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O-Zone: An awesome situation

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jon from Yongsan, Korea:
It looks to me like Blake Bortles is learning a good lesson. Passes that he was able to get away with in college won't fly in the NFL. The players are too fast and too smart. He will learn soon enough. I'm not worried … you?
John: Worried? Goodness, no, and I'm actually struck by how often I'm getting this question these days. People continually ask if Bortles has the earmarks of a bust. People ask if they should be concerned about his mistakes. People ask if how he's playing is unusual or cause for panic. No, no, no, no, NO!! Did I mention, "No!???" Remember the draft? Remember the aftermath of the draft? The Jaguars couldn't have been clearer that they knew Bortles wasn't close to a finished product. There were sure enough of this that they originally didn't plan to play Bortles this season and opted to play veteran Chad Henne early in the season because they knew there were things for which Bortles wasn't prepared. Mistakes from Bortles were expected this season. Interceptions were expected this season. Miscommunications and incorrect reads were expected. Adjusting to the speed of the NFL was expected. Nothing – NOTHING – has happened this season to cause any concern that Bortles won't be good. I don't know if he will be great. No one does. That remains to be seen. But the Jaguars are significantly improved because he is playing. He inspires confidence in teammates. He gives them a chance to win. He's a leader and he has the skills that elite quarterbacks possess. He's fine. He needs time to develop, and that's what's happening now.
Jerry from Jacksonville:
Can we all, as fans, please pick one cool nickname for Blake and stick with it? BB5, obviously a play on RG3 … and B2 Bomber is somewhat confusing (wasn't that the planes Germany used on Pearl Harbor or a play on the two planes America used on Japan?) … although, I kind of like it. His name is too superhero secret identy-ish to not have a sweet original superhero name. Your thoughts.
John: I honestly have none.
MDK in the House:
I'm really sad and disappointed about Poz. Some have even suggested that Sunday could've have been the last time he will ever play for the Jaguars because of his contract. Surely, that's not the case?! Thanks in advance.
John: I've seen this theory discussed, and it has some merit. Posluszny is scheduled to make $7.45 million next season. That's his salary this season, too, and his salary cap hit of $9.5 million is the same in 2015 as it is in 2014. On the one hand, that's a high salary (not for me, of course, but for a middle linebacker) and a significant cap hit. On the other hand, the Jaguars have a lot of cap room. The Jaguars don't have a slew of veterans making huge money, and if you're going to pay players a lot of money, there are worse things to do than pay reliable veterans with high character who are respected in the locker room. Much of it will depend on how the Jaguars view the future at the position, and when they want to address it in the draft. That likely is a discussion yet to take place.
Troy from York, PA:
Poz is out for the season and Branch is out the next six weeks … Who is going to step up and replace them as the starters? I'm really concerned with the middle linebacker position since linebacker is one of our weakest positions.
John: While Posluszny was starting at middle linebacker and Andre Branch was not starting at end, the point of your question is correct – that each play a role that must be filled. The Jaguars will move J.T. Thomas from the Otto linebacker spot to the middle. He almost certainly can't at Posluszny's level, and because Thomas had played well at the Otto, you're realistically weaker at two spots. Look for Dekoda Watson or LaRoy Reynolds to start at the Otto, with the guess here that you'll see Watson start. As far as Branch, Ryan Davis likely will take the role Branch played on first and second downs. A bigger question is what happens in the team's lightning package, where the team's three Leos – Chris Clemons, Branch and Davis – played with Sen'Derrick Marks at defensive tackle. You could see Watson play some in that role, and the Jaguars also could use rookie Chris Smith – signed this week from the practice squad – in that package.
Biff from Jacksonville:
Poz out for the season. Branch is out for a majority of the season. Why can't we have nice things? Why are these happy feelings so short-lived?
John: Professional sports is real life. It's not scripted drama. Players get hurt, and teams have to deal with it. The Jaguars now have to deal with this. It's not ideal, particularly for a defense that has played increasingly well in recent weeks, but this is the hand the Jaguars were dealt.
Paul from Lohrville, IA:
O. You have said that you didn't see Denard Robinson ever being a workhorse back. Are you seeing differently now?
John: I have said that, and I'm not ready to retract that thought. Yet.
Tudor from Jacksonville:
Every now and then even a blind squirrel finds a nut.
John: #DTWD
Ron from Orlando, FL:
One thing that was glaring on Sunday was that the receivers seem to get very little separation. It was actually much easier to see from inside the stadium, but Bortles was throwing into double and triple coverage due to no one being able to get open. I'm not trying to make an excuse for his poor decision-making on the picks, but a little help from the receiving corps would go a long way.
John: Yes, so would some experience and time to develop the subtleties of playing the position. The Jaguars' young receivers have talent. What they need now is time to grow into professionals. This season is about getting that process started.
Ross from Mechanicsville, VA:
On D-Rob's touchdown run, the whole offensive line completely dominated. I even saw Luke Joeckel push his guy to the goal line. Is what they mean by sealing the end?
John: Yes, and then some.
Quinn from Tampa, FL:
Why is shoelace too small to carry the ball 20 times a game? He came into the season at 212 pounds. That's bigger than Jamaal Charles by a dozen and close to that of Marshawn Lynch, and AP.
John: Maybe he's not too small. Robinson without question has gotten bigger and he ran very hard Sunday. He certainly doesn't shy away from contact. Maybe it's just my stubbornness, old age and unwillingness to accept change, but I do wonder if Robinson can carry that often over the course of the season. I'm starting to think maybe he can. We'll see.
T.J. from Cherry Point, NC:
John, it seems Allen Robinson is progressing much faster than Lee. Is there any reason you think this is happening?
John: Robinson has been healthy since the start of the regular season and Lee has not. That's a start.
Corey from Orange Park, FL:
Our fans can make noise. When this team starts consistently winning, I really think our home field will be one of the toughest places to play as well. What says you, sir? By the way, I think you should answer what kind of questions YOU want to answer in your column. But I'm no police officer …
John: I say there's no question this will be a tough place to play. It has been in the past, and it will be again. As far as the column, I typically do answer the questions I choose to answer. It's a perk of the job. When I find another, I'll pass it along.
David from Durban, South Africa:
Telvin Smith looks like a great fit for the scheme that the Jaguars want to run. Flying around and making plays. Surely he should start?
John: Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said this week he expects Smith to have an expanded role. I don't think that means he will start yet. I do think he has a chance to move into that role late in the season … and stop calling me Shirley.
Jeremy from Andover, KS:
The Jags will likely finish 2-14. How is that improvement?
John: First off, I'm not sure where you get 2-14, but whatever … I'm not as concerned about final record this season as some people, but I differ from a lot of people on a lot of fronts. Plus, if you can't see the last three games and see a team that has improved from the first half of last season – and even the last half of last season, for that matter – I don't know how much I can help you.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
To Adam from Astoria...Why? why? WHY? You had a good thing with your former girlfriend/fiancé and you had to wreck it by getting married.
John: Nah, I'm sure it will work out awesome for him. It has for everyone else.

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