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O-Zone: Troubling trend

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Sweeney from Glasgow, Scotland

That one hurt. A bit more than the others. A game that was there for the taking. It’s the hope that kills you, John, and the hope is all but gone. 10-6? Aye, right!!!

The Jaguars’ 29-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday did hurt. A lot. And you’re correct it all but ended the Jaguars’ increasingly slim playoff hopes. But Sunday’s result really wasn’t all that surprising. When seasons that begin with lofty expectations die, such a game often is how it happens – with the team scratching and clawing, but ultimately falling short in frustrating fashion. That’s absolutely what Sunday’s second half was – a desperate team playing for its season with all the accompanying urgency; a last gasp, if you will. The defense improved dramatically in the second half from an awful first half. The offense played about as well as it’s capable of playing throughout. And for a while in the second half, it looked as if the Jaguars might rally for a victory to at least temporarily save the season. But the way it ended – with Colts safety Malik Hooker recovering a fumble by Jaguars wide receiver Rashad Greene Sr. – seemed fitting. Giveaways have plagued this team all season. The receiving corps has struggled with drops and fumbles all season. This team has yet to overcome a deficit all season. The Jaguars also haven’t really gotten many breaks all season, so perhaps it was fitting that officials ruled for the Colts and against Jaguars when reviewing the final play – Greene’s fumble. It also seemed the Jaguars had gotten the ensuing play off after Greene’s fumble, but the officials stopping the play and reviewing it anyway felt right, too. This sure hasn’t been the Jaguars’ season. Sunday sure wasn’t their day.

David from Macclenny, FL

Turn out the lights … the party's over … they say that all good things must end … call it a night … the party's over … and tomorrow starts the same old thing again.

Yep.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Two personal fouls on a drive when you had to stop them before the half. This is a bad team and surprisingly undisciplined team.

I thought this was happening late in the first half, too. The Jaguars looked undisciplined on the Colts’ final second-quarter drive, and I wondered if we might see the defense flailing and playing out of control in the second half. We didn’t see that, and the Jaguars played one of their best halves of the season in the second half Sunday. It didn’t result in a victory, but it also didn’t look like a team that was out of control.

Mark from Crescent Beach, FL

Even the announcers on Sunday were saying how bad the play calling is by Hackett. First down … let’s run Fournette up the center’s rear for a loss of three yards. When you watch other good teams call plays you realize just how bad Nate Hackett calls a game. Pretty bad when announcers are calling you out, questioning your ability.

Wow, if Adam Archuleta says it …

Tommy from Nashville, TN

Not a fumble. Knee down. Typical NFL. They just want to move us. They never wanted us. They got stuck with us and they never got over it. No way I believe anything different.

OK (but it was a fumble).

Tank from Mechanicsville, VA

How many blown coverages by our "elite" defense in the first quarter, Zone?

Way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way too many – and the Jaguars’ defense is not elite. I know by your use of “quotation marks” you were being sarcastic, but I thought it was worthwhile to clarify.

Emiel from Texas

This defense ain’t no good.

Not early Sunday, it wasn’t.

Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee

The big defensive contracts that should be offloaded after this season should include Telvin Smith and Barry Church. Both have been awful this season.

I would be surprised if the Jaguars retain strong safety Barry Church next season – in part because of the presence of rookie safety Ronnie Harrison. I assume weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith will return.

Rob from Jacksonville

Whatever hope people thought there was is gone. Season over. What a disgrace.

It’s a shame.

Paul from St. Johns, FL

The Eric Ebron touchdown on the Colts’ first drive looked like another Telvin Smith “miscommunication.” What is up with the mental errors on D?

Smith and Church did appear to both let Colts tight end Eric Ebron get behind them on a 53-yard first-quarter touchdown pass Ebron. It was hardly the first such play this season and hardly the only such play in the first half Sunday. Usually, mental errors on defense are players trying to do too much to make big plays and getting out of position. Whatever happened Sunday, it was as bad early defensively as it has been this season – and it came on a day when the Jaguars expected and needed much better from the unit.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Mr. Zone, I used to cringe when the kicker would enter the field of battle. Lately I've been yelling "DON’T FUMBLE!" when a receiver catches the ball. Didn't do a whole lotta good Sunday. Do you have any suggestions on what to do on Sunday afternoons for the next couple of months??

Stop yelling. It’s not working.

Jaginator from (formerly of Section 124)

Leonard Fournette ran 24 times Sunday, a third of their total offensive plays. He averaged 2.2 yards/carry. Fournette is two yards tall. If he just fell forward every time he was given the ball, he should’ve been able to get a minimum of two yards/carry. This is why I dreaded seeing the return of Fournette. They’ll keep feeding the ball to him. He’ll keep running for two yards. And I’ll keep checking my calendar to see if it’s 1977. And because he was a high first-round pick, they’ll keep chasing the Fournette dream for at least a year-or-two more.

The Jaguars had a balanced offense Sunday, with quarterback Blake Bortles throwing for 320 yards and two touchdowns. They scored two first-half touchdowns, had 415 yards and 24 first downs. I agree with you that the Jaguars can’t be entirely Fournette-centric going forward through the rest of this season or beyond. But Sunday actually showed why the Jaguars believed their offensive plan this season could work. It was a better “pro-Fournette” argument than anti-. A lot better, actually.

Allen from Bellaire, OH

I am of the opinion that the hope is gone. Not enough winnable games to get into the playoff hunt. I suppose we probably won't win a top-three draft pick either - nothing going right this year.

I doubt the Jaguars will have one of the first three selections in the 2018 NFL Draft – though I suppose anything’s possible. As far as postseason hopes for this season … yes, it’s time to stop thinking about such things. It’s not mathematically over, but the Jaguars almost certainly would need to win their final seven games. They have lost five consecutive games. A seven-game winning streak isn’t something we need to spend much time discussing.

Sad Sad from in Section 114

Still think we don’t need a true No. 1 receiver so we don’t have to go to a Rashad Greene Sr. in a crucial game-time situation? How did that work out for us? We are Baguars, they are coming out now.

Having a true No. 1 receiver would be “awesome.” Most teams want to have one. Teams can win without them. What they can’t typically win with is receivers who drop passes and fumble late in games and halves. The Jaguars do that too much.

Dave from Hacksonville

John, someone has to go. This is Gus Bradley bad, but he is not here. All the praise from last year is gone. Who goes: General Manager David Caldwell, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin or Head Coach Doug Marrone. None of this year’s free agents, or draft picks are producing; most of last year’s additions are struggling. This is a bad product. Which one goes?

Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire everybodyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!! Never mind that we’re not completely sure why, just … Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire everybodyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!! #someonehastogo

Mike from Atlanta, GA

What's wrong with the defense? Why have they been having a problem with people running wide open in the secondary? It's the same players in the same system from last year, why does there seem to be confusion with coverages?

Good questions. The talk among Jaguars defensive backs entering the season was they believed they would allow far fewer big plays because of the reasons you cite. That was perhaps the major area the secondary believed it would improve. It hasn’t happened. Obviously.

Mark from Archer, FL

John, it would be nice if the Jags could go one game without the wide receiver making a huge mistake that very likely costs us the game. This is becoming a troubling trend.

Good eye.

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