JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Evan from Tallahassee, FL:
John, I sent a scathing email Sunday right after the game before Gus Bradley was fired criticizing the losing culture around this team. While I don't take back what I said – there's definitely a losing culture around this team – I want to give credit where credit is absolutely due. Gus is a man's man for flying back on the team plane, then having a media availability session the next day where he heaped praise on the organization that just fired him. I can think of about zero other NFL head coaches – or people in general – who have the class to address this kind of situation in such a graceful way. Gus Bradley … you might doubt his coaching ability, but there's no doubting he's one hell of a man.
John: This is true. Bradley handled the aftermath of his dismissal Sunday as he handled his entire Jaguars tenure – with dignity and class. He had no problem flying on the charter because he knew he had approached his job the right way, and he knew there was no shame in that. Was it the most enjoyable experience of his life? Surely not. But it was one he could handle. I wasn't surprised Bradley chose to speak with the media Monday, although he was under no obligation to do so. He chose to do so because he always believed his mission with the Jaguars was about more than just winning. He believed it was about conducting himself in a certain way, shaping players on and off the field and helping to build the Jaguars into a team of which the city and area would be proud. He accomplished the first two. Some would say he didn't accomplish the latter because the team didn't win. That's fine. People can remember and judge Bradley how they choose – and there's little doubt that the time had come where a move had to be made. But that doesn't change what he gave to this team and this community. He did handle himself with grace and class, and I think a lot of people will remember him that way.
Rob from Rochester, NY:
Wow, John. This is the worst offense in the league. Letting the clock run out with a minute left in the first half and three timeouts? If you can't trust your quarterback to throw the ball 8-10 yards and get a couple first downs he belongs on the bench.
John: This appears to be developing into more and more of an issue in the last couple of weeks. It seemed against Minnesota last week that the Jaguars were reluctant to have quarterback Blake Bortles throw downfield and to take many chance throws. It felt that way again on Sunday against Houston, and Bortles talked extensively after the game about the need to stay aggressive offensively. He likened the offense in the second half to a basketball team passing the ball around and until the shot clock runs down, then heaving a three-pointer. It's pretty clear from that statement that Bortles wants to go downfield – and yes, he must be able to do that if he's going to be an effective NFL quarterback. Can he do that effectively? Can the Jaguars figure out a way for him to do effectively? I'd like to see them attempt it in the last two games.
Jerry from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Nice of Gus to take the time to thank everyone. Many coaches would be bitter and make excuses. He is a class act and his personality will be missed. Go Jags.
Mac from Neptune Beach, FL:
What draft picks would we likely have to give up to trade for Garappolo?
John: My guess is it would probably take a first-round selection to acquire Jimmy Garappolo – though the Jaguars will be selecting early enough in the draft that perhaps a second-round selection would be enough. There also is the school of thought that the past performances of many high-profile quarterbacks with little starting experience following trades – Brock Osweiler, for instance – could make general managers wary of such a move. There also is the possibility that all of this is moot, and that the Patriots might not want to Garappolo. While it appears Tom Brady could play forever, that's unlikely to actually happen – and that could make the Patriots want to retain Garappolo. We'll see.
Mario from Orlando, FL:
Dear Zone, I am sad Coach Bradley was fired. I feel that he was the victim of horrendous quarterback play. Coach Bradley can definitely have success with a good quarterback. Blake Bortles, on the other hand, doesn't seem like he'll have success under any coach.
John: Most coaches can have success with good quarterback play – and in that sense, there's no question Bortles' play this season hurt a lot of things around the Jaguars. Can Bortles find success under another coach? I think there's a very good chance we're going to find out.
Tommy from Jax:
I'm back. Not that you remember. I think I said I wasn't coming back until both Gus and Blake were gone, but maybe it was only one. Anyway, Blake should feel pretty darn bad. I would say he's about 89 percent of the reason Gus is gone. You can't win football games when you don't have at least average quarterback play. The only reason I don't feel bad about Gus is because he was so blind to the overlying issue. I liked Gus … wish we could have had that team we all envisioned. I can't wait till I see an O-Zone titled "Bortles Out." He has ruined enough jobs. It's time to go.
John: With Bradley now gone, there are two primary issues facing the team: Who will be the next head coach? And what will that mean for Bortles? It's hard to say which is more important, though I would lean toward quarterback being the more pressing issue. I have written often that I believe better quarterback play would have meant a better record this season. Would better coaching have meant the same thing? Perhaps, but it's my experience that quarterback in the NFL is a more important factor than coaching. That's not me saying "Bortles must go." It's not easy to find a franchise quarterback, and you don't want to give up on one until you're sure he's not one. Whatever your opinion on that topic, the Jaguars still believe Bortles can be that guy. He obviously must improve greatly and whoever is coaching this team next year obviously needs to believe in Bortles on some level if the franchise is going to move forward with Bortles and the new head coach. Stay tuned.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
It really sucks that Gus had to be let go, but I understand why. I just hope they don't go the Tom Coughlin route because there is a reason he was fired before. It's like getting divorced then getting married again to that same person. It makes no sense.
John: Tom Coughlin absolutely makes sense as the Jaguars' head coach. That doesn't mean he would match the success he had here from 1996-1999. Past success is no guarantee of future success in the NFL, and – as is the case with any head coach – a lot would have to go right for Coughlin to succeed. But what you want out of a head coach is someone capable of setting the tone for an organization and capable of creating an environment in which players can succeed. Coughlin can do those things. I'd like to see a coach with head-coaching experience, because I think that would be a positive for what is still a young team. Because of those things … yeah, I'd like to see Coughlin as the head coach. That doesn't mean he's the only candidate or the best candidate, but I think he's a darned good candidate.
Zac from Duval:
O-Man, this is the question you don't want to answer and we all know how you'll spin – but gonna ask it anyways... Is Blake Bortles really that much better than Tim Tebow?
John: I always smile when people assume there are questions I "don't want to answer." I think Bortles is better than Tebow – largely based on Bortles' play at times in the 2015 season. Honestly, because of Tebow's appearance in the playoffs, Bortles' career to date hasn't been all that much better than Tebow's. But I do think overall he still has a lot more upside than Tebow. Now, if you look at this season … well, there have been some games for Bortles that have been a real struggle. The important question is whether Bortles' career will be significantly better than that of Tebow. Right now, it's close. If he's going to be "that much better" than Tebow, he has a lot of improving to do in a hurry.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Myles Jack against Houston – eight out of 84 snaps. What are we, the fans, missing? Why isn't he on the field more? I want the truth. I can handle the truth.
John: There's not any real mystery here. The coaches are playing Dan Skuta when they think the opponent is going to be in heavy or run-oriented looks. They expected the Texans to be heavy run on Sunday, so Skuta played 31 snaps and Jack played eight. Whether or not you agree with that approach, that's why it's happening.
Brian from Section 238:
Bottom line for 2017. Defense is well on its way to being very good. Offense has a loooooooonnnngggg way to go.
John: That pretty much sums it up.
O-Zone: Bottom line
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Evan from Tallahassee, FL: