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O-Zone: Big beyond doubt

LONDON – Game-day in the U.K. … It's coming sometime and maybe … Steve from Denver, CO:
O, last season I suggested Blake Bortles have three-to-five designated run plays. You shot it down saying he needs to be a pocket passer. We have used a second-round pick and signed a high-dollar free agent running back and how are we ranked? BB still averages a few yards more per carry than any of our running backs. Now, I read draft polls saying we will go after Big Leonard from LSU. Won't you admit Blake needs a few more carries per game? Give their D more to think about and adjust their D?
John: I'm very rarely going to bang the table for quarterbacks to get more called running plays and I'm certainly not going to bang anything in this case. Running plays expose quarterbacks to injury risk and great quarterbacks usually can win from the pocket. And while the running yardage from designed quarterback runs are nice, they usually don't accomplish a major objective of the run in the modern NFL, which is to establish the threat of the run and therefore help the offense overall. Bortles may average a few more yards per carry than Chris Ivory/T.J. Yeldon, but defenses aren't going to commit extra defenders to stopping him, so the aftereffect of those runs is relatively minimal. I think Bortles probably would benefit from a few more designed rollouts and he probably would benefit from running with decisiveness when the pocket collapses, but no … I'm not a fan of the idea of game plans that plan for him to be a third running back.
Will from Orlando, FL:
Just win, baby. Win.
John: OK.
Jason from Section 140:
From Chris Simms: "I am confident in saying the Blake Bortles experiment is over. They are going to have to start reevaluating what they want to do at quarterback … We're three games into his third year and we're still seeing the same issues from Blake Bortles that we saw at the beginning of his NFL career… He does not make routine NFL throws. He is very inaccurate throwing the ball. He's got one of the longest motions throwing the football. He's also one of the worst three-step passing quarterbacks in all the game." Perhaps a little harsh, but a fairly accurate assessment. What say you?
John: That's indeed a harsh way of saying many things we discussed about Bortles throughout the offseason. These of course were many of the same issues that existed last season when he looked very much at times like a player who was ascending to the point of being a very good NFL quarterback. Bortles has some weaknesses. They have overshadowed his strengths thus far this season. Are they going to continue to do that and define his career? It's too early to know that no matter what Chris Simms might believe. And I'm going to hold off on researching Simms' ascension to the high altar of quarterback evaluation. I'm still sort of tired from the trip and don't want to get into it.
Reinhold from Glendale, AZ:
Hey, John. I went to high school with Prince Amukamara and I was wondering if you think Prince's absence hurt the secondary in the past weeks?
John: Without question.
Terry from Miami, FL:
If the Colts score on their first possession they will win the game. Bortles will panic, try too hard to catch up and the Jags will fail to score enough. If the Jags hold the Colts on the first possession the Jags have a chance. The Jags cannot win a shootout, due to panic and poor play calling. What do you think?
John: The Jaguars have struggled enough early in games that this indeed is a reasonable conclusion. It's a bit extreme and it's probably not all-inclusive. It also needn't be the case moving forward, but through three games? Yes, this is a reasonable conclusion.
Kenny from Rochester:
What do you think is more probable: Jaguars score on the first offensive series or Bortles throws an interception on his first pass of the game? I believe Vegas would have the odds on the latter.
John: Bortles has struggled enough early in games that this indeed is a reasonable conclusion. It's a bit extreme and it's probably not all-inclusive. It also needn't be the case moving forward, but through three games? Yes, this is a reasonable conclusion.
David from Ada, OK:
Wow. I was just looking at Wikipedia, and found that they have the all-time winning percentages for all 32 NFL teams. We rank 27th. I think that is the reason we have so many disgruntled fans.
John: The Jaguars have struggled enough over the last four or five seasons that this indeed is a reasonable conclusion. It's a bit extreme and it's probably not all-inclusive. It also needn't be the case moving forward, but right now? Yes, this is a reasonable conclusion.
Joel from Jacksonville:
Many years ago, Mark Brunell was having a real tough preseason. Jimmy Smith was out. Jimmy came back and suddenly Brunell looked fantastic. A local sports writer was asked why and he said Mark got his security blanket back. I think the fact that Blake sees the Allens double covered, causes him some mental issues – i.e., he lost his security blanket. He needs to get past that.
John: There's probably an element of this. Robinson was double covered quite a bit down the middle third of the field against Green Bay in Week 1. Though offensive coordinator Greg Olson said that hasn't been as much the case the past two weeks, it stands to reason teams will defend the Jaguars' best receiver at least a bit differently until Bortles and Robinson figure a way to beat it consistently.
Chris from Columbia, SC:
Maybe I'm an ignorant optimist but I think firing Gus if we lose this week would be a horrible mistake. This roster is incredibly talented but they're making stupid mistakes - some coachable, some not coachable. At least give the guy the year unless every game is a 40-point blowout. Do you still think Gus is the guy? I still do. DTWD
John: I'm on record saying I honestly don't know if Bradley is the guy. I say that because he hasn't won – and until a coach wins, you can't know if he's the guy. He didn't have the talent to win early in his Jaguars career and he hasn't had enough talent long enough to prove for certain that he's not the guy. Also, let's keep the Jaguars' talent in perspective. Yes, they have more talent than they did in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Yes, they have talent that they should be better than 0-3. But I would not say they yet have veteran, experienced talent where I would necessarily consider it a horrendous coaching job if they miss the postseason. I thought realistically this team could get to eight-to-nine wins, but I also thought the offense would perform better early. Can the Jaguars win enough the rest of the season where we get a better idea if Bradley's the guy? Stay tuned.
Scott from Section 137 and Ponte Vedra, FL:
Can you explain two things about Bortles? Why do many of his passes seem to waffle in the air compared to pretty much every other quarterback in the NFL? Secondly, why does he have problems shuffling around in the pocket like most of the other good quarterbacks in the NFL? Does he have problems feeling the pressure?
John: One, I don't know. Two, apparently.
CC from Duval:
I'll say this for some optimism for our squad. Chemistry seems to be gaining on the offensive line (as well as getting healthy) and pass protection seems better, but we have to figure out something in the running game. But this defense with all its new players seems to have the potential to be special. Prince only played one game and the coverage looked pretty good. To think we have Aaron Colvin coming back after the bye makes me excited because somebody will be left out as a result of the true competition with our cornerbacks. I believe Davon House will be left out because he cost the most and he's our weakest link, to be frank. Colvin, Prince and Jalen Ramsey should be our starting three. Give Prince House's deal after this year lol. DTWD
John: I'm not sure who you are, but at some point C.C. from Duval's going to know you hacked his account. #toopositivetoreallybecc #dtwd
Richard from Orange Park, FL:
You and I both know Indy's secondary is as deep as a kiddy pool. This game has season, career, regime, draft and financial implications to it. Blake needs to play adequately. Stop forcing the ball to A-Rob, do his progressions and throw to the open man – and get a W or the talk will become legitimate. God help us all if that happens. What a long plane ride home. Good luck.
John: It's a big game. No doubt about that.
Bill from Hammock Beach, FL:
O man, has there been a bigger game in the last 10 years than the one this Sunday? The Jags lose and the coach is likely fired and things are chaotic for the remainder of the year. With a win, we are right in the division approaching the weaker part of our schedule with a quickly improving defense. Go Jags. I don't want to wait another year.
John: It's a big game. No doubt about that.

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