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O-Zone: Typical feelings

TAMPA, Fla. – Game-day O-Zone.

Let's get to it … Phil from Boynton Beach, FL:
Gus has a positive approach to the team whether we win or lose. Losing has broken many locker rooms with the coach losing the players in the process. I don't feel that's the case with the Jags, but as I watch Gus' press conferences every week, he always comments on how great the practices are going throughout the week. As a fan, he's starting to lose me as we usually follow those great weeks of practices by laying an egg on Sunday. How long can this team believe in the message if they continue to lose – or do you believe the Jags team is immune to this possibility?
John: The last few weeks have featured more focus from fans on Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's "positive approach" than at any time during his two-plus years with the organization. That's understandable, because many fans' expectations were higher than the Jaguars being 1-3 at this point. Because the team appears improved in a lot of areas on the field, many fans are pointing to coaching. That's understandable. The more likely reason for 1-3 is that while the Jaguars are improved, they're not yet improved enough to win decisively and not yet mature enough to consistently win close games. But whatever … that's my theory. What's not a theory is that Bradley hasn't lost the locker room and he's not close to losing the locker room. That's absolute, and while fans may tire of the message during losing times, players absolutely believe in Bradley's approach.
Terry from Jacksonville:
John, why are we not throwing down the middle of the field? We are too predictable on offense.
John: The Jaguars had more than 400 yards offense last week and narrowly missed a huge pass down the middle of the field to Allen Robinson for a long gain in the second half. Julius Thomas' absence certainly hurts in that area – i.e., the middle of the field – and the absence of Rashad Greene and Marqise Lee doesn't help there, either. When you are down three key skill players – especially some of your quicker ones – it limits what you can do in multiple areas.
Norma from Jacksonville:
O-Dawg, I've been in the Army for 18 years. I've led hundreds of soldiers in perfecting techniques and tactics they were introduced to in basic training. It takes a very long time to get people to understand their role and trust in their teammate. You tell them, show them, and demonstrate it to them hundreds of times. It gets frustrating, and maddening. Then on Try 1,000, something clicks, and they get it. It takes 1,000 hours of practice to get one minute of perfection. It takes time. Oh yeah, my question. Is patience a virtue?
John: The Jaguars perhaps don't have 1,000 hours of practice time to invest in the process, but your overarching point? Yep. And as for your question, I don't talk patience a lot here. Fans don't have to be patient. Fans want to win. Patience is for management and ownership.
Chris from San Marco:
You said the same thing about Cecil Shorts III's injury issues as you are saying about Marqise Lee. When it was clear the Jaguars were going to part ways with Shorts, then you conceded his ability to stay healthy was the reason. This is just one of those types of things that we as fans have to understand that you have to side with the team on and not be negative about until the right time. It's cool, we get it.
John: I appreciate the understanding, but I don't recall being negative about Shorts. I do recall saying there was nothing wrong with the team sticking by a good player through injuries – and that there's not much a player can do when he's dealing with injuries. As for Shorts, I think I was pretty clear all along that I would have kept him had the price been right. And as for Lee … like I've said often, he has missed time this season and three games last season. That's frustrating, but it's way too early to say that will be the story of his career. Am I supposed to bang the table for the team that needs talent to release talent? That would seem a little silly.
Roberto from Ventura:
Would it be crazy to put Dan Skuta at middle linebacker on first downs, put Chris Clemons at the Otto and Andre Branch at Leo, then on passing downs have extra defensive backs and let Johnathan Cyprien step in the box to help with run if needed? I think it is in the Jags' best interest to limit Thurston Armbrister's reps and I feel like Skuta could "skut" over to the middle just fine; he already seems to be a leader on this defense. All of this is contingent upon Poz not playing, obviously; I'm really scared of giving the rook that much responsibility after his performance last week.
John: The Colts scored 16 points, six in the second half, so it wasn't as if the "rook's" performance cost them the game. In reference to your plan, I don't see it. Let the starters play their positions and let the backups fill the roles of the starters.
Mike from Julington Creek:
What happened to D-Rob? I saw him leave early in the second game, but never read the extent of his injury.
John: He has a medical collateral ligament sprain. I would expect to start hearing updates about his progress in the next few weeks.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Last year, it was all young guys; this year, it is guys have been hurt. When we signed Julius Thomas, did we look at how many games he missed in four years? Did we look and see his stats went down over 20 percent last year versus the previous year? Did we see that Marqise Lee struggled with injuries his last year in college and also did not have the stats from the previous year? We sign guys with injury histories and expect them to get well when we fill their bank account. They are who they are: Albino Tiger and Albino Jaguar. Frustrated: tired of "we play hard and are close ..."
John: Sure, the Jaguars looked at statistics and information involving those players. You know what they did then? They signed/drafted two players many, many other teams in the NFL would have signed/drafted given the same circumstances. They did that because they studied the situation and assessed the risk/reward. So far, the players have been hurt. We'll see whether that continues. One factor that bears mentioning, though: Marqise Lee had a knee issue in college, which doesn't exactly indicate future hamstring issues. And Julius Thomas is out because of a hand injury, something that isn't really predictable based on past issues. These situations aren't predictable; they're just situations.
Scott from Wichita, KS:
So, this Ryan Day of Big Cat Country says Gus will probably be fired over the bye week and that Winston will embarrass our defense this weekend. Seems a little over the top to me don't you think?
John: Yeah, but that's OK. There's room in the world for "over the top."
Mark from Middleton, CT:
John, do you know if Shad Khan ever reads this daily mailbag?
John: Shad Khan runs international businesses and is worth upwards of $4 billion. He also pretty much has the inside scoop on Jaguars goings on because he sorta, kinda has numbers for a lot of the important people running the Jaguars. Those people also tend to answer his calls and stop in the hallway when he wants to chat. Mostly, I imagine he has better things to do with his time than read what I write. For his sake, I sure hope that's true.
John from Boynton Beach, FL:
So, what's the word on Bortles' mechanics so far this season? Has the work he put in during the offseason held up in live action, or are there signs of regression?
John: While still inconsistent at times, Bortles is by any measure significantly improved from last season. I expect this to be a work in progress with stops, starts, good games and not-so-good. I also expect he will continue working in the offseason in a similar fashion to last season. But overall? Much, much better.
Don from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Marqise Lee is beyond disappointing; he just doesn't want to play football. This is what the typical fan feels. I believe the media maybe feeling the same since very little has been in print or on sports radio, which is a good thing. Just letting us know when he is going to actually going to play a partial game will be fine with me. Julius Thomas just seems to be coddled … Gus, just let him or make him play or hopefully the media will stop reporting on him too.
John: I like to believe I have a decent understanding what the "typical fan" feels. I have read emails from them on a daily basis for a while now. And while the feeling some "typical fans" have about these players is understandable, in these cases, it also couldn't be more wrong. Specifically regarding Lee, the media hasn't reported much on him the last two weeks because he hasn't practiced and therefore there is little to report. Also specifically on Lee, to say he doesn't want to play football is categorically incorrect. Passion and feeling is often not the same as knowledge; it almost never is when it comes to the passion and feelings of fans regarding injured players.

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