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O-Zone: The heart of it

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Saud from Marietta, GA:
The positives in the Cardinals loss were nothing to celebrate, but the Jaguars are on the upswing and going in the right direction with Gus Bradley. I'm excited about next season after we fill some crucial spots on our roster and hope we can carry this momentum over into next season.
John: You're pretty much dead on, and your theme is something I wrestled with Sunday night. Watching the game, I saw a lot of good things and overall improvement, particularly compared to the beginning of the season. There are a lot of signs that Bradley is starting to get this system in place. I also saw young players such as Johnathan Cyprien and Ace Sanders starting to get it to the point where it's easy to see them contributing in a big way next season. Those are long-term positives, and they're real. At the same time, you realize people are tired of hearing and reading about improvement while the team isn't winning games in the short-term. Here's the bottom line through 10 games: losing hurts and it's frustrating, but the Jaguars are improving and it does bode well for the future. Even if there's not much to celebrate right now.
Justin from Columbus, OH:
Andre Branch has been the center of a lot of criticism. I'd say it's been fair. However, he's had a little more production lately. Have you seen improvement or just luck?
John: I've seen improvement. So has Gus Bradley.
Shane from Orlando, FL:
Cecil Shorts complaining about not getting the ball on Sunday rubbed me the wrong way. What do you think, O-Zone? Is this a bad sign?
John:I don't think it's a bad sign. I think it's a sign that Cecil Shorts III wants the ball and that he was frustrated with not getting it. I also think Gus Bradley understood where he was coming from. Shorts probably could have picked a better way and time to voice it, but I don't see it as a bad long-term sign.
Darius from New Milford, NJ:
Do the Jaguars need better quarterback play?
John: It wouldn't hurt.
John from Fort Irwin Army Base:
After the muffed punt, I clearly saw one of our guys dive on it. Then Peterson jumped on his back before he pulled the ball out. Shouldn't our guy have been down by contact as soon as he was touched?
John: In theory, perhaps. The problem in this case is the problem in so many recovery plays, which is it's difficult to rule possession when a ball is at the bottom of the pile. In a loose-ball situation, players are often fighting for possession with bodies covering it. Because of that, possession is decided once the scrum is cleared. Watching the replay from multiple angles, while it looks as if Will Ta'ufo'ou fell on the ball first for Jacksonville, there is no clear evidence that he actually possessed the ball. Cardinals returner Patrick Peterson dove into the pile, and seemed to knock the ball from Ta'ufo'ou and make the recovery. As frustrating as it may be for Jaguars fan, it would have been difficult for officials to rule the other way. And it probably was the right call.
Herbert from Midstate Office Supply Accountz Receevable:
I was really excited to see the Jags play well at home for the first time in a long time on Sunday. The defense played well; the offense is a few players away. I'm not above moral victories at this point in the rebuilding process. Is there something wrong with me?
John: No.
The Baguar from Bagsonville, FL:
OK, this season is no longer about the playoffs. What are the coaches planning to get a positive note on these last games?
John: You're, "OK," followed by, "the season is no longer about the playoffs," seems to imply you're just now realizing this and that there will be some change in approach around the Jaguars after Sunday. There's not. This season from the start has been about improvement and about there being a foundation established by the end of the season. If that happens, there will be a positive note around the organization.
Brian from Mandarin, FL:
John, Is our center of the future on our roster now? Thx, Sigh
John: Probably not.
Fan for Life from Section 123 and St. Augustine, FL:
It is going to get better, right? Please tell me is going to get better? I bow to your infinite wisdom.
John: No need to bow, although it's appreciated and not all that uncommon. But really, it's getting better as we watch each week. The Jaguars by any measure have played better coming out of the bye than they did going into the bye. The loss Sunday was about how I expected the Jaguars to lose when they lost this season – competing, fighting, but perhaps just not quite having enough to finish the game. That's as opposed to the losses in the first half of the season, when it seemed like the team never was in the game. It's not a surprise that the Jaguars have a ways to go. What you want to see is them getting to the point where you know what pieces need to be added, and where they start moving in the right direction. You're starting to see signs of that in recent weeks.
Dude from Jacksonville:
Well, at least Babin got a dreadlock souvenir...
John: That, he did.
Daniel from Santa Rosa, CA:
With Henne a free agent after this year what do you anticipate the end game is for the Jaguars? Do you think the Jags try to resign him? If not, shouldn't we start letting a quarterback that will be around next season get some playing time? At first I was thinking they might be showcasing Henne, but since he's a free agent it doesn't make much sense, unless you are hoping for a compensation pick.
John: There's no conspiracy or hidden "end game." There's no sinister master plan. The Jaguars are trying to win and they're trying to do it with the player they feel is the best option to win. It's not about getting players "playing time for next season," certainly not at that position.
Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL:
John, I still don't like you, but I'll still ask you a question. When will the Jaguars finally give up on Henne as a safe starting quarterback and go another direction? Maybe 1-15?
John: Gil, I like you very much, and I'll happily answer your question. They'll give up on Henne when they feel like there's a better option. As much as fans like to talk about change, teams generally don't just "willy-nilly" go in another direction for the sake of doing it. You want to have some confidence that the direction is better than the previous one.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
There is no hope for this team this year. Hope will hopefully come in the offseason. I am sick of "wait until next year" and when next year comes, it is worse than the year before. I still hope. I guess I'm like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football that Lucy is holding. I just wish the ball wouldn't get jerked away every time. Any words of wisdom or comfort?
John: Yes, watch the last two weeks. There has been improvement. Visualize talent being added to that improvement. That should give you hope.
Mario from Zapata, TX:
Showing Jason Babin just how cool your tattoos are #shadricksightings
John: Well, sure.
John from Nocatee, FL:
Can someone explain why a "hold is not a hold because the player ran through it" (the Babin sack). Horrible officiating over the last few games. Obviously the NFL is sending their "bench players" to officiate our games.
John: Actually, the officials probably got the calls right on the two most controversial plays. We've covered the muffed punt, and there are replays to show that the Cardinals indeed called timeout just before linebacker Russell Allen's interception. As for the "hold is not a hold because the player ran through it," former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira – now a Rules Analyst for Fox -- responded to a Tweet that there wasn't enough restriction on the play, and that there has to be restriction for holding. Yes, that seems odd. But that's the rule.
Nick from Fort Benning, GA:
I'm really glad I went to that game! Is it just me or were the fans awesome? The 'D' was definitely feeding off the energy in the stadium! I thought EverBank was rockin'. Go jags!!!
John: It was. As the Jaguars improve, the experience will only get better.
Tim from Jacksonville:
I told my wife after the game Sunday: "The biggest sign I've seen that we're getting better was whenever we didn't allow the Cardinals to score after the two horrible calls (muffed punt/interception by Allen)." How many times over the past two years has a series of circumstances started a landslide the team couldn't recover from? Keep up the good work, Gus. We believe in you.
John: You know what? I've been thinking on the Arizona loss for a while and trying to figure out just why it felt so different. I even wrote an editorial about it just after the game and mentioned the same thing you mentioned, but I didn't hit on the heart of it. You did. That's exactly why the game felt different. Things didn't backslide when things went wrong Sunday. They could have. And in the last couple of years they probably would have. The Jaguars weren't good enough to win Sunday, but they continued to stay in the game and give themselves a chance, and you can start building on that.

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