O-Zone: Just win

JACKSONVILLE – Game-day O-Zone.

Let's get to it …

Derrick from Jacksonville:
I understand that a team loses as whole and no one man is entirely responsible. However, in my opinion turnovers kill a team – and Blake Bortles has killed this team with his untimely interceptions. The meeting with Allen Robinson says a lot. My question is: at what point does the coach sit Blake Bortles? In my opinion, his turnovers are having a damaging affect mentally on the rest of the team regardless of what is presented to the public.
John: I have written for pretty much the last two months that turnovers – and specifically, turnover ratio – have been the main issue facing this team. I also have written that I believe the Jaguars would be hovering around .500 if Bortles had fewer turnovers and was making better decisions in the pocket. That said, I never have gotten a feeling the Jaguars will sit Bortles this season – nor do I get a sense that they are close to this decision. Bortles is the Jaguars' starting quarterback for now and the future – and the franchise is not ready to give up on that. I don't know whether that will change in the offseason, but that's how it feels now – and until that feeling changes, you don't bench the quarterback. Do the turnovers have an effect mentally? Yeah, probably – because they are leading to losing and losing has an effect mentally. Still, I believe Bortles will start the final four games barring further injury. We'll see.
James from Elizabeth, NJ:
Will the Jags go running back in the draft?
John: I don't know.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-Zone, who's toting the rock for the Jags Sunday and why didn't we sign Joe Blow off the street?
John: It appears T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant will be available Sunday with Chris Ivory as a game-time decision. As far as not signing Blow … is he healthy? How much would he demand for a signing bonus?
Travis from On the Beach at Hanna Park:
Big 'O,' as I watched the game Thursday night between the Chiefs and Raiders, I was intrigued by Alex Smith's accuracy. I've never been a fan of Smith and his reputation for being a game manager and not a playmaker (I prefer my quarterbacks to be the latter), but I was amazed and a little jealous that Smith put the ball right in his target's hands every time. His receivers didn't have to lay their bodies out to snag a relatively routine 15-yard pass. They didn't have to stop in the middle of a five-yard crossing route to try catch a pass thrown behind them and at their knees. I didn't see the Kansas City receivers have to unnecessarily display their freakish vertical jumping skills to prevent yet another overthrow from their quarterback. The Jaguar playmakers are good, and our offense would be difficult to stop if we had a quarterback that could just throw the ball with accuracy. With all other things being equal (pocket presence, footwork, reading schemes), which one of these two attributes is more valuable in the NFL: Arm strength or accuracy? I say accuracy.
John: I agree. I also would put arm strength below pocket presence, football, reading schemes, etc., in terms of importance. A quarterback's arm must be strong enough to make all NFL throws, and there is a threshold below which a quarterback's arm can't drop. For example, if he can't get velocity on the ball to avoid cornerbacks jumping a sideline route it's very hard for a quarterback to make it in the NFL. But if a quarterback has a reasonably strong arm, then arm strength is pretty low on the list of meaningful attributes.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Maybe the Jags will win another game? So, you're saying there is a chance. Well, all righty then.
John: All righty.
Richard from Myrtle Beach, SC:
Can we stop paying top free-agent money to players from good teams? They look great because they play on really good teams. Denver has unloaded Beadles, Thomas and Jackson on us. No difference-makers. I'd rather have a standout on a losing team.
John: You were making a lot of sense until you wrote "Jackson." At that point, you sort of became phenomenally incorrect.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
Any chance Poz will make the Pride of the Jags one day? He has the results and character and defined the Jaguars' defense for years.
John: Yeah, I'd say there's a chance. I wouldn't call it in any way a dead-solid lock guarantee, but I wouldn't rule it out.
Don from Richmond, VA:
The Jags coached Derek Carr at the Senior Bowl, so they had first-hand experience with the kid. They chose not to pick him in the first or second round. What does that say about their ability to evaluate players? Right now, the Raiders look much more smart than my Jags. That sucks. (No caps or exclamation points because I don't want your snarky comments about those.)
John: I was getting really excited about my response to this, then I realized you didn't use CAPITAL LETTERS or exclamation points!!!! I then realized you must not have been very passionate about your thoughts and I decided to just post a snarky comment.
David from Oviedo, FL:
"Your theory assumes officials enter games wanting one team or the other to win." Yes, that is exactly the claim. However, I submit the ref's motivation is not to punish the Jags, but to promote the big-money teams, like the Cowboys, Patriots, and Packers. Maybe those teams are the lifeblood of the NFL and deserve preferential treatment. A favorable call here or there is often all that's necessary to sway the outcome of a game. It has been said that the NFL is all about the money – and when money is involved, nothing is sacred. I know you work for "The Man" and can't condone any of this, but to suggest that the league is above all of this may not be entirely true.
John: My point on this issue long has been the same and will remain as such: I don't doubt that calls get missed, and I don't doubt that well-known, established players with reputations sometimes – rightly or wrongly – get calls for that reason. But to suggest that teams such as the Cowboys, Patriots and Packers get calls because the NFL is "all about money" by definition suggests that the league somehow is mandating that officials to make calls against teams. To do this would mean telling officials to do so – and to take that action would be to risk that action becoming known publicly. If such an action were to be proven publicly, it would risk the entire credibility of the league. I understand people's love of a good conspiracy theory, but to think that the league office is asking officials to favor one team over another for the sake of ratings … nah. Not buying it.
Rob from Duval:
Can you shed some more light on the play and potential of Brandon Allen? You said he hasn't been active all season? Why not? I saw him make some good throws in preseason and I think all of us saw at least some potential. (more than we currently see in ol' pick-six). Has he just been awful in practice? Is he hurt? Bad attitude? What on this earth could possibly make him a worse option than the totally inept turnover machine who currently runs this offense which truly offends? Blake has great size and is athletic, but the most important thing a quarterback does has to still be accurately throwing the football, right? I want to see if Allen can accurately throw the football to our receivers. I think you might want to see it, too. The more you tell us we won't see a quarterback change, the more we question the decision-making of coaches and the lack of accountability on this team. Cam got benched for not wearing a tie. Blake is unbenchable? I think not.
John: I can't shed too much light on Brandon Allen because practices are closed after training camp. It's not that he has been awful, and my understanding is he's developing fine. As much as fans understandably get wound up over this issue, coaches see all quarterbacks and all other players in practice. As of right now, the belief is that Bortles gives the team the best chance to win and that Chad Henne is the best option if Bortles were to become injured. I can't control what you're questioning. I understand in fact what you're questioning. And if I were making decisions without the benefit of seeing practice and without a full understanding of the team, I also might say, "Why not give Brandon Allen a shot?" But the organization believes Bortles is the guy and remains the guy – and that's why there's not a quarterback change.
David from Orlando, FL:
Mr. O - My brother says, the Jags "need a winning mentality." What does that mean and how do we get one?
John: A winning mentality means a team is winning. A team gets one by, you know … winning.

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