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O-Zone: Nice and thoughtful

LONDON – O-Zone in the UK.

Let's get to it … Marcus from Jacksonville:
What I heard from you was the Jaguars can't be expected to beat teams with elite quarterbacks or offensive lines. If that is true, and it seems to be, does that mean that the Jaguars have essentially built a team that can't win in the playoffs?
John: I guess you heard kinda, sorta right – though not completely. I do believe the Jaguars will have trouble this season beating teams with elite quarterbacks and offensive lines consistently – primarily because teams with elite quarterbacks and offensive lines are often among the best teams in the NFL. Breaking down the quarterback part, I consider elite quarterbacks right now to be Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan – and yeah, I think the Jaguars would have a tough time beating the Patriots, Packers, Steelers and Falcons. Maybe throw Philip Rivers and Drew Brees in there and a few others, too. My point about the offensive line is this: I believe this Jaguars team is going to need to have disruptive defensive days more often than not to win. Those are tough to come by against top-level offensive lines – as evidenced by the struggles last week against Tennessee. As far as the Jaguars not being able to win in the playoffs … well, I suppose I do believe that. I don't see this as a likely playoff team this season – and if it would make the playoffs, I don't see it yet as a deep contender. The team could surprise me, and I like surprises, but I don't think the Jaguars are there yet.
Steve from Upper Tract, WB:
Did last week's game look like the coaches had worked on the game plan for weeks, days, or even an hour? To the paying fan the answer is a resounding NO!
John: OK.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, in my fan opinion the keys to winning against the Ravens are. First, they need to cut out the stupid drive-killing penalties. Second, they need to stop settling for field goals. Third, Bortles needs to be much more accurate; too often his throws require the receiver to make some spectacular catch or they are behind them and they get tipped. Do you think they can fix at least two of those three issues by Sunday?
John: The best chance the Jaguars have for addressing all three of your concerns is to address the first. This team needs to be in third-and-good situations to be effective offensively. If they do, they'll get more touchdowns and reduce the need for Bortles to make as many throws downfield against coverages designed to prevent such throws.
Lance from Lebanon, TN:
Regarding your constant referring to the team being "built to run," why was there only one offensive lineman brought on through the draft? Both Tennessee and Dallas have invested in their offensive lines and can now run the ball. What would keep a team from only selecting offensive line players as their undrafted free agents in next year's offseason? If it takes twenty of them to find three to complement Cam Robinson and Brandon Linder, what is management waiting for?
John: My "constant referring" to the team being "built to run" is because the team drafted a running back in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft (Leonard Fournette) and a left tackle in the second round (Cam Robinson). The team also clearly has stated it expects to run well this season. As for selecting offensive linemen as undrafted free agents … sure, you could do that. It's realistically not going to get you far, though. You might find a front-line player through that route on occasion, but the odds are low that you're going to build an entire front-level line that way. So, why haven't the Jaguars focused on the offensive line more in the draft? Because the team has had needs everywhere and it's tough to use all draft selections on one position.
Steve from the Sunroom Coach:
Will Marrone bench Bortles and put Nassib in the London game if we reach garbage time once again?
John: I doubt it.
John from Jacksonville:
I think the Titans loss was a good dose of humility that should reset the players. After the Houston win, there were probably some big heads and raised expectations that they were good enough to win "pretty." In trying to win pretty, you start to play pretty. After the Titans game, I think the mindset should be back to winning even if it's ugly. Don't worry about stats, pretty highlights, and the other stroking that come with winning pretty. Just win and the rest will come eventually. Do you think I'm being wise or just ugly?
John: This team harbors no illusions about what it is – or how it must play. The Jaguars got beat Sunday by a team with a good offensive line. They lost because they put themselves in too many difficult situations offensively and because the defense withstood a lot of difficult situations for a while and then didn't withstand enough difficult situations late. They also lost because the passing game struggled throughout the game. This team knows it must win ugly. There has been and will be no confusion on that point.
Conspiracy from Jagsonville:
Khan wants to drive the fans away by having the Jaguars lose, so he can move the team to London.
John: That's stupid.
Cory from Madison, WI:
The coaching staff made the decision weeks ago that Blake Bortles' mobility made him a better option than Chad Henne. However, this offense is tailored to getting the quarterback into third-and-manageable situations. There's just one problem: there doesn't really seem to be any throw that is manageable for Blake right now. He's constantly missing on slants/crosses. Chad is, at minimum, at least a more accurate passer, and that could help the running game big time, no?
John: Mobility and escapability played a factor in the decision to go with Bortles over Henne, though it certainly was not the only reason. I agree that Henne is more accurate, but I don't know that there's a wide gap overall in the perception coaches have on the two players. As of this writing, I don't get the feeling that a move to Henne is imminent. That's in large part because I don't get the feeling that the coaches thought that Bortles caused all three of his turnovers against the Titans. If Bortles has a game where he feels loose or casual with his decision-making, then yes … I think that could cause a move in another direction. We're not there yet, and my sense is we're not all that close.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
I think fans should boycott the Thursday night games. The NFL knows that fans and casual observers scoff at the matchups, but if these games keep making comparatively more money, then the league has no reason to do away with them. It's bad for the health of the players and the quality of play. Personally, I'd rather the Jags play Sunday at 1 p.m. every week until they earn a Sunday/Monday night game. Do you think it's actually possible that a large enough portion of the NFL's audience could/would choose to not contribute to the financial success of Thursday Night Football to the point that the league puts an end to it?
John: No.
Tery from Jacksonville:
How is it so easy for you and a handful of others to throw out this "1-1-is-just-fine-everything-is hunky-dorry" false narrative? We beat a sleepwalking Texans team and lost to a middle of the road Titans team and in both games our offense was about as effective as using a paper hammer to build a steel building. Keep telling us the season is still going well. Keep telling us we have a chance still to win and contend. Good luck keeping that optimistic view after Sunday when we get throttled by the ravens and we all see just how hopeless this jaguars team still is no matter how much we hope for something better.
John: I don't think everything is either hunky or dory, and I wouldn't tell you everything is fine. I'm trying to remember when I wrote that. Ah, I can't remember and the reason is I didn't write it. Everything is not fine. That's because the Jaguars lost by 21 points in Week 2, and because the quarterback situation feels unsettled at best. But everything usually isn't fine in an NFL season; teams usually fight through issues. As it stands right now, the fact is the Jaguars are 1-1 and they appear to have a good defense. I believe it's a defense that can allow it to be competitive and win a fair share of games. One reason I believe this is I don't believe the Texans were sleepwalking and another is I'm not as convinced as you are that the Titans are "middle of the road." As for your last sentence, I appreciate the wish of good luck. That was nice and thoughtful of you. Being nice and thoughtful is cool. People like it.

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