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O-Zone: Simple remedy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Emily from Boulder, CO:
Great game by the defense! Any chance we'll see a game like that by the offense this season?
John: I'd say there's a chance in this sense: in reality, the game by the Jaguars' defense Sunday wasn't close to perfect. The Jaguars allowed 362 yards and didn't generate as much pass rush as they would have liked. There were a lot of things to correct when they reviewed film. That's going to be the case all season because the roster isn't where they want it to be yet. At the same time, within that context, the Jaguars' defense made big, game-changing plays that allowed the Jaguars to win. The Jaguars' offense probably isn't going to have many perfect games, either, but is it capable of making plays as the defense did Sunday? Absolutely.
Ryan from Boone, NC:
Can we as a fan base take a moment to recognize the excellent job David Caldwell did with free agency? Will Blackmon and Sen'Derrick Marks give possibly the best bang for their buck on our team and Alan Ball has more than exceeded expectations. It's the complete opposite of the last regime's attempts to bring in players. Finding production in unexpected places is the fastest way to turn a team around. Also, Coach Bradley: undefeated after the bye, undefeated when leading at the half. Who doesn't love that?
John: You make some good points. Blackmon and Marks are indeed precisely what the Jaguars were hoping for in this first year. The idea was to bring in a lot of players and see if they could find a few out of that lot to move forward with over the long haul. Marks and Blackmon certainly seem as if they could be such players. I think Caldwell will spend a bit more and look for perhaps a higher-profile, longer-contract free agent or two this offseason, but Blackmon, Marks and Ball fit what was wanted this offseason.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Ok, cool: no 0-16, no worst team in NFL history, and I was definitely glad to see a win this season. But we need to pump the brakes now before we mess up the draft. Hold steady for Teddy.
John: Don't worry about messing up the draft. That storyline will play out on its own.
Morgan from Jacksonville:
What was your opinion of the play-calling late in the game? There were a lot of chances taken that prevented the offense from taking time off the clock. Why not give it to MJD?
John: The Jaguars were trying to get a first down. They averaged 1.8 yards per carry Sunday. I wouldn't argue with the coaches if they said three runs gave them a pretty low percentage chance of picking up a first down.
Richard from Bishop:
Unless Tampa Bay suddenly wins one more game than we do we will not get the first pick in any event. That way, we won't have chosen the highest-rated quarterback and then have to sweat out his being a bust. We'll take the next best available and do the best we can.
John: Who says you won't have to sweat out the highest-rated quarterback being a bust? There's nothing magical that says the No. 1 quarterback in every draft class is a Hall of Famer, and there's nothing magical that says you can't have two quarterbacks in a draft class be very good players. If David Caldwell wants to select a quarterback, he'll scout quarterbacks and find a player. You don't have to have the No. 1 selection do it, and early indications are that might be particularly true this season.
Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Hoping, praying that the Jaguars will play that way in front of their home fans soon. It's been a long time since anyone's been able to walk out of EverBank with a smile (except those wearing the other teams colors).
John: Yep.
Joey from Greenville, SC:
Is it wrong for me to take such immense pleasure and delight from the reactions of the Titans fans? Because I think it almost makes me as happy as the win does.
John: No, it's not wrong. Bad things happening to other people are often very funny.
Ron from Section 118:
Ok O, I'm confused. We lose games and everyone is ready to fire the whole Jaguars staff. We finally get a "W," and now people are mad because we may have lost the No. 1 pick in the draft. I just don't understand it. By the way, congrats on being right. No 0-16.
John: I'm sorry you're confused. Confusion can feel very confusing. The phenomenon you cite is why organizations can't operate based on the desires or wishes of the fans, each of which often flow and sway illogically in the wind. An organization must have a plan and follow it, and trust that when the plan works, fans overall will be pleased with the results.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
That Dwayne Gratz fellow is going to be good for us. Do you think we found our defensive identity in our secondary?
John: I agree Gratz will be good. He seems to have a knack for the ball, and for catching it when he has a chance. That's a knack that shouldn't be underestimated in a cornerback. As for the identity in the secondary, I don't know that the Jaguars have found it. I'd say they know what it is and gradually you're going to have these young players performing more and more in that vein.
Jim from Edgewater, FL:
Nice to get a win during rebuilding! The thing I noticed most Sunday was the secondary, which appeared much improved. I would suggest that the general manager does know what he is doing in the draft. Thoughts?
John: I've been suggesting that for a while. There will be more ups and downs this season, and remember this in the downs: you don't judge rookies based on their first year. They have to grow, and learn from mistakes.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
I WAS going to write to you and ask that we give Marcedes some kind of "Play of the Year" award. He set the "We-Will-Not-Be-Denied" tone for the whole game. But then Blackmon's play overshadowed Lewis's. Can we still give Marcedes the award?
John: Give him whatever award you want. Create a web site and name it something. But your point is exactly right: Lewis did set a tone. Ironically, it's the same thing he was trying to a few weeks back when he celebrated following a play and was criticized for it. Lewis very much believes in this coaching staff, and he has been anxious to do something on the field to support the direction this thing is moving. He absolutely did that Sunday.
Amata from Marshall Islands:
O-man, I can finally smile for a week now. Safe to say the defense won the game. HC Gus Bradley's expression as he walked to the middle of the field was priceless. Enough about the team, how was your Sunday?
John: Good.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
In reality how important is an elite left tackle to the success of a football team?
John: You can maybe get by without an "elite" player at the position, but it's important to have a guy who's at least pretty good. You need to be able to block the opponent's best pass rusher without help, because if you can't, that's another player you can't have in the routes. You really don't realize the importance until you don't have one. Then it's pretty obvious.
Bill from Jacksonville:
"Winning was not a mistake Sunday." This sounds very familiar to you saying it was a good thing the Jags beat the Colts in a meaningless game that allowed them to select Andrew Luck. I remember something about it being good for the franchise because it gave them something to build on, and then everyone was fired...and then everyone was fired again. If this win cost the Jags the No. 1 overall pick, I'll ask the same question I did then: "What good did this win do the team?"
John: You don't play to lose, Bill. You sure don't in Week 10 with a young coach and a building team. If you do that, where do you stop? And what do you say to players: "Hey, work really hard and buy into this and give everything you've got, but with the game on the line, let the other team score?" I don't know how you do that, but then again, I don't know everything. I leave that for some of my favorite readers.
William from Savannah, GA:
Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona . . . Shadricksighting
John: Yes.
Chad from Section 140:
Winning did not hurt our draft pick selections. I anticipate we will still pick within the first 10 selections. The challenge is not WHEN we get to make our pick. The challenge is picking the right person WITH our pick. We've had plenty of opportunity to draft near the top with less than desirable results. All teams face the same challenges when determining which players are worth drafting. Our challenges have been more magnified because they have not panned out as was hoped for.
John: Yeah, but try explaining that to Bill.
Kyle from Parsippany, NJ:
John, the most concerning thing to me from the Titans game was the interception Henne threw to set the Titans up on the Jaguars 30-yard line. The coaching staff has to be able to trust him to make a better decision in that spot. Thoughts?
John: I think you're right.
Josh from Richmond Hill, GA:
Just great! Now we've played our way out of the No. 1 pick. We just CAN'T win – even when we win!
John: Aspirin helps sometimes, Josh.

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