JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Unfortunately, there is another explanation for the seemingly inconsistent results in the Jags' first three games – and it has nothing to do with Blake Bortles, the offensive line or any other factors within our team's control: Tennessee is really good, sad to say – and Marcus Mariota may be great. I say that as a true Titans hater. Any offense that can hang 30-plus on Seattle is seriously good. Your thoughts?
John: My thoughts are that Tennessee is good – and I guess I've never really considered the Jaguars' results from the first three games this season all that unusual. They played big-time defense against two opponents, got leads and stretched those leads into comfortable victories. The best team they have played thus far is the Titans, a team with an offensive line capable of controlling the Jaguars' defensive line. The Jaguars in that game were unable to get the score in their favor. That made pass-rushing tougher and penalties put the offense in difficult down-and-distance situations. Tennessee indeed is good with a good offensive line. If the Jaguars don't play really well against good teams with good offensive lines they're going to lose – and possibly lose big. Remember this, too: "inconsistency" is the norm in the NFL. It's a league of matchups and it's a week-to-week league. Super Bowl champions get blown out during the regular season. Struggling teams beat good ones. I expect the Jaguars to win some more games big when their pass rush is effective and they create turnovers. I expect they may lose some games by double digits if their defensive front doesn't control games or if the offense commits penalties and turnovers. Fans will panic when the latter happens and draw conclusions. As long as the team doesn't follow the fans' lead in this area, then I think this bunch has a chance to stay competitive and maybe be better than I originally thought. We'll see.
MrPadre from Kingslaernd, GA:
I think Shad Khan is the best owner in sports … but I also think he missed a great opportunity the other day to actually do what everyone says he did. Big headline says he "stood in solidarity" with his players. Unfortunately, many kneeled ... this is not the definition of solidarity. We were the very first game of the day and I just wish Shad had told his team that they would indeed "all" Stand in Solidarity. That would have been an awesome display for an awesome team and group of young men. Imagine the talk of the sports world if we had all stood arm-in-arm and every team after had half their team kneeling! Go Jags!
John: What the Jaguars and Khan did Sunday they did in a difficult circumstance. Ravens-Jaguars was the first NFL game after President Trump's comments, which meant there was no blueprint for handling the situation. The Jaguars chose to lock arms during the anthem, which did show solidarity. Within that solidarity, there were players who chose to kneel. I can't speak for Khan, but my guess is he wasn't going to "order" players on how to behave at that moment. I could be wrong, but that's my guess. Was how the Jaguars handled Sunday ideal? Perhaps not. But this isn't an ideal situation. No action taken Sunday was going to make everyone happy. There's no blueprint or perfect approach on an issue so divisive.
Willis from Jacksonville:
Do you think "using a paper hammer to build a steel building" will catch on?
John: I hope not because I didn't think of it – and only things I think up should be clever and catch on.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
If you're going to dip into the anthem-kneeling topic on the O-Zone, how about you include the points of view of both sides? You just include an ex-Marine and another person who disagrees with the acts of the players. Nothing from the other side of the fence. I personally respect why people stand for the anthem, but absolutely DESPISE the expectation that everyone does so – otherwise you're an ass and a traitor.
John: The emails I choose for this topic will be ones that I choose to choose. The effort will be to choose ones that inform on some level. I doubt I'll always choose "fairly." When that's the case, it won't be because of a personal point of view. My personal point of view, for the record, is essentially that citizens in this country have the right to say and do as they so choose so long as they don't harm others. And it doesn't bother me when professional athletes speak out on issues. I don't really put all that much stock into what they say or do off the field; I rarely consider them experts on social topics, but there's nothing wrong with them speaking on the topic. Just as they have the right to speak or act, people have an equal right to not listen or pay attention when they do. Many people don't share my outlook and therefore get very emotional or upset at things players do. That's fine, but I choose not to let it bother me on a personal level. As for discussing this topic in the O-Zone, perhaps we've discussed it about as much as is necessary. Perhaps not. I suppose we'll see what the day brings.
Jeff from Keystone Heights, FL:
The Jaguars are 2-1 now. To end up .500, we now must have a losing record from here on out (6-7). Do you think we are better positioned now for nine wins than you thought was possible before the season started? I can see a 7-6 or even 8-5 the rest of the way.
John: I thought before the season the Jaguars had a decent chance to return from London 2-1, so that factored into me thinking they had a chance to win seven or eight games. But the reason I think the Jaguars have a chance at nine victories is that the Jaguars are a better team than I thought before the season. The defense is significantly better and twice has shown the ability to take control of a game. The offensive line has been more stout blocking for the pass than I thought possible. While the running game hasn't been dominant, it has been good enough in two of three games to allow the offense to function in manageable situations. The team has a formula. It's not ridiculous to think that formula could get the Jaguars over .500 the rest of the season.
Tony from Jacksonville:
I know Mychal Rivera is on injured reserve, but does he have a chance to return this season? Sure would be nice to have another play-making receiver.
John: Rivera is a tight end, and he would be a viable option in the passing offense. But because he went on injured reserve before the Jaguars finalized their 53-man roster on September 2, he is not eligible to return this season.
Steve from Upper Tract, WV:
I think you are wrong to say NFL players can't be compared to regular Joes when making political statements. First of all, the NFL picks and chooses when they want to allow free speech/expression. Hypocritical! Second, a segment of the NFL is subsidized by tax dollars, which means we regular Joes are paying for their show of disrespect in two ways. Third, no American employee of any industry should ever be deemed so irreplaceable that there is no limit to how irresponsible they can act. Here is to hoping the fans have the nerve to STAY AWAY!!
John: I'm not all that interested in point-by-point arguments here. They frankly make for boring reading – and what I write is boring enough without furthering the cause. My point when saying that NFL players can't be compared to "normal employees" is correct because they're not "normal employees" in the sense that I am a "normal employee" or that most people I know are "normal employees." There are many ways this is true, from the fact that they have limited choice in where they play to the fact that they make exorbitant salaries to the fact that they often remain employed after incidents that indeed would be fire-able off-field offenses for "normal employees." A lot of what I mentioned in the previous sentence may not feel "right" or "fair." Fair or unfair, that's the way it is. The same is true of athletes protesting. Could I protest similarly and remain employed? Perhaps not. But players can and will. That's the way it is.
Jason from Salem, OR:
I don't have much of a question for you John. I would like to pay tribute to your eloquent, amusing, and clever dialogue that you bequeath each and every editorial. I am a fan of you as much as I am a fan of the Jaguars. Keep up the good work.
John: Slow down. It's not a race. You don't have to drink all of the liquor in the house at once.
O-Zone: Skewed perspective
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL: