JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Donnie from Jacksonville
Has the defense stopped playing since cornerback Jalen Ramsey left? And if so, is it possible that the defense feels the front office has somehow mentally broken the defense by the way they handled the Ramsey situation??
No and no. Look, I understand the storyline this past offseason was that this was a very good defense – one with "Top 10 talent," and one capable of being key to the team contending for the postseason. And when looking at the roster during the offseason, that's absolutely how it looked: cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, safety Ronnie Harrison, linebackers Myles Jack and Telvin Smith, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and ends Josh Allen, Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. The belief was the Jaguars' offense would improve at least a little – and that that little improvement could push the team over the top and into the playoffs. Reality turned out different because Ramsey forced a trade, Smith retired, Bouye and Campbell aren't playing at the level they did two seasons ago – and Dareus and Jack are now out with injuries. What was left was a shell of that Top 10 defense, one that couldn't stop the run well enough to play to its one legitimate strength – i.e., rushing the passer. Did Ramsey hurt the defense by leaving? Sure, because you don't lose a player of his talent and not have it hurt. But the defense doesn't believe the front office mentally broke the unit. If anything, players were relieved when the Ramsey trade happened; it had become a tiresome topic. The Jaguars' defense is bad because the players on the field aren't as a group good enough to be better. If there are other reasons, they're secondary to that primary truth.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough from Hampshire, UK
Madison from Jacksonville
Hi, John. I am confused about our situation. If Jaguars Owner Shad Khan cleans house, who hires the next regime? Mr. Khan hired current Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin to do that, because he serves as his football mind – but if he fires him, does that mean Shad will himself go and interview other candidates? Is it common for other teams to have a "TC"/EVP or whatever? Are there any other people in the organization that advise Shad?
Your confusion is understandable because there's no real "blueprint" for an NFL organization. Each owner determines team structure. Khan opted in 2017 to have Coughlin serve as EVP – football czar, in essence – and make all decisions, with General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone reporting to Coughlin. If Khan indeed "cleans house," he and co-owner Tony Khan will interview candidates, speak to people they trust and determine the structure. Much will be made of this structure, but the bottom line will be the final decision-maker finding the right quarterback and the head coach setting the direction and having the belief of his players. Mainly, finding the right quarterback.
Keith from Section 439 Since 1995 but for How Long?
To Robert from Onedonta. He is not alone. My buddy who has seen games with me from the beginning has bailed, and this the first season EVER I have doubted my passion to renew. It will come down to what Shad Khan does in 18 days and the extent of the housecleaning. It's not worth the season tickets, parking, time and concessions anymore. Robert should know there are likely thousands that are like me awaiting Black Monday to see the direction this team is headed and decide if the product may be good enough next year to keep buying.
I don't think anyone is confused about this.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL
Zone: How about running back Leonard Fournette? He's been a bright spot and has continued to have success, even with our maligned offensive Line. More impressively, he's been a consummate professional during what are objectively rock-bottom times (they better be, at least). His approach and talent are the type around which a team can be galvanized. Go Jags!
Fournette is one of the better stories of a bad season. He is in pace for a 1,200-yard-rushig season and he was on pace for a 1,600-yard-rushing, 2,000-yard-total-yards season before the defense collapsed. That collapse kept the Jaguars from playing with leads, keeping Fournette from having enough opportunities in the second half of the season. Maybe Fournette never will "live up to his draft status," but he is maximizing his potential and is an asset to this team. That wasn't necessarily the case last season.
Josh from Harrisburg, PA
You were asked earlier in the season and curious on your thoughts now with the current state of the team. Calais Campbell yea or nah for next year?
Eric from Columbus, IN
O, should Quincy Williams going on IR raise eyebrows? There was no talk of a serious injury. Does this mean the team has lost confidence in him, even with zero linebacker depth?
Jaguars rookie linebacker Quincy Williams sustained a hand injury and was on the injury report Wednesday. He was placed on injured reserve after that. That's not uncommon late in the season. I do understand your point, though: Williams had been benched early in the season and was struggling enough since returning to the lineup it wouldn't have been unreasonable to bench him again. He'll be on the roster next season. He's young. He played like it. We'll see if he plays well enough moving forward for the team to have confidence in him.
Jim from Jacksonville
Can the media please stop with all the Patriots-are-going-downhill talk? They're 10-3 and are in line for a first-round bye. Stop already!I
Steve from Nashville, TN
"And there are absolutely major roster deficiencies that must be addressed during the coming offseason." John, I thought we just did that earlier this year? I think something else needs to be addressed like our inability to address roster deficiencies.
The Jaguars did address roster deficiencies this past offseason. That's what every team tries to do every offseason. The Jaguars clearly didn't do this well enough. Will "something else" be addressed this offseason? We'll see soon enough.
Jeffrey from Albany
How seriously are we going to need help in the secondary? You don't seem to think cornerback A.J. Bouye will be back next season. Cornerback Tre Herndon has just been "wow" bad, but for some reason I don't hear anyone talking about him. Harrison and nickel D.J. Hayden are, in my opinion, the most talented secondary players, but they're having trouble staying on the field. Ramsey is gone, Thank God. (Side note calling him ruining his own career now). We have tons of holes all over this team, but how severe are the secondary problems?
Rusty from New Iberia, LA
You say "Dareus went down and everything else crumbled." Yet you don't expect Dareus to be back. What gives? And after losing Ramsey, I would think we would want to hang on to Bouye as well. Why does this team like to get rid of its good players?
It doesn't, but it does have to make decisions on what players can be brought back – and whether players who have been good before will be good enough moving forward to justify salary. It's professional football, and those are professional football dilemmas.
Steve from Nashville, TN
When is the last time the Jaguars won a regular season game in the Pacific Time Zone?
The Jaguars last won in the Pacific Time Zone in 2004 when they beat the Oakland Raiders in the regular-season finale.
John from Priest River, Idaho
It seems many fans over the last several weeks are confusing effort and incompetence with lack of talent and preparation. This team doesn't appear as much to have quit or not being coached well, but rather to be lacking front-line talent. This team is almost completely void of talent on defense. An argument could be made for the same offensively, particularly on the line. In other words, this roster now appears to have been a house of cards. This is the responsibility of the front office. I've also noticed Marrone making consistent but subtle comments regarding "coaching better" and "coaching the players available." It's as if he and everyone else inside the building know they've got little to no chance with who they are trotting out there over the past several Sundays. Thoughts?
I read your email several times looking for something with which to disagree. I wouldn't say the Jaguars are completely void of talent on defense as much as they lack talent enough in terms of stopping the run that they can't use the talent they do have – which is rushing the passer. Also, the offensive line has talent in right tackle Jawaan Taylor and perhaps center Brandon Linder. Beyond that … good email.
Bob from St. Mary's, GA
Find some angry/hungry linemen in the draft and these quarterbacks will be serviceable.
Serviceable is meh. How about good?