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O-Zone: Speedy recovery

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Phil from Woodmere, NY

Passing is super cute. So, at what point will we get back to Jaguars football?

You’re right that the Jaguars see themselves as a running team, and there’s no question they got away from that in a 30-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. The reasons were many, including an early deficit. But health and numbers played a role, too. With Leonard Fournette unavailable, the Jaguars had T.J. Yeldon and Brandon Wilds remaining Sunday once Corey Grant went out of the game Sunday. Yeldon played 77 of 83 snaps, but it’s difficult to run him extensively when you need him for pass blocking, too. You also didn’t want to get Yeldon hurt – and running him more would have put him at greater risk of injury. The Jaguars need to add running backs this week, and they need enough available to run effectively in the event of injury. So, I imagine the answer is the Jaguars will get back to a running identity when the backs are healthy, good and deep enough to run as often as they would like.

Rusty from Iberia, LA

This game should at least quiet the people who want to compare this defense to some of the greatest of all time, such as the ‘85 Bears. There is no way the ‘85 Bears would have let Sunday happen.

I wouldn’t compare this Jaguars defense to all-time greats until the Jaguars win a Super Bowl. But the ’85 Bears lost to the Miami Dolphins 38-24 in a game they trailed 31-10 at halftime. Dan Marino passed for 270 yards and three touchdowns. That doesn’t excuse how the Jaguars played Sunday. It does point out that all teams have down games.

Ted from Albuquerque, NM

Zone, good thing we'll always have last year to talk about our offense being "good."

You have Weeks 2 and 4 this season, too – and I imagine you’ll have a bunch more weeks this season. This offense is inconsistent. Now, it’s injured. Fournette’s absence matters; Grant’s absence matters, too. The Jaguars on Sunday were down to their third left tackle: Josh Walker. Sunday was a bad day. It doesn’t make this an awful offense. It does make it one that needs to figure out how to run and get pass rushers blocked. It didn’t do that enough Sunday.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, why is it that the Jaguars played the Chiefs twice in Kansas City during the regular season inside of three years? Even if the “book” says we have to get the Chiefs again this year, why wouldn’t the schedule makers notice the 2016 game at Arrowhead and schedule the 2018 game in Jacksonville? Seems unfair for the team and for the fans’ ability to see teams that rarely come to town.

The schedule makers don’t look at two seasons ago and adjust the current schedule. That would be too complex to do for all 32 teams and it’s also unnecessary. The Chiefs and Jaguars played in 2016 because all teams in the AFC West and AFC South played each other that season. They will do so again next season, when the Jaguars will play host to the Chiefs. The game this season was because both teams won their divisions last season. This happens to be the season that the defending AFC South champion visits the defending AFC West champion. The defending South champion Houston Texans played host to the Chiefs last season; this season, it flipped. It’s how the formula spit it out.

Sonja from Wiesbaden, Germany

As a newbie to the game (since last season’s AFC Championship Game) and a non-native speaker I am hesitant to discuss Sunday’s play. (I am also glad I am with the German Weather Service, not whoever offered that forecast for Kansas City Sunday). But no need to get that nervous and go AWOL, is there? People, let the quarterback do his job. He does not need to prove that he can; he just needs some space to actually perform. This shows in not only the previous games this season, but it was also true Sunday. So, please everyone shut up (you really think you could do better?), have some faith and let us enjoy the rest of the season and postseason. Or am I this off in thinking they can do it?

Welcome, Sonja – and no, you are not off base. You are showing patience and realizing that one game does not define an NFL season. This view – though correct – is not a popular one for Jaguars fans, or for many other fans for that matter. And while you’re right that Bortles has shown he can do the job, his effort Sunday was similar enough to some past bad performances that fans yet again believe he never again will have a good game. As for everyone shutting up and enjoying the season … nah. What fun would that be, after all?

Blues Man from Jacksonville

What We Learned? Seriously? We learned that in the NFL, you need an offense. We went into the season with no weapons; we decided that a running game would work in a pass-friendly league. We reap what we have sown.

I suppose we also learned that an NFL offense can really struggle when its starting running back misses three of four games. But you’re right that the Jaguars are struggling without weapons right now. This team needs to run effectively to be more consistent. It’s not doing it.

Daniel from Urbandale, IA

This one hurt a lot more than the Tennessee game. That game was tight and it felt that we could win that game if we could just catch a break. This one felt like we never had a chance. It’s looking the road to the Super Bowl will go through Kansas City. Jags can only hope someone else catches them off guard before they get there.

The Jaguars forced struggled to get the Chiefs off the field on third downs early; conversely, they committed five turnovers and failed to score on three trips inside the five-yard line. They also gave the Chiefs seven points with a pick-six touchdown. The Chiefs are good. They’re not nearly so good that the Jaguars would have no chance to win a playoff game in Kansas City.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

First, the Jags were 0-3 inside the five-yard line. If they even take the nine points, that last drive has meaning as it’s a one-touchdown game. If you can put a touchdown on the board somewhere in there, it’s obviously closer than that. Blake was bad Sunday, but the offensive line – especially Parnell – was HORRIBLE. See what I did there with the all caps! Dee Ford was generating pressure all game and forced some of those early throws from Blake and got us out of a rhythm. The offensive line needs to step up in a big way for this team to win in the playoffs.

True.

David from Broward County, FL

It may be time to replace Parnell. We did draft a replacement.

If rookie Will Richardson Jr. was better than right tackle Jermey Parnell, he would be playing. Parnell struggled with Ford’s speed rush Sunday. It was a bad matchup. It’s not time to move on from Parnell.

Michael from Orlando, FL

I’m worried more about the offensive line now even more than I’m worried about Bad Blake showing up. Starting to get worried about running-back depth.

It sounds as if your worries are well-placed. Bortles has shown over the last season-and-a-half he can be more than effective more often than not. A bad game this past Sunday doesn’t change that. But there’s no question that Bortles and the entire offense are better when the offensive line is playing well – and when teams are concerned about the running game. Running back depth is a real concern right now. With Fournette and Grant out, the Jaguars essentially have one running back – Yeldon – they’re willing to give an extensive role in the offense. That’s not enough.

Tony from the Land of Confusion

I've noticed in recent games, even the ones where he does well, that Bortles’ basic mechanics seem to be regressing - his footwork especially - and they completely fell off a cliff Sunday. Did Blake do the offseason work with a quarterback coach like Tom House this past offseason that he's done in previous years?

Yes, though you’re right – it does seem as if Bortles has been sloppy mechanically a bit early this season.

Erik from Jacksonville

John, the defense was better last year. Teams have schemed perfectly against the Jags’ weaknesses. It is going to be a long year.

The Jaguars have allowed six touchdowns in five games; one of the NFL’s best offenses scored two touchdowns against the Jaguars Sunday. I don’t know about the length of the year, but the defense wasn’t better last season.

Paul from Jacksonville

How do the Jaguars get over a game where they were totally dominated in every phase of the game?

By winning in Dallas Sunday.

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