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O-Zone: No time for laughs

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Justin from Jacksonville:
John, Jalen Ramsey tearing up at the end of Sunday's game gives me hope for the future of our team. The pain of losing a regular-season game - even during a hopeless season - was written all over his face. If every player on our team were that emotionally invested every week we would be great. Thank you Jalen for giving us fans something to brag about this season. #RamseyIsland
John: Jaguars rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey without question is a player around whom this franchise can build. I have no doubt he is on his way to being a core player, a franchise player, a foundation piece – and a lot of other things this and any other NFL franchise very much needs. His ability/level of play are part of that, but his passion and dedication appear also to be off the charts – and that indeed is a big part of what makes him a foundation piece as well. I don't think for a minute that Ramsey is alone on this team in his desire to win. Losing hurts many of these guys – and many players who play with passion don't necessarily show it in the way Ramsey does. But could the Jaguars use a lot more players with Ramsey's mental makeup? Certainly.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
Hey O! ... I'm so sick and tired of being sick and tired of!
John: I hear you.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, Shad Khan has done a lot of great things for the Jags and Jacksonville in general. However, he is not a "football guy." It seems to me we are in need of a President of Football Operations – a conduit between general manager, coach and owner. A knowledgeable NFL person who Mr. Khan can go to and trust completely about football decisions. Many teams have such a person. Whether it be Coughlin or someone else we should have somebody with years of experience in that position. What are your thoughts?
John: I'm not philosophically opposed to such a move, but with a few exceptions most NFL owners are not "football guys" – and NFL front offices operate at various levels of success using various structures. Some teams have presidents who are also general managers. Others have general managers who don't have the title of president, but who essentially oversee all football operations. At some point most owners must trust football decisions to someone – whatever title that person may hold.
Jason from Jacksonville:
Nobody was a bigger fan of Blake Bortles than I, but O – it's time to admit it's bad at quarterback. What would our record be with just decent play at quarterback? I would debate that there are 25 or more in the league that would have helped us to at least a 5-5 record. Actually, I can name 15 that we would be 7-3 if we had them leading our offense. Time to find a new quarterback. We have a ton of talent, just need a decent quarterback.
John: I'm not debating the Jaguars would be better this season with better quarterback play. I've written and said as much many, many times in recent weeks – and actually have written and said as much since San Diego in Week 2. I have written this because I am a huge believer that quarterback play in the NFL often is the great un-equalizer, meaning most teams are relatively equal and quarterback play shifts the needle one way or the other over the course of a season. At the same time, none of that means the Jaguars need to give up on Blake Bortles. They must analyze him and determine if he can improve. There is every possibility that they will need to bring in competition for him in the offseason. And if they do that, that competition needs to real. But he has shown enough and done enough good things that he should have a chance to make the offseason improvement the team believes he can make.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
Will the loss of Marcedes Lewis force us to use an extra tackle on short yardage? We are going to miss Lewis blocking.
John: Perhaps. Yes.
Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
Is there anything Gus Bradley could do to lose his job before the end of the season? Anything at all??
John: While I have said repeatedly I don't believe Jaguars Owner Shad Khan wants to make a midseason coaching change, I did wonder after the loss to Tennessee if he might change his mind. That was the sort of loss that theoretically could cause an owner to change an approach. If he didn't make a midseason change after that game, I don't see a scenario in which he would.
Steve from Denver, CO:
O, you seem to downplay how valuable a good coach is. How about the new coaches in Philly and Miami? Not to mention the improvement of San Francisco 49ers by Jim Harbaugh a few years ago. Why has Singletary not been hired as a head coach since he left his heart in San Francisco?
John: I have been accused of underplaying the value of a head coach, and it is true I generally lean toward players mattering far more than coaches. I also generally believe a head coach's job is far more about establishing a culture and being a chief executive officer than the details – and in many, many cases I think the head coach is blamed for way, way too many things. There are exceptions and Harbaugh seems to be one. Are Adam Gase of Miami and Doug Pederson such exceptions? We're 10 games into their NFL careers. I'll wait and see. My thoughts when it comes to Gus Bradley never have been that he's a great head coach. He has not proven that to be the case. I have said that the circumstances he has faced here, particularly in the first three years of his tenure, were such that it would have been difficult for any head coach to be successful.
David from Broward County:
O-Man, there are many problems/issues hurting the Jags this year. Poor quarterback play is at the top of the list. Very big is the so-called culture of the Gus Bradley-led coaching staff, an undisciplined losing culture that in effect says losing is OK as long as there is improvement. This culture has been a very big negative for this team. There is another issue that really hasn't been discussed at all and that is the failure of Dave Caldwell to deliver a strong offensive line and running game to his young quarterback. Overall, Caldwell has done a good job upgrading talent, but the lack of a strong running game and top-notch offensive line is a big failure. Bortles would be much better off now, regression or not, if the offensive line and running game was better. What do you think?
John: I think to say that Bradley and the coaching staff ever have taught that losing is OK is to misunderstand Bradley's approach, but that's fine: the Jaguars have lost enough that people are understandably going to see it that way. That's the narrative, and losing has solidified it. As far as the offensive line … no, it hasn't been a dominant run-blocking unit – although it has improved as a pass-blocking unit this season. The Jaguars would be better off if it was a better run-blocking unit. It's not. Is it fair to blame Caldwell for that? He's the general manager, so yes. At the same time, the Jaguars had a mammoth rebuild four years ago. Caldwell has hit on a lot. It's difficult to hit on everything.
Louie from Jacksonville:
This is several years now that the Jags have been horrible. This year is the worst, by far. The Jags spent a lot of money on players this year. Are they worth what we paid? I don't think so. Julius Thomas and Malik Jackson were great in Denver; they come here and do very little. As a longtime fan, I think we need to clean house. We need a quarterback and a better offensive line. What do you think?
John: I think Bortles needs to play a lot better than he has to date, and I think I can't say for sure if that will happen – but I think he has to be given a chance because he did enough last season to merit that. I think you have a point that Julius Thomas has not been productive enough this season and I think you're far from alone in being way, way off the mark about Malik Jackson. As far being worth what they were paid … I guess I think people may as well stop thinking this way. If you want your team to participate in high-profile, front-line free agency you're going to experience disappointment far more often than not. With rare, rare exceptions they can't and won't "be worth what they're paid." It has been the nature of free agency for more than two decades and I doubt it will change.
Rob from Section 122:
Playoffs? Playoffs? Hahhahahhah! All I do now is laugh during games. It's all I can do. Sure can't enjoy it, but being upset hurts. So, I just laughed throughout the game. … Hahaha. …
John: I didn't laugh Sunday.

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