KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Let's get to it … Bill from Hammock, FL:
There have been many questions about Blake Bortles' mechanics lately. I don't understand how he can at times be completely off, yet at other times (last quarter of last game) there are very few inaccuracies. Do you think his accuracy issues are due to the pressure of a close game?
John: Bill, if I had the answer to Bortles' mechanics issues I not only would be on the Jaguars' coaching staff, I'd pretty much be the star of the show around these parts. I also would be making a far sight more than is currently the case. The best answer I can give is that Bortles' accuracy issues seem to stem from inconsistent footwork and body positioning, which at times seem lead to mechanics that are poor enough to cause him to throw really, really inaccurately. That's not all of the time, but it has happened often enough this season to be a serious concern. It also has happened often enough that he addressed it by working with Adam Dedeaux – his personal quarterbacks coach – in Jacksonville Monday and Tuesday. Will that work benefit Bortles? Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Bortles looked good in practice this week. Bradley also said there overall has been a different – and presumably, better – feel to practice this week with new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett running the offense. Will that better feel translate to better performance Sunday? Ah … 'tis indeed the question.
Kris from Copenhagen, Denmark:
How can you hate pie??? And how long does Bortles get to improve?
John: My guess is Bortles will start the entire season because I think he would have to struggle the way he has the last two games for several more games for the Jaguars to consider starting someone else. I can't imagine him continuing to play this poorly because I have seen him play better than this in the past. As for pie … OK, maybe I was exaggerating. I don't hate all pie – just the kind you like.
Max from Logan, UT:
John - just exactly how much on the field is the doing of the head coach, really? Is there a way to figure that out? When I see players making mistakes in professional sports, I blame the players who made the mistakes. I guess I'm trying to seriously figure out just how much of this should really fall on Bradley.
John: There's no way to determine exactly how much of what happens on the field truly falls on a head coach. If a head coach, for example, tells a player multiple times in practice to run a pass pattern in a certain way and he doesn't, is that the fault of the player or coach? If a player physically isn't good enough to win a matchup and he loses that matchup, is that the fault of the head coach? Reason tells you in both cases that the head coach couldn't control that situation. At the same time, this is professional sports. In professional sports, the head coach gets credit when teams win and blame when they lose. In that respect it's all the responsibility of the head coach.
Scott from Section 237:
Mechanics and accuracy aside, what other areas does Bortles have to improve in order to be a decent quarterback? How do you teach reading defenses and finding open receivers and timing routes, for example?
John: He must improve decision-making and pocket presence. Both typically improve with experience, and both have been areas of concern at times for Bortles.
Ryan from Detroit, MI:
John, how different would this franchise look today if we had actually found a franchise left tackle in the 2013 draft?
John: Well, the Jaguars would have a franchise left tackle – and Kelvin Beachum probably wouldn't be on the roster. Beyond that …
Mike from Jacksonville:
Really? Two good days of practice? Week 9 of a five-year rebuild, and we talkin' about practice!? How about a really good game? Also, while I have you reading (or closing) this email, I just don't find it compelling - the change at offensive coordinator. We had Greg Olson last year, no Chris Ivory, and the offense balled. I really thought we upgraded our offensive line too. This season is over. OK, I'll stop; I've driven myself to a dark, dark place. Go dumpster fires … I mean, Jags.
John: Well, that wasn't very nice now, was it?
Keith from Palatka, FL:
You cannot win in the NFL without a good offensive line and a good quarterback. We have neither. The right side of our offensive line (A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell) allow defenders to hit running backs a yard and half into the backfield according to Pro Football Focus. On the left side, Kelvin Beachum is still not 100 percent recovered from his ACL injury, and even if he was, he was never a great run blocker to begin with. Patrick Omameh was an unmitigated disaster in Tampa Bay (and still is). That leaves Brandon Linder as the only solid player on the offensive line. Why are people still bewildered about our inability to run the football?
John: The Jaguars' offensive line actually has pass-blocked OK for the most part this season. The unit has not run-blocked well. There is optimism that that will change under new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. I understand people not sharing this optimism. We'll see if it looks different Sunday.
Brian from Section 238:
To all Jaguar players who are mad at the fans, 1. Start winning and the constant barrage from the fans will stop. 2. You get paid to WIN games, not to play football. 3. Tell you what, I'll yell on every defensive down on November 13 – if you beat Kansas City. #Promisefromthefans
Peter from Perth, Australia:
Hey, O. If Blake's mechanics and play improve this week would you think the coaching staff would sacrifice a bit of practice time with him so he could work with the throwing coach? To me, game planning won't matter if it is taking him too long to set feet and throw. Thoughts?
John: No. I don't think the Jaguars would take that approach. First, while Bortles' mechanics could improve and solidify a bit this week from his work with Dedeaux, there's a limit to how much you're going to get done in this area during the season. Second, anything Bortles does with Dedeaux will be on his own time rather than within the framework of normal game preparation.
Jeff from Rutland, MA:
So, what would you do? It's the middle of December, and the Jags are still playing the way they have the past two weeks. Bortles gets injured. Do you start Brandon Allen to see what he can do? Or Chad Henne?
John: I'm assuming for the purposes of your question that the Jaguars will no longer be in playoff contention. If that is the case in your scenario, I would start Brandon Allen.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
You have said repeatedly that the talent on the team has improved. Do you think it has improved to the point that the Jags will seek a veteran quarterback via free-agency or trade in the event that Bortles is deemed to not be "the guy?" To me, if the talent is at a playoff-caliber level, then starting over with a rookie is a bad move. Obviously, it all depends on who is available, but this is all hypothetical.
John: Hypothetical is the operative word here because with nine games remaining there is still a lot of time this season to get a better read on Bortles' future. It also is important to note that the support for Bortles as the starter for this organization right now remains strong. A lot of this issue also obviously depends on how Bortles responds to the work done with Dedeaux – and to the changes Hackett implements to the offense. I'm skeptical that we'll see dramatic immediate change. The question in that case would become whether or not you believe that more diligent work in the coming offseason can allow Bortles to first get back to how he played last season but – more importantly – develop and improve from that point. If the team decides he's not the guy, the process would be much the same as for any team seeking a quarterback: determine what's available via free agency/trade and decide if that is the solution you seek. If not, draft the best quarterback you can. The positive in that scenario is that the learning curve for a young quarterback needn't be as long as once was the case. The negative is that a new quarterback by definition is a mammoth upheaval and you don't know the results until it plays itself out.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
Writing about Gus Bust saying there been a couple of really good days just shot your credibility down the loo. If we had a nickel for every time we've heard that the Jags had a good week of practice followed by a stink bomb of a game, we could buy the Jags from Shad Khan.
John: I don't think Shad Khan would sell the Jaguars to you for that price.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Let's get to it … Bill from Hammock, FL: