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O-Zone: Week-to-week league

JACKSONVILLE – One more day until Look-Ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it … Stephen from Jacksonville:
Blake Bortles and the Allens looked very good against Green Bay. I don't expect their numbers or production to drop as significantly as some have suggested. Julius Thomas showed up and looks to be the true No. 3 receiving threat for this team now. Along the offensive line, Kelvin Beachum played solidly at left tackle in his debut. I think the Jaguars showed that they have the right players in place – and are going to be one of the best passing teams in the league this year. What did you think about the Jaguars' passing offense versus the Packers and how good do you expect them to be this year?
John: The key to remember is the Jaguars' passing game can be very good, very effective and not put up the numbers it did last season – and all of that would be OK, because the passing game would help the team … win! And while you may be right about the statistics for Bortles and Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, in the Jaguars' ideal scenario you'll be wrong. This team still wants and needs to run the ball better. It won't win consistently averaging 1.8 yards a carry as it did Sunday. If it runs better, the receivers and quarterbacks could have lesser numbers than a year ago. At the same time, the Jaguars will win more games, so everybody would be kinda cool with that. And yes, Julius Thomas looks like a big-time No. 3 receiving threat – and that's a huge positive for this offense.
Jess from Jess from Castle Rock, CO:
John, do you expect any changes in who will be doing the play-calling for the rest of the year? Throwing the ball behind the line of scrimmage on fourth down with the game on the line? I can't even fathom a reason to make that call.
John: No, I do not expect any changes in who will be calling plays the rest of the season. Changing offensive coordinators because of the end of the Packers game isn't the remotest sniff of a possibility.
Jason from Jacksonville:
What are the Jags going to do to fix the LEO position? I'd guess at this point help is not on the way.
John: There's probably not game-changing, season-altering help on the way. The Jaguars have a couple of Leo pass rushers they believe are going to be good. Those players are Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue. They're young players and it can take time for young pass rushers to make an impact.
Bryce from Alexandria, VA:
I've been a fan since I was five years old. I don't think I've ever been this excited for the Jaguars after a loss. Losing is tough but I'm so proud of our team.
John: I'm getting a steady dose of this. It makes sense.
Vishwa from Jacksonville:
Greetings O. Nice to see that Jags were evenly matched up with Packers. Clearly a good sign of things to come. Difference was the turnover. Agree?
John: I suppose you can point to the early turnover as a key play Sunday, and it certainly was important. It gave the Packers a point-blank touchdown and put the Jaguars in an early hole. At the same time, there were several plays that made a difference. Several would-be pass interference penalties. The Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass when he was being pulled to the ground by Jalen Ramsey. The missed 4th-and-1 late. That's the way the NFL is when you're a competitive team. Most games come down to a few key plays. The Packers made a few more than the Jaguars Sunday.
Vince from Jacksonville:
Where was Myles Jack? When can we expect to see more of him?
John: Myles Jack was the backup weak-side and middle linebacker. You'll see more of him on defense when the Jaguars believe he's ready.
Levi from Jacksonville:
I don't understand why the coaching staff doesn't like Jack at OTTO. He seems to have the athleticism and instincts to be a good fit. Am I missing something?
John: An Otto is actually closer to a defensive end than either of the other two linebacker positions, and the Jaguars don't believe he's a fit there. That brings us to needing a way to get Jack on the field, which I suspect will be a topic until it's not.
Ross from Fleming Island, FL:
Not to be crass, but please tell me the bulk of emails you receive aren't all the Nelly-negatives you seem to want to publish. I think you should have two O-Zones – one for legitimate questions/comments and one for the over the top whiney butts. Just my two cents.
John: I appreciate your two cents – and to be honest, I don't spend too much time figuring the percentages of positive versus negative emails. By the way, Nelly negatives? Whiney butts? Watch yourself, Ross. There's no room here for such crassness.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
They came tantalizingly close to beating a team favored by many to play in the Super Bowl. And they didn't enjoy any home cooking from the refs. So why would so many so-called fans have the gall to say it's evidence of Gus's incompetence? His coaching is what had them in position to win the game. He also had the guts to let them convert a couple of fourth downs. That's good coaching.
John: The reason Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley is getting criticized after this loss is the same reason a head coach usually gets criticized after losses. It's easy to blame coaches when things go wrong. It also has become vogue to blame Bradley for the team's 12-37 record in his tenure even though the Jaguars were woefully outmanned throughout much of that tenure. You're right that the decisions to go for it on fourth down multiple times Sunday helped the Jaguars stay in the game. There also are some things that the coaching staff needs to get fixed such as penalties and too many time outs taken by this offense, thereby wasting timeouts in situations where they shouldn't be taken. I'm not going to turn the O-Zone into a weekly Bash the Coach/Defend the Coach contest. There's no question Bradley's job status is going to be a thing this season, but it's going to play out over the course of the season and not in any one game.
Jinx from Jacksonville:
I'd like to give a shout out to Brad Nortman. Those kinds of punts really lighten the workload for a defense.
John: Hey, one fer Nortman!!
Adam from Jacksonville:
John, I thought T.J. Yeldon ran well Sunday, but he didn't have much room to work with. How would you assess our run blocking versus the Pack, and do you think having Chris Ivory would have made a big difference?
John: I thought the run-blocking against Green Bay was so-so at best and not good enough to win for the most part. I think Ivory would have made a small difference because he would have given the Jaguars a fresh-legged option and because there are plays where he has the ability to grind out an extra yard or two. I don't think it would have been a game-changing difference.
Greg from Jacksonville:
Mr. O, I'm only a guy that has season tickets since the beginning. But it seems that five straight season-opener losses might seem like a trend? When is accountability a serious consideration of this franchise? We have been told it was built last year!! We start this year the same way we finished last. Is there ANY ANY ANY reason to think our season will be positive?
John: The Jaguars came within four points and 14 yards of beating a team that many believe will contend for the Super Bowl. A loss is a loss is a loss, but to think there was nothing good out of that game is to see a game and a team that I'm not seeing.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL:
Great effort. The defense is much improved and Bortles is better also. But 48 yards rushing is really bad. Your thoughts?
John: I think the defense overall is much improved and that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles looks improved, too. I think if the Jaguars rush for 1.8 yards per carry they're not going to win many games.
Jimmy from Jacksonville:
Two things about the Packers-Jaguars game. Aaron Rodgers has a great pocket awareness, which was the deciding difference in the game – and second, if we put out that kind of effort every game we will be OK and win our fair share.
John: Those are two telling points. The first indeed is important to remember before we completely bury the Jaguars' pass rush. While it didn't get significant pressure on Rodgers, he is so good – and his style so unique – at avoiding the rush that it negates some of what a team usually does. There were a few plays where it seemed the Jaguars could have gotten better pressure, but Rodgers moved in the pocket quickly and effectively enough to negate it. As for your final point … yes, if the Jaguars play that well against the rest of their schedule they'll have a chance to win a lot of games. That's great and it should provide reason for hope, but the NFL is a week-to-week league. Just because the Jaguars played well enough to almost beat a good team Sunday doesn't mean they'll play well next Sunday.

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