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O-Zone: Twice as nice

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tony from Morrilton, AR:
I've been silent the past few weeks, John. I truthfully had high hopes for the team after the Green Bay game. But after Sunday, and now more injuries this week, I feel like the wheels are starting to come off fast. What positives can you give me going into Week 3?
John: This email pretty neatly summarizes where the Jaguars/Jaguars observers/Jaguars fans, etc., etc., etc., stand entering Sunday. This was not a good week. Not for the Jaguars. Not for the fans. Not for anyone around EverBank Field. A 38-14 loss to San Diego in which the team trailed 35-0 at halftime … well, that's about as one-sided and disheartening a loss as any I had seen in 22 years covering the NFL. It was disheartening because pretty much everyone – players, coaches, observers, etc. – believed such days were a thing of the past. And indeed there were injuries this week that made things seem worse with cornerback Davon House, center Brandon Linder and safety Tashaun Gipson all cropping up on the injury report. Realistically, it appears the only mid-week injury that will have an effect Sunday is Linder's knee sprain; I don't expect him to play, but we'll see. The Jaguars also will be without left tackle Kelvin Beachum and I expect them to be without defensive end Jared Odrick and cornerback Prince Amukamara. That's not ideal, but those things can be overcome. As for positives entering Week 3? Right now it doesn't matter what people write or say or believe. This is all about how the Jaguars respond. It's all about whether they can play disciplined enough and well enough to win. Indeed, the only real storyline this week is if the Jaguars can show they are indeed the improved team they believed they were entering the season. The fan base isn't sure and many believe coaching is the problem. I expect a testy, anxious crowd Sunday – and yes, I believe it could turn angry if the Jaguars struggle early. I also believe it could turn phenomenally positive if the Jaguars can show people the San Diego loss was indeed an early-season West Coast hiccup. That would show people that indeed the wheels remain on and that there is reason for hope. That's what the players and coaches continue to believe. Their task Sunday is to prove they're right.
Josiah from Jacksonville:
Gus always says we are gonna learn from our defeats. Fine. But when is HE going to learn? I never feel confident that Gus knows and exploits weaknesses in other teams. It's always more of a let's see what happens. Am I alone in this?
John: The Jaguars are 0-2 and have had three consecutive losing seasons under Head Coach Gus Bradley. Because of that, you are not alone. It doesn't mean you're correct, and it means the Jaguars need to win to inspire confidence, but no … you are certainly not alone.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
John, I was surprised they didn't sit Blake in the fourth quarter against San Diego – maybe send a little message to him personally. Were you surprised or not?
John: No. I was not surprised. You don't send messages to your starting quarterback in the NFL. Bortles knows he must play well. He knows he didn't play well last Sunday. If the Jaguars had wanted to sit Bortles to avoid injury risk, fine. If they had pulled him for any other reason then they're saying there's a question about whether he's the starting quarterback. That's not something that will be said and it's not something that should be said, either.
Kenny from Rochester, NY:
The big reason you have said Poz is in the starting lineup is his experience and getting our defense in the right positions. Broken and bad defensive lineups seem very common, so why not let the young player play and learn from the mistakes?
John: Those are indeed among the reasons I've stated for Paul Posluszny starting at middle linebacker. Another reason is he's very good against the run – and this defense is in a lot of trouble if it's bad against the run. Still another reason is he's better in coverage than people think. He had a couple of bad plays this past Sunday. He was at fault at times and there were other times mistakes by teammates created situations where it appeared he was much more at fault than actually was the case. The biggest reason you don't pull Posluszny from the lineup and let Myles Jack learn from mistakes in his place is right now is that would weaken the Jaguars' defense. Jack would be playing if that weren't the case.
Dick from Jacksonville: Here's to 0-3. Cheers!
John: I wouldn't be so sure of that.
Alex from McLean, VA:
O-man! I just arrived in the nation of O-man and my first thought was "Oh Man, it's hot here!" I could keep this going, but I'll ask a question instead. Did you think it was a mistake not to draft at least one offensive lineman in the last draft? P.S., If you post this O-Zone question I'll bring you back an Oman T-Shirt.
John: You realistically probably weren't going to draft a starting offensive lineman after about Round 4. At that point the question becomes: which player drafted in Rounds 1-4 would you not have wanted the Jaguars to select? Jalen Ramsey? Myles Jack? Yannick Ngakoue? Sheldon Day?
Bryan from Reston, VA:
This whole "must-win" thing is throwing me for a loop. I keep hearing we must win Sunday … or what, exactly? If we lose and go 0-3, do we just stop playing? Does Gus retire? Do we move to London for the remainder of the year? Are we automatically eliminated from the playoffs? Does a black hole open in Orange Park Mall and swallow up humanity?!
John: They must win or it's really hard to imagine much successful coming from this season. They must win or things look much bleaker. They must win or … oh, heck, Bryan … you're right. Must win is a silly phrase, but still … they must win, right?
Jeff from Rutland, MA:
The question whether this next game is a "must win" seems academic. Math says "not necessarily." But History says "most definitely."
John: Aaaarrghhhhh!!!
Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
Not making excuses for Blake, but I think it is interesting to note that both of Blake's interceptions to Lee this season were thrown behind Lee on in routes. It has been said multiple times that Lee is athletically more explosive than the other receivers on the team. You think those throws behind Lee are in part to Bortles being used to throwing to the Allens and not Lee? If Hurns is running that route, maybe those balls are right in the chest.
John: I don't know that Lee's athleticism had much to do with the interceptions. My understanding is Lee didn't run a perfect rout on the play against San Diego, but that even without a perfect route the ball should have been thrown much better.
Aaron from San Diego, CA:
Ozone, can you explain nickel defense and Cover Two? Thanks, boss.
John: Nickel defense features an extra defensive back – usually a third cornerback. It most often is played in perceived passing situations with a linebacker removed from the field to allow the extra defensive back to play. Cover 2 is a term used for a style of play in the secondary in which two safeties play the deep zone in an effort to take away the deep pass.
John from Nowheresville:
So, we almost beat what was to be a Super Bowl contender and then we completely lay the biggest egg ever! What now? Well, this next two weeks should give us an indication as to where we stand. Ravens out to a pretty good start and Indy looks like … well Indy without 18 under center. So, can we put together anything that resembles a playoff team? Do we have the fortitude to withstand the 0-2 start to really have a chance at winning this year? What do you think, Big O?
John: I think the next two weeks should give us an indication of where the Jaguars stand.
Brendan from Yulee, FL:
Just know even YOU are held accountable for this team. I will do my best to take your job. Your technique is getting sloppy, Oehser. Stop with all the one word responses. That is ANNOYING.
John: All right.

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