JACKSONVILLE – Game-day O-Zone
Let's get to it … Mark from Middleton, NJ:
Each and every week when the Jaguars appear to have a chance – like in Indy, like in Tampa, and when they played Carolina – they seem to disappoint. So, no question I am rooting for the Jags this week, but honestly I'm not sure I should expect them to win anymore. Yes, they are getting better, and yes, they are progressing, but is progress really progress if it doesn't change the number of wins each year? Basically what I'm asking you, Zone, is should I expect a Jags win when they keep on getting better as they lose?
John: I get many questions from people about what they should expect. I don't answer many, because I don't know how to tell people what to expect. I can share my perspective on the Jaguars, and while it's not always popular, it's honestly that they absolutely have made progress this season. Whereas last season there were one-sided losses, this season there are competitive, closes losses. I can also explain where the Jaguars are right now: they are a young team that has improved since last season. That improvement has gotten them to a point where they have played four close games, and they have lost three of those games. At some point, I believe some of those games will go the Jaguars' way. I believe that because I believe they will continue to improve and that the young players who aren't quite finishing will begin finishing. Will it happen this week? Maybe. Should you expect it to happen? I have no idea.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
So, we're still going with the Jaguars-being-young-and-learning excuse after three years, huh? I thought we were built? The St. Louis Rams are the league's youngest team and they are competing with tougher opponents and actually beating a Super Bowl team. You make it seem like the Jags playing close games with these teams is actually an improvement. May I remind you they got beat by an injury-depleted, Luck-less Colts and Tampa Bay Bucs with a rookie quarterback. When we say competing, we mean competing with better-than-average teams. That's when you see an actual improvement: if you can go toe-to-toe with those teams. I know we might have a kindergarten mentality, but we are not that stupid. Have a good day, O!
John: Your points are all good ones. I like what the Rams have done, too, and I imagine their fans are frustrated with the ups and downs they've experienced on their way to their 2-3 record. They appear to be dealing with many of the same growing pains as the Jaguars, and yes, in the fourth year under Les Snead/Jeff Fisher, the Rams do appear to be a bit ahead of the Jaguars in the third season under David Caldwell/Gus Bradley. The reality is both franchises are trying to build their way back from low points, with the Rams having had four of five seasons with three or fewer victories from 2008-2011 and the Jaguars having had a similar run in recent seasons. It takes time to build out of that sort of hole, and It doesn't always happen at the same pace. The Jaguars' pace hasn't gotten them a string of victories, but it has gotten them more competitive. Stay tuned.
Jim from Section 104:
I see Bortles having a five-touchdown, 400-plus-yard game and a win. I also see a big day on defense with at least one defensive touchdown. GO JAGS!!!
Craig from Holly Springs:
John, in my eyes it seems wins are coming. I cannot remember the last time we had a quarterback with the ability to throw four touchdowns and 350 yards in one game, or two potential wideouts with 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown seasons. The talent is there, albeit extremely young. This team needs a few young guys to become studs. Point being, you need game-changers on any team to take it to the next level. Thoughts?
John: That be the plan.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
Do you think that Denard Robinson will be able to go this week, and if so how, much playing time do you see him getting?
John: Robinson is probable, so he should play. I'm guessing he will start and get a little more time than Toby Gerhart – maybe a 60-40ish split.
Phillip from Belleville, NJ:
I think the main difference is the Jaguars are a very few plays away from being 0-5 and quite a few plays away from being 4-1.
John: Not really. If the Jaguars make any number of plays against Tampa Bay and a field goal goes through against the Colts, they're 3-2. If they get a stop and a big play against Carolina, that game likely goes to overtime. Sure, they're closer to being 0-5 because they are 1-4, but they're not that far away from being a lot better than 1-4.
Josh from Pittsburgh, PA:
I've criticized before, but looking back, this team is some really stupid mistakes (but fixable ones) away from being 4-1. Thoughts?
John: I think you're right, but don't tell Phillip.
Carter from the Cage of Rage:
OK, OK Zone, I know I already asked this earlier, but when do we get to see Ryan Davis take some actual snaps? The Jags have been using him as an interior rusher, even though PFF graded him higher as an edge rusher last season. His rip technique is better than Clemons' spin and is more consistent than Branch's power. If there were any week for this defensive front to force some bad passes making it easier for the secondary to get, I don't know, maybe just ONE interception, I would have to imagine it would be this week. Give Davis a few more snaps at Leo. Yay or Nay?
John: I could see Davis getting a few more snaps, but I don't see him being the starting Leo because I don't see the Jaguars wanting him playing extensively in first- and second-down run situations.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
Could you see Cyp scooting down to linebacker, Sample playing strong safety, and then getting someone else at free safety? I guess the real question is about Cyp being able to play a linebacker position.
John: I doubt it. The Jaguars already have an undersized linebacker who is much faster than Cyprien. That's Telvin Smith. I don't know that they need another.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
Mr. O! I'm curious to your thoughts on what can really be taken away from a victory against Houston this Sunday when they are possibly worse than our beloved Jags?
John: Can we wait to see how the Jaguars play, and what they do, before we figure out how to analyze what they did and how they played?
Robert from Ventura:
It pains me to say anything that you could spin in a positive way about my beloved Jags right now, but here it goes: our division is so terrible that we are not out of the playoff race. The Colts look awful. That's really the best thing that we have going for us. Yeah, I know it's not a question.
John: The first thing the Jaguars need to do is improve enough in late-game, key-moment situations to start winning some games. After that, they can worry about the standings.
John from Starke, FL:
The players' unions like all unions have screwed the consumer – i.e., fans. There is no incentive anymore. They're like the weatherman: screw up, but you still get paid. I think that all contracts should have a base salary, then load it with incentives. You play well, then you get paid well. If a team doesn't play well, the savings should go back to the fans. The ticket price I paid in 1995 is now over 100 percent increase 20 years later. Bring on incentives – i.e., capitalism instead of socialism.
John: There probably is some truth in your stance, and in an ideal world – from a team's point of view and from that of the fans – contracts would be incentives-based. But free agency is as much to blame as players' unions. Many contracts are set up with base salaries and incentives for playing well, but quality core players don't sign these contracts. The demand for their talents is such that they receive signing bonuses up front. A team absolutely could offer a core player an incentive-based contract. That team could then enjoy watching that player play for a team that paid him a signing bonus with guaranteed money up front.
Esko from Finland:
In Finnish there's a saying, "kenen leipää syöt, sen lauluja laulat," which could be translated as "whose bread you eat, the one's songs you sing". My question is, does even a remotely similar proverb exist in English language?
John: "If stepping on it kills it, then step on it."