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O-Zone: Save that towel

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Zachary from Jacksonville:
What's the status of Sen'Derrick Marks and when do you think he could be back out on the field? Do you see him improving the D-Line and pass rush immediately once back?
John: Marks worked limited in individual work this week – as was the case last week. He was wearing pads in practice Wednesday and it appears he's progressing nicely. I expect he will continue to do that next week and perhaps return the week after that for the home game against the Houston Texans October 11 – though that is somewhere between a guess and a projection, and not meant as anything guaranteed. I also suspect Marks' presence will improve the defensive line. Will Marks immediately be the same dynamic, quick-twitch pass rusher he was last season? Likely not; that's difficult in the first game back from reconstructive knee surgery. Will he help? Yes.
Doug from Jacksonville:
I've been called a clown.
John: I figured.
Robert from Jacksonville:
Gus Bradley is a great motivational coach. However, I don't think he really buys into what he preaches and thus, the players don't either. Hopefully, this week will look vastly different. I have faith in this team. Go Jaguars!!
John: I can't guarantee a whole lot about Gus Bradley or very much else in this crazy game we call life. And it's fair to question any coach in terms of play-calling, game-planning, in-game decisions, etc.; the very nature of the position is it will be second-guessed, often. What I can guarantee is Bradley definitely buys into what he preaches, and I've never gotten any sense that players don't buy into it, too.
Greg from Green Bay, WI:
Mr. John, up here in Green Bay we have a backup running back and a journeyman wide receiver as starters, yet we are 3-0. Every NFL team has big injuries, but the ones that overcome it have a great quarterback. As Bortles goes, so go the Jags … would you not agree?
John: Yes, I would agree.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
If the Jags win on Sunday against the Colts and the Texans lose to the Falcons – since the Titans are on a bye week – the Jags would be in sole possession of first place in the AFC South! I know it's early. I know this. It would be huge! Maybe that momentum, in addition to some good luck on the injury front, could propel them in the direction of the good football they are capable of.
John: That's a lot of ifs and a lot of scenarios – and by all means, break down ifs and scenarios to your heart's content. But the Jaguars need to go in the direction of good football by … playing good football! They believe they're moving in that direction and they believe they're close to showing it.
Adam from Sanchse, TX:
John, I'm as disappointed as anyone in the loss to New England. It was ugly, but can people PLEASE stop thinking that Caldwell and Company somehow didn't try hard enough to get Randall Cobb and Devin McCourty? Both players took less money to stay with contending teams and elite quarterbacks. If I recall correctly, Cobb didn't even make it to free agency before re-signing. The Jags are bad because they are young, they've been ravaged by injury (come on, who loses their first-round pick an HOUR into the first workouts???), and the NFL is a quarterback-driven league and Bortles has not proven he's a Franchise-Build-Your-Team-Around-Type quarterback. He's got the physical potential. Can he follow it with the mental aspect? But to insinuate that Caldwell and Co. are doing anything less than their best to put a winning team on the field is asinine.
John: You wrote a lengthy email. I looked for points with which to disagree. I didn't find any.
Billy Jag Fan for Life from Kalaheo, HI:
Aloha John … as a Jaguar fan since the beginning, I've seen the great teams and the really bad teams. The decisions made in the past really hurt this franchise. Poor drafts set this team back years from contention for years before Coach Bradley and Mr. Caldwell ever got here. To me, Mr. O, it's going to take more than three years to fix over seven-to-ten years of bad decisions. Aloha and Mahalo. Imua Jaguars!!!
John: Aloha, and there's truth to what you say. It indeed is difficult in three drafts to develop home-grown, winning-level experience – and home-grown core players with rare exceptions should be the foundation of an NFL franchise. But I'm not ready to say we won't see progress from this franchise this season, because it's a little early in this season to reach overriding conclusions about just where we are in the building process. There has been progress so far this season. It's not leaps and bounds yet, but it's enough to make you believe that getting some injured impact players back could help. I'll wait until deeper into the season before I begin calculating how much longer it will take to "fix" everything.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
On Jaguars Today, Lags made a great point that I haven't seen referenced elsewhere. The Jags had to make some moves late last week and released LaRoy Reynolds to add a wide receiver since Lee didn't think he could play Sunday. Lee ended up playing part of the game. Reynolds is now with the Bears. Our special teams takes a huge hit. Lee's injuries have now reached a level where not only is his performance missed in a game, but it's also costing us valuable players at other spots. I'm not sure what you can say or do, or what my question is ... but man ... this kind of thing is frustrating.
John: Sure, it's frustrating. I'm not sure it's fair to completely pin it on Marqise Lee. There were a lot of injured players last Sunday, so there were a lot of roster considerations to be made. But are Lee's injuries frustrating? Sure. You know who's most frustrated? Lee.
Matt from Jacksonville:
Remember when Caldwell was an idiot for letting DeMarco Murray get away? Fans gonna fan.
John: Yep.
Bobby from Jacksonville:
John: I love Gus, BUT I am sooo tired of the "we're-gonna-learn-from-this" mantra. I believe our guys have a PhD in losing by now. And in a similar vein, I'm also tired of the low-impact, veteran's-days-off-type of practices. How's that worked for us? Our injury list is two pages long ... may as well go the Coughlin route and demand tougher, more-physical practices. Maybe they'll be more prepared for the real hitting come game time. Sorry, just had to vent.
John: Vent away. I understand the frustration of fans when Bradley talks after games about learning from losses. I understand fans want anger and more emotion from him. I don't know how much that will help, but I do understand it. As for your second point: To my knowledge, the Jaguars haven't had a player with a veteran day off from practice since the regular season began. They had plenty during training camp and for the most part, the players who had those days off – players such as Paul Posluszny, Roy Miller, Marcedes Lewis – have been pretty healthy. Most NFL teams have a version of the veteran day off/coaches-decision day off these days. They're simply a way to get veterans through the season healthy and fresh – and they're pretty much here to stay.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
This next game is huge. This next game is the true measuring stick. Can we compete with the Colts?
John: I don't know if we know enough about how good or bad the Colts are to know if they're a measure of anything yet. They might be really good. They might not be. We'll see. I do know it's a really important game for the Jaguars to play well and it would be a really big game to win. We'll see what happens.
Aaron from Chantilly:
Zone, should we even be game-planning this year? I know it's weird, but since the playoffs are sorta out of the picture, why not get really good at the fundamentals this year? This is in no way saying we are throwing in the towel, but maybe we should just focus on the very basics, executing plays against real competition, calling the right offense for defensive fronts, working in the training/weight room … and if our base package wins a few games, then great. I really don't care about results as long as we truly are getting better and have a plan.
John: Aaron, you started your email by asking if the Jaguars should game plan – and then went right into the playoffs being out of the picture. That sorta, kinda sounds a little like "throwing in the towel." Remember this: whatever the record, whatever the outcome of the New England game, the Jaguars are tied for first in the division, so it's probably not quite time to throw logic out the window – or to throw in the towel – just yet.

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