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O-Zone: One simple word

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jonathan from Virginia:
I think Gus needs to shake the tree a bit with BB. Do you think benching him for a half or a game would help? I ask because of how Fitz responded this week and how Miami seems to be doing better with their benching policy on players.
John: No, I do not think benching Blake Bortles would help the current situation. Bortles' problem this season is not a lack of motivation. His problem has been accuracy, interceptions, decision-making, carelessness with the ball at times and turnovers. Those aren't going to get fixed by a half-game benching. Plus, you don't bench a franchise quarterback in the NFL until you know it's over for him as the starter. That's because in many respects, franchise-quarterback benchings are permanent. Once you bench The Guy it's very hard if not impossible for him to ever be The Guy again. There's no going back. Bortles is struggling, but we're not at the point that it's over for him as the starter. Not yet.
Rob from Rochester, NY:
I understand Blake was drafted to be the Franchise Quarterback and he started to look like one last year. This year, he has taken a major step back. The stats that showed last year was more luck than talent are sure looking accurate. When do you get another quarterback to compete for a starting job? Do you let Blake play out the contract and assess?
John: First, what Bortles did last season wasn't luck – but there's no question his struggles this season are getting to the point of being confidence-shaking. Bortles has a year left on his rookie contract after this season. If you're asking if the Jaguars absolutely will start him throughout that contract if he continues to play like this the rest of the season … no, I do not think that's automatically the case. He needs to show improvement between now and the end of this season.
Juan from Port Orange, FL:
I've been behind Gus Bradley for all this time, defending him and wanting to give him more time for the turnaround. But enough is enough. Gus and the players can keep saying that they are not the team we see on the field (undisciplined, inconsistent, etc.), but in the end you are who you are and they are indeed not a very good team right now. I hope Gus can still salvage the season, but I can't defend him anymore! Thanks for the vent??
John: This is as good a place to vent as any – and certainly a lot of the poise issues in the fourth quarter Sunday must be attributed to the coaching staff. While players such as middle linebacker Paul Posluszny were blaming themselves after the game (Posluszny was taking responsibility as a team captain), such a breakdown of discipline must be addressed by the coaches. There overall has been of lack of discipline this season; while that hasn't been the norm under Head Coach Gus Bradley and the staff, through six regular-season games this season that has been the character of this team. That said, the Jaguars didn't lose Sunday – and they haven't lost this season – because of those issues. The biggest reason for the struggles this season is an offense that was expected to take a step forward has not in fact improved. That's why the Jaguars are 2-4 and if they don't get better in that area the record is going to get worse.
Thomas from Williamsburg, VA:
Can we talk about Dante Fowler Jr. for a second? Lines up offsides twice in the same half and then should have been flagged for shoving that guy in the back (luckily the Oakland guy got a personal foul for retaliating) when the defense just made a huge third-down stop in the fourth. I'm just a curious fan looking for answers. Thanks.
John: Fowler so far this season has been as noticeable for his mental mistakes as his big plays. That's not a positive statement.
Mike from Atlanta, FA:
The defense is very good. They are on the field way too much. The offense is holding them back because they can't stay on the field. Jalen Ramsey, is he there yet? He looks like a shutdown corner from where I'm sitting.
John: The defense is good and the unit indeed has been on the field too much. The main issue with the defense is it hasn't affected the passer enough with the pass rush. As a result, it has not forced turnovers. Still, even with that being true it has played well enough to win at least four of six games. Did it play well enough to win Sunday? Perhaps not, but it sure played well enough to keep the team in the game a lot longer than it should have considering how the offense and punt-return team played in the first half.
Rob from Section 122:
I don't understand how our offense can't move the ball when Allen Robinson's deep/jump balls are taken away. Shouldn't that mean either Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee or Julius Thomas should be able to beat one-on-one coverage? If the line is pass-blocking well, and there are plenty of proven weapons, how are we not easily scoring 21 a game? Has Bortles accuracy/awareness been that bad to where the receivers are not being found/hit?
John: At times, yes. Sunday was one of those times.
Matt from Fort Worth, TX:
Is Dante Fowler Jr. a great pass rusher?
John: Not yet. That's not unusual for a player in his first season. Most great pass rushers take enormous steps from their rookie seasons to second seasons.
Greg from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Roy Miller III out? I don't like that, Zone …
John: You're correct not to like it. Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller III left the game in the third quarter with an Achilles injury. He was immediately announced as not returning. The whole situation sounds like a very serious injury to a player who is critically important to the defense. Miller played at a high level throughout last season and had done so again this season. He's a reason this team is usually stout against the run and he is a team leader. If he's out for the season, that's a big loss.
Jason from Jacksonville and Section 140::
John, this game was a measuring stick for the Jags and the Raiders as both teams have been on the rebuild with similar draft pick positions. The Jags are behind dramatically on offense, and most notably, quarterback. If Bortles doesn't show marked signs of improvement for the remainder of this season, the Jags are going to have a decision to make about their future at quarterback – and whether they can continue to fall behind.
John: Well, yeah.
Dakota from Fleming Island, FL:
Putting the entirely disappointing start to the season to the side for a moment, in how did we get an intentional grounding after an offside penalty Sunday? I've never seen that and it seems entirely wrong. The quarterback is allowed to save himself from a hit in that way (at least according to every other game I've seen in my life) since the opposing team jumped offsides to be able to hit them that way. Was this somehow different?
John: The play was not blown dead. The perception that offsides gives the offense a free play is a correct one in the sense that the ball will not be awarded to the defense if there is a turnover. The quarterback must be aware enough to realize that. The quarterback also must be aware enough to know that if both the offense and defense commit a penalty on a play those penalties offset – even if the defense is offsides and the offense's penalty is intentional grounding.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
Time to read your columns that help perpetuate this false narrative that this team is any better than seasons past.
John: Sunday was a bad performance – and yes, that was almost all my fault.
James from Socorro, NM:
Intentional grounding on a "free" defensive offsides play? That is the most Jaguars thing ever.
John: It was not a "good look." It also showed a lack of awareness. The play is a free play in the sense that if the quarterback throws an interception it will not count. It does not mean a penalty can't be called on the defense. Bortles took a situation that should have been a free opportunity and turned it into an offsetting penalty. That's rookie stuff. It shouldn't happen in a quarterback's third season.
Josh from Section 106:
One word. Undisciplined.
John: There were a lot of words that could be used to describe the Jaguars' performance Sunday – disappointing, frustrating, ridiculous, inexcusable – but yes … the one you used was certainly as good as any.

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