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O-Zone: History lesson

JACKSONVILLE – Here's one for Bluto.

Let's get to it … Dakota from Dupree, SD:
O-man, what is your take on letting the rookie quarterback throw it 36 times while only running it 15 plays?
John: My take is it's easy to criticize play-calling, and that it's darned sure going to get criticized when you're 0-5. First, Blake Bortles checked into seven of those passing plays Sunday from called runs, so the actual play-calling from offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch was more balanced than at first glance. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, incidentally, said this week there might be thought given to calling some run-only plays where Bortles is "discouraged" from changing the play. Second, when the running game is struggling and you're trying to get into good down-and-distance situations, there's a tendency to try to get into a play you think will work rather than beating your head against a wall trying to establish the run. I expect the run-pass ratio to balance out as the line and running game improves.
Ben from Section 101:
Gus Bradley is no better of a head coach than Kevin Gilbride, would you agree?
John: I think it's far too early to tell where Bradley ranks in the pantheon of this great game's leaders.
Robert from West Milton, OH:
The Germans didn't bomb Pearl Harbor. That was Japan.
John: This is going to be fun.
Al from Gainesville, FL:
The Germans? Please tell me that was an attempt at humor. If not, you probably failed American History.
John: What?
Ralph from Orange Park, FL:
For all my 70 years, I thought it was the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor. Thanks for the update!
John: No worries.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Umm ... The Germans didn't bomb Pearl Harbor. If they did, we might have really been in trouble ...
John: Wait! What?
Greg from Section 233:
I'm not going to take this laying down. Not me! Werner he's a dead man! Marmalard dead! Neidermeier......
John: Dead.
Ryan from World History class:
The Germans bombed Pearl Harbor??? Guess we really need to apologize to Japan.
John: Or to John Belushi and John Landis.
Rob from Fleming Island, FL:
Nice Animal House reference there, Johnny! I take it I won't be the only one to have caught it.
John: No, but almost.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
I like Posluszny, but if the plan is to build through the draft do the Jaguars trade him to get a draft pick? Same with Lewis, Clemons or Bryant? Not sure who we would waste the new draft picks on but there are definitely thousands of college players available to pick from.
John: Five games into the season … yes, that's about the time we start playing, "Trade the veterans for draft selections!" While the Jaguars did this with Eugene Monroe last season, and with wide receiver Mike Thomas a few years back, it's not guaranteed that a team can trade veterans even if management is so inclined. Most teams are reluctant to give up draft picks for players who can't provide immediate impact or who potentially can be core players for the foreseeable future. You might be able to get sixth-or-seventh-round selections for the players you mentioned, but probably not much more. So, while I wouldn't rule out a trade involving one of the players, I wouldn't hold my breath, either.
Johnny from Orlando, FL:
It looks like we are trying to be a college team: Develop players for four years, then kick them out into the world so they can succeed elsewhere. How is that a rebuilding strategy for the Jaguars? Seems more like a strategy to rebuild for NFL teams needing spot players with four years experience and a low price tag …. Every year we will lose players we drafted to "rebuild" and then we will throw in more rookies to fail at trying to win games. Am I right?
John: No, you are not.
Kevin from Charlotte, NC:
Are these e-mailers really calling for the head coach's head? Seriously? Ask Cleveland or Oakland how the revolving coach system works. This is not going to happen overnight (obviously). We have a fantastic foundation on which to build and an owner who lets the football people do their jobs. We are very fortunate and good times are coming. Calling out the coach, the general or the play calling by the offensive coordinator is just wasted air. #dontwasteyourair
John: When teams are 0-5, head coaches get questioned. So do general managers and offensive coordinators … and, well, pretty much everyone. That's OK. They're professionals. They can handle it. They're also not naïve enough to think that they wouldn't get questioned in the tough times. But you're right that a revolving coach system isn't the way to go. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan gets that, and realizes this is a long process in which a roster must be built. As far as the air, it's fine to waste it, but all that breath isn't going to change the fact that the team is committed to this process.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, dropped balls and penalties, please make them stop.
John: I'll make some calls.
Nate from Holmes Beach, FL:
Do you see the Jags bringing in some veteran free agents this offseason? It seems to have helped the defensive line this season. Seems a veteran defensive back or wide receiver could show these guys a thing or two. Maybe help them develop a bit quicker. I'm thinking a guy or two who could help these young guys get over the hump.
John: I expect the Jaguars to bring in a more high-profile free agent or two this coming offseason than they did the past two offseasons. But I don't think it will be a case of arbitrarily signing a veteran corner or wide receiver just for the sake of showing the young guys a thing or two. I'd expect them to try to sign an impact player who can provide a swagger and confidence that a young team sometimes needs. A tight end? Maybe. An outside linebacker? Perhaps? A lot of those decisions will be predicated on how the rest of the season plays out and where the team targets its biggest positions of need. But don't give up on this wide receiver group yet. By the end of the season, it could be a strong enough area where people aren't clamoring to address it in free agency.
Bill from Mandarin, FL:
It seems to meet that Caldwell dropped the ball this preseason by not providing capable veterans in both the receiving corps and the secondary for the younger players to learn from. I understand building through the draft is essential to long-term success but the lack of stable experience is glaring. Do you think the Jags will be more active in the free agent market this offseason?
John: The lack of experience is glaring, but I'm wondering what capable veterans people want. That's not to be snide, but the Jaguars have Cecil Shorts III on the wide receiver corps, who while he has had health concerns is a fine locker-room/meeting room leader. They also have wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. Should they have signed an overpriced veteran to take time away from young players? They also have Alan Ball at cornerback, who is experienced and a quality leader. Yes, I think the Jaguars will be more active in the free agent market this offseason, but you still have to make sure you're getting on-field production at least relatively commiserate to what you're paying.
Jim from Meridian, ID:
To me, on Sunday, it appeared our biggest need on defense is weak and strong side linebackers. Your thoughts?
John: My thoughts are that linebacker could be addressed in a major way in the offseason. We'll see. Eleven games remain in this season.
Ben from Section 101:
If we win two or three games this season, do you see Mr. Khan bringing Gus back? Or do you feel Mr. Khan understands the rebuilding process?
John: Yes. Yes.
Scott from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
If we lose more games than last year, how can anyone say we have improved over last year? The real test in the NFL is wins and losses. If we have more losses than last year, is our team worse than last year or is last year completely discounted and we have to wait an extra year or two on the rebuild? On a positive side, this was the first home game in about three years now where it was actually entertaining and I felt that my ticket money was not wasted.
John: I have covered this ground relatively often, but here we go: Yes, the NFL is about victories and losses, but the Jaguars are also trying to build a roster that can compete over the long haul. The team last season won four very close games and didn't compete in that many other than that, which means it was a long way from being a playoff team. If this year's team wins three, four or five games and is more competitive with more established core players by the end of the season, then the Jaguars have improved over last season. I get that not everyone will see it that way. That's OK. Some people think I really believe the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, too. Anyone call tell you it was the French.

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