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O-Zone: Burning sensation

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Game-day O-Zone.

Let's get to it … John from Jacksonville:
I find it very interesting how teams are labeled very good versus very bad by the simple measure of who makes one or two extra key mistakes in the course of 60 minutes of action. It's quite a generalization for such a fine line of difference between two opponents. Yes, some teams have a knack to win the close games more than others but, to me, defining a team as good or bad lies more to the full body of work/effort versus the fortune of getting that edge of the extra good play to win. Losing so much like the Jags have done this season sucks, but I don't place them in the category of being a "bad" team this season. They are about 10 total plays of being in the chase for the division lead, but that's the price of having a young team trying to get playing time together.
John: There's a lot of truth in this point, and I think it's indeed something that gets overlooked because the frustration of losing is so overwhelmingly … well, frustrating. Whereas two or three years ago the Jaguars were not "a play or two away" in most games, this season that's indeed the case. Does this mean the Jaguars are a good team? No. A 2-8 record is a bad record so the Jaguars are, in that sense, a bad team. But it's probably fair to put them in the category of an "ordinary bad team" rather than a "bad team with a long way to go" – the latter being the category they found themselves in 2013 and 2014. That means while things still need to get fixed, the fixes are perhaps not so difficult and might not take so long as was the case a few seasons ago. At the same time, remember: winning close games and making plays at the end of games to do so pretty much defines the NFL. If you can't do it, you're going to lose a lot more than you win.
Attila from Budapest, Hungary:
John, what is the eye problem precisely that keeps Chris Smith inactive? Did it happen in practice/game or off the field? Do you think he will be with the Jags next year?
John: Jaguars Leo defensive end Chris Smith sustained an eye injury against Kansas City November 6. The exact nature of the injury hasn't been revealed, but he has remained inactive because physical exertion and contact would put the eye at risk. I don't know if he will be with the Jaguars next season. But he has improved since his first two seasons and has a year remaining on his contract, so I'd be surprised if he's not in training camp in 2017.
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
I liked Jack Del Rio, and never thought he was a bad coach. He just gave up on the dumpster fire in Jax and got out of dodge.
John: I liked Del Rio, too. And he didn't give up in Jacksonville. He was fired.
Preston from Soeprasetyo:
O-Man, I completely understand those who want Blake Bortles to be benched. I don't agree, because I think he can overcome at least some of his issues. But how can ANYONE believe Chad Henne is a better option?
John: When starting quarterbacks struggle in the NFL people want to see backups play. I don't think benching Bortles is the answer, but that's why those who want to see Henne think that way.
Steven from Woodbine, GA:
Why is it that you are always right and the paying fans are always wrong? When was the last time you paid to watch the Jags lose? Whatever happened to the old saying "the CUSTOMER is always right?" It seems you treat your readers' thoughts as irrelevant and sometimes ignorant. I will admit that some of the comments are just that, but many of the fans have very good points to make and you just brush them off with either the company line or some other pointless response. Remember when the fans feel as if they don't have a voice, they will just lose interest as many already have. Help us out, John, with some true candid answers.
John: I was going to say something about not always being right, but I realized that was wrong. I was also going to say something about the irony of getting an email complaining that the fans don't have a voice in a forum specifically designed to … you know, give fans a voice … then I got caught up in the deliciousness of again being right and decided to take a nap. Before I napped, I remembered that my job is to answer questions and not to necessarily trying to accomplish the impossible task of answering every question in a manner that every reader likes. I unsurprisingly slept quite well.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach and Section 106:
It is said that football is a game of inches; I'd say it is also a game of split seconds. One consistent trait of very good quarterbacks is all have very quick releases. Philip Rivers with the wacky mechanics gets the ball out in the blink of an eye. Russell Wilson is a bit short but he releases the ball superfast. Ben Roethlisberger is built more like a linebacker – but bang, it's gone. It seems true of them all. So much has been said about Blake good and bad, mechanics, desire, on and on … I'm afraid his slow release is going to hold him back no matter what he does. It doesn't matter if he makes a great decision if the window closes. Do you think this is something that can be coached and drilled or is it just something the great ones are blessed with?
John: I don't know if quarterbacks are "blessed" with a quick release or if it's developed over time. I do know I agree that the great ones have it. I also believe it's something that can be improved upon. Whether Bortles will ever get it to the point where he reacts to what he sees and throws as quickly as the quarterbacks you mention … only time will tell, but it is a key issue.
Aaron from Duval:
Okay, hear me out. A team practices special teams and field goals and various other situations which happen only a couple times a game. Is it time for us to start spending more time practicing tackling after an interception? With the near guarantee of this happening a couple times a game now we might as well start practicing keeping them from being touchdowns, right?
John: I heard you out. I am now wiping away tears.
Hunter from Jacksonville Beach:
Be the spark, John. This team hangs on your every word. They look to you to lead. So lead.
John: Nah.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
O-Zone, in Blake's first season, due to his bad mechanics, he was an arm thrower (not using his body in his throws), which led him to admit that his arm was tired at the end of the year. With the mechanics regressing and the high number of passes that he's thrown this year, I'm afraid his arm is only going to deteriorate the rest of the season.
John: This is indeed something to watch. I haven't seen much this season to make me think Bortles' arm is getting tired. He actually seemed to throw better – with a quicker motion much of the time – for the most part the last few weeks since spending time with his quarterbacks guru, Adam Dedeaux. Will it deteriorate the rest of the season? I kind of doubt it – at least not as much as it did when he was a rookie – but we'll see.
Geoff from Jacksonville:
How long before Lee overtakes Robinson as WR1? That guy can play!
John: I think we're a ways from this – mainly because Robinson has shown since pretty much his rookie year that he can be consistent, productive and healthy over the long haul. Lee is starting to do that, but he hasn't quite reached Robinson's level of reliability. But the good news for Lee and the Jaguars is there's every indication he's still improving at a rapid pace. Considering his ability and his current level of play, that makes Lee's future as bright as any player on the roster.
Neal from New York:
I don't understand why no one is talking about Prince Amukamara. The guy has been playing lights-out the last few weeks and has done exactly what we brought him in to do. He was definitely worth the big contract. Do you think he earned a long-term contract and is on the team next year? Thanks.
John: I would try to re-sign Prince Amukamara for exactly the reasons you cite. Whether the Jaguars will do this or not only time will tell. At 2-8 very little about the coming offseason is yet certain.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
If I held your hands to the fire and asked you if Brandon Allen sees playing time at all this season what would you say?
John: Ow.

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