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O-Zone: Ugh... ouch


Let's get to it … Ken from Jacksonville:
I NEED you to answer this question for me: What pass did Blake Bortles make in the ENTIRE game that leads you or anyone to believe that he could be "the guy." Every pass was high, not catchable – or as the announcers said, "Another wobbly one from Bortles." Our defense is the best in league in my opinion; the 20th-best quarterback in the league makes us a deep playoff contender. Chad Henne is a better option.
John: I don't see that move being made at this point, and neither do I believe that Henne currently is the better option. But there's not an ideal answer here, or an ideal move. Bortles on Sunday didn't play well enough for the Jaguars to win, and his lack of consistency hurt at times. The lack of ability to make a big-time throw 15-to-20 yards downfield at times hurt, too. But wide receiver Marqise Lee flat-out dropping a catchable, well-thrown ball in overtime hurt more. And allowing two – TWO! – touchdown runs of 69 yards or more … yeah, those hurt. Bortles doesn't appear that he's going to consistently win games for you right now. But my guess is the coaches feel he played well enough for the Jaguars to win Sunday had they not done some really bad things at some really bad times. And the memory of Bortles making a lot of good plays a week ago remains fresh. It would be great if Bortles was putting the team on his shoulders and winning a game such as Sunday's. He's not. But he's still the best option for now and my guess is he will remain the Jaguars' starter. And yes, I felt passionately about the two touchdown runs. You can tell because I not only described them with CAPITAL LETTERS but with exclamation points!!!
Pradeep from Bangalore, India:
Ugliest at its best!!!???
John: Or worst. But whatever.
Jerrell from Columbia, SC:
2-14? This team is a fraud!
John: I expected this sort of an email after Sunday's game – and truth be told, I expected it from Jerell. And I'm sure this will be a common reaction from many observers. But this team is not a fraud, and it's not one that's terribly hard to characterize right now. It's a team with a defense that has potential to be very good. It's also a young defense that has played four games together – not to mention a gap defense that's going to rely on speed and pursuit; those last few factors sometimes lead to big plays allowed on defense, which happened Sunday. Overall, though, this still feels like it will consistently be a good defense – and the end of the game and overtime again showed as much. Offensively? That's a different story. It's a team that can run the ball well at times and a team that is going to get some good days from the quarterback and some rough days. Sunday was a rough day, which not only makes it tough in the passing game it also makes the going in the run game tough, too. But no, Jerell: the team is not a fraud. It's a team that deserves its 2-2 record, but also a team that with a break Sunday could have been 3-1. I suspect they'll be in a bunch more games such as Sunday's, and I believe they'll win a bunch of those games. I still have a tough time seeing this team in the postseason, but I don't have a tough time seeing this team winning and competing and looking improved over the next 12 games.
Mike from Mandarin, FL:
This team still does not know how to win.
John: Not this week, it didn't. It has known how to win twice, and it has known how to win three times under Head Coach Doug Marrone. I'm not surprised this season has featured some highs and lows. And I'm not surprised Sunday's game played out as it did. I believed the Jaguars would win Sunday and I wrote as much. But I also felt before the game that those who believed it would be an easy Jaguars victory or that the Jets were so awful they couldn't stay in the game were forgetting a lot of things. One thing they were forgetting was that the Jets had played well the week before and were playing at home; the Jets don't believe their season is over and they played like a team that believes in itself Sunday. That's a dangerous combination. Another thing people were forgetting was despite two impressive victories this was still a Jaguars team that had lost to Tennessee in one-sided fashion. It's not yet a team that has proven itself to have a reliable, week-to-week offense. When that's the case, it's hard to win comfortably on a consistent basis. This team is learning how to win. It has shown that twice this season. It also has shown it's not yet a great, dominant team. Teams that aren't dominant tend to lose games they should win some weeks and win games in enticing fashion other weeks. Welcome to the 2017 Jaguars.
