The inbox is angry and deservedly so. Sigh.
Let's get to it . . . Joseph from Sacramento, CA:
Why can't the reason for this team not looking or playing good be because the players are simply just not good? Why can't a coach admit that he has horrible players? It wouldn't be an excuse. It'd be the truth.
John: First off, a coach just isn't going to say that, and secondly, it's not necessarily the case here. I said over and over again in the offseason the offense likely would start slow, and that there likely would be starts and stops early. This was quite a stop. In fact, there was some skidding involved, but there are far more cases of a team starting slowly under a new head coach before finding itself than there are of teams that just take off and have nothing but success. I don't believe Sunday was simply a case of "bad players," and I've seen too many cases of teams looking real bad one week getting things together in subsequent weeks to write this season off as a lost cause.
Kevin from Fleming Island, FL:
John, I'm sure your inbox is exploding this morning. Not a rant, but a mere question; is there anything positive we Jaguar fans can take away from yesterday's performance?
John: Bryan Anger punted very well. Other than that – well, I'm not going to sit here and pound away on a team that obviously played very poorly, but I'm also not going tell you there was very much pretty about Sunday. I don't believe that game has to be season-defining, because I've seen too many teams have poor games and get things turned around. At the same time, there can't be any more of what we saw Sunday.
Daniel from Section 143:
I'll be honest with you Johnny O, I didn't see any silver lining. All I saw was a bad football team. And I'm having a hard time with it because I'm always a Jags optimist.
John: I feel you. Sunday was difficult, and there weren't a whole lot of silver linings. The best thing to do is remember the old coaches' adage, "It's never as good or bad as you think it is." In the Jaguars' case, they're really hoping that's true.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Gene is running out of time. I know the plan four years ago was Monroe at left tackle and Britton at right tackle. Monroe has fulfilled his promise, Britton has been a disappointment. Until we fix the right tackle position, we will continue to have days like we did against Houston. Please do not try to tell me that right tackle is fixed. Britton, even when healthy, does not have the feet to play tackle and that's why they keep moving him inside to play guard. Cameron Bradfield, even though hurt, is not the answer either. Unfortunately for us the answer is next offseason either in free agency or the draft. Gabbert's development will continue to be stunted as long as defensive ends are constantly putting pressure on him like they are. Why are people in such denial of this?
John: I get your theory and understand the point of view. If Bradfield isn't the answer, then I'd agree with it a bit more. I don't know that he is. I do know we haven't seen enough of him to know yet.
Andrew from Florence, SC:
Here's your Monday morning slice of reason in a sea of chaos: The Jags will be fine because the arrow is pointing up. Can't feel bad about losing to a Super Bowl contender. The Jags were outclassed, but we've played two games. Gotta keep putting their hands to the plow, and we'll start seeing some winning results over the next few weeks. I can see us being 2-2 to start the season.
John: I, too, still believe 2-2 is a possibility. If you're the Jaguars this morning, you're looking at Sunday's game and believing it was a perfect storm. The Texans are a very good defensive front and the Jaguars' offensive line was injured. That led to the passing game emphasizing a lot of passes to the side and nothing really got going downfield. That led to 0-of-9 on third downs. That led to the defense playing far too long and not having anything left in the second half. That's what you're hoping if you're the Jaguars this morning.
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
Wow!!! That was hard to watch! Looks like we took a giant step backwards. I am pretty sure Houston is not that good!
John: The Texans looked awfully good to me.
Scott from Section 139 and Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I am not going to fully blame the offense for this one. Can you explain why we have such a porous defensive line when you told us this was our strength and we had great depth? No sacks in this game and horrible against the run in two games now. Even with twice as many injuries on defense last year, we held up better.
John: I think Daryl Smith being out has really hurt the run defense, but no question the front seven hasn't been great. Sacks on Sunday were going to be difficult because the Jaguars were rarely in third-and-long situations. As for your first line, I'm not going to fully blame the offense, either. I agree to a point, but when the defense is on the field for as long as the Jaguars' defense was, it's difficult to do much of anything.
Job from Trinidad and Tobago:
We earned that result, don't you agree? Offense could get nothing done and the defense could not stop anything.
John: I think that's the best way to describe it. The Jaguars earned what happened on the field Sunday. And while there are many fans understandably ready to write off the season and the front office after Sunday's game, it's way too early for that. Instead, I tried to listen to what Mike Mularkey and the players were saying after Sunday's game. I don't believe that this team is lacking talent, particularly on offense, so it stands to reason something else was wrong. Mularkey and the players each said there was a litany of mistakes early. Mularkey was very pointed when talking about that in the post-game press conference, and Uche Nwaneri mentioned the same thing. So did Maurice Jones-Drew. That seems to jibe with what Lee Evans kept saying in the offseason about this offense taking some time to learn. So, while the Jaguars indeed earned that result Sunday, I'll be interested next week and in the coming weeks to see if the offense can improve – and if the defense can improve along with it – as those early errors get fixed. That doesn't solve all of the issues we saw on Sunday, but if there is hope from what we saw Sunday, maybe that's where it is.
William from Jacksonville:
The Texans' drive just after the Jaguars' lone touchdown speaks volumes about this team; not only in the present, but during the past five years or so. They can't take advantage of anything. They had the crowd in the game again after a great stop then a nice score, and there is hope once again for a come-from-behind victory. Well, on 3rd and seven, they jumped offsides and the Texans ended up with 3rd and short. They let a drive that should have been stopped after three plays, and again several times, be a momentum killer. It just feels like the team will be mediocre forever. I'm not pressing the panic button yet, but certainly several emergency switches have been turned on.
John: I'm not ready to say the drive was a microcosm of the franchise's recent history, but it hurt. No question. The offside was definitely a killer. The Jaguars seemed to be playing uphill the entire day, and then suddenly, they were one stop from getting the ball with good field position and possibly turning the game into a one-score game. Once that didn't happen, everything seemed to deflate. That's a corner this team needs to turn, too – you can't let one first-down conversion turn that into a 17-play drive.
John from Jacksonville:
Mr. Oehser, I have read all of your columns and find you very insightful. When is the GM ever going to be on the hot seat? We are five years into his tenure and seem to be getting worse. You can talk injuries all you want but the talent of the depth on the roster is deplorable. Please answer this question since it is routinely dodged.
John: I'd normally just say, "You could have stopped at insightful," but this is no day for jokes. I've often been accused of not talking about people on the hot seat, but it's simply a difficult thing to define. Smith, who is in his fourth season by the way, is the first one to say that while he believes the roster is better than people believe, he ultimately will be judged by winning and losing. Two games into a new coaching staff is too early to judge anything, and as mad as people get with that belief, I still believe it to be true. At the same time, Smith will be the first to tell you a general manager is judged by winning and losing, and tangible improvement in that area has to happen. As far the deadline you want, I don't know, but I know good organizations often have patience beyond that of your normal fans, and for proof of that, I'd offer Sunday's opponent. This was an organization whose fan base was ready to fire everyone in January of 2011. Nineteen months later, they're a Super Bowl contender. Patience can be hard.