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O-Zone: Color coordination

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Kevin from Jacksonville:
While I agree it's the players' jobs to execute the plays, I do think coaching has much more of an influence than is being given credit. The coaches decide which players are on the field, so – for example – when you have an 'otherworldly' talent in Myles Jack on the bench because Dan Skuta is five pounds heavier ... that's a coaching decision. When we get a first-half lead and try to squat on it, that is a coaching decision. I think it's disheartening for the players to hear all week that our goal is to be aggressive and compete, which is great, but then on Sunday we changed our tune and were calling very conservative games.
John: Coaching indeed has an influence, and there's no question it's the coaches' decision to play Dan Skuta at Otto linebacker in run situations. I'm not a huge fan of that because it's probably time to see the rookie full-time. Still, considering the Jaguars' defense has played at a pretty high level it's hard to argue vehemently against the decision. The approach being taken offensively is trickier. I absolutely think that at some point you have to let Blake Bortles and this offense try to make plays downfield. He can't be a big-time NFL quarterback with such an obvious emphasis on the screen pass and back-shoulder throws. At the same time, you're talking about a quarterback who has struggled with interceptions fairly significantly. It's not hard to see why coaches would scheme to avoid that.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
John: Sure, why not?
Raymond from Jacksonville:
John: "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." Please stop. The only time the words "franchise" and "Bortles" should be in the same sentence is if he buys a McDonald's franchise with the money the Jags have needlessly paid him.
John: I didn't write that I believe Bortles is destined to be a franchise quarterback. The results of his first three seasons don't suggest that. But there is a limited pool of potential franchise quarterbacks, and the vast majority of those players are the property of other teams. Bortles has some attributes that still give him a chance to be a franchise quarterback – and he did some things in 2015 that also made it appear he could be that. The reason you continue to start him through this season is there is still a belief in the building that could happen. At some point very soon there will be conversations with head-coaching candidates on the matter – and the person who is selected will have input into Bortles' role and future with the Jaguars. That's when the Jaguars' approach with Bortles could change. But I don't see it changing in the next two weeks.
Chris from Houston, TX:
John, stop the love affair with Gus. When you lose as much as he did, then who really cares how nice you are or that he is a "good man?" For the last two days all you posted are the "We will miss you, good man Gus – even though you consistently lost game after game." Time to move on from losing Gus as Shad should've done weeks ago. My question is, "What is the tone in the locker room now?" I think that since now the dead weight of Gus is finally off their backs, that the team will come out and play inspired football.
John: Thank you for the input, Chris. I'll go ahead and keep answering questions in the O-Zone to the best of my ability, and I'll keep appreciating and incorporating your input when appropriate. I'll also laud someone for being a good man pretty much when I see fit – though I can check with you on that front if necessary. As far as the tone in the locker room, let's just say the Jaguars' players didn't consider Bradley dead weight – and whatever their issues have been this season, inspiration or effort hasn't been among them.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I'm looking at the latest stats. Out of the Top 6 sacks leaders in the NFL, five are linebackers. With our players, wouldn't a 3-4 defense make sense? Malik and Yannick at end and Roy/Sen'Derrick at nose tackle. OLBs Telvin, Dante. ILBs Poz and Myles. Didn't Fowler play standing up a lot at Florida? Any thoughts?
John: This is an idea that's getting floated a lot, and I have nothing philosophically against a 3-4 defensive scheme. The overriding problem with the idea for the Jaguars is it really doesn't solve their issue of how to get linebackers Paul Posluszny, Myles Jack and Telvin Smith on the field at the same time. While Dante Fowler Jr. indeed would fit into a 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker, Jack, Posluszny and Smith are more inside linebackers in that scheme.
Ben from Jacksonville:
How many games does Blake have to lose before David Caldwell and this staff loses faith in him? The guy has done more to lose games than to win. He should not be our quarterback next year. Hearing Caldwell's presser it worries me that he's going to hire a coach that agrees with him and wants to keep Bortles. Can you say Gabbert 2.0?
John: We're not there yet.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
Mr. O, please correct me if my facts are wrong. The Jaguars are using Myles Jack at the strong-side linebacker position in base packages. When it looks like a power-running formation, or an obvious running situation, they bring in Dan Skuta. However, in obvious passing situations, they switch to the nickel package, and take the strong-side linebacker out for a third cornerback. Now, if this is the case – and you want your best players on the field – why don't they move Jack to middle linebacker and take Poz out in the nickel package? His sideline-to-sideline speed and playmaking ability needs to be on the field when the opponent is airing it out.
John: Your facts are correct about how Jack and Skuta are being used, and I think that putting Jack on the field in nickel situations is something that will be done in the future. For now, the thought among the coaches is that Paul Posluszny is playing at such a high level that they don't want to take him out of the nickel package.
Alan from Jacksonville:
It's hard to believe we were one injury away from playing Ben Koyack at offensive tackle. I blame our lack of drafting at least one offensive lineman last year. It seems like we were scoring in the third round with Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann, so why did we stop there? Just to handle attrition it would seem smart to at least draft one or two offensive line every year ... and not just in Rounds 6 or 7. It's why we can't run the ball. I can't think of a great team that didn't have an outstanding offensive line. To me this is, well, offensive.
John: The Jaguars were an injury away from playing Koyack at offensive tackle Sunday because they had in-game injuries that sidelined first Jeremiah Poutasi then Josh Wells. They opted to leave Luke Bowanko inactive Sunday, which meant they had seven offensive linemen active. Because Wells was a swing tackle, they entered the game with a backup at tackle (Wells) and a backup at center/guard (Tyler Shatley). This is not an uncommon approach in the NFL – and carrying seven offensive linemen in a game isn't uncommon either. It has nothing to do with how many offensive linemen the Jaguars have drafted. As for drafting an offensive lineman or two every year, I'm all for it but you can only draft so many players each year and there's attrition at a lot of positions. There's no question the offensive line must improve, though. I expect it to be a major area of offseason focus – at left guard, right tackle and perhaps more. Still, that issue doesn't have anything to do with Koyack nearly playing tackle Sunday; that was a result of a run of injuries.

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