JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . .
Steve from Waukee, IA:
The outcome on Sunday was not what we wanted, but a big thanks to the Jags for the Brad Meester tributes and especially the coaches for the play call. Best play of the year!
John: The Jaguars threw a pass to Brad Meester in the fourth quarter, and he caught it for his first NFL reception. It was indeed a cool play, and the coolest thing about it was how much it meant to Meester – and to his teammates. Meester, who will retire after the season to end a 14-year NFL and Jaguars career, after the game talked a lot about what the day overall meant to him. He said he was emotional on several occasions, but especially when fans chanted his name after the reception. That's not something interior linemen experience often and Meester said it never had happened to him, so it was special. It also says a lot about this coaching staff – especially Head Coach Gus Bradley – that the play was in there. Bradley gets Meester's importance around here and he gets the idea of doing special things for special players. That's a good sign.
Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX:
Why did our head coach receive so much criticism from your friend Tony Boselli for challenging the first-down play late in the fourth quarter? We had nothing to lose, plus the Titans would have been able to just let the clock run the full length of the play clock anyways.
John: You're referring to Bradley challenging a spot on a four-year run by Titans running back Chris Johnson on third-and-4 from the Titans 45. You're right and Boselli was wrong. There was nothing to lose because the Jaguars would have taken a timeout there anyway.
Princefigs from Jacksonville:
What happened to our run defense, O?
John: Personnel does matter, even if it's not Pro Bowl personnel. The Jaguars were playing without linebacker Geno Hayes, linebacker Russell Allen and defensive tackle Roy Miller on Sunday, and Miller and Hayes in recent weeks have been playing through injuries that have grown progressively worse. The Jaguars played very good run defense for the first five weeks after the bye, but Bradley said recently he had seen some troubling things in terms of fit and approach even when the statistics were still encouraging. He said after the game that though the team did not flinch with new personnel in the game there were some instances that some things they could count on before weren't the same because of the personnel. He was reluctant to use injuries as an excuse, because most coaches are, but hey, the starters are often starting for a reason.
Al from Orange Park:
John: He continues to play well, so yes – Marcedes Lewis with all the exclamation points you want. On Sunday, the Jaguars needed him to take a bigger role because of the injury situation at receiver. He did that, catching four passes for 50 yards and making yet another athletic reception for his fourth touchdown in as many games. He had a tough start to this season because of the calf injury, but since then Lewis has had a really good year. Really good.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
Why does our offense look so incredibly different as the quarters progress? Our first drives look tremendous then our offense goes back to looking awful. I don't understand why we go away from what's working?
John: There's no definite answer to your question because all drives are different. But football, especially in the NFL, is a game of one-on-one matchups and adjustments. I mention this because there are a couple of theories why the pattern you mention could happen. The Jaguars currently now are by any measure not loaded with front-line playmakers and they are also playing with a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball. That means they must game-plan really, really well to move the ball. Once a team moves early, opposing coaches adjust schemes to what the offense is doing. A team loaded with experience – and loaded with elite talent – can adjust and/or rely on playmaking athleticism to make plays once the defense has adjusted. A team without as much front-line talent, and with players not as experienced in a scheme, theoretically would have fewer options and fewer directions to go when adapting. On Sunday, there's no question the offense started better than it finished, but I would still say this offense is better now than at the beginning of the season. That's an impressive accomplishment considering the number of injuries, particularly at the wide receiver position.
Maurice from Kalamazoo, MI:
Jerry Sullivan must be a genius.
John: Jaguars wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan gets an amazing amount of production from his players. Think of it: On Sunday, the Jaguars were without Cecil Shorts III, Justin Blackmon, Stephen Burton and Jeremy Ebert. They were playing with Mike Brown, Ace Sanders, Lamaar Thomas and Kerry Taylor on Sunday and still the group caught 14 for 149 yards Sunday. Brown of that group has shown particular development this season. Impressive.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
"Chad Romo" strikes again in his wonderfully woeful month of December. Can't even get it done for Meester's last game. Sad.
John: Wow. First off, there are a ton of teams who would love to have Tony Romo, but this isn't the forum for arguing his merits or de-merits. As for Henne, I've never written in the O-Zone that he's the long-term answer, but considering the injuries around him and considering the circumstances of his season – well, I'm just not ready to say he was the reason the Jaguars lost Sunday. And he sure wasn't "Sad."
Doub from Harrisburg, PA:
I was not being sarcastic about Meester being in the Hall of Fame. Maybe not in 2019, but someday. He paved the way for Freddy T's great career, and is doing the same for MJD. If both of them get in sometime down the road, I think it would be a huge mistake not inducting him as well. 2019 is the first he'd be eligible, but I think he'd get in a year or two after MJD does (if he does).
John: I'd love to see Brad Meester in the Pride of the Jaguars. I'd run across the Hart Bridge in a pair of short shorts and knee-length socks he ever is inducted into the Hall of Fame. I'd say I'd run it without the socks, but me just in short shorts isn't a visual we need so close to Christmas.
Troy from York, PA:
I don't know about a lot of fans, but I for one ain't looking forward to the Super Bowl being played in New York. I think it should be in a dome or somewhere warm so the best team on the field wins. No excuses.
John: One from Yerk fer New Yerk …
James from Columbus, MS:
I've heard the "Super-Bowl-shouldn't-be-decided-by-inclement-weather" argument on the radio and now from you. I argue that that is an absurd stance. To say that suggests that the weather makes good teams average and average teams bad. Maybe that's true, but the good teams won games in imperfect weather, or other imperfect conditions. The argument against potentially inclement weather is not strong, and as for having an ideal game played that players "earn", that's what the Pro Bowl is for. So, north or south, dome or open sky, the Super Bowl should be played wherever a host city wins the bid.
John: . . . And one very, very not fer New Yerk.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
Outcoached in crunch time for the second week in a row. The card says to kick the field goal down one with 5:18 left, and giving away the time out to challenge without overwhelming video evidence resulted in Chad having to try to force a ball. None of which would have even been necessary had they coached Marks' PAT replacement to block the outside rusher. Glad the Jacksonville faithful got to feel good about a bunch of undrafted rookie free agents playing hard for their coach in four out of fifteen opportunities, but the inability to make good decisions when it matters will alienate a veteran locker room quick. Hope Gus can learn from that before next year.
John: Your points are intriguing, though to have this team competing in every game the second half of the season would indicate that Bradley's doing something right – a lot right, actually. And most people who have watched this team would say they've played hard in a lot more than four games. I don't disagree with you about kicking with 5:18 remaining, although the Titans had run very effectively and you could have made an argument that the Jaguars would have trouble getting the ball back. Was picking up a fourth-and-1 a better bet than stopping the Titans? On Sunday, perhaps. We've already addressed the challenge play, and Bradley said the team absolutely had addressed and coached to block Bernard Pollard. The block didn't get made and he said that was frustrated. I don't anticipate this veteran locker room being alienated by Bradley, though. It's an interesting theory, but hard to imagine happening in reality.
Johnny from Section 141 and East Palatka, FL:
Merry Christmas O-Zone. My new girlfriend says I should be ashamed of never doing anything at all at my cushy government job, yet still taking two and a half weeks off at Christmas. Should I actually do something at work, or dump her?
John: Has she given you your present yet?
Ozone: An issue of timing
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . .
Steve from Waukee, IA: