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O-Zone: Looks aren't everything

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dave from Oviedo, FL:
O-man … Quarterbacks are too comfortable playing us. We need to blitz like madmen! The quarterback must go down and go down hard!
John: Dave, the Jaguars agree that the quarterback must go down, but remember that a huge issue for this team has been pass coverage, particularly deep passes downfield and in the middle of the field. Blitzing is great when it works, but if you blitz and don't get pressure, you leave your secondary exposed. An exposed secondary that's struggling to cover is a bad combination.
Geoff from Orlando, Section 243:
Hey O, I normally enjoy your oh so biting wit, and rarely care when you take a shot at a reader, but in your response to Scott, I thought you a bit rude. This is a football forum; that was a football question (though fewer keystrokes than his question could have found the answer), so let me answer it. Clay Harbor was signed by the Jaguars after he was cut by the Eagles following last year's preseason.
John: You know what? When you're right, you're right. The column-ending answer on Friday was an answer to a question that began, "Where did Clay Harbor come from?" I tried to answer with a witty answer that played off a child asking, "Where Do Babies Come From?" Upon re-rereading, it wasn't very witty at all and really didn't make a lot of sense. That probably doesn't differentiate it much from a lot of my answers, but it did sound ruder than I intended, so yeah … Harbor was signed after his release by the Eagles about a week before the 2013 regular season.
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
Do the Jags need to throw it down the field more?
John: Absolutely. They also need to pass block better, run block better, run better, rush the passer better, tackle better …
Khris from Richmond, VA:
Just read that Justin Blackmon can technically apply for reinstatement November 1. Do you think he will and if he does and it is approved, do you believe that the Jags would put him on the roster? I am skeptical that he will, but with Josh Gordon and him having similar arrest records it is a bit hard to believe that one will be coming back soon and the other will be out a year plus if he doesn't apply or is not approved for reinstatement.
John: I doubt Blackmon plays for the Jaguars this season. I think if the recent reports are true that he is addressing his off-field issues and doing well that there is a pretty good chance he could play for the Jaguars next season. We'll see.
Bruce from Hobbiton:
Why are the Jags using a rotation at corner between Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray? Have you ever seen a team rotate their corners like they do the defensive line?
John: The Jaguars are rotating Gratz and McCray because each are performing well and competing at a comparable level in practice. It also could be said that they're rotating because neither has played that much better than the other, but the bottom line is coaches are looking to get the most of the left cornerback position and for now they think that's the best option. I don't specifically recall seeing a team doing this at the cornerback position, and it's a little unorthodox, but I also don't doubt that I'll get a few emails from people who have seen it. It doesn't strike me as being weird on a mad-scientist level.
Jonathan from Section 215:
I'm tired of seeing the complaints about the head coach and general manager in the O-Zone. Would you agree a coach's success, or job security, is typically tied to the quarterback in the NFL? Now that they've found their franchise quarterback and have something to build around, Gus and Dave aren't going anywhere for a long time.
John: I'm tired of answering questions complaining about the head coach and general manager, too. Unfortunately, when you're 0-6, complaining emails tend to overwhelm those congratulating the staff on doing a "swell, bang-up" job. But you're right about Blake Bortles. If he indeed is a franchise quarterback, and if the tiny progress that the team has shown the past few weeks starts steadily growing, then you're right that Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley should be here a while.
Steve from Woodbine , GA:
I left early Sunday morning to go on a fishing trip. I had very little contact with the outside world. When I came home, I didn't know who won. I sat down and watched the game since I recorded it and I must say there was a lot of improvement. It seemed to me other than the turnovers, the Coach made the biggest blunders. But we are getting better!!
John: The Jaguars have shown improvement in recent weeks. Some see it as significant. Others see it as incremental. Others see it as meaningless. If the Jaguars get better and start building something real the next couple of months, then this will be seen as the beginning of something. If they don't, then the there's going to be a lot of loudness in these here parts the next couple of months. With a quarterback in place, my guess is it will be closer to the former. We'll see.
Alan from Jacksonville:
According to Pro Football Focus, the Jags' offensive line has moved up in the ratings from 31st to 23rd after five weeks, giving shout outs to Brandon Linder and Zane Beadles. Our pass protection is rated 13th-best. Sounds suspiciously like improvement to me. Do you think this group has the potential to become an elite unit or are we still a few players away?
John: I think it's probably unrealistic to think this unit in its present form will man-for-man develop into an elite unit. That's only because it can take time to find the exact right pieces on an offensive line. But is it possible that the core is there? Is it possible that three or four of these players develop and grow together to form the foundation of the line? Absolutely. Players – especially offensive linemen – do not enter the NFL as finished products. By the end of the season, I imagine the Jaguars will have an idea which players could be building blocks and which areas they need to address.
John from Jacksonville:
Our defense needs some turnovers in a bad way. I miss the excitement of the Pick-6 interception going our way or the game-changing fumble recovery.
John: The defense has created four turnovers through six games, one since the first half of Week 1. They have one interception this season. For all of the statistics through which we pore every week, there may not be one that needs to change more immediately. Most NFL teams struggle to win if they don't create turnovers. That's particularly true of a team with a young offense and rookie quarterback.
Seth from Kalamazoo, MI:
Where do you think this franchise would be right now if Gabbert wouldn't have been a bust?
John: A whole lot different, and a whole lot further ahead.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
You didn't come out and say fans are stupid, but you tend to act like they are. You act like we shouldn't be the least bit bothered by this season. It's stupid penalties and turnovers that drive me nuts. That's coaching, but you keep making excuses for them and make us look ridiculous for not enjoying it.
John: Adam, I don't think fans are stupid, and who wouldn't be bothered by their team being 0-6? But, really, what should I do to make you happy? Give out Genius Fans medals? Write that Dave Caldwell is a numskull for not re-signing every player who ever played for the Jaguars before he arrived? Write that Jedd Fisch should be beaten with a garden hose every time Blake Bortles doesn't throw 35 yards downfield? Write that Gus Bradley should be poked with a stick whenever he talks improvement in a press conference? The Jaguars are building from a bad place. They're young. It's going to take time to become talented enough to not struggle. My job is to write about that process, try to explain what's going on and try to allow fans to maybe get a little enjoyment from reading this website while doing it. I'll keep doing that, because that's the job. If that makes people look ridiculous, hey … I look ridiculous on a fairly regular basis. Maybe it's not such a bad thing.
Kent from Jacksonville:
It seems like there have been more than a few comments in the O-Zone about Mr. Bortles being a bust. Never mind the fact that he has the league's highest third-down completion percentage. Never mind the fact that in spite of the Ben Roethlisberger comparisons he does not, in fact, have Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress to throw to. He has a group of fellow rookies, a veteran of a whopping four years, and a line that only has one player with more than a year's worth of starting experience. He will be good. The receivers should be good. Let the season play out.
John: I'd say something about Bortles just maybe, maybe, maybe not being a bust, but I don't want to make you look ridiculous.

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