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O-Zone: Keen insight

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Bleak Lobster from Celina, OH

HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CODY KESSLER IS FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was the reaction of many Jaguars fans to Monday’s news that Cody Kessler will start at quarterback in place of Blake Bortles Sunday – and to the news that Nathaniel Hackett had been relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator with quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich now calling plays. This reaction was understandable, because the Jaguars are struggling offensively – and because many fans have grown tired of Hackett and Bortles. I imagine this likely signals the end of Bortles’ time as a starter in Jacksonville, because I think it will be very tough for the Jaguars to bring him back next season – even with the salary-cap difficulties his release would create. I expect the offense to see a spark Sunday against Indianapolis because a change at the positions often creates a temporary burst of productivity. There was such a burst when Hackett assumed play-calling duties midway through the 2016 season before the offense struggled most of the remainder of that season. Expecting this offense to have dramatic improvement on a consistent basis over the last five games of the season is a tougher ask. The team is now without left guard Andrew Norwell for the rest of the season after a season-ending ankle injury, marking the third Week 1 starting offensive lineman on injured reserve. And the receiving corps is still the same unit that has struggled with drops and fumbles this season. This offense is a mess right now. Perhaps these changes will tidy things. We’ll see.

Jaw from Jacksonville

FINALLY!!!

OK.

John from Alexandria, VA

Suspended again. After this week's game, running back Leonard Fournette will have missed 40 percent of regular-season games since he arrived due to injuries and misdeeds. When can the team move on from him?

The NFL indeed suspended Fournette for a week for his actions in a fight in the third quarter of a loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday. While I believe the suspended absolutely was warranted, I was a bit surprised it happened. I thought perhaps the NFL would levy a fine but stop short of suspension – perhaps because of a reluctance to set a precedent of having to fine a player if he leaves the sideline for an altercation. As far as the Jaguars moving on from Fournette, I doubt that will happen soon. Fournette has given the Jaguars more reason to want to retain him recently, playing perhaps his best back-to-back NFL games in the last two weeks – and showing as much as any time in his two seasons why the Jaguars selected him No. 4 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Fournette absolutely must learn from Sunday, but his performance in that game bodes well for his future.

Jason from Yomitan

Any chance Doug takes the “C” off Fournette’s chest? That was really bad.

I got many emails from people asking if Head Coach Doug Marrone would remove running back Leonard Fournette’s captaincy following his ejection for fighting Sunday. Marrone addressed this Monday afternoon, essentially saying the captaincy was instituted by players and would only be removed if players wanted it removed. I would be surprised if this group of Jaguars players moved to remove the captaincy.

Matt from Nashville, TN

I was quite surprised to hear of Hackett's firing. I always thought he did a great job calling plays around the strengths of the players he had to work with. The problem this year is obviously he ran out of players with any strengths. I know the play-calling was unbalanced at times the past few weeks, but so was our offense's lineup. Of all the coaches that could have been scapegoated, I would not have put Hackett anywhere near the top of the list. Am I missing something? Here's hoping he lands on his feet and has a better team to work with.

When teams with high expectations don’t meet those expectations, coaches lose jobs. Hackett was far from the biggest reason for the Jaguars’ struggles. He will coach again in the NFL. Given right circumstances, I believe he will succeed. And I believe he will be a head coach. Being fired doesn’t make him a bad coach. It just makes him a coach.

Tom from Jax BCH

I've never been so happy to hear a streak has ended. This took five years too long.

OK.

Dave from Jacksonville

Dear O: Are the Jaguars humbled yet? I’m speaking about cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Fournette. I believe Ramsey running his mouth in the offseason motivated Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen to play the game of his career up to this point. Fournette was suspended last season for breaking team rules; he got kicked out of a game Sunday for fighting and essentially loses a game. Jalen and Leonard are arguably the two best players on the defense and offense but are also apparently the most immature. Have they been humbled to the point where they benefit from their mistakes?

If seven consecutive losses don’t humble you, what will? And while I don’t believe Ramsey’s offseason comments about Allen motivated the rookie, there’s no question Ramsey and Fournette have hurt the Jaguars at various time in the past two weeks. Ramsey indeed has appeared focused and motivated since a difficult game against the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago. Will Fournette have a similar reaction to a selfish act that probably cost the team a victory? The Jaguars certainly must hope so.

Matt from Nashville, TN

What is Tom Coughlin's role after an epic collapse like we saw this weekend? Does he yell at Coach Marrone and Marrone yells at the players? Or do the players get a dose of TC up close and in person? Sure looks like they could use some of TC's old-fashioned discipline.

I certainly hope for the Jaguars’ sake Coughlin isn’t yelling at anyone, particularly the players. His role as executive vice president of football operations is to provide leadership and direction – not to yell at players after a loss.

Big on Blake from Philly

I don’t know what this means for the future of Blake, being benched for Kessler this week. But, I’m damned sure excited that the team is exploring new options at offensive coordinator. Hackett has a few really perfect games and a lot of stubborn, unimpressive uninspired looking ones. What are Blake’s chances of coming back/having an opportunity to come back as starting QB in JAX next year?

Hackett was good far more than he was bad for the Jaguars – and injuries and personnel issues have a way of making otherwise creative play-callers seem uninspired. As for Bortles starting again at quarterback for the Jaguars … well, you never say never. Bortles has come from a long way back before. But the chances are slim. Very, very slim.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

What do you think they will do offensively for the remainder of the season given the state of affairs on the offensive line? Even though they have had success running recently, it doesn't appear they have many good options on how to game plan.

No, it doesn’t.

Daniel from Urbandale, IA

With the firing of Hackett, I get that the public want some accountability but honestly was it his fault? Same coach, same team ... night and day difference between last year and this year. Also, is there really anyone who can come in midseason and suddenly change things? Seems kneejerk to me. Even though I hate the losing, I don't see this as a positive move midseason.

There’s really no such thing as a positive midseason move when you’re 3-8 with seven consecutive losses. The reality is Hackett did a fine job last season and was doing a fine job this season until injuries changed the dynamic of the offense. The reality also is when you lose seven consecutive games and the passing game is struggling to the degree it is struggled, a head coach wants to change something – anything – to fix the issue. Perhaps this will fix the issue. We’ll see.

Zac from Gainesville, FL

It appeared that Barry Church had yet another blown coverage resulting in a touchdown. When do you think the coaching staff will make a move and put in Harrison?

The Jaguars were in zone coverage when Bills wide receiver Robert Foster caught a 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter Sunday. While Church trailed Foster into the end zone, it’s unclear if he or a cornerback – perhaps Ramsey – had the responsibility to go with Foster on the play. Either way, Church has struggled at times this season against fast receivers. He’s unlikely to return next season. It makes sense for those reasons to play rookie safety Ronnie Harrison more in the final five games of the season.

Don from Ponte Vedra, FL

Sometimes when you play a game of chance you can throw out the old cards and get a new deck to change your luck. Sometimes it works but we know it’s not the cards.

This is either really insightful or complete gobbledygook. It has been a long year. I don’t know that I know the difference anymore.

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