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O-Zone: They know winning matters

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Kyle from Ohio:
Whether you agree with it or not, you have to love Shad Khan's patience. He agreed to see the four-year plan out and it appears he is going to do just that. Hopefully, Gus Bradley rewards his patience.
John: I'm sure there are more than a few fans who don't feel they "have to love" Jaguars Owner Shad Khan's patience this morning, but that's OK. His objective is to run the Jaguars best he can with an eye on the big picture, which doesn't always mean everyone loving his patience. And yes, that patience is pretty much the major storyline in the wake of his announcement Tuesday that Gus Bradley will return as head coach in 2016. The news obviously was significant, and the fors and againsts undoubtedly will be debated ad nauseam here in the coming weeks and months. The reason for the decision is obvious: Khan believed in this building process from the beginning, has supported it from the beginning and still believes in it. It's not a case of not caring about winning or not caring about football. It's a case of believing in a long-term plan that has shown progress and believing that plan will continue to show progress. Khan made very clear in the statement announcing Bradley's return he believes progress has been made in three seasons and he made just as clear that significant improvement is needed next season. Expectations will be high in 2016. There's no more improvement without winning.
Alex from Orange Park, FL:
O-Zone, I just don't get it. Why was Gus Bradley retained? Is he not accountable? And why, suddenly, are we hearing about a four-year plan? This was a three-year plan, right?
John: Bradley was retained because the team has progressed and improved, and because Khan believes he is the right head coach to continue this process. As far as a "three-year" or "four-year" plan, I've never talked about "number of years" regarding this build and honestly don't recall others around here talking much about it, either. A number certainly never has been part of the general consciousness, and a "target year" for "being good" never has been part of the project. The idea was to build a roster and a team that can compete, and General Manager David Caldwell actually has made it clear all along that the idea was to be competitive in Year 3 – i.e., to be in games in the fourth quarter and to have a lot of those games go the Jaguars' way. They were competitive in the fourth quarter this season and not enough went their way. The goal for next year is to be the team with the advantage in the fourth quarter often enough to where a lot more go their way. They reached their goal this season. As for next season, stay tuned.
Rob from Parsippany, NJ:
Every time I start believing the organization may do something drastic to please the fans, Mr. Khan comes in at that exact moment and restores my faith in this organization.
John: Khan's action Tuesday indeed inspired faith. The decision shows a clear eye for the long-term build and a commitment to the long-term plan. Many people wanted Bradley fired – and still do – based on the idea that losses are always the fault of a head coach. Sometimes, that's the case. Sometimes, a team isn't good enough to win yet. Bradley's not a perfect head coach, but the losses this season sure weren't all "on him."
Jim from Jacksonville:
While I know the NFL schedule comes out in April, and some games are determined (division opponents with the Colts in London), can you tell us who our home/away opponents will be in 2016? I am already getting phone calls from obnoxious friends of mine from Baltimore looking for a place to crash in Jacksonville.
John: The Jaguars will play Houston, Tennessee, Indianapolis (London), Denver, Oakland, Green Bay, Minnesota and Baltimore at home next season and will visit Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Kansas City, San Diego, Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Terrance Knighton DT, Reggie Nelson S, Daryl Smith LB, Eugene Monroe OT, Dwight Lowery, S Brandon Marshall LB, Khalif Brown OT, Rashad Jennings RB, Rashean Mathis CB – and the list goes on. All very good players the Jaguars cut over the years. They said it on Monday Night Football: "If the Jaguars kept some of these guys they would have been Super Bowl contenders by now." So, what future stars will we cut next so we can continue to be pathetic year in and year out?
John: Some of the players you mentioned without question would have helped (Smith, particularly) while some would not have. Some, in fact – in the case of Khalif Brown – don't play in the NFL … if they exist at all. I get that Jon Gruden likes to talk about former Jaguars on Monday Night Football. If I were in his position, I'd probably say much the same thing. But to think that the players released or not retained would make this team Super Bowl contenders … c'mon.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
"The Jaguars are a team that can't rush the passer and that is productive – yet inconsistent – offensively. They've been that way since early in the season." You post these answers like they're completely acceptable, like it's no big deal and we're stupid for not understanding. Why should this be accepted? Why is this the standard that's been established? I guess we're just the Jaguars and we should know our place. You don't have to win to prove anything, guys.
John: I answer questions every day and sometimes people read them, Andy. How those answers make you feel about yourself is entirely up to you.
Ethan from Jacksonville:
Hey, Zone … me again. Would you consider Allen Robinson an elite receiver? Or do you think he needs one more year to hold that status?
John: Allen Robinson played at a Pro Bowl level this season and I believe he should have been selected to the game. To hold status as an elite receiver, he must do it a while longer.
David from Broward County, FL:
With the quarterback-injury problems that the Colts, Texans and a few other teams have experienced this year, do you think there will be a new trend in NFL rosters next year – i.e., keeping three quarterbacks on the roster and/or another developmental quarterback on the practice squad? Just so in case this does happen to a team you have quarterbacks who at least have been in your system more than a week.
John: I suppose you might see a team or two – particularly those who experienced the quarterback issues – edge toward that approach. At the same time, the approach of many teams is that you're probably not going to the playoffs or close to a Super Bowl if your starting (and in some cases, your backup) quarterback is out, so why waste a roster spot on the area? I imagine the formula for most teams will remain two quarterbacks on the active roster and a developmental player on the practice squad.
Jay from Compton, CA:
Why wouldn't Dave Caldwell hold Gus accountable for saying "it's built"? And what's the chance Babich gets canned? Tell the Truth Tuesdays, Mr. O....
John: How would you like David Caldwell to hold Bradley accountable for saying, "It's built?" Would you fire him for that? Really? Fine him? Make him do laps? Make him "do lunch" with Shadrick every Thursday throughout the offseason? Look I've said before and I'll say again: If Bradley had it to do over again, I don't imagine he would say it was built. I also believe that what he meant – or at least what was more accurate – was that it was built to compete and that there were starting-level players throughout the roster for the first time in his three seasons. That turned out to be true, and the Jaguars have been far more competitive for the most part this season than last season. I have no idea of defensive coordinator Bob Babich's future. I don't think changing coordinators is a no-brainer move because Babich essentially runs Bradley's defense, so it's doubtful that a coordinator change would bring a dramatic change in philosophy. But we'll see.
Tommy from Corona, CA:
Good for Shad ... I look at how The Bengals have been patient with Marvin Lewis and hoped the same for Gus. I believe and have believed since he was hired that we have found the right guy. Now he has to change his message a bit … wins and losses matter now and they have to. What changes do you think we could see on the defensive side of the ball?
John: I believe there could be coaching staff changes as well as personnel changes, and there will be time to discuss those in the coming days and weeks. As far as Bradley's message, it doesn't need changing. Players know winning matters. They always have.

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