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O-Zone: Getting giddy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Roger from Jacksonville:
Hey, John, I've heard a lot of talk about Blake's fumble … how he should have thrown the ball quicker … but what if the linemen blocking for him would have blocked to the whistle?
John: This is sorta looking back, and we kinda don't do that after Tuesday. But it's also kinda about Bortles' decision-making, so it's sorta big picture, but whatever … Sure, if Bortles' protection was always perfect, then how long he holds the ball in some situations wouldn't be an issue – and his holding the ball too long has created some sacks. If protection was perfect on every play then a quarterback never would get sacked. But protection isn't going to be perfect in the NFL, and it's the quarterback's responsibility to minimize sacks given the opportunity. That's why teams build around quarterbacks – because over the long haul, they're the key to everything. I've said since the fumble occurred that Bortles' instincts on that play were good. You want him looking downfield and trying to make a play. He must do that in the long-term to be great. In the short-term, he has to get better finding the balance between waiting for the play to develop and making the right decision. That's what he will gain from experience. That's the process.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
I ran into the Allens a few weeks back at Metro Diner. They were definitely trying not to garner attention, but I had to at least say, "Hi." They were as gracious as could be. I was very impressed.
John: I'm not surprised. They get it.
Kevin from Palatka, FL:
John, if the Jags decide to go in a different direction from Wisniewski, do you see them more likely to move on to Luke Bowanko, or to dish out the money and to try again to get Alex Mack next season?
John: It's obviously early to speculate, but you did say "if" the Jags go in a different direction … So, "IF" that occurs, I'd guess the Jaguars would commit the money and make another run.
Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I know Shad Khan had the news conference in London, but don't you think he should address the fans here? Lose to the Ravens and I'm afraid the crowd might be embarrassing on Thursday night.
John: Shad Khan said what he had to say about the season, the coaching staff and all other things Jaguars in London. His thoughts that day were well-covered by the media that covers the Jaguars and people in Jacksonville had just as much opportunity to hear and read them as if he had said the things in Jacksonville, so … no, I honestly don't see a reason for him to do it again in the next few weeks.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
Had decent respect for you until I saw that you drive a Toyota.
John: I don't believe any part of that sentence.
Steve from Funytown:
The fact that without production from two playmakers on offense, Hurns and Thomas, we have still been able to score and be somewhat of a threat to opposing defenses says a lot about our offense. It's frustrating currently in the win/loss column but the future core is exciting on offense!
John: I assume you mean Marqise Lee and not Allen Hurns. That Hurns guy has been pretty darned productive this season … but yeah, considering the Jaguars only have been getting production from two of their top five receivers – Hurns, Robinson, Lee, Thomas and Rashad Greene – the offense thus far this season has been impressive.
Jorge from Edmonton, CA:
You keep saying Jermey Parnell is a good free-agent signing. He leads the league in quarterback pressures allowed. How can you possibly spin that as good?
John: First, asking "spin" questions is boring. Second, I never said Parnell has been a great signing; I said he has been a good signing who – like most free-agent signings by the Jaguars this past offseason – has improved the roster from what it was. Third, pressures are an objective statistic, so while he has allowed more than is ideal, the "statistic" hardly qualifies Parnell as being the worst in the league. Fourth, watching his film shows he's not a bad player. Fifth, the Jaguars' offensive line as a whole – while not perfect – clearly has improved enough to allow the offense to function. Sixth, Parnell has been a good run-blocker this season. Seventh … nah, never mind. My head is spinning.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
Fair to say that T.J. Yeldon lacks the home-run burst that Freddy and the sound MJD had? Not as a knock to T.J., just noting that those two had some real jets in their heyday.
John: Of course it's fair to say. That has been made clear from the moment Yeldon was drafted. He's not a breakaway running back. He isn't Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew. He's going to gain yards with quickness, vision and the ability to make people miss and he's probably not going to have many 80-yard runs. But he has shown the ability to break 25-to-30-yard runs – and the ability to be a very good NFL running back.
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
We need Kirby Smart as defensive coordinator.
John: OK.
Michael from Las Vegas, NV:
O-Man, in response to Adam's question, Gus is not the problem. He's growing as a coach just like the players are as players. Gus didn't fumble in the red zone. Gus didn't botch the punt reception. Gus didn't have the final say to overturn a bad call against Walters' catch on the sideline. 'Nuff Said. #DTWD
John: I know, but's just so fun and easy to blame coaching.
Dave from Duval:
Who do these fools think that we could replace Gus and Company with right now that is realistic and would make us better?
John: First off, no one calls O-Zone readers fools – except maybe me. Sometimes. On really bad days. And then only under my breath on the way to my quiet place. Second off, it doesn't matter what's realistic; what matters is CHA-A-A-A-A-A-ANGE!!!!! WE WANT CHA-A-A-A-A-A-ANGE!!!!!
Matt from Stroudsburg, PA:
To the fans blaming Gus Bradley for the team finding ways to lose, he isn't on the field trying to make plays. Gus didn't hold a defender in the red zone on first down. Gus didn't hold the ball too long on second down and get strip-sacked. Gus didn't muff a punt that could have led to a game-winning drive. The bottom line is this team is still a little too young and inexperienced to consistently make plays that make a coach look a whole lot better than when players are making mistakes. Players, not plays.
John: … but … but … but CHA-A-A-A-A-A-ANGE!!!!!
Paul from Jacksonville:
This young team is improving and that is a great sign ... I just can't get on board with the idea that it's acceptable to lose the games we have outside of New England and maybe Carolina because of youth. This was by design, that we went with youth ... that was the plan. You can't make a plan and then blame the results based on a plan that had a built-in excuse. The Jags had the money to spend to remedy the youth excuse and didn't spend it. They did enough in the offseason to make this team competitive. I'm glad the franchise is stable, but winning would stabilize the franchise more than cap space.
John: No one ever said losing was "acceptable," and this answer doesn't mean the Jaguars couldn't use a veteran or two around the roster. At the same time, if the youth that is going to be the core of this team is to develop, it must play. Say, for instance, the Jaguars had used cap money to sign the "veteran receiver" people wanted all offseason. I suppose that person would be playing over Allen Hurns or Allen Robinson? Probably not. Or would he be more productive than Bryan Walters? Defensively, the big pieces missing are a disruptive Leo pass rushers and disruptive safety. The Jaguars drafted Dante Fowler Jr. and pursued Devin McCourty. Fowler got hurt and McCourty re-signed with his former team, a team that happened to be the defending Super Bowl champion. Look, this team will improve and start winning when the core of this team is mature enough and experienced enough to be ready to win. You're not going to establish that core through free agency. It's going to be drafted and developed. The improvement you're seeing this season is a step toward that.
Neil from Gloucester:
John, I assume you do not answer my questions because I am from the UK. Is it your perception that we don't know enough about the NFL and the Jags to warrant a reply? If this is the case, let me know and I shall not bother you further.
John: Neil, I have no real idea how many emails I read a week when I write the O-Zone. It's more than 500 and less than a million. I do know I pay little attention to the name of the emailer or where the emailer is from. Unless, of course, it's Jerell from Columbia. Then I get giddy … like, you know, a schoolgirl.

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