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O-Zone: Strong time of fanning

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Martin from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Gus Bradley took over this team at the start of a massive rebuild, and in three seasons as head coach has compiled a record that is 24 games below .500. In what year do you think he will reach that mark? Do you think it will happen during his tenure with the Jaguars?
John: I have no idea. What I do know is people who obsess over Bradley's record as head coach and use the record to judge his performance or the team's performance during his tenure are using facts that don't apply to the reality of how Bradley is – or should be - judged by the team. Now, I understand there people who read this and yell, "BUT RECORDS MATTER!! WHAT ELSE MATTERS!!!" – and it's obvious how serious I am about this point because I used not only CAPITAL LETTERS but exclamation points!! Yes, records matter in the NFL. Yes, winning is the only objective. But to obsess over the Jaguars' record in 2013 and 2014 and use it to judge the job Bradley has done is to ignore the reality that General Manager David Caldwell, Owner Shad Khan and Bradley all knew the extreme nature of this rebuild. That is not to say that it was OK to lose in those seasons, but all three knew losing a large number of games while the team rebuilt and reshaped the roster was a real possibility. Considering the youth, inexperience and talent level of the roster the surprise wasn't that the Jaguars "only" won seven games in those seasons, but that they won that many. Now, could the Jaguars have been better than 5-11 last season? I suppose they could have and maybe even should have won a few more games. But they also won close games that they could have lost. I believe because of youth the Jaguars are still at least year or two away from being at anything close to a peak, but I also believe this will be the first year that Bradley has had anything close to a level field in terms of talent. And I do believe we'll have a better idea of Bradley and the staff after this season than we have after the last three.
Dexter from Central Florida:
Zone, will you answer this question please?
John: No.
Matt from Greenville, SC:
Can we all agree that the Jags are going to lose some games this year? Yes? OK, great. No reason to stress if one of those games happens to be this weekend against the Packers who happen to be a really good team. Let's just enjoy that football is back!
John: Yes, we can all agree the Jaguars probably aren't going 16-0 or 15-1. That means by definition they're going to lose "some games." NFL history tells us it's rare for that not to be the case. My personal history writing O-Zones for the last five years is that your warnings and requests are likely to go unheeded. Losing is stressful – and if the Jaguars lose Sunday, the inbox … well, let's just say it won't be stress-free.
Mike from Palm Bay, FL:
The Packers are a better team than the Jags. Of course there is fear. But … the Jags can win this game. They just gotta play like they want it. Go Jags.
John: I followed your premise and I agreed with it. It's hard to argue right now that the Jaguars on paper are a better team than the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is an elite quarterback and teams with an elite quarterback always are a tough matchup. As for the Jaguars "playing like they want it" … I guess I'm not big on that concept. My experience is teams "want it" the vast majority of the times they play. I've been around few teams I thought didn't play hard or didn't want to win. When you're not as good as your opponent – or when you struggle to stop the run, for instance – it can be perceived as a lack of effort or desire when in fact it is just a case of one team being better than the other. There's no question in my mind the Jaguars will want Sunday's game. If they lose, it won't mean they didn't want to win or didn't try. It might just mean the Packers were better.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, I understand the situations aren't identical, but Myles Jack not starting feels the same as when Bortles sat the first two games as a rookie. The team did all it could a couple years ago to say Bortles "wasn't ready," but when it came down to it he was the clearly the better option, and probably should have been playing all along. Having a talent like Jack play special teams instead of "meaningful snaps" feels eerily similar. Thoughts? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: Bill! Whaddup!? I suppose Jack now and Bortles in 2014 are similar situations in that Bortles was a talented player who clearly was going to start at some point – and who was going to be an important piece of the franchise. Jack clearly is a talented player who is going start at some point – and who is going to be an important piece of the franchise. But being those things doesn't mean being ready to play an extensive role in the first game of a player's rookie season. The Jaguars ideally would have waited longer than to play Bortles because he wasn't ready. The Jaguars are in a position where they feel comfortable with Jack's current role. I think he'll probably have more extensive role relatively soon, but that doesn't mean he's ready to start now.
Jordan from Little Valley:
Two minutes to go in the game. Jaguars are up by seven. Jason Myers has missed two extra points already. Do you send him out there to try and make it an eight-point lead or go for two and end the game?
John: Under your scenario, I go for two. But even considering Myers' struggles with extra points last season, your scenario is pretty extreme.
David from Orlando, FL:
Johnny-O, can you honestly say that it makes no difference to your job/mood whether the Jags win or lose? The thought of coming in Monday morning to a box full of venom, hate and despair can't be the same as a box full of "Everything is Awesome!"
John: It's better to be around an organization when it wins – and fans are undoubtedly happier after victories than losses. So, of course winning makes for an easier Monday than losing. But does it make a tangible difference in my daily outlook on life? I can't say that it does. My world is a bleak, wintry, sunless place; winning unfortunately doesn't change that.
O-Man from Jersey City, NJ:
O-Man, seeing that some of the players apparently are working seven days a week, it must be obvious that David Caldwell is using you as an example of why coming to work and working hard every day "just like Oehser" is important to the team. Do you think the players are annoyed that you are always used as the example they should follow.
John: Annoyed? Nay, players love the O-Zone. In fact, when Bortles and I were hanging out the other day and I was bringing in the vacuum from finishing his floorboards – correctly this time, dammit – I raised my hand fast enough and got to be the one to go get him a smoothie. I nearly got back before the deadline and it looked like he thought about returning the high five. So no … me and the guys are cool.
Craig from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
When the Jaguars go 7-9 this year and Mr. Khan decides to keep Gus around for a bit longer, do you believe Greg Olson is shown the door? My logic is he's known as a quarterback whisperer but at the end of the day he has an incredibly abysmal win/loss record wherever he's been and everyone knows you are pretty much as good as your record as an offensive coordinator.
John: I don't know what the Jaguars' final record will be this season, or what Khan will do with the coaching staff when the season ends. There's time for those discussions if/when they become relevant. As far as Olson, he did a good job with a very young offense in his first season – and I'm not sure I've ever associated the quality of an offensive coordinator with win/loss record. I certainly have never considered them quite so hand in hand as your question suggest. So I guess when it comes to you logic, I can't say that everyone knows it. I can't even honestly say I understand it.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
The fanning with this fan base the week before the regular season is strong, young Jedi.
John: Indeed. 'Tis stronger than I have seen any year I have been here since – or something like that.

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