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O-Zone: Decent alternative

LONDON – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Nashville, TN

Can you please cite some more stats from last season and tell us that everything will be OK in 2018? Please?

No problem! Although looking up statistics can be loosely described as “work” – and therefore not something I do very often – I will on occasion cite statistics from various seasons, particularly when they make a valid point. As far as your second point, I can’t imagine doing that because I rarely – if ever – tell readers or viewers things will be OK. I don’t do this because it means predicting the future, which my failure to acquire a life-changing fortune through various state-run lottery mechanisms suggests I can’t do. So, if you can tell me where or when I’ve written or said such things, let me know. Reader tip No. 1: Don’t bother with this; it will take time/effort and ultimately prove fruitless. Reader tip No. 2: Actually reading what is written rather than angrily interpreting something the way you wish to interpret it enhances the ability to understand what someone writes. Reader tip No. 3: Writing that things are not lost and that a season must play out is not the same as writing that things are going to be “OK.” Reader tip No. 4: I’m not at all convinced the Jaguars are going to be OK the rest of the season, though I will continue to explain why things are happening. Reader tip No. 5: If you’re looking for someone to angrily say everyone making decisions is stupid, that everything the franchise has done in the last two years is wrong and that everyone who has been involved with any decision in the last two years should be fired, look somewhere else. There are plenty of places to read extreme, cliched, quick-trigger viewpoints. No need to frustrate yourself by not finding it here.

Neaglesticks from Doylestown, PA

Hi, John - longtime reader, first-time question asker. Head Coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday [running back Leonard] Fournette, [cornerback D.J.] Hayden and [tight end James] O'Shaughnessy "will be with us and we're pushing those players to play." Can a team push an injured player to play or does the CBA dictate how a team can clear someone? I'm curious as to what Marrone meant when he said they would be pushed to play.

What Marrone meant is that the Jaguars and the player will do everything within reason to get the player on the field. Players usually want to play and teams want them to play. If there is disagreement on whether a player can play, a player can get a second medical opinion. As Marrone often has said, he depends on the opinion of the doctors and the player in these situations, with the ultimate decision being that of the player.

Nate from St. Petersburg, FL

Hey John, do you think all these loud-mouthed "fans" were this LOUD a few months back when Blake ran for 88 yards one week, dropped 45 on Pittsburgh the next, and then led his team to a 10-point lead in Foxboro before the defense completely collapsed? I bet no one was smelling the poop coming then.

A lot of people actually always complain about Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. Even when the Jaguars were succeeding last season, his critics were always waiting to pounce. And that’s fine. He’s not a great NFL quarterback. Sometimes he struggles. Sometimes he is really good. Sometimes he’s just OK. He has flaws. They’re well-documented. He also has strengths, and the Jaguars rightly or wrongly chose to go forward with those strengths complementing what was expected to be a balanced running game and passing game. When the Jaguars made the AFC Championship Game last season, the plan was good. When the team beat New England this season and started 3-1, the plan was good. When the team lost three consecutive games after a slew of injuries on offense, the plan was not good. Welcome to life, I guess.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

Instead of trying to defy the trends in the NFL by focusing on this power-run approach, maybe it is time to accept this is a passing-first league geared towards effective passing with supplement running. Yeah, I know O-man: We don't have an elite quarterback, but how many drafts have we wasted missing these elite quarterbacks? Since it appears we are going to be pretty high in the draft list, General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone better be considering drafting a quarterback because Blake is not the answer. And frankly I don't know what the answer is; we have not seen a consistent, competitive, talented quarterback since Mark Brunell. Given the window on this team is closing quick, perhaps trading for a proven quarterback is the best move. Don't know. I just know Blake isn't the long-term answer.

If the Jaguars play the rest of the season as they have the last three games, it might be time for that approach. It may have been the time for that approach in the 2017 offseason, though it’s remarkable how quiet the critics were in January 2018 compared to loud they are now. It was difficult to say the 2018 offseason was the time for that approach because the Jaguars were drafting low in the first round and believed the formula they used to make the AFC Championship Game the previous season could be a successful one. If they finish with an abysmal record this season and get the accompanying early draft selection, then yes … perhaps it will be time to select a quarterback. We’ll see.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, there have been times that our 3-4 record would have been better than I had expected. This is not one of those times. Do you think we can turn this thing around?

I’m skeptical that they can – not because of lack of desire, or motivation, or work, or coaching, or talent. I don’t know that this offense in its current state can generate enough points to win consistently. Perhaps they can. Odder things have happened in the NFL.

Evan from Section37

It looks like the last four first-round picks for the Jaguars are either busts or not significant contributors with the exception of cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Do you think in retrospect that end Taven Bryan, running back Leonard Fournette and end Dante Fowler were worth the picks? The draft experts said we should have picked a quarterback, Leonard Williams and a wide receiver that was available each of those years. Had we picked those, we would have had a few more playmakers and been better off. What do you think of our drafting of first round picks over the last five years?

Draft experts operate on hindsight, which is obviously 20-20. I’m not big on the go-back-and-see-who-the-Jaguars-could-have-had game. My experience is no general manager stands up to that test. Every general manager has selections they would love to do over again. A lot of the Jaguars’ Top 5 selections in recent seasons haven’t been as good as some players selected after them. Would I rather have Patrick Mahomes, Leonard Williams than the players the Jaguars selected those years? Perhaps. I also wish I would have picked the winning Mega Millions numbers. I didn’t – as evidenced by this column appearing as usual in recent days. A lot of other people didn’t either. (And by the way, Fowler’s not a bust and is a significant contributor, Fournette has been injured and has contributed significantly, and Bryan is in his first season).

Chris from Section 437

Hi John, I know we are on our third or fourth left tackle, but what happened to the rest of the offensive line? That was supposed to be a strength this season.

The line indeed was supposed to be more of a strength than it has been this season. Part of the issue has been the injuries at left tackle, and the loss of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins – and every other tight end with which the Jaguars entered the season – hurt, too. The loss of wide receiver Marqise Lee hurt in the running game, and remember: Every starting offensive lineman other than the left tackle has missed or been limited in practice at various times this season. I get that those sound like excuses, but injuries have played a role in how this offense has played.

Jim from Jagsonville

John, at times like these do you miss the Dead Zone?

Not really. Because I do the O-Zone daily on a year-round basis, I find that different parts of the season are interesting for different reasons. The so-called Dead Zone of June or July is sometimes “drier” than other times of the year for football questions, but some silliness and off-topic questions usually get us through unscathed (at least for those of us who don’t take ourselves too seriously). This time of year is interesting because of the fans’ passion – sometimes well-reasoned and sometimes “not so well-reasoned.” Either way, it’s interesting and entertaining. And hell, it’s better than working.

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