Kyan from Lemars, IA:
Two captains, three crucial penalties. We no longer need Poz or Benn – and since we have them, we aren't 3-1. Cut them. And Nathaniel Hackett should be close behind. End of regulation why is our best player (Fournette) not touching the ball?!?!? Not one run. We should be leading the division instead we just lost to the "tanking" Jets.
John: Yes, cut them all. Absolutely. Fire them all. Revamp the entire roster, or at least half of it. Hire my uncle – who's pushing 90 and knows the name of maybe five NFL teams, by the way – as offensive coordinator. I'll pass these ideas along.
Teddy from Section 212:
And that's how a team with a losing history finishes a game. Dropped pass, can't field a punt and taunting. Classic Jaguars ...
John: It's fair for an observer to feel this way – and a lot indeed looked familiar on Sunday. And a lot in the Jaguars' two losses has looked familiar. But a lot about the season has looked unfamiliar, too – the blowout victories, the playmaking defense, the grit and guts to rally on the road Sunday. The Jaguars needed to close Sunday to make the grit and guts of the fourth quarter matter. They clearly believed in the locker room that the grit and guts will remain and that this is more the grit and guts team than the team that looked too familiar. They must prove they're not that familiar team. That's the task that lies ahead.
Justin from Toledo, OH:
John, why do the Jaguars as a "run-first" team seem to always want to throw the ball in the red zone? First-and-goal from the 5 with the game on the line and they throw three passes. It makes no sense. You run the ball in that situation and try to punch it in and eat up the clock so that the Jets have no time to respond. That's inexcusable play calling.
John: I got a lot of versions of this question and it was understandably a major topic after the game Sunday. Both Head Coach Doug Marrone and quarterback Blake Bortles said the approach near the goal line was because they believed the Jets' philosophy on the goal line was to not only stack the line but call a lot of run blitzes. It indeed is a low-percentage proposition to run into the teeth of a defense taking that approach – yes, even when you're a run-first team with a No. 4-drafted running back. Now, it turned out that the Jets didn't play that way in those situations. So, maybe the run would have worked. And those are certainly plays the Jaguars would have liked to have had back. But in this case it wasn't "playcalling" at issue as much as miscalculating the opponent's approach. Either way, the Jets won that one. No doubt.
Mark from Jacksonville:
I was equally frustrated Sunday by the zillion batted balls and the play calling. I hate this team. I love you John, but I hate this team.
John: Well, I suppose it's nice to be loved.
Tim from Winston-Salem, NC:
Not one of Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's best games. Where was Fournette?
John: Running 24 times and getting targeted five more times. And taking heavy contact and punishment pretty much that many times, too.
Tom from Section 141 and the QB-needy streets of Nocatee:
So can we start talking about QBs in the draft?
John: On October 2? With the Jaguars at 2-2? No.
David from Broward County, FL:
If they are so in love with Jason Myers' leg strength, why not go for the 60-yard field in overtime? Weak coaching call, but really bad game by Bad Blake.
John: You're talking about fourth-and-3 from the Jets 43 with 5:19 remaining in overtime. The Jaguars played percentages there. The defense was getting the Jets off the field and the feel of the game told you that if you punted you had a high percentage chance of getting the ball back in good field position. The defense did its job and the Jets punted from their 25. Where it went awry for the Jaguars was that the punt was a 70-yarder – and that wide receiver Marqise Lee misplayed the punt. And that wide receiver Arrelious Benn got called for a penalty. You don't anticipate as a coach that you're going to lose 70 yards of field position on a punt. That's game-changing stuff, and it sure changed the same on Sunday.
Ughhhh from Ughhhh:
Uggghhhhhhhhhhhh. We lost … evidence that this team cannot get over a hump.
John: Ugh.
Wilfredo from Corpus Christi, TX:
The Jaguars did everything in their power to lose this game. There is too much to account for as to everything they did, or should I say, failed to do. I don't even know why I torture myself every Sunday watching Jaguars games.
John: This one hurt. I get it.

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