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O-Zone: Solid commitment

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Devin from Jacksonville:
What's up with the defense? I mean, we do have the right players. Can we finally get it together?
John: This is a common concern/question among Jaguars fans this week, and considering the team's offseason moves – and the hype around those moves – the concerns and questions make sense. The Jaguars rebuilt the defense in the offseason with a slew of high-profile free-agent signings and inexperienced players/draft selections. The former category includes cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive tackle Malik Jackson and free safety Tashaun Gipson and the latter category includes defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. That's seven new players expected to play an important defensive role this season – with the team still searching for a role for Jack. That's a lot of newness, and we're still in the early part of the season. That doesn't fully explain how poorly the unit played against San Diego, but there were some mistakes in that game that can be attributed to youth. I said throughout the offseason that I believed the Jaguars would be improved defensively this season and that the defense has a chance to be very, very good in 2017. I still believe that, though it would behoove the defense to start showing the "improved-defensively-this-season" part sooner rather than later.
Ric from Jacksonville:
Beachum and Linder? Oh boy.
John: Well, it ain't ideal.
John from Jacksonville:
The Texans were 2-0 and leading the division. Then, they play the Patriots on Thursday night against a third-string quarterback and lay a big, fat egg. Just goes to show you that anything can happen on any given Sunday (I mean Thursday). Also, this is important because a Jags win on Sunday means we are only one game out of the division lead. A lot can be healed on Sunday. Win pretty ... win ugly ... I don't care ... just win!
John: I hesitate to compare the Texans' egg Thursday night to the Jaguars' egg last Sunday because eggs against the New England Patriots are a little easier to explain than eggs against the San Diego Chargers. Also, the Jaguars don't much care about the eggs of other teams. They have to figure out how to stop laying their own. But your point that a victory Sunday over Baltimore would heal a lot of pains is correct. That's how the league works. Winning cures most ills and losing makes all ills look a lot, well … iller.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
I think we agree. If the Ravens' opening drive resembles the opening drive last week, the crowd will have already been lost and it will get ugly. I also think last week was the ugliest game I've seen from the Jags and I've been here since the beginning. I don't know what must win means, but if they lose Sunday, they will have taken a hard left turn towards dumpster-fire territory. That would be a shame with the amount of talent they have.
John: It indeed would be a shame. I said throughout the offseason that I believed there would be hiccups early in the season. That's because new talent in the NFL doesn't always yield immediate results. Rookies and young players almost always need more time to develop than the vast majority of fans/observers/media believe, and incoming veteran players also often take time to adjust and begin playing in cohesion with those around them. All of that said, the Jaguars clearly have more talent than 38-14 in San Diego. If that happens again Sunday … yeah … ugly.
Walter from Jacksonville:
Can Gus Bradley call offense plays?
John: Can he? Sure. But Greg Olson is the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, so he calls the plays.
Daniel Since Day One:
So, after Allen Robinson went to the Pro Bowl, dominated the Pro Bowl, set all sorts of receiving records last year, looked fantastic early in the preseason etc. etc., the Jaguars coaching staff is surprised that the coverage on him is more intense? That's sad ...
John: It indeed would be sad … if the coaching staff was surprised. Since the staff wasn't surprised, I guess it's just NFL reality.
Dre from Atlanta, GA:
What gives with Sheldon Day: no stats, no snaps? He's not on the practice squad, is he?
John: Sheldon Day has played 23 defensive snaps this season – 16 in Week 2 and seven in Week 1. That's about what would be expected from a rookie defensive tackle playing a position at which the Jaguars have two experienced veterans in Malik Jackson and Sen'Derrick Marks.
Robert from Lexington, KY:
How duped were we by Blake's final stats last season? When looking at his splits, I see a measly three touchdowns (and five interceptions) in the first quarters of his 32 career starts. I also see three touchdowns while leading, four touchdowns while tied, and a mind-boggling 42 touchdowns while trailing for his career. Those two splits need to change drastically for him to be considered anything close to a franchise quarterback.
John: I've written often about Bortles' need to improve. I wrote it during the offseason and I wrote it during the first two weeks of this season. I will continue to do so. The Jaguars' slow starts – Bortles and the entire offense – in the last season-plus have been well-chronicled; changing that trend absolutely remains a priority. Bortles also needs to improve his pocket presence, decision-making, accuracy and consistency. Those were offseason issues and they remain issues. They're also areas that are tough to improve, and I anticipate it will continue to be a process. At the same time, the statistics you cite should be kept in perspective. Yes, a lot of Bortles' success has come with the Jaguars trailing. But the Jaguars for the most part during Bortles' career have trailed a lot because they haven't been as good as the teams they have played. It therefore makes sense that most of his statistics have come in that situation.
Doug from Jacksonville:
We have been season-ticket holders since 2006. We never basked in the glory of the AFC Championship Game years, and quite frankly the majority of our time being season-ticket holders has been pretty miserable. There was always just enough change and hope to string us along to keep renewing our tickets. I have to say, if this year doesn't turn out to be better than what it is looking like again we have to, just absolutely have to, assess the time and money invested in this team. This isn't a 'we-pay-good-money' email, but rather 'Why would I continue to pay and invest time in going somewhere weekly to get kicked in the shin?' This is a year they absolutely have to do something, and the year starts Week 3. I just can't afford the time and choose not to waste the money.
John: The result in San Diego stunned any people – fans, players, etc. It was by any definition a disheartening punch in the gut. That's because the team in so many ways appears improved to the point that a game such as that shouldn't happen. That has caused more than one fan to feel the way you feel. I've said it often this week and it can't be said enough: it's not your fault your feeling this way. It's up to the team to change the way you feel. It's time.
Papdoc from St. Augustine, FL:
With all of these rookies being drafted in the same year and plenty of cap money, can they all become free agents if they want to play for a stronger team – like New England, etc. – or can we tag them?
John: Teams can apply the franchise or transition tag to one pending free agent per offseason to restrict player movement. More often player movement is restricted by signing the players to long-term deals, which usually can begin being negotiated following a drafted player's third season.
Donny from Heathrow, FL and Section 132 Day 1:
It's not nearly as lonely, cold and barren for David from Oviedo as you make it out to be. There a lot of experienced NFL and Jags fans who know it's too soon to make hard knee-jerk decisions about the Jags. And as disappointed as a lot of us are after the Chargers game, we don't come to the O-Zone to vent our frustrations or read all the naysayers and Chicken Little rants after two games. The Jags will bounce back and finish at minimum 8-8 and I'll be back tell them – and they know who they are – I told you so (maybe David will, too)! Do you commit to posting it when the time comes, Oehser?
John: I'm in.

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