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O-Zone: Stumped again

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Aaron from White Hall, AR:
I get that people are frustrated and frustration can be … well, frustrating. But it annoys me how fans are so negative and jump on and off the bandwagon so much. Have the proper perspective and realize that this is a much-improved team from years past. I would much rather have the season go like it has gone – even with the tough losses – compared to years past. This team will be OK and we will have a strong showing against the Steelers this week.
John: Frustration indeed is frustrating – and losing sucks. But while I have written and will continue to write that this is what this team is – an inconsistent team that's improving, but still developing – it's not realistic to expect all fans and observers to sit back and say, "Ah, yes, Zone … I see that this is an inconsistent team that's improving but still developing … and you know what? That's just dandy!!" Sure, the Jaguars are better than they have been. And if you're rational you can see they're in the middle of the AFC South chase – and the AFC chase. If you're rational you can also see this defense is capable of big plays and being very good a lot of weeks. If you're rational you can see the offense is going to struggle some weeks – and that those games are going to be tough gets. Heck, if you're rational you can see most of this team's games are going to be tough gets and that this team has some improving to do in the passing game – whether that be at wide receiver or quarterback – before it's elite. If you're rational you can see the Jaguars have a chance despite some shortcomings to make this a very interesting season. But who wants rational fans? Where is the fun in that?
John from Jacksonville:
Jag fans want to know why a quarterback wasn't drafted given the lack of performance by Blake Bortles and no confidence in backup quarterback. The team and fans deserve better. Deshaun Watson was available.
John: The Jaguars selected Leonard Fournette with the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. They liked Fournette more than they liked Watson at that point. Watson was not available when the Jaguars made their other selections.
Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevableze:
Seeing as how Chris Ivory and Leonard Fournette are the same style runner, any chance they give T.J. Yeldon some carries instead of Ivory? Do you see him being active on game day anytime soon without an injury to the other backs?
John: I doubt it. The Jaguars clearly like power at running back. While they will continue trying to get Fournette on the field as often as possible while managing his work load, I can't see them straying from the Fournette/Ivory mix unless injuries force the matter. It's also apparent the Jaguars like Corey Grant's speed as the third running back. That leaves Yeldon inactive except if they need him in third-down packages, which doesn't seem likely barring injuries to the other backs.
Tsk Tsk from Jacksonville:
They're like manic depressive schizophrenics. Right? How would you describe them?
John: The Jaguars? As a pretty normal, middle-of-the-pack NFL team. They have been bad for a long time and people became accustomed to long stretches of losses. People therefore forget that most NFL seasons are up-and-down affairs with a lot of giddiness one week and heavy frustration the next. The Jaguars this season have mixed two dominant performances with a home loss in which they were outplayed for a quarter and a road loss in which they had some strange things go wrong. Could the Jaguars be 3-1? Sure. But there are a whole lot of teams in the NFL who would take their version of 2-2.
John from O'Fallon, MO:
Besides Leonard Fournette, who on offense is capable of making a play when the game is on the line?
John: Ever? Quite a few players, including Marcedes Lewis, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. Consistently? Yeah, right now it's pretty much Fournette.
Ken from Vero Beach, FL:
Where is Johnny Manziel when you need him? At least give him a tryout. I know one thing: we would not have lost the last game. He was amazing in college and with a good team in the pros he could be great again. It can't hurt to take a look.
John: I get emails like this sometimes.
Tony from Land of Confusion:
Has there been any indication from the team about how far along Ryan Nassib is as far as learning the playbook and building relationships with the other players?
John: Not particularly, no. Bortles is the Jaguars' starting quarterback. I have no control over whether people invest time and energy into theorizing about that not being the case, but I get no sense that the Jaguars will change quarterbacks any time soon.
Big on Blake from Philly:
It's been a crazy couple of days, but Coach Marrone has said he's even keeled … not too up and not too down. This has translated to a pretty even record as a head coach in the NFL. I believe he is capable of bringing the Jags to the next level, but if he keeps bringing us down after highs will we ever be able to stack wins and continue momentum into a long win streak? Looking ahead we have a lot of opportunities for wins against other middling teams. It'll be good to see the game vs. Pittsburgh this weekend to see how we respond to a good team after a devastating loss.
John: It is the nature of saying things in a public forum that those things will get picked apart, misinterpreted and used against you at some point. Marrone indeed is even-keeled because NFL coaches must be even-keeled. The NFL season is too long with too many highs and lows to do champagne cartwheels after every victory and to shed sniffle-fight tears with every loss. Marrone did not "bring the team down" after victories in Week 1 and 3. He simply moved to the following week and again tried to lead 53 players and a coaching staff. That's a difficult enough job without the cartwheels or tears. And yes: the evener the keel, the better the chance a team has to go on a streak and stack victories. As importantly, the evener the keel the better the chance to avoid losing streaks.
Michael from Baldwin, FL:
Zone, I'm wondering if you still don't believe Deshaun Watson was worthy of a first round grade?
John: I wasn't big on Watson entering the draft. I haven't watched him closely in his three and a half games to speak too intelligently on him. He obviously is playing well. The numbers indicate as much. He has a long career ahead of him. We'll see where it goes.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
Tied with Tennessee and Houston ... this will be the last time the Jaguars tie or lead the division for the rest of the year.
John: OK.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
You have written that Henne would throw just as many interceptions, have just as many blocked passes, have no more completions and be sacked more than Bust Bortles. If so, why you would pay a player that you give virtually no chance of playing almost $4 million dollars to hold a clipboard? I would do it for $1 million. Mr. Oehser, you seem to at least think that you have all of the answers. With that in mind and knowing that Bortles is a bust, you must surely believe this season is lost. Bortles can't win a game where he HAS to play well and the team as a whole can't overcome his constant poor play, so just how do you see this being a .500 or better season? A real answer, please – not your usual attempt at humor when you have no answer.
John: I've written often that I believe this is probably a seven-to-eight-victory team; I wrote that in the offseason and I have written it since the season began. While I agree Bortles and the passing offense have not inspired much confidence this season, I believe the Jaguars' defense is capable enough – and capable enough of big plays – to keep the teams in a lot of games and to perhaps win a lot of the games in which the team is competitive. Oh – and I don't think I know all the answers. I know I do, just like I know all of my attempts at humor work. I know this because someone asked me once. And I knew the answer. As always.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
We have been very competitive in three of four games. Obvious improvements in pass rush and pass coverage, improvement in offensive line and running game, huge improvement in clock management. I still think 8-8 is a reasonable expectation. So here is my question: given our division, do you think an 8-8 team could get into the playoffs?
John: I don't know the answer to that question. Weird.

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