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O-Zone: A bright future

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Nate from Saint Jones, FL:
I'm curious on your thoughts on Blake being the guy now. Do you believe it is time? And also do you think the changes on defense that Coach Gus is making are beneficial to the team?
John: Those are sort of the Questions of the Week in JaguarLand. And the reality is there's no perfect time to make a quarterback the starter, particularly a rookie. The Jaguars' plan was to give Bortles as much time as possible to develop without the burden of expectation, and the plan was to allow that to happen so long as they believed Chad Henne gave them the best chance to win. They liked Henne's knowledge of the offense, and for a time believed there was a big enough difference that Henne was the better option. Bortles' grasp of everything he needed to grasp improved enough to where the coaches believed it was his time. Could it have happened sooner? Could they have waited? Sure, on either count. There's no computer program where all factors are entered and a scientific answer emerges. I would have probably played him a bit sooner, but I also didn't have first-hand knowledge of each quaterback's grasp of the offense. As for your second question, I don't suppose the defensive changes will hurt, but I don't see simply inserting safety Josh Evans and linebacker J.T. Thomas into the starting lineup being cure-alls. The entire defense needs to play with more consistency. If that happens, the unit is capable of improving.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Is Chad Henne still a captain?
John: Yes.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
John, I was a bit put off by Jedd Fisch's comments saying they are essentially in Week 4 of building what they're trying to accomplish. I see what he's saying, but long-term fans certainly don't see this as being four weeks into a build. Perhaps it was just a bad choice of words or perhaps I'm completely missing the point. Thoughts?
John: No, I'm pretty sure those are the words he wanted to use. It's understandable some fans didn't like the comments, but from Fisch's perspective – and from the perspective of those working with the offense – there's not much other way to see it. When the Jaguars play Sunday in San Diego, there's a good chance there will be two starters – Cecil Shorts III and Luke Joeckel – who started a game for the team last season. True, it was the team's choice to overhaul the offense in the offseason. And true, fans are tired of hearing that progress will take time. But in any sort of a real football sense this is very much Year One and Week 4 of what the offense is trying to accomplish. That doesn't mean fans shouldn't want it to happen quickly, but from that perspective, it is still Year One.
Marion from Jacksonville and Section 437:
No question, just a thank you. Great content on the website, thank you all!
John: What website is that?
Jordan from Jacksonville:
Do you have any concerns for Blake Bortles as he starts???
John: Sure, there are a ton of concerns and we've covered a lot of them this week. You're concerned about his ability to get the offense in and out of plays and you're concerned about him knowing and calling checks correctly. You're concerned about him handling his first NFL start. You're concerned about him continuing to learn from mistakes and not repeating mistakes and just being poised in the big moment at such a young age. None of those things are cause for panic or long-term concerns. In the long-term, I am confident that Bortles is going to be at minimum a very good quarterback for this team, and perhaps The Key Building Block of this team. But in the short-run, sure, there are concerns. If there weren't, the Jaguars would have started him Week 1 and the team would be undefeated. That said, I am less concerned about Bortles than I would be many quarterbacks. He's confident, poised and I'd be surprised if he gets rattled. If all those things are true, then a lot of other good things follow.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
Mark Brunell's son, Joseph, is the quarterback for Episcopal High School and they are 4-0 right now. He wears number No. 8. If he were to play for the Jaguars at some point, could he keep his number?
John: Sure, why not.
Dave from Jacksonville:
I was quite surprised J.T. Thomas replaced LaRoy Reynolds as the starting Otto linebacker rather than Dekoda Watson. I thought he was targeted specifically for that position. Is he not performing up to expectations? And while on the subject of free agents, Zane Beadles and Toby Gerhart have not been lighting the world on fire, either. Is this free agent class turning out to be a big dud?
John: The free-agent class has a lot in common with the rest of the team in that it's not performing as well as many expected before the season. As far as Watson specifically … yes, it's safe to say that he was expected to start and that because he is not, he's not performing to expectation. Beadles, too, has struggled at times blocking one-on-one, though the team remains pleased with his leadership and it's far from too late for him to be a quality signing. I've said over and over again regarding Gerhart that his success or failure will depend on the offensive line. He's not a back who can do it by himself. He needs blocking and holes. So far, he hasn't had enough of either.
Devin from Jacksonville :
How Chad Henne reacts in this situation? Does he feel disappointed? Or is he happy for Bortles?
John: Yes. Yes.
Roger from Valdosta, GA:
So we are heading to the West Coast. What's the schedule? When do they leave? Do they go a day early, etc.?
John: The Jaguars will leave for San Diego Friday afternoon, with the idea of getting acclimated to the change in time. They'll return Sunday after the game as normal.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
John, we've been rebuilding since 2007, NOT two years. Just because there's a new general manager and ownership doesn't mean that we started rebuilding when they came in. And through Year Seven of this rebuild, we still have the worst defense in the league. What gives?
John: While I admire the tenacity of your argument and well-time use of capital letters, the build by any definition does start when a general manager arrives. That doesn't mean there wasn't one before, but the Jaguars have pretty much completely overhauled the roster since Caldwell's arrival. That's when THIS build began.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
If I remember right, J.T. Thomas was the backup middle linebacker, right? I don't know much about the current backup at the middle, but it seems like the middle is more important than OTTO, particularly in obvious pass situations. Do you think Thomas would move back to middle if Posluszny couldn't play? Also, do you think Thomas may end up playing the middle permanently if Posluszny continues to struggle?
John: Yes, if Posluszny is injured Sunday, you would probably see Thomas move into the middle. I imagine you would see Dekoda Watson go into the game at Otto in that scenario, but there hasn't been that much to distinguish Watson and LaRoy Reynolds this season, so it's possible the two would continue to share repetitions. As far as the theory that Posluszny is struggling, this is something that has caught fire this week and should be kept in perspective. Yes, he has missed a few tackles this season and no, he's probably not one of the NFL's elite cover linebackers, though he's still better in that area than many believe. But he's still one of the most trusted players on defense and it would be very, very surprising if he is replaced in the starting lineup.
Matt from Stroudsburg, PA:
How involved in the offense do you think Clay Harbor will be on Sunday?
John: Quite.
Alex from Fairfax, VA:
Based on the defense's performance, struggles in the run game, and the fact that we have a rookie QB starting, wouldn't it be smart to abandon the no-huddle offense and try to control the time of possession? No-huddle seems like a great concept and most of the league appears to be adopting it, but I don't feel like this team is polished enough to run it this year given these circumstances. What are your thoughts moving forward?
John: I expect the Jaguars will continue to take the same approach to this as they have under Jedd Fisch – that is, that the use of the no-huddle and up-tempo offense largely will depend on how the offense fares on early downs. If the offense gains yards on first down and is in good down-and-distance situations, then it makes sense to play up-tempo. If not, then you'll see more no-huddle, particularly with a young offense.
Scott from Honolulu, HI:
Hey, this asking John on the app is pretty cool. I might ask one every day now.
John: We'll all look forward to that, Scott.

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