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O-Zone: Just plain awesome

JACKSONVILLE – Thanksgiving Day O-Zone.

Let's get to it … Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
Have you been around a situation when a player gets "injured" in order to give him a mental break without officially "benching" the player for a short time? Is it something you can share with the O-Zone followers?
John: I can't say I've been around that situation, though if I had been around it I certainly would share it. And I certainly don't see this happening with Blake Bortles this season. While I believe he absolutely will benefit from an offseason to reflect, refocus, restart, review and start to apply all he learns this season, that process is for the offseason and not for Weeks 13-17. It is an interesting point your question raises, though: is Bortles overwhelmed mentally with everything moving far too fast? I imagine there is an element of that because there is an element of that with all rookie quarterbacks. At the same time, I don't know that it's "overwhelming" Bortles – just as it's not necessarily accurate to scream that "Jedd Fisch is holding the young kid back!!!!" every time a pass doesn't go downfield. If you don't have time to let patterns develop downfield and drop back five or seven steps it's extremely hard to have confidence – or to throw downfield. It's also really tough to call those plays. That's not to say Bortles' confidence is sky high or that he's seeing things as clearly as he will next season – just as it's not to say Fisch hasn't made mistakes this season— but there are many factors involved, not just one or two.
Doug from Section 118:
I get it: losing sucks and we should be making more progress this late in the season. But why are season-ticket holders throwing in the towel now? Our defense played very well against a Top 5 offense and just blew one big play. The offense consists of a majority of young kids who have been thrown into the fire, but are getting valuable time working together. The special teams are woefully bad, but that is fixable as the roster gains depth. A schedule against lesser teams in December will be a truer test. What was my question again?
John: Your question was about why fans are throwing in the towel. Because they're frustrated and they're tired of losing, that's why. I suspect most aren't actually quitting on the team and that most are voicing frustration. As for that frustration … I get it. I'm frustrated, too. I'd rather answer emails about 6-5 than 1-10, too, but that's we are, so that's where we are. #insight
Daniel from Windsor Heights, IA:
I said it before and I stick by it … if the Jags pick three offensive linemen in the first three rounds I'd be OK with that.
John: I don't think that's necessary. The offensive line obviously has to play better, and I've said before that it wouldn't shock me to see a personnel change or two. And I certainly would see the logic of drafting elite talent up front. But I also think the play of individuals can improve with experience, and cohesion overall on offense. On Sunday, for example, Indianapolis' effectiveness blitzing was a huge issue. The offensive line needs to do a better job recognizing there, but Bortles can, too. Handling blitzes is absolutely something that can improve with experience, and something that should improve with time.
Ron from Jacksonville Beach:
John, you remind me of a "White House Press Secretary" ... Always having to make excuses for someone else's screw ups. Face it man, you are constantly trying to defend a terrible team! There is NO excuse for this team to be this bad 12 weeks into the season! PERIOD!!!
John: Contrary to the opinions of many, I actually don't feel I spend a whole lot of time "defending." People ask questions, and I answer best I can. There are times that involves writing things that frustrate people, such as when I write that the Jaguars started this build from a very low point and that building from that point takes longer than people want. It also frustrates people when I note that the Jaguars' offense is phenomenally young and that it will take time for those players to grow. That's not as much "defending" as writing reality, and I do understand the reality. The Jaguars aren't good. I'm certainly not saying they're good. Teams with 1-10 records aren't good. They might have potential. They might have players who can improve. They might have a way to grow in the future. But they are not good.
Mary from Jacksonville and Section 104:
I was listening to the radio and everyone was calling for the offensive coordinator and other coaches to be fired. At the same time they want to see improvement in Blake. How would a coaching change, especially on offense, impact Blake's development? I would think that starting over with a new offense to learn might put a kink in things. Your thoughts.
John: My thoughts are that's the question you must ask when you start talk about changing coordinators, particularly with a quarterback coming off his rookie season. Learning new systems can set a young player back, so the only way you'd want to do it is if you believe a change of coordinators and a change in system would benefit the player enough to outweigh the negative of having to the process start over. That's not suggesting a change will take place, but that's the dilemma.
John from Saint Cloud, FL:
It seems to me Coach Bradley's positive approach and encouraging press conferences since rookie camp, OTAs, and regular season may have raised fan expectations beyond what is reasonable for the talent and maturity level of our Jaguars. But I prefer the positive to what I see from the team from Washington, where the quarterback blames his poor performance on others and the head coach rips the quarterback's performance in great detail at a press conference. How difficult would your job be if the Jaguars conducted themselves like that Washington team?
John: I'm sure Bradley's positivity helped raise expectations, though in Bradley's defense he never, ever, ever, ever talks about records. He does talk about improving, but he talks about it as part of his coaching philosophy, and I've never heard him talk in terms of guarantees or predictions. He's smart enough to know you can't predict things, and that with this building process, the only approach was to try to improve constantly over time. As for the second part of your question, I don't know what it would be like to work for Washington. I do know that however the Jaguars handle themselves in those situations I write it and we discuss it, then move onto the next day. That's what you do in our positions.
Thomas from Madison, WI:
It appears there are no bright spots on the offense outside of Allen Robinson. I'm exhausted from rooting for an inept team. Please give a reason outside of youth to be excited about the future of the offense because one year of experience probably won't make the improvement you're talking about. We just haven't seen any evidence of the possibility of that improvement.
John: I understand your exhaustion, enough so that I almost didn't even mention that exhaustion can be … well, exhausting. But while I understand your perspective, I'm not sure I agree. The offensive line did show some signs of being able to block for the run this season and Blake Bortles did show some signs early. Denard Robinson certainly showed signs for a few games, and Marqise Lee has shown a flash or two. All of those things haven't been enough to make the Jaguars good this season, but can a young player and a young group of players improve in the NFL? Yes, it can, and a few additions in the right spots can, too. Again, I'm not thinking the Jaguars will be the No. 1-rated offense in the NFL next season, but a group of players this young can – and should – improve over the course of an offseason.
David from Duval:
I knew you wouldn't answer my question from yesterday. It doesn't fit your narrative and contradicts the nonsense you've been preaching the last 12 weeks. Go ahead O-Zone, keep feeding us the corporate line, but most of us have been around this team a lot longer than you and we've see this show before. Quit with the excuses.
John: Wow, David, I must admit: you are one tough hombre … I mean really, really to-o-o-ogh. Funny story, I actually saved your question from Tuesday to use Thanksgiving morning because I thought to myself when reading it, "Self, this is the awesomest, bestest, most insightful, hardest-hitting, well-researched, to-o-o-oughest, manliest question you've ever received in the O-Zone, so it must be used on a holiday because THIS QUESTION is too good to use on a regular day." Then I re-read it and thought, "Nah."
Stefanie from Richmond, VA:
You may have the hardest job in the organization. The players catch a lot of grief on social media, but the truly hateful comments are saved for your inbox.
John: Thanks, Stephanie, but let's keep perspective. Some Mondays aren't easy, but other days I get emails like the one from David, and I realize … hey, this is AWESOME!!!

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