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O-Zone: What could have been

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Saud from Norfolk, VA

I am baffled how we started out so strong. We went from beating the New England Patriots in Week 2 to struggling in very winnable games. I felt a lot of the losses were self-inflicted and not our opponents being better than us. I thought quarterback Blake Bortles' performance issues were due to his lack of reliable wide receivers and a good offensive line. He continued to be inconsistent – if not worse – even with running back Leonard Fournette back. Also, on defense it seemed like we lost our discipline and focus and gave up big plays because of lack of communication and missed assignments. What are we going to do in the offseason to right this ship?

I get many emails from people baffled about why the Jaguars started strong and are now playing so poorly. People would find it less baffling if they accepted injuries mattering very much in the NFL – and injuries being the root cause of many other things going wrong this season. The Jaguars were 3-1 entering a Week 5 loss at Kansas City. They appeared on their way to an 11-5, 10-6, 9-7 season – i.e., pretty much what they were last season. They were one of the NFL’s top defenses entering Kansas City and had allowed just three touchdowns – i.e., pretty much what they were last season. They were a Top 10 offense that was explosive at times and inconsistent at others – i.e., pretty what they were last season. Injuries caught up around that time, with the offense struggling and the defense eventually following suit to a degree. With the offense unable to run as effectively as last season, Bortles was unable to lift the team around him. Things went bad after that. Even with all of that, the Jaguars should have won at least two of the last three games. If they had, this would seem like a team struggling to a fairly normal degree. Instead, they have lost seven consecutive games. That’s a disaster and people in the NFL get fired and benched because of disasters. As far as the offseason, the Jaguars will move on from several defensive veterans for salary-cap reasons and will retain a lot of younger veterans – enough to remain good on that side of the ball. I imagine they will draft a quarterback and address offensive line and wide receiver in the draft and/or free agency.

Michael from Jacksonville

Now, KRIMMA??

Soon, Michael.

Neil from Jacksonville

Looking at the best interests of the franchise, one would think we would be playing all of our rookie draft class extensively – and if we lose games and get a better draft position, all the better. But coaches are motivated to use players such as wide receiver Donte Moncrief and safety Barry Church who are on the way out to maximize the chance to win a game here or there. Does Owner Shad Khan or Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin tend to step in at such a time to make sure the long-term interest of the franchise is continued?

I expect rookie defensive lineman Taven Bryan and rookie safety Ronnie Harrison – and rookie wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. when healthy – to continue to get increased repetitions in the last five games of the season. Chark is injured and I don’t expect him to play Sunday; I expect Harrison to probably start over Church. I doubt anyone will have to “step in” to make any of these things happen. Beyond the aforementioned trio, the only drafted rookie on the active roster is punter Logan Cooke.

John from Ramsey

After the Buffalo game, Fournette said the loss was on him. Well, it’s not just the loss; the firing of the offensive coordinator and the benching of the starting quarterback are on him, too. Everyone wants to bash Blake. He threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Dede Westbrook following the ejection only to have it called back on a penalty by wide receiver Keelan Cole. If Fournette didn’t get ejected, he would have gotten the ball at the 1 and scored, the Jags would have won, Blake would still be the starter and Hackett would still be OC ... don’t you think?

Yes.

Tom from Jacksonville

Everyone needs a little reality check on what happened last year. I am tired about hearing Myles Jack wasn’t down. We were 10-6 in the regular season and got swept by the Titans. This is not exactly shooting for the stars. All of the wins, the defense played lights-out, basically giving the offense a layup to win games. The win against Buffalo in the first playoff game was weak, so weak the entire coaching staff should have realized our problems. Pitt in the playoffs (defense won the first one) is the only game where our offense produced. Now everyone can say how close we were, but in reality we were a lot closer than we ever should have been.

I haven’t heard anything about Myles Jack not being down in a couple of months. The Jaguars won 10 of 14 regular-season games that mattered last season. They beat a bunch of teams that either made the playoffs or would have made or contended for the playoffs if they hadn’t lost to the Jaguars. There’s no such thing as a weak playoff victory. And the victory over Pittsburgh in the postseason wasn’t remotely the first game in which the offense produced; was the defense “lights out” against Seattle? And you say that the defense played lights out in a way that discredits the victories; it was supposed to play “lights out” because the team was built that way. Look, a lot went wrong this year. If you want that to diminish what happened last year because of this year, that’s fine. But to do so is incorrect – and sort of pointless.

Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington

Social Media Internet: “Why don’t we move Bortles to tight end?" … 150-plus comments (actual discussion). Me: I was always thought there are no stupid questions; hey, if that doesn't work out, we could hire him as our quarterbacks coach since our quarterbacks coach is now our offensive coordinator. What’s the dumbest thing you have heard lately??? I know you have some good ones. Hang in there, O Dog. I'm with ya, buddy.

Fans gonna fan, and thank goodness for that.

JAW from Jacksonville

Doug Marrone looked defeated Wednesday at his presser.

You’re reaching, JAW. I’ve been at essentially every press conference of Marrone’s since he became the Jaguars’ head coach. I also have sat on the Jaguars’ Drive Time set on Fridays with him more than 20 times and been around him on multiple more occasions. He has not “looked defeated” in the vast majority of those times and didn’t look any more “defeated” this week.

Logan from Wichita, KS

This is not the year to tank. There is no major incentive to get a top draft pick. The draft class is pretty “meh” in the areas where we are weak. Also, if we keep General Manager David Caldwell, we don't want a first-round pick, anyway! He has missed on all but one of his first-round picks so far. Sell it off!

(Yawn.) What?

Ray from Jacksonville

John: Why in the name of God is Deshaun Watson not a Jaguar? Oh yeah. In a passing era, Caldwell wanted a running back who averaged less than two yards a carry against Alabama.

This is pretty-well documented. The Jaguars thought in the 2017 offseason the best way to win immediately – “Win Now,” remember? – was to not have a rookie quarterback and instead have a veteran quarterback with a strong running game and strong defense. It worked last season. It didn’t this season.

Red from Jacksonville

#FreeCodyKessler....Never mind. Our prayers are answered, finally!

OK.

John form Jacksonville

I'm a little perplexed about so much focus on Fournette with the brawl Sunday. I saw lots of players fighting. With regards to the excuse that he was on the sideline, so what? Don't tell me that all players on sidelines who fight get thrown out and suspended games. I'm sure other football players on the sidelines have jumped in before. What about baseball where the dugouts empty when brawls start? The same for hockey and basketball. C'mon. Fournette even made a public apology. Boo hiss, NFL.

Hockey, baseball and basketball have no relevance here. Fournette left the sidelines, ran across the field, put his helmet on and threw punches. I can’t imagine it was a very difficult decision for the league. Nor should it have been.

Tom from Sec 141 and the Low Revenue Streets of Nocatee

Blake is like that crazy ex-girlfriend every guy has had. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I’m gonna miss her – Blake, too. He’s a good dude, embraced the community, Duval through and through.

Oh, what almost was. Oh, what was for a while. Oh, what could have been. Oh, well … one fer Blake.

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