O-Zone: Days gone by

JACKSONVILLE – Look-Ahead Wednesday? Already? Why, yes it is.

Let's get to it …

Jason from St. Augustine, FL:
Been a huge fan since '95. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Coach Gus and I was super-excited about possibly having a franchise quarterback in Blake Bortles. After this season, I have no clue how anyone can say how either one should stay with the team. I believe we have a great nucleus; special teams is easily fixed with coaching. Unfortunately, finding a great head coach and franchise quarterback are not. That's what worries me going forward.
John: Finding "great" anythings is difficult. That's particularly true in professional sports because teams don't often let people who are great at what they do go willingly, so you must project and speculate whether you think someone will become great when hiring or drafting them. As far as why Bortles should stay with the team, the reason is that while he has struggled in what he has correctly called a "nightmare" season, it's difficult to know if those struggles are all him or if other factors such as route running, miscommunications, pass rush, play-calling, scheme, lack of running game, etc., etc., etc. are contributing. The body of work this season is not good, but the NFL is rarely just one thing – and there are factors that contribute to any player's success or failures. He also has shown enough in three seasons that it's not completely unreasonable to believe he can become a good quarterback. The guess here is he will have at least another offseason – and very possible another season - to show he can become that. Considering the difficulty of finding a great player at the position, it makes sense to at least give him a chance to be in competition for the starting quarterback job. Will he develop into a great quarterback? Who knows? But I don't believe his window has closed – and I believe he can and should get that opportunity here.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
With all three phases of the game failing, it's just another strike against Bradley. Yet another way to lose. It's ridiculous at this point to blame it on anything but coaching.
John: It's always coaching in the NFL. It's ridiculous to think otherwise.
Brian from Section 238:
He calls the snap count, but can't remember it less than 15 seconds later. We might as well call him Blaike Gartles.
John: Things are a mess right now. What many players on this team need is a chance to get into the offseason, reset and restart. It has been that kind of month and that kind of season.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, how much of the D's resurgence can be attributed to Monte Kiffin's input?
John: Having Kiffin on staff certainly hasn't hurt. He is a wise head who has seen and forgotten more about defense than many NFL coaches know. But the Jaguars have improved the talent on defense this season, and these players believe strongly in Todd Wash as coordinator. Don't overlook those last two factors.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
How come after a safety they punt the ball for the kickoff instead of just doing a regular kickoff?
John: Better hang time.
Jimmy from Section 007:
Part of me understands our ownership making not make a coaching change midseason. Another part of me continues to watch the same, if not worse, lack of attention to detail and wonders if ownership realizes our tickets have been devalued by that decision. Our coaches, players and fans have been in a "lame-duck" situation since that decision. Our stadium has been taken over by the visiting team and we can't announce the offense during pregame anymore in fear of thunderous boos. Most business entities can't afford this kind sustained inferior performance. The NFL is obviously different, but I continue to show up in hopes of a return on my investment, only to leave after taking my weekly swift kick in the gut by this organization.
John: Ownership and the people running the Jaguars' organization well understand that these are brutally tough times for fans. It ain't easy for the organization, either. Right now it's a matter of getting through this time and figuring out the plan moving forward. That doesn't make this time pleasant. It doesn't make it less dark. But it won't last forever. It just won't.
Ethan from Rhode Island:
If Gus goes, I'll be 50/50 on how to feel: excited for the future, disappointed that the players will have to move on to a new voice, just as they seemed to be truly hearing it. If he's let go, I worry the new coach would likely install a new offense and start this thing all over again. Or even worse, bring in a new defensive coordinator and kill the progress on that side of the ball. Would you see Dave Caldwell (if he hires a new coach) keeping Todd Wash and/or Nathaniel Hackett on board as part of the deal?
John: I don't know what the offseason will bring. I wish I did.
Brian from Staten Island, NY:
You wrote recently that you don't see Julius Thomas coming back next year. Do you think Ben Koyack has shown enough in a small sample size that he can be an effective pass-catching tight end in this league, and where will they leave Marcedes Lewis in this scheme?
John: I don't know what the offseason will bring. I wish I did. But I do think that Ben Koyack and Neal Sterling are starting to show serious signs of being quality NFL tight ends – and I don't think Marcedes Lewis is done with this organization.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
This is a team playing in quicksand.
John: It has felt that way at times this season.
Duh from Jacksonville:
Not every pass rusher is unpolished his rookie season. See: Von Miller, 11.5 sacks.
John: I've never said every pass rusher is unpolished his rookie season. See: Pretty much every time I've talked about rookie pass rushers.
Sebastian from Poland:
Rams fired Fisher after giving him a contract extension a couple of weeks ago. I guess they don't agree with letting the team burn until all movement has stopped and there is no sign of life. You gotta ride these things out to the end, right John?
John: You don't gotta do anything. Shad Khan has chosen this path and he doesn't believe in midseason coaching changes. What the Rams do has no bearing on that decision. Nor should it.
Robert from Kentucky:
But there was a polished pass rusher at the top of the draft last year. One that had far superior athleticism and college production than Fowler, one that is now leading the NFL with 13.5 sacks and 7 forced fumbles in just his second season.
John: OK.
Cathy from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Are the Jaguars coaches misusing some players? For example, I can't understand why Myles Jack is hardly ever on the field while Dan Skuta gets the majority of snaps. Secondly, were Julius Thomas's skills properly utilized before he went to injured reserve? It seems like the Jags coaches tried to make him into an overweight blocking tight end who ran short routes when he had great success as a receiving tight end running longer routes. Do you agree?
John: Jack and Skuta have pretty much split snaps since Jack took over as the starter. Skuta did get 23 snaps compared to 12 for Jack against the Vikings, but the thought process behind that was to play Skuta against "heavy personnel" – and the Vikings were in that personnel enough that Skuta got the majority of the snaps. As far as Thomas, coaches did not try to make him a blocking tight end. They wanted him to be a receiving tight end and an integral part of the offense. The integral part did not happen, although it wasn't for a lack of desire on the part of either party.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
I still see effort. These young men will be special if we can keep them together and we show patience. It's hard for all.
John: Effort isn't the issue and it never has been under Bradley. But right now, the Jaguars are 2-11 and effort isn't enough. Winning was needed, and it hasn't happened.
Grant from Chicago, IL:
Seems like with free agents like Jared Odrick and Julius Thomas out the door along with the coaching staff ... could be another Jaguars overhaul all over again. O-Man, you excited?!? New content to spin!!
John: Whatever happens in the offseason I don't think this roster will need an overhaul close to the extent that took place in 2013. As far as my excitement level over what takes place this offseason, I don't know … I'll probably just keep answering questions to the best of my ability as honestly as I can – you know, what I usually do.
Andy from Jacksonville:
Tonight I watched old Jags highlights on the YouTube. My girlfriend said it was like watching old wedding videos just after getting divorced. I told her it was not about crying about the past, but getting fired up for the future. DTWD
John: Last night I watched old girlfriend highlights on YouTube. My wife told me it was like watching old girlfriend highlights just before getting divorced. "What?" I said. "Nothing," she said.

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