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O-Zone: A memorable gift

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Justin from Charlotte, NC:
John, point-blank. Should the Jaguars start Blake Bortles Sunday?
John: I've always said I'd like to see Blake Bortles playing. That's my intrinsic reaction as an observer – and while understanding there are bigger issues involved. I also understand the argument for playing Chad Henne and I have explained it often – that this is a young offense with really young wide receivers and a young offensive line, and that Bortles' knowledge of the offense and knowledge of the roles of other players isn't yet developed. Henne's experience and knowledge of the offense are important considering those things. A lot of the reasons for playing Henne have played out the first two weeks. The line has struggled and the receivers haven't always been on the same page. Henne reportedly has made good decisions in that situation, and it's very difficult to lay a 0-2 start at his feet. He has been under pressure and in a difficult situation more often than not. At the same time, it's fair to wonder if Bortles' strengths – his quick release, field vision, pocket presence, arm talent, etc. – could help the situation. Given the results of the first two games, I'd say it's time. At the same time, considering the youth on offense, it's hard not to accept that the Jaguars coaches may not feel this week is the right time to play the rookie. Whether it happens this week or not – and my guess it's not – I'd say it's coming sooner or later. Stay tuned.
Dan from Jacksonville:
A win against the Colts on Sunday would go a long way in helping us forget the Redskins game. Do you think this is a possibility?
John: Absolutely. This is the NFL. The Jaguars are playing at home against a team playing a road game coming off a Monday night game. That's historically difficult. That doesn't mean the Jaguars will be favored. Not by a long shot. But you asked if it's a possibility. Yes, in the NFL it's a possibility.
Christopher from Philadelphia, PA:
Having witnessed that shellacking in-person, I am trying to find things to be positive about. When Luke Bowanko went in, the Redskins' defense seemed to get less push up the middle – that is, until Kerrigan lined up over Linder. Sam Young also did not seem to get abused quite like Cameron Bradfield. Any chance we see Bowanko and Young starting next week, assuming (in Young's case) that Pasztor can't go? Getting tired of watching this offensive line struggle so much, especially with respect to McClendon...
John: Yes, I'd say that's a possibility. We'll find out more on this front this week.
Kevin from Section 441 and Jacksonville:
You think if we put Bortles in maybe the offensive line would play harder to protect him?
John: Absolutely not.
Brian from Mandarin:
Will Austin be ready to go this week?
John: Jaguars starting right tackle Austin Pasztor, who has been out since Week 2 of the preseason with a hand injury, is expected to practice Wednesday with a club device on his hand. I'd expect he'll figure a way to play with the device on his hand Sunday, but for now the Jaguars likely will play Sam Young at the spot.
Kyle from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Can you give me your honest opinion on safety Josh Evans? It seems he's always late in deep coverage and he's a mediocre tackler. Sometimes it seems like he's flat-out just lost. P.S. Get well soon Cyprien ... PLEASE!
John: Evans has struggled at times, and he played better in the second week of the season than he did in the opener. The entire secondary has struggled since Cyprien has been out. Evans was a starter early last season and he's not starting now. That's because he has struggled at times, and some of the reasons for those struggles are the ones you cite.
Jon from Ocala, FL:
Play the kid.
John: The time is getting close. I still doubt it's this week. I don't know if it's the next. I think it's before midseason. We'll see.
Paulo from New York City:
John: No. Not even close.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
I was watching the offensive line, and I feel like I saw the tackles falling forward to make cut blocks a lot. Is that a common blocking technique for an offensive lineman?
John: In the zone-blocking scheme the Jaguars use, the offensive linemen are coached to cut block.
Sandro from Castillo:
Why is our offensive line playing as poorly as they are? Haven't the Jaguars invested a couple first-round picks as well as other high-round picks to ensure something like this wouldn't happen?
John: Not really. They invested a No. 2 overall selection in Luke Joeckel, and they signed Zane Beadles as a free agent. Center Jacques McClendon was a waiver-wire acquisition, right guard Brandon Linder was a third-round selection in this year's draft and Austin Pasztor was a street free agent in 2012.
Matt from Midlothian, VA:
Let's just talk about 80's music and craft beer this week.
John: Text me.
Emma from Jacksonville:
Khan said we would draft a quarterback and we did No. 3 overall. I wouldn't think he would allow the fans to sit through a home game like last Sunday. Your thoughts on his input.
John: I think Khan will let the football-decision makers make football decisions. It's what above almost all else gives me faith that David Caldwell and Gus Bradley will get this thing turned around.
Scott from Woodbridge, VA:
Why don't people understand? We are not bad, we are young and inexperienced. We could be a team packed with veterans that can't get right. I'll take young and inexperienced anytime.
John: There is indeed a huge element of this at play here. That doesn't excuse what happened defensively on Sunday. You can't have 21 missed tackles and 10 more blown assignments – not out of a unit that was supposed to keep your team in games while a young offense grows. But overall, this is absolutely a young team and with a young team you're going to have some long, long days. Sunday to put it mildly was lengthy.
Peter from St. Johns and Section 242:
OK - Somebody's gotta ask it, so it might as well be me. Richie Incognito is still available. Worth a shot, or is he still too toxic? Not advocating, just asking.
John: It has been asked. I don't see it happening.
Kenny from Rochester, NY:
During the Thursday night game one of the announcers said the center position was becoming a premier position in the NFL. With the struggles of the Jaguars' offensive line, would you agree – or was he just saying that because the Steelers have one of the best at the position in Pouncey?
John: I'm sure the subject probably came up because of Pouncey, but there's no question that center is becoming more important. It's particularly important on teams that want to play no-huddle and up-tempo, but it's key for any team because of the complexity and proliferation of complex defensive fronts and blitzes. I'm curious to see how long until that is reflected in where teams draft the position, but it seems that the day is coming when centers are more coveted in the draft process.
Tyrone from Tiburon, CA:
I never really felt the need to follow the injury report, but I'm starting to now. It's updated on Wednesdays? And how often after that? Which receivers are healthy enough to go against Indy do you think?
John: Each team updates its injury report Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a Sunday game. Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Mike Brown should be healthy enough to play, and we'll know more about Cecil Shorts III on Wednesday and Thursday. Allen Hurns is day-to-day, though if you asked me now, I'd be surprised if he plays.
Todd from St. Augustine, FL:
The run blocking was bad on Sunday and I get that we are trying to run an outside-zone scheme. However, it confuses me we have Toby taking tosses and stretch plays and Denard running between the tackles. Is it just me or did you see this as well, Johnny O?
John: Well, I didn't see Robinson run at all on Sunday, which surprised me until I remembered that the Jaguars ran just 10 times. That's what happens when you're behind 21-0 midway through the second quarter. Look, I get that people are tired of the stretch play. They're tired of seeing it fail. But I haven't seen much to indicate that Gerhart is at fault for that nearly as much as the blocking. You have to run the stretch play in this offense. It sets up a lot in the passing game. I still think you'll see Robinson worked into the offense more as the season goes on, but I don't think you'll see the Jaguars go away from Gerhart or the stretch play. They need to block it better – and they need more opportunities to do it.
Michael from Columbus, OH:
I always figured my hometown was the town where my home was. I haven't lived in Atlanta for about 30 years and I move around a lot. Can I get an exception?
John: The question referred to how players' hometowns are listed on NFL rosters. The answer is that on NFL rosters the hometown is the town where players are born. You can call your hometown whatever you like. Consider it my gift to you.

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