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Still too difficult


Let's get to it . . . David from Jacksonville:
This game is the epitome of this season for the Jaguars. OK start offensively that quickly dissipates. Great plays and opportunities taken away by costly penalties. This is rock bottom, no doubt. Only way is up from here.
John: Honestly this morning, I'm not sure where to start, so we'll start here. Yes, Sunday was rough. Yes, in many ways it symbolized if not epitomized the season. So much went wrong Sunday that it's difficult to focus on one area. I'm sure the rest of the emails will give ample time to address many of the issues, so we'll begin with the negated touchdown on the penalty by Guy Whimper for failing to report as eligible. Whether or not the penalty should have been called, the Jaguars two times in the last two weeks have had touchdowns reversed, and each time, they got nothing from the drive. The Jaguars are not a team that can overcome mistakes. They have shown that all year, and therefore they're not a team that handles adversity well. As for rock bottom, you would certainly think so. This is rough.
Jim from St. Augustine, FL:
John: No argument.
Don from Heathrow, FL:
There are two kinds of luck a general manager needs to be successful: luck with acquiring (draft and free agents) players and luck with injuries (which any general manager cannot possibly predict in advance). If you factor in the injuries that limit a player's ability to be effective then Gene has had more hits than misses. In the last two years the Jaguars have had more injuries to front-line players and players going on injured reserve than 80 percent of the other teams in the NFL. That's bad luck for Gene. Ultimately I feel his fate should be tied to Gabbert's and we just don't know that outcome yet. Your thoughts?
John: I think that's a difficult concept for people to accept when you're 2-12. The Jaguars indeed have been unfortunate with injuries, but there are also clearly players – particularly on each line – who are underperforming. Would the Jaguars have held together better this season had Maurice Jones-Drew, Daryl Smith, Clint Session and Laurent Robinson been healthy? Would Tyson Alualu play better with a healthy knee? Would the Jaguars be better had Gabbert developed more quickly? Yes, to all of those, and even with those injuries, 5-9 with three overtime victories rather than losses would look a bit better. Yet, a loss is a loss and 2-12 is 2-12. And in a results-oriented business, those aren't good results.
William from Jacksonville and Section 119:
John, to win in the NFL you have to be able to control the line of scrimmage. Tackle to tackle on both sides of the ball, with the exception of Babin, are a complete embarrassment.
John: This isn't a day for disputing these sorts of points, especially when they're so valid. The offensive line is struggling to the end of the season, and while the group held its own in spots against a pretty good Miami defensive front Sunday, the fact remains the season has been a struggle there. The team has had one 100-yard rushing game since Week 3, and though the absence of Jones-Drew has hurt, it shouldn't hurt this much. And far too often, Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert before him simply had too little time. As for the defensive line, it's much the same story. Sacks have been a problem all year and now the team can't seem to stop the run in the second half of games. Yes, you have to control the line of scrimmage, or at least score a draw. Right now, that's not happening.
Charles from Orange Park, FL:
Why are we not playing MJD? He should have been over his ankle sprain three weeks ago.
John: Jones-Drew never had a sprained ankle this season. He had a sprained foot, and who says he should have been over it? There is no "should" in terms of time frame with injuries. Injuries are individual and each injury and player heals at a different rate.
Jon from Nijmegen, Netherlands:
Was wondering if you could give your take on grading a general manager based on the playable depth. When I look at the Colts, Patriots and Steelers they obviously have the right quarterback, but it seems that they also have playable depth when they get decimated by injuries to their starters. This when they hardly ever pick above 20. I think I understand not "hitting" a franchise QB, but when you almost always pick above 20 I figure playable depth is a fitting measure of a GM.
John: It is a good measure, and it's the job of general managers picking outside the Top 10 to find quality pieces even without the early selections. The people running those teams do a good job in that area. But remember this, too: your depth has a tendency to look much, much better when you have that franchise quarterback.
Scott from Section 139 and Ponte Vedra, FL:
Can you offer some explanation as to why we have been unable to score any points over the last several weeks and why we are statistically at the bottom in nearly every category? With all of the first-round and high draft picks over the last four years, is there any reasonable explanation? Also, do you agree with the coaching assessment that it is only one play here or there that would have changed this season? That seems a bit of a reach to me. Thanks for your opinion.
John: Your question deserves a good answer, and I don't know that I have a good one – at least not one to fit concisely enough in today's Ozone. The offensive line is struggling. That's clear. It seems to have regressed as the season has gone on. That has hurt the quarterback play, but at the same time the quarterbacks haven't played well enough when the line has played well. Jones-Drew's absence sure didn't help the offense, and outside of Cecil Shorts and to a lesser degree, Blackmon, I don't know that the guys catching the ball have played great. Things at times earlier this season looked better than they do now, and it does appear the Jaguars are limping a bit to the finish. I didn't expect that. I expected this offense to play better late in the season than early. That hasn't happened. That's not an explanation, but in football, it's usually a combination of many things, and I'm assuming that must be the case here. Finally, I don't know that the coaching assessment is that one play here or there would have changed the season. There were cases when a play or two would have changed games, and if that had happened, this wouldn't look nearly as disastrous as it does now. But to say one or two plays would have changed it – yeah, that would be a reach.
Nicholas from Anchorage, AK:
Is it just me, or do the Jaguars seem to rank high in completed passes for two yards or less?
John: It's not just you. They must be up there. When the quarterback doesn't have a lot of time, the routes tend to shorten significantly.
Jeremy from Andover, KS:
If I were you I'd take some time off. You've answered daily O-Zones for quite a while and deserve a break. Just start back up after Khan fires Gene Smith and the organization decides to make a move toward winning. This is the worst year in the history of the Jags. Last year, we thought it couldn't get worse; boy were we wrong. I won't even speculate about next year. Khan better show soon that he's committed to winning.
John: Well, you're not me, and in this position, you don't take time off during the season. As for the decisions at the end of the year, those will be made at the appropriate time and I doubt anyone other than Shad Khan knows for certain their outcome. Regarding your thought/threat, I still can't quite figure out how Khan hasn't been committed to winning. He has owned the team for less than a year, hired a new head coach and a largely new coaching staff, and has said during the season he will evaluate what's going on following the season. Just because he has said he won't make knee-jerk reactions doesn't mean a lack of commitment to winning. In time, the commitment will show.
Alan from Jacksonville:
I made the choice not to watch the game this week. I turned on the radio just to check the score and was very glad I passed on watching the same thing I have been watching week to week.
John: Thanks for keeping us up to date.
Josh from Statesboro, GA:
This team is pathetic on every level, other than punting and two bright wide receivers. I am watching this game with no emotion. Losing has that affect on even the most diehard fan. As a true supporter from Day One, I have never seen an offense this incapable. Gene Smith is a great guy, and I have backed him every year, but for the sake of this team and the fans who truly care, I hope there are significant changes made this offseason so we can start rebuilding. AGAIN.
John: You aren't alone in your feelings. Losing stinks, and with the way this team has lost each week – making many of the same mistakes over and over and showing a lot of the same weaknesses week to week – it is understandable you would be without passion. Losing doesn't just stink; it numbs the senses, gives the impression there is no hope. Things can turn in the NFL, and things do turn in the NFL. That often happens quickly. I'm not naïve or foolish enough to offer a timetable, but this feeling absolutely won't last forever.
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
It ain't easy being a Jags fan.
John: No, it's still not and it still shouldn't be this difficult.

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