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O-Zone: On a whim

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Hyde is a very solid running back and will add much-needed depth once Leonard Fournette comes back. Just hope this offensive line can block for them. They are really banged up.

The Jaguars traded a fifth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns for Carlos Hyde. It’s a much-needed move not only for depth, but for a player who can play until Fournette returns. And as Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said Friday, he doesn’t know when Fournette will return. Many people have speculated that it will be after the bye. Considering how this situation has played out, there’s no guarantee that’s the case. Hyde is a productive, physical player who has played 22 consecutive games. The 22-consecutive-games part must be very appealing to the Jaguars right now.

Nathan from St. Augustine, FL

John, you have said in several O-Zones that Bortles is the team’s best option at quarterback. If this is true, who is at fault for Bortles being the best option for the Jags? Coughlin or Caldwell? Would you rule out a trade before the deadline to acquire a veteran quarterback? Maybe Eli?

Fans love words such as “fault” and “blame.” That’s understandable, because people who scream things on television and tweet aggressively love to scream words such as “blame” and “fault” loudly and write BLAME!! and FAULT!!! with CAPITAL LETTERS and !!!!!!!s. I prefer to try to explain things, and the explanation here is Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell drafted quarterback Blake Bortles in 2014 and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin took over final say on football decisions in January 2017. While building the roster in the 2017 offseason, the Jaguars stuck with Bortles though he had struggled through his first three seasons. The Jaguars then made the AFC Championship Game with Bortles at quarterback in 2017, after which the Jaguars – with Coughlin having final say – extended Bortles’ contract with the idea that a strong defense and run-oriented offense with Bortles making good decisions and getting help around him was the best chance for the team to win. Why didn’t the Jaguars make a move at quarterback last offseason? Because they were selecting No. 29 overall in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and because the quarterbacks available that made sense given the Jaguars’ salary-cap situation weren’t perceived as upgrades. Your question about acquiring a veteran quarterback before the trade deadline infers that they believe there is a player available via trade who could come in at midseason and be an improvement. Your question also perhaps ignores that injuries have made the Jaguars’ offensive talent deficient enough that it’s hard to imagine a quarterback coming in and making a difference. That’s the long answer. Short answer: The Jaguars aren’t likely to trade for a quarterback during the regular season.

Aaron from Whitehall, AR

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed how ridiculously fast Blake was getting hit before he could make his reads.

Yeah, I imagine he noticed it, too.

Ryan from Dallas, TX

So, first Jalen talks too much. Now he doesn't talk enough. At what point to people just stop criticizing and enjoy the fact that we have a top-level shutdown corner on our defense? Let the man live his life, folks!!!

The phenomenon of people being angry about how much Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey does or doesn’t talk publicly – or how he behaves in press conferences – is intriguing to me. Here’s the reality: the 15 minutes – or in Ramsey’s case this week, the minute and a half – an NFL player talks during game week is a fraction of a player’s life that week. It seems a lot to fans, because it’s what fans see, but it is in fact not nearly so important to players as it is to fans. It has very little to do with his preparation, and never has anything to do with whether a player is good on the field. It’s an aside, and it does make for interesting midweek conversation. Why it bothers people – media members, included – is beyond me. Does it show a lack of respect? Perhaps, but I’ve been in or around media for three decades. I suppose I’m used to a little disrespect and stopped caring a while back if I got it from an athlete.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Ramsey is an overrated, front-running, non-leader jack wagon that runs when the tough gets going. He had so much to say in that article and when they were winning. Now, where is he? What a joke he is. Him and Blake for different reason are jokes. All the quarterbacks he named and called out in that article I bet he would take over what he has now.

Ramsey is right where he has been since being selected by the Jaguars: starting at cornerback and doing it at a high level.

Lynn from Raleigh, NC

I am sure our offensive coordinator already knows this, but what works when you have a banged up or poor offensive line? A mobile quarterback. Blake is a fairly mobile quarterback. Get him out of the pocket to throw against the rush he is getting. Use the same scheme that is being used against us. I was a quarterback in college that had a bad offensive line and had to be a mobile when I was a natural pocket quarterback. It keeps you from getting killed back there. I know what works in college doesn’t mean it works in the NFL, but what we are doing now is not working, either. Please do not use the “you go girl” line on this one as I am not a female.

You go, boy. #Iwasanaturalpocketquarterback

Mark from Richmond, VA

I love Blake. I just get so bummed when I see other quarterbacks throw accurate spirals. How do we have the one quarterback in the world that can't throw a nice ball? I thought that was No. 1 on the list when scouting a guy? I know he can, he just doesn't?

Bortles isn’t going to throw “a nice ball.” He’s not going to throw tight spiral after tight spiral. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s probably not going to happen. He’s not going to “carry a team by himself.” This team was put together with the idea that the quarterback was going to be part of a lot of good things going well, not the quarterback was going to be elite. That formula has worked well for the most part under Head Coach Doug Marrone. It hasn’t worked in the last two games.

Ray from Jacksonville

John: Perhaps the last two weeks will stop anyone from saying Bortles "led" the team to the AFC championship game last year. The last two games show what a team with an average defense and Bortles at quarterback looks like. It is not pretty.

“This team was put together with the idea that the quarterback was going to be part of a lot of good things going well…”

Clifton from Washington, DC

"If there’s a bad matchup somewhere in there, a coordinator sometimes employs zone to prevent that bad matchup." With the talent on defense, where exactly is the bad matchup? This team has the advantage against every single team they play against defensively.

This is incorrect. A bad matchup might be the third receiver on a nickel back, or a tight end on a safety. Or a linebacker on a faster back or tight end. I understand that many people think the outside cornerbacks are the only players in man coverage. Them thinking that doesn’t make it true.

Eric from Jacksonville

"As far as putting together a deep offensive line … if you figure out a way to get that done, send a memo to all 32 NFL teams. They’ll all be fascinated to see how it’s done." Drafting offensive line in the first round of the draft nearly five years in a row seemingly helped Dallas.

The Cowboys are a good offensive line, perhaps the NFL’s best. We’re talking about depth, which is a different beast. There might be a handful of deep NFL offensive lines, but the depth doesn’t last long because of free agency – and even the deep ones … aren’t.

Bryan from Portland, OR

Hey, Funky Funk! Question: you’ve mentioned several times the Lenny needs to get better. How might he do so? I see a player without the ability to 1. Stay healthy. 2. Break tackles. 3. Make people miss. His power style ends up with short gains and little else. Is it possible to learn to break tackles? Freddy and MJD did so naturally.

It seemed to me that running back Leonard Fournette was more elusive in preseason and early in Week 1 before being injured than he was last season. It’s important for the Jaguars that that’s the case. That seems the main area he can improve from last season.

Tom from Charleston, SC

Two weeks ago, I questioned the team’s difficulty with mobile quarterbacks. Your response is that all teams have problems with this type of player and that you didn't see the Jags having any more problems than other teams. Now, this week you have answered several questions noting that the Jaguars have problems with mobile quarterbacks and need to solve that issue to go forward. John, which is it? You are starting to sound like someone in D.C. You change the narrative at any whim.

Two weeks ago, the Jaguars were 3-1. Two weeks ago, the mobile-quarterback thing had cost the Jaguars a 9-6 loss to Tennessee. Two weeks later, the mobile-quarterback thing has cost the Jaguars a 30-14 loss to Kansas City and a 40-7 loss at Dallas. Maybe – just maybe – what happened on the field changed the narrative. Spoiler alert: I might base next week’s answers on something that happens Sunday. Oh, whimsical me.

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