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O-Zone: No Pie Zone

JACKSONVILLE – Thanksgiving Day O-Zone.

Let's get to it … Tom from Charleston, SC:
You have stated over and over that we need to give Blake Bortles more time – that he needs to have a fair period to be analyzed and evaluated. He has had several years to prove himself. How much longer do you think he deserves before we move on? Please don't throw last year's stats at us again; we all know that garbage time stats are not real-game stats.
John: I rarely include last season's statistics in the discussion regarding Bortles, mainly because I wrote often throughout this past offseason and early this season that I didn't think last year's statistics – or necessarily his performance last season – made him a great or even a very good quarterback. I believed at the time that he had the potential to be a good quarterback and that he needed to make a pretty significant jump in decision-making and efficiency this season to keep moving toward being a good quarterback. He obviously hasn't done that … hence, the daily discussion here and everywhere else in JaguarsLand regarding his future. I believe Bortles will get at least six more games – the rest of this season – and that's as it should be because he should get a chance to work through his issues. He also does enough good things to merit that. What will happen after this season, I honestly do not know.
Nick from London, England:
I'd like to see a Venn diagram of people who shout loudly for big money to be spent on high-profile free agents in the spring and people who complain high-profile free-agency signings aren't worth what they were paid in the winter. I suspect there would be a pretty large overlap. Are you any good with Venn diagrams, John?
John: I am not, but I make up for it by not being good at much else, either.
James from Elizabeth, NJ:
The season is lost. Why not give Chad a chance?
John: Because Blake Bortles is the starting quarterback and the belief is he needs to work through his issues – and because the Jaguars believe he's the best option.
George from Jacksonville :
I tried to come up with a good question, but I got nuthin. I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving!
John: And you as well.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Yeah, John: if only Gus Bradley had not created a culture where losing is fine, the Jaguars would be on a 38-game winning streak right now. Now, all of those professional athletes think they are being paid millions of dollars just to show up. If only they had another head coach, the players would understand that they are there to win games. Free advice for Mr. Khan: Don't hire coaches who are bad and like losing. Hire coaches who are good and like winning.
John: OK.
Armando from Vacaville, CA:
Had James Stewart remained a Jaguar do you think he would've been better than Fred Taylor? I mean, five touchdowns in a game is no easy feat – nor is scoring 30 points. Shame he went on to the Lions and got his shoulder destroyed by Bills' Coy Wire, who coincidentally was coached under our future defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
John: This is no knock on James Stewart, who was a first-round selection by the Jaguars in the 1995 NFL Draft and who twice rushed for more than 1,000 yards with the Lions. But he was not better than Fred Taylor. He is far from alone in this.
Matt from Fort Worth, TX:
Can we use the first three picks next year on O-line?
John: A team can select whatever positions in the draft it sees fit.
Christopher from Yulee, FL:
I keep hearing about Bortles and his problems. But I hardly ever hear anyone discuss our offensive-line play and lack of a running game attributed to that. We, generally speaking, cannot run the ball against most of the league's base defenses. This has a domino effect. It's just not Bortles; none of our tight ends and receivers are producing at the same level, either. Could this be due to our sheer inability to manufacture a consistent run game, the differences in adjusted coverages and basically a year of film on the offense and a lack of adjustment? The last two seasons, we have gone into the season "fine" with our offensive line. We are not fine. Minus Linder, and possibly Cann, the rest of the line needs to be upgraded significantly. If I had to focus anywhere in free agency and the draft, O-Line would be it. Thoughts?
John: There are certainly spots on the offensive line that could be addressed, and the Jaguars need to run the ball better. I don't think it's accurate to attribute the majority of the struggles of Bortles and the Jaguars' passing game to that.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
John: True that.
Chris from Jacksonville:
In all your years of covering the NFL, have you ever seen worse special-teams play? It is beyond ridiculous at this point.
John: The Jaguars have had at least one major play go against them on special teams each of the last five games. No, I do not recall covering a team that has had a stretch like that.
William from Miami, FL:
Seattle had an elite defense when Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator. He leaves to become the head coach here and Seattle continues to have an elite defense while our defense is bottom five in points allowed the last four years. Maybe Gus Bradley isn't a defensive guru after all.
John: Maybe, but the Jaguars' defense is ranked seventh in the NFL in total yards this season and it's hard to say that it's not playing well more often not. That's not guru status, but maybe it shows the people running the defense know at least something about what they're doing.
Bill from Jacksonville:
"I don't know that he's taken a step back...In some of the categories we look at, he's improved." Gus Bradley on Blake's play in 2017. Welp! We've done it, John. We've reached peak delusion. The HC either won't admit or can't see that Bortles is clearly worse than last year. How can you continue to defend Bradley's ridiculous comments? This isn't some out of context quote; he legit thinks Bortles is better this year than in 2015. I'm so done with this man. Thanks! Go Jags...I guess. (sigh)
John: Gus Bradley is defending his quarterback. I get that many readers are "all in" when criticizing all things Bradley, but when compiling a list of head-coaching sins, this one's pretty low.
John from Jacksonville:
Years ago, fans bashed Jack Del Rio for being a bad coach. I don't think they can say the same thing now. Now, fans are bashing David Caldwell and Gus Bradley. Caldwell has been reported in NFL circles as having great drafts and some quality free-agent signings. Bradley's ability to head coach effectively is in question because Jacksonville was his first assignment in this capacity and – even with a better talented team – we continue to lose. I think a more experienced coach would have generated better results more quickly (especially this season) but much is contributed to these players working together to the point of starting to win. Once that occurs, the problems will quickly go away. The question is how much longer? We are losing close games against good teams now and need to find that edge to build confidence in how to start winning them. We have been better than some of these good teams, which doesn't make us a bad team, except for that final most important "L" at the end of the game.
John: The NFL is a complex business, one in which you draw hard, fast conclusions about single things at your own peril. Was Jack Del Rio a bad head coach? Mike Mularkey? People thought so, and I read the countless emails saying as much. Is Gus Bradley a bad head coach? People think so, and I currently read the countless emails on a daily basis saying as much. Winning is the only answer in the NFL, and it cures everything. Losing means everything is awful. That's well-known before anyone gets into coaching, and that's the business in which they operate.
Paul from Gainesville:
Happy Thanksgiving to the Great O and his kith and kin! May the bird be tasty, and the pie … oh, wait …
John: There shall be no pie.

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