your point when it comes to the defensive game plan Sunday. The Jaguars very much believed that pressuring New England and blitzing Tom Brady would present the Patriots too many opportunities for big plays, and that doing so was a recipe for Brady and the Patriots' offense to score quickly and easily. Instead, the Jaguars' plan was to keep receivers in front of the defense and rely on tackling and pursuit to slow the Patriots. The result was that it took the Patriots' longer to score, but it was still too easy. When discussing the game Monday, Bradley said if he had it do over again they likely would have taken a different approach. They didn't. Would a different approach have yielded different results? We'll never know, I suppose.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
It's fair to say most people saw this lopsided loss coming. The challenge for Gus will be helping the team move beyond it quickly to prepare for a more important game against a struggling Indy. A win could put the Colts in deep trouble and give the team a major boost. But man, it would really help if they could stay (get) healthy!
John: You're right that most people expected the Jaguars' task in New England to be very difficult. Most indeed expected a Jaguars loss, too. I actually thought the game played out pretty much as I expected until the Devin McCourty interception: the Jaguars were within arm's length of the Patriots even if you didn't have a real good feeling they could come back and win. After the McCourty interception and ensuing drive, it got out of hand in a hurry. The Patriots are good enough to make games get out of hand in a hurry, but it's time for the Jaguars to stop being a team that lets that happen so easily and often.
Al from Fruit Cove, FL:
All I can say is ... deflating.
John: Clever – but yes, Sunday's game was exactly that. The good news for the Jaguars is it was one game and success over the next two weeks will make New England seem like a distant memory. But in the immediate aftermath of that performance Sunday, it's tough to focus on that.
Luis from Section 412 and St. Johns, FL:
Week 1 the Patriots put up 28 points. Week 2 they put up 40. Week 3 they put up 51. Yes, they are that good. I look forward to them putting up 61 next week. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. The good news is we are in a four-way tie for first place in our division and the other three teams still have to play the Patriots.
John: Your theory – though obviously tongue-in-cheek – has some merit. The Patriots are good and they're going to have quite a few one-sided victories this season. That's the glass half-full approach. The worrisome thing is the Jaguars were dramatically, obviously noncompetitive on Sunday – and that's never good. The bottom line for the Jaguars right now is this: in terms of record and place in the standings, their situation is not cause for alarm. In terms of performance on the field, Sunday was disturbing, the Dolphins game was encouraging and the Panthers game … meh. The next three weeks are critical. The Jaguars need to play well and they need to win more than they lose. If they do the former, there's a reasonable chance the latter will happen. Stay tuned.
John from Orlando, FL:
Well it's safe to say the rebuilding process is not working. We are going to lose the good players we developed and keep trash players that can't develop and draft trash and send out another pathetic team year after year. I give up.
John: Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.