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O-Zone: A few good questions

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … David from Broward Country:
O-Man, so the season is at the halfway point and all we can reasonably hope to accomplish in the second half is to answer the question, "Is Blake Bortles the guy?" That is very sad. The development of all other players takes a back seat to the Bortles Question. At the same time, three-and-a half years of Gus Bradley's cult of positivity and the team doesn't know how to win games.
John: Wow, not exactly Petey Positive this morning, are we? But you know what? I felt pretty much the same way Sunday and Monday when looking ahead to the rest of the 2016 regular season in the wake of the Chiefs loss. I sense a lot of other fans feel the same way because 2-6 stinks and it's not easy figuring the motivation moving forward. The Jaguars need to win a whole lot more games with hardly any losses to salvage this season. Can they do that? Sure, but considering their recent history it's very, very difficult to predict they will. Such a turnaround would entail an incredible upgrade in consistency – and until it happens, it's not prudent to predict it. Because of that, I agree wholeheartedly that the No. 1 Priority the rest of the season is answering the Bortles Question. If that gets answered to the positive, then the second half of the season will look much better and be a lot more enjoyable than the first half. If it goes the other way …
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
I think sometimes people forget that Marqise Lee is the highest-drafted wide receiver on the team.
John: I don't think that's going to be all that forgotten much longer.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
It was mentioned during the game that "instant replay" doesn't have "freeze" capability like the networks do, why not?
John: Replay officials actually do have the ability to use freeze frame, but in this case – the case of whether or not Chris Ivory had possession Sunday when he extended the ball across the goal line in the fourth quarter – the freeze wouldn't have helped officials get the call right. That's because the frozen shot that has made the rounds on Twitter doesn't clearly show Ivory having possession. Only a moving replay shows that. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the moving replays in this case weren't conclusive.
Grant from Fernandina Beach, FL:
WHY IS OUR BEST PLAYER PLAYING SPECIAL TEAMS?!?! And no I'm not talking about AR15; he has already broken my weak heart.
John: I agree Carson Tinker has done a fine job this season, but I wouldn't say he's the Jaguars' "best player."
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Sunday again gave me a glimmer of hope about Bortles. Then I stopped to really think what that meant. This is what I think is most likely: Sunday wasn't good. He wasn't a franchise quarterback. Most likely, in my mind, he isn't a franchise quarterback although I desperately want to be wrong about that. No, what I think is it has been so long since competent quarterback play stepped into that field for us that when they (Gabbert, Henne, Bortles) show ANYTHING we tell ourselves "There! There it is!" when in reality it isn't. We're a historically bad franchise since 2011. Anything not historically bad gets our hopes up.
John: That's a fair way to feel because anything is fair and understandable at 2-6 – and because Bortles hasn't played well enough consistently enough to cause you to feel differently. He's going to get the chance. I believe the final eight games of this season are critical. There were enough positives Sunday to give reasonable, objective people hope. There also were enough "oh-no" plays for those same people to remain concerned. Bortles seemed to improve in his first game working with new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Where will that take him? That's what is known in this here sportswritin' biz as an "important question."
Tom from Davenport:
I'm reasonably certain that Ngakoue is a better pass rusher than Fowler. Thoughts?
John: He is right now. That doesn't mean that will always be the case.
Matt from Atlanta, GA:
I couldn't disagree with you more about having to give Bortles the rest of the season to see if he is the guy and here is why. That dropped interception by the Chiefs in the end zone was his worst decision of the year, and there is a lot of competition for that honor. High school quarterbacks don't make that throw. With Gus Bradley coaching for his job I think you have to turn to Chad Henne. The way the defense is playing, a game manager who won't turn the ball over foolishly gives you the best chance to win. Bortles has got to be on a short leash against the Texans.
John: I don't disagree very strongly with your assessment of Bortles Sunday. Not only was the play you cite nearly a bad interception, he was really close to throwing several others. He didn't play well in some critical spots and he hasn't played well enough this season. But I still believe you must give him the rest of the season. You must learn the answer to the Bortles Question beyond reasonable doubt.
Richard from Jacksonville:
Unless I missed it, there were no motion penalties or personal fouls against the Chiefs Sunday. That's a huge improvement on things that can definitely be controlled. Other than the turnovers, what was your assessment of the offensive line play?
John: More than good enough to win.
Eli from Orlando/Rio de Janeiro:
John, come on! Biggest victory of Gus Bradley Era? A team that could beat anyone? The Jaguars were playing a Kansas City squad without its No. 1 quarterback, No. 1 and No. 2 running backs, No. 1 wide receiver and No. 1 tight end for half the game. They played a "second-quarter-preseason-game" offense and lost. This crap is ridiculous. If they couldn't win Sunday I have a hard time believing they can beat anyone.
John: OK.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
John, "leg talent" must strictly refer to distance around here because Cairo Santos had no problem actually putting a couple 50-yarders between the uprights in Arrowhead. I know four turnovers doesn't help, but neither does sacrificing yet another game over the past two-years that would have ended differently with a proven kicker. The missed throw on fourth-and-3 should've been the kick that made it 20-19.
John: The end of the game quite likely would have been different had Jason Myers converted the 54-yard field goal he missed in the third quarter. I also agree that in this day and age kickers need to convert 50-to-55-yard field goals more often than not. But considering how Myers has kicked through the first eight games of the season, I'd be hard-pressed to say the Jaguars should change kickers.
Austin from Orlando, FL:
There was a game about five-to-ten years ago in which the Jaguars' defense held the Texans to NEGATIVE passing yards, but lost due to two turnovers that were returned for touchdowns. More than stats, more than gutsy play and more than smart coaching you can tell which team will win by simply looking at the turnover margin.
John: That's quite often the case. Entering the game it was quite obvious that the Jaguars' minus-eight turnover ratio compared to the Chiefs' plus-nine turnover ratio was the key difference in the two teams. The statistic basically defined the teams' seasons to that point. In that respect it really wasn't a surprise that the Chiefs won Sunday because they forced four takeaways and the Jaguars forced none. The upset statistically would have been had it played out any other way. The Jaguars currently are minus-12 turnovers after eight games. Until they show differently that means they are a team prone to turnovers and a team that that does not create turnovers. That's a formula that usually loses in the NFL.
John from Fleming Island and Section 113:
O Wise One. A season lost again and two months of meaningless football! Another loss by another method from an undisciplined team against a Chiefs team playing numerous backups! At least we have the draft and a new coaching staff to talk about. Keeping the faith is for church on Sunday – not in the Jaguars. Besides a decision on BB5, what are you hoping to see with this team? I see 4-12.
John: While Bortles is the No. 1 question to be answered in the second half of the season, there certainly is much to watch – and a lot in fact can be gained. Eight games is an eternity in the NFL. Can Marqise Lee continue developing and become a big-time wide receiver? Can the offensive line build on Sunday and become a cohesive, effective unit? Can Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. develop into a pass-rushing force? Can this team win four, five or six games and finish the season looking like the team many believed it would be? Those questions aren't as fun as "Can the Jaguars Make the Playoffs?" But they're pertinent questions nonetheless.

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