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O-Zone: Pants on fire

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jerry from Tamarac, FL:
Ok, John: So if the future is now, is the kid as ready as they want? Does he have his mechanics down to the point that they won't have to worry about that during game-planning on the week or is this going to be an issue?
John: Mechanics always will be a concern for quarterbacks – or at least that should be the case. It's the quarterback coach's job to monitor and tweak this, and it's the player's job to do the drills necessary to keep mechanics sound during the season. But if you're asking about the mechanical issues with which Blake Bortles was dealing in the offseason – yes, it seems those have been addressed enough that they shouldn't be an overwhelming daily issue during the season.
Lance from Jacksonville:
I don't care if the Jaguars lose this coming Sunday. So long as Blake Bortles, the rookie receivers and the rookie offensive linemen continue to grow, I'll be happy.
John: I'm hearing "happy" a lot when people discuss Blake Bortles right now. There will be a lot of ups and downs and days when happy doesn't come easy. I hope people stay happy. I prefer happy.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
One thing about starting seven-to-eight rookies on offense: they should enter their prime years together. This team isn't very good now but, if these guys develop the Jaguars might have the most potent passing game in the league five or six years from now. Agree or disagree?
John: Sure, if all of these guys develop as planned and stay healthy for five years, they could be really good together. That's the ideal. Ideal doesn't always happen in the NFL, so realistically not every one of these seven or eight rookies will be core players in five or six years. That's OK. What you're looking for is for Blake Bortles to develop and for a few guys to develop as core players around him. If that happens, you can keep a competitive team around that core.
Josh from Zephyrhills, FL:
A lot of blame is going toward the defense and I think it's undeserved. When an offense goes consecutive possessions with three and out and has its first first down with five minutes remaining in the first half – and the defense is on the field for the majority of the first half – the defense is going to look subpar at best! With that note the defense only allowed one touchdown in the second half when there was offensive production. The defense will improve with offensive production led by Blake Bortles (Henne has no real value at a starting quarterback in the NFL; our losses were credited to poor play by the quarterback called Henne).
John: I'm afraid this is a bit too simplistic. I'm the first one to say that the results on one side of the ball often depend on the other. A team with an effective offense, for example, often is going to have big sacks numbers because it's ahead at the end of games and therefore in more passing situations. But it's also not accurate to portray all of the Jaguars' defensive problems as the fault of the offense or of Chad Henne. The defense allowed too many extended drives early the past two weeks, and a lot of the errors in the past couple of weeks have been missed assignment or a missed tackles. Improved offensive efficiency could help the defense, but the defense has to get better on its own, too.
Andre from Jacksonville:
Hey John, do you think Blake Bortles will be our starting quarterback for the rest of the year?
John: Yes.
Ryan from #DTWD:
Chris Wesseling, writing on NFL.com, describes the remainder of the Jaguars season this way: "Jacksonville's offensive line is the worst position group in the NFL. Bortles is a major talent upgrade over Henne. Porous pass protection will prevent him from turning the Jaguars' season around." What say you? I can't honestly find too much to disagree with there.
John: If I was judging by the first three regular-season games, I'd probably agree. I think the offensive line has a chance to improve when Austin Pasztor returns and as the young players develop. I can't promise the Jaguars' season will turn around, but I think the offensive line will get better. Time will tell.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
If you could talk to Gus Bradley in a private, off-the-record conversation, what do you think he would say about how the quarterback situation has played out? Do you think if he could go back and start the season over he would do anything differently?
John: No. I'm sure Bradley debated this and discussed this with many people in and out of the organization. With a young offense, he was trying to figure out the best time to play a young man who is still working to learn many of the details and subtleties involved with playing quarterback in the NFL. If circumstances were different, maybe he would have waited a little longer or acted a little sooner. He made his choices based on his circumstances, and there's no absolute right or wrong answer. Remember, too: the big concern here is the long-term of Bortles' career and in the long-term of Bortles' career, he sat for two-and-half games. Not two-and-half seasons. Not two-and-a-half months. Sitting two-and-a-half games is a very short time and I suspect it will be seen as such soon.
John from Jacksonville:
One thought each on Henne and Bortles. First, we must respect Henne for his toughness (the inability to get injured) and for being a class act (cheering on Bortles and persevering in a hostile crowd environment). Second, I keep reading that Bortles was careless with the two interceptions. We must not forget he was put into his first game down 30 points. He was throwing the ball all over trying to make things happen. I think on an even playing field, starting the game with the score 0-0, we'll see less of the careless desperation throws.
John: First, no doubt Henne deserves respect – and I think he has the respect of knowledgeable people and people who pay attention. Second, I don't know that Bortles was careless on the first interception down the sideline by Vontae Davis. Bortles himself called the second – the one that led to the Pick Six – a stupid throw. And it was. It was a rookie mistake