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O-Zone: No guarantees

LONDON – Let's get to it … Mike from North Optimism:
Maybe I'm being too optimistic or maybe I'm just fanning, but when I look at the schedule, the Jags have yet to play an AFC South rival. The season can't be over before we play a game in division, especially considering the one the Jags play in. Just a thought.
John: Your thought is correct. An NFL season never is officially over at 0-3. Though 0-3 teams rarely make the playoffs, the Jaguars have done enough in the first three games to give the optimistic among us hope. Two close losses. Some decent defense. Some flashes by some good players. If they jell, grow up and Blake Bortles reduces mistakes, could they win enough to get back into a very get-able AFC South? Absolutely. The problem is this team in recent seasons hasn't done those things and it's hard to picture the Jaguars doing them until they … you know, do them.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Game 5 in two weeks. Get Brandon Allen ready. Right?
John: Um, no.
Tim from Jacksonville:
It seems to me that Blake Bortles' issues are based on the very poor play of the offensive line. How much of Blake's poor play would you attribute to a lack of confidence in the offensive line?
John: Some perhaps, but not much. The offensive line definitely needs to run block a lot better. Doing so would certainly help everything offensively, and it would be of particular help to Bortles in the play-action passing game. But the line actually appears for the most part to be pass-blocking at least as well as it did last season – if not better. Overall, what's going in front of Bortles is not bad enough to be the cause of his struggles.
Richard from Starke, FL:
With no credible run threat, opposing teams will continue to play their safeties deep.
John: Yes.
Ben from Jacksonville:
Why don't we ever see Bortles pumping up the offense on the sideline? Every time the cameras pan over to him he's sitting there looking depressed. Is he just not a vocal leader? I feel like sometimes that's what this team needs.
John: We're overthinking this a bit. Bortles is fine as a leader. He's actually better than fine. Offensive players believe in him and the team as a whole believes in him.
Nick from Orlando, FL:
Howdy O, I have a comment about Blake's body language. When I was a student at UCF, I noticed that every time Blake made a mistake that was under his control he would lean his head back in disgust and show that body language everyone is bringing up. He is an emotional player who expects a lot of himself. I don't think the body language is a new thing, or something we need to worry about.
John: I guess I'm not smart enough to know exactly how a quarterback's body language affects a team. I do know I covered Peyton Manning for a lot of years and it was pretty clear that he was upset when he walked off the field after an interception. I never thought much about Manning's body language one way or the other and I don't honestly think about Bortles' body language that much. He gets disgusted with himself when he makes a poor play. He sometimes throws his head back. He sometimes slumps his shoulders. He's upset. It happens. I've never gotten the impression he's pouting or that it lasts long or that he blames his teammates or that his teammates worry much about it. His decision-making, accuracy and pocket presence must improve. If they do, I think fans will worry a lot less about his body language.
Jay from Duval:
I find it somewhat odd that the players on this team refer to their coach as "Gus." I know that's his name, but this shows the respect level they have for him. I never see any Patriots players referring to their coach as "Bill." What's your take on this?
John: Non-issue.
Chris from Houston, TX:
Now, the Jags are giving Myles Jack reps at Otto?? It is beginning to feel like the Jaguars' coaching staff has wasted Jack's rookie season (which is especially disappointing since his knee issues may shorten his career). They should have created a role that would allow him make an immediate impact while exposing him to other areas that he might grow into. This 0-3 team is not talented enough to have Jack sitting on the sideline.
John: I've been as surprised as anyone that Jack hasn't been on the field yet this season. I didn't think he would play early as a starter, but I did think he would be in some sub-packages before now. From the sounds of things this week I would be surprised if we don't see Jack on the field Sunday – possibly at Otto at some point, but somewhere. Finally. Still the Jaguars' linebackers and defense as a whole have played OK this season and they seem to be improving. You can point to a lot of issues about why the Jaguars are 0-3, but defensive play/not playing Myles Jack yet would be comparatively low on my list.
David from London:
The correct PR response to my question is "it's way too early to talk about that." But I'm hoping for some candid honesty from the senior writer. What if Bortles is not the guy? Surely, David Caldwell understands the need for a contingency plan. Surely he has one. Is there any chance we're in the market for a new Franchise QB in 2017?
John: It is way too early to talk about that. That's reality – not a public-relations response. But as far as a contingency plan, it would be pretty simple. You watch this season and decide afterward if you think Bortles is the guy. If he's not the guy you draft a guy that you hope is the guy.
Tyler from JAYcksonville:
I'm going to have to call you out on throwing Bortles under the Gus Bus. Bortles has been hampered for three years with an incredibly inept staff of coaches. Any regression or bad play from him will be excused pending getting him a halfway decent coach. Greg Olson averaged 28th in the league for scoring offense over a decade career before coming here. Stop defending these people John. If Gus got a pass his first three years because he supposedly had no talent, surely Blake should get a three-year pass for having one of the absolute worst offensive minds in the game that keeps getting coveted positions because he is really cool to hang out with and his hair is really slick. It isn't that Blake has regressed; it's that Greg Olson's offense has returned back to its rightful place at the bottom of the league after an almost career year for him last year. I wrote to you horrified when news broke he was interviewing for the position. I wrote to you when he was hired and said that Gus would be fired within two years, because EVERY COACH OLSON WORKS FOR IS FIRED WITHIN TWO YEARS... Am I taking crazy pills here? How is this not painfully obvious to anyone and everyone associated with the Jaguars? Is the organization run by ostriches? Is my logic machine broken or is yours?
John: If I didn't know better I'd say you think Olson's an issue.
John from Orange Park, FL:
Opening drive touchdown on Sunday?
John: It sure would go a long way to curing a lot of ills. And if it doesn't do that, it would at least make things seem better for a few minutes. Shoot, it might even help Tyler sleep.
Kris from Neenah, WI:
So, I recently finished my first season as the Jaguars on Madden 17. When it came time to renegotiate contracts, I let Luke Joeckel walk. Do you think we will see the same next year as well considering how under-performing he has been?
John: We'll see. This will depend largely on what Joeckel thinks will be available on the open market. My guess is he will want to go somewhere with a chance to be the starting left tackle. His opportunity to do so probably will depend on how he plays the rest of the season. He has played pretty well at guard and tackle this season, so we'll see.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
Is your seat on the plane any better on the way home from London if the Jags win or lose?
John: I'm just always relieved when they let me on. Life holds no guarantees.

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