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O-Zone: Ouch

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Adam from Bryan, TX:
Hey John, listening to Tom Coughlin, this sounds like it's going to be a boring offense and a boring season. Is this going to be one of those teams that run on first and second down the whole game and try to convert on third down by passing? Bortles needs to be allowed to throw freely – not contained.
John: I don't know how to broadly define boring offense. I do know I've seen run-oriented offenses that win games and I've seen fans of those teams who seem pretty excited. I also know I've seen pass-oriented offenses lead to a lot of turnovers, mistakes and losses – and fans of those teams seem more irritated and exasperated than excited. Productive offense is often considered exciting, and productive offense is a lot easier when you're facing second- and third-and-manageable situations as opposed to tricky down-and-distance situations. But I find the use of the phrase "throw freely" interesting. If by "throw freely" you mean an offense that emphasizes the pass and has Bortles by design throwing as often as he has the last two seasons, then no … the philosophy of this offense won't be to have Bortles throwing freely. The Jaguars ideally will have Bortles throwing in a lot of second- and third-and-very manageable situations. That would mean they're facing defenses that are as concerned about the run as they are the pass. Offenses have a tendency to get pretty exciting when they're in a lot of situations such as that. That's because they're hitting big plays over the top of drawn-in defenses. And the thing about big plays is they're exciting. And cool. And players like them. And fans do, too.
Sarif from Washington, DC:
It seems the non-mechanics aspects of Blake Bortles' game are the bigger issue. Is being able to read defenses and make good decisions something that can be improved significantly – or is that just a talent you either have or don't have?
John: I agree that Bortles' decision-making, field awareness and pocket awareness are bigger issues than mechanics and accuracy. The latter two were an issue last season at times, but the decision-making/awareness issues have been there from his rookie season. Yes, factors such as experience, knowledge of the offense and confidence can help improve those areas, but improvement is no guarantee. The only way to know for sure is to allow a quarterback to play.
Oliver from UK:
Hi, John. What touchdown/turnover ratio at the end of this year for Blake Bortles makes us as fans and inside the corporation say Blake's our quarterback of the future. Would 10 be a good place to start?
John: I suppose 10 could be a start, but remember: Bortles was plus-17 in the category in 2015. The Jaguars still went 5-11 that season and the Jaguars' offense still had far too many long stretches of inefficiency. So, what will the Jaguars need to see from Bortles in 2017 to say he's the quarterback of the future? Start with fewer interceptions. That should lead to the team being in better in-game situations. That could in turn to lead to even fewer interceptions. That could lead to more victories, and the more-victories part would go far to making him a potential franchise quarterback.
Irving from Washington Heights, NY:
With all of the hype surrounding Leonard Fournette, where does this leave T.J. Yeldon? What scenario do you see playing out for him this season? How realistic is it to think the Jaguars will keep three running backs with starting ability?
John: I believe Yeldon will play a major role as the Jaguars' third-down back in 2017, and I believe he will play extensively in passing situations. As far as the Jaguars keeping Fournette, Chris Ivory and Yeldon, it's very realistic – enough so that I see no reason to think they won't do exactly that.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I love the Leonard Fournette pick. He reminds me of guys like James Stewart, Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew, and J.P. Shadrick. All were bell-cows with burst, plenty of wiggle and were always a threat to take it to the house. #DTWD
John: #DTWD
Rob from Section 122:
Couldn't Branden Albert play left guard and Cam Robinson at left tackle? Think Albert played there HIS rookie season in KC.
John: Albert actually played guard at the University of Virginia, but has been almost exclusively a tackle in the NFL. Could he move to guard? I don't doubt he could. It just stands to reason he would be the better option at left tackle because he has played at a high level there in the NFL. Maybe the Jaguars will do something differently. That could happen. I just don't see it at this point.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Is there a bigger gap in ability to handle assignments from college to NFL than the gap between college lineman and NFL lineman? Someone asked: Why can't Cam Robinson beat out Branden Albert? Robinson, while I don't doubt he is big and strong, has not been lifting weights nearly as long as has Branden Albert. There's a reason behind the phrase 'grown-man strong'. How big is the difference in strength and ability to physically hold up against NFL linemen?
John: The difference in strength and ability to hold up between a college player and an NFL player is one of the major differences in the NFL and college game – and a major reason it takes most college players a season or so to start approaching their full potential. Grown-man strong is a good way to put it. The NFL is a grown-man league and it usually take even the strongest, nastiest college football players some time to get strong enough and experienced enough to thrive there.
Richard from Gainesville, FL:
Are we going to get real competition at the kicker position before camp? I really thought they would have done this by now.
John: It's possible the Jaguars will bring in another kicker, and it's possible that player could prove to be legitimate competition for Jason Myers. I wouldn't consider it a front-burner issue at the moment.
Edwards from Los Angeles, CA:
I noticed that Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich recently changed his number to 44 so he can work on offense without having to report as eligible. Is that the reason Myles Jack also wears 44? He did play some running back in college and was called by at least one prominent analyst "draftable as a running back."
John: Myles Jack no doubt has a skill set that perhaps could have allowed him to play running back in the NFL. Jack's reality right now is he is moving to one of the defense's most important positions, and the team needs him to make that transition successfully mentally and physically. It's best right now if that transition remains his sole focus.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Does Branden Albert realize that he's holding a losing hand in the high stakes poker game he's playing with Tom?
John: Albert is missing voluntary workouts. I wouldn't call this high stakes for a while yet.
Greg from Jacksonville:
The biggest thing I see that is leading to the Bortles enigma is the false belief that Blake's 2015 was actually good. His overall stats looked good because he threw the ball a ton, but the much more useful per pass stats were not good: 23rd in passer rating, 31st in completion percentage, 15th in YPA, and 23rd in ANY/A. The "doubters" know the truth, that Bortles has had one season where he was almost league average and two where he was among the worst quarterbacks in the league.
John: This is true. This is also why Bortles entered last season needing to improve, and why it was concerning when he didn't. It's also why 2017 is such a big season for Bortles.
Eddy from Miami, FL:
I am not someone to think we need to get rid of Bortles. I understand that the organization didn't believe there was a better option out there so they stuck with Bortles. I also understand the move to pick up the fifth-year option. However, if Bortles plays how he did last year, you need to start Chad Henne. Henne will not be the future and is not going to take us to the Super Bowl, but Henne will help us get a better evaluation of our team as a whole. Bortles holds the ball way too long at times. Maybe our O-line is not as bad as we think. Bortles is not the most accurate quarterback, which is also hurting the evaluation on the wide receiver group. As a whole, we need to evaluate the team because we have a very important free agency period coming up in 2018.
John: Eddy, I hope I don't hurt your feelings when I say I'm not ready to start talking about benching Bortles to let Henne play, so the Jaguars can evaluate the roster for 2018 free agency. I'm not saying your point doesn't contain a shred of validity somewhere. It's just when I started thinking about a lot of your points I started to get a sick headache.

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