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O-Zone: Off the rails

JACKSONVILLE – Game-day O-Zone … Mike from Jacksonville:
Yo, O: You're babying the guy again: 80-to-90 percent of what you're writing sounds like you are making excuses. You have addressed it all - now move forward! You're taking us into another Blake Black HOLE!!!
John: The quarterback is the topic until he's no longer the topic, and I do get many emails accusing me of "babying" Blake Bortles – or not acknowledging when he is struggling. Or not being critical enough. I find this amusing because I have written for more than a year now – and throughout the offseason leading to the 2015 season – that he had serious issues that needed to be improved, and that he would not be the franchise quarterback many fans/media then believed him to be if they weren't addressed. But whatever … people read what they want to read, and that's fine. It's not my job to pound on Bortles relentlessly for every practice incompletion or interception, and that's why I haven't gotten caught up in a daily progress report hammering on his every mistake. It's my job to try to be as fair, accurate and entertaining as possible and give fans an informative, daily forum to read, learn and care about the Jaguars. I have said throughout training camp that Bortles needs to improve, and I have said in recent days that it's clear he hasn't played consistently enough to make the questions surrounding him go away. Hence, the Quarterback Issue the team faced as training camp began remains an issue. That doesn't mean Bortles Must Be Benched or that He Can Never Get This Done – though many believe that. It means the Jaguars still have work to do at the quarterback position. Until that's less the case, we'll probably have to keep addressing it.
Jake from Illinois:
Week 1 can't get here soon enough. Offseason and preseason doesn't matter one way or another. We all know it and say it, but what else are we gonna do but analyze every pass attempt and one-on-drill? I'm worn out.
John: Jake, if you think you're worn out …
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
Since we're so deep at receiver, do you think we'll trade say, Rashad Greene or Shane Wynn, to the New York Jets, who have no receivers? Especially since Lucky Whitehead just broke his foot.
John: Let's some perspective here. Greene and Wynn have ability. We have seen flashes. They also have combined for 25 receptions for 144 yards, with Greene having all but one reception and 19 of those yards. The duo's trade value is, well, limited.
Brian from Section235:
It's been a while. Just a friendly reminder to start planning your responses to the Week 1 onslaught of "I-told-you-we-should-have-picked-DeShaun-Watson" posts. If he starts (which appears to be the case) and we lose … oh boy. The bank will be an unhappy place Week 2. If we win, I'll write back – and feel free to let me have it.
John: I suppose DeShaun Watson could start against the Jaguars Week 1. And the Texans winning that game is hardly out of the realm of possibility. While that probably would result in a torrent of emails, the reality in that scenario is we'll still have no idea about Watson's long-term career arch. But sure, I'll be ready. No big deal. I was born ready, baby.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
So many fans seem to be dead set against having Blake Bortles as the Jaguars' quarterback. This makes me wonder how much more successful the Jaguars might be if a more respected quarterback like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers was able to be a quarterback transplant.
John: Much. This is not as much a knock on Bortles or Chad Henne or anyone on the Jaguars' roster, but the quarterbacks you mentioned are two of the best of the best – not just of this era, but of all time. Players such as that on otherwise functional NFL rosters can make differences of five, six, seven games in a season. Now, if you dip down into the pool of just "normal-good" quarterbacks, the difference wouldn't be nearly as pronounced. But those elite guys? They change everything.
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Do you think Personal Fowler will be able to get his in game discipline under control this season?
John: I think Dante Fowler Jr. is focused on the issue. He's an emotional player who tends to play in a frenzy. That often allows him to play with admirable effort and energy – and there were times last season it appeared to cause the discipline issues. I honestly do think he will get better in this area. I doubt he will reach perfection immediately.
Skippy from Winter Garden, FL:
Can't wait to see Brad Allen shred the Bucs third-string defense. One fer Brad.
John: Play the kid.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O: if sometime after the season starts, Marrone/David Caldwell/Tom Coughlin decide to bench Bortles, signaling that the team is moving on from him, doesn't that essentially mean the team is starting a new ground-up rebuild? The years it takes to draft, develop and then decide whether you have a serviceable quarterback will necessarily result in the successful pieces of the current rebuild (A-Rob, Lee, Linder, Smith, Jack, Ramsey, etc.) moving on, right? These players will either start to age or they will want to go play somewhere else to win now.
John: First, you don't hold onto a quarterback you don't like because you're scared of losing players; if anything, the opposite is the case. Second, drafting a new quarterback doesn't necessarily mean other players moving on. Linder, for starters, signed a long-term extension recently. And I imagine players such as Allen Robinson and/or Telvin Smith will reach new deals before the end of the season (just my speculation). And with players such as Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack still two years from the end of their rookie deals, it's a bit alarmist to believe they're leaving to play elsewhere. Bottom line: the Jaguars must make their quarterback decision based on getting the best quarterback. Worry about building and maintaining the rest of the roster after that.
Keith from Woonsocket, RI:
We should at least throw an offer at Kap if all else fails he must be at least an upgrade over Henne.
John: Nah.
Frankie from the Mean Streets of Ponte Vedra:
By giving Blake Bortles more reps in practice, is it possible that the Jags are trying to rest Chad Henne's arm for the regular season?
John: Nah, obviously.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
How do you see the wide receiver depth chart shaking out for the season opener? Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, then who?
John: Some of this will depend on whether or not Lee's available for the regular-season opener. That remains to be seen. We may know a bit more after Thursday night's game, but I would go with Arrelious Benn and Keelan Cole working at four and five after those three … if we're calling it right now.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
If there is no tackling to the ground in practice, then shouldn't it be kind of expected to see missed tackles in early preseason games?
John: Yes.
Jeremy from Dodge City, KS:
How's this scenario: If Bortles – and yes, I said "IF" not when – starts to look like he's not a franchise quarterback this year, why not just lose on purpose and get a high draft slot next year and reap the benefits on what is being called a great quarterback draft class?
John: Because it's August and the Jaguars haven't played a game – and because I'm not going to write about losing on purpose in August.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Do we really need four preseason games?
John: I believe so, but I'm starting to be in a pretty overwhelming minority. General managers/decision-makers need a game-type forum to evaluate personnel and players need a game-type forum to be ready for the regular season. Four games may get tedious for the fans, but the four games do have a football purpose.
Cliff from Jersey City, NJ:
I find it sorta funny how Jerell writes every week. It's basically always (negative) stuff we've all heard repeatedly and at this point he rarely gets an actual "answer" to his input. Keep the entertainment coming, bud! Hopefully we'll do well enough not to hear from Jerell for a while. Though, I'm not sure if such a caliber exists...
John: One fer Jerell? What?
Andy from St. Augustine, FL:
John - while we're still in the preseason, is there any way we can have a day where all of the O-Zone questions come from Jerell? I actually look for his name on questions before I even look for my own. I can't be the only one that wants more Jerell! Maybe he could take over the 'Zone for one day and actually answer other reader questions...imagine it - the "J-Zone with Jerell." Kinda has a nice ring to it, huh?
John: I sense things are careening out of control.

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