O zone: Ready

O zone: Ready

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it…

Caldwell said improvement is possible and the talent is there. So, what gives? What is the problem? Is it effort, planning, poor implementation or coaching? I can’t help but think he’s blowing some smoke and overestimating his talent level, but what do I know?

Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell was actually asked this week if the Jaguars had enough talent to have a “top-tier” defense. That’s the kind of question coordinators are asked toward the end of seasons where their units struggle, and it’s the kind of question that was inevitable after a 40-14 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, in which the Jaguars allowed scores on the Lions’ first eight possessions. Caldwell said the Jaguars actually have enough talent. That’s the kind of answer coordinators give when asked about talent. Coordinators don’t criticize players, even when there are defensive deficiencies that help teams score on eight consecutive possessions. And they don’t say there isn’t enough talent to win.

John, I was thinking about your frequent response that it usually takes two to three years for even top draft picks to develop to meet their potential. Obviously, that hasn’t happened in Jacksonville in a very long time. So my question is: have we been bad at identifying talent? Or have we been poor in helping these players develop to meet their potential?

My frequent answer that it takes two to three years is not my opinion. It’s a long-standing NFL truth, albeit one often overlooked by the most knowledgeable fans and observers. But you’re right that the Jaguars haven’t had many top draft picks live up to their potential in recent seasons. It’s because they didn’t draft well enough over a long period of time. They also had a bad stretch of not keeping many of their good draft picks. They stay for a longer stretch to try to break that cycle. They have to wait for players to develop and have faith that they will. It’s part of breaking the cycle, and the patience it takes is what makes breaking the cycle difficult.

John, please tell Wade is Woke from the Westside that “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result” is NOT the definition of insanity, even though Einstein supposedly said so.

Going into a season with all these holes on the roster after having $100 million and the first pick in each round of the draft the last two seasons is not a good look for the shooter.

This is a common refrain these days, especially with the Jaguars defense struggling. And while the refrain is understandable, part of the culprit here is the nature of free agency. The Jaguars had several areas to improve in recent offseasons and therefore felt they had to participate more than is ideal in the free agent market. When you do that, you run a high risk of paying premium dollars for less than premium talent. That is not to say that no mistakes were made. That is to say, at least some of these failures can be attributed to having to fix the failures of previous regimes with less than ideal means to do so.

Oh, I can’t remember the opponent, but I do remember they lost two offensive line starters during the game and the Jags still couldn’t get to their quarterback. 3-4 doesn’t seem to work. How difficult would it be to switch to a four-three during the season?

Keith from Saint Augustine, FL

Is football fun? For a franchise with one winning season since 2008, please explain to me how all this losing is fun.

Football is fun compared to other things like work, disease, plague and torture. This is true even at its most frustrating – and even at its most frustrating, sports should provide a sense of diversion. If they provide no diversion or joy—if watching games or reading this column hurts you so much, or if one’s outlook on life is so tied to a football team’s results that losses affect you like disease or plague—perhaps bigger problems at stake than a win-loss record.

Hi Zone, Trent Baalke joined the Jaguars in February 2020, over two months before the draft where we took cornerback CJ Henderson and outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson in the first round. I know he wasn’t the ‘day manager, but why does he get a free pass on those elections?

Contrary to what Gary from St. Augustine says, you don’t suck, John. I think you sometimes have a deeper tint of rose colored glasses than most. But I really appreciate you giving us a voice to “fight and complain” about this team that we love (and hate). We are fans after all.

When teams lose, fans and observers will hear that everything is bad. They want blame, calls for resignations and short-term reactions. This is understandable, and there are many places where fans can hear these things. While problems are acknowledged here in the O-Zone, I try to make this a place where fans can better understand why things happen the way they do and why the Jaguars make the decisions they do. That’s it. That’s the job. That’s what this is. But I still suck. Ask anyone.

Billy from Orange Park and Section 412

In the limited time I’ve focused on watching Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen’s pass rush, he hasn’t used a variety of pass rush moves. It seems the bull rush is the only technique he uses and it doesn’t work. Has he given up other moves? Is he injured? It is obvious that this is not the Josh Allen we knew before. Help me understand this.

I agree that Allen doesn’t look the same as before. While he has pressured the passer consistently with a team-high pressure this season, he hasn’t had anywhere near the sack production he or anyone else expected. Nor has he been as disruptive as last season when he was healthy. My feeling is that he’s pushing a bit and maybe dealing with some confidence issues, both of which could lead to him using limited techniques and not playing as well as he has in the past. I don’t think injuries are a problem for him. I think he’s just struggling.

Michael from Cincinnati, OH

Hi Zone. Looking at the injury reports, the Jags look in pretty good shape compared to Tennessee. I think if we didn’t come from a lopsided game we would all have a bit more confidence going into Sunday. I think the Jags bounce back and squeeze out of Nashville with a W.

The 1999 season still sticks in the back of my mind after all this time. The Jaguars will play a tight-knit Titans team in Nashville that hasn’t won since 2013. The Jaguars’ two best wins this season came against teams with significant injury holes. How handicapped are the Titans this week? The Jags is the little kid from “A Christmas Story” and the bully is making fun of him again, but this time he has an answer. Go Jags!

Although John may be a bit scarred by life and therefore a bit ‘all over the place’ in his Ralphie analogy, he also remains ‘all in’.

Hello, KOAGF. I have to say it’s refreshing to have a meaningful Jags game as late as December 11th. This Sunday will either escalate postseason talk with a Jags win (and give us another meaningful game next Sunday) or it will put the final nail in that discussion. I hope our boys are ready to fight hard for 60 minutes.

Sunday is really big in that regard – and the Jaguars really aren’t out of contention for the AFC South title. If the Jaguars win Sunday at Tennessee, they will be two games back of the Titans with a home game remaining against Tennessee in the regular season finale. It feels like a very distant scenario as I write this. It will feel much closer if the Jaguars win on Sunday.

John: “I could be wrong about that too. I’m often wrong.” Did your wife hack your account and publish the Saturday column? If so, does that end the streak?

My wife didn’t hack my account. This is beyond her technological level. So is resetting the wifi, although thankfully she’s always ready with “helpful advice” when I bring up such issues. But I’ve actually been wrong before. And I’m actually often wrong. This remains true and yet I remain the king of all funk.

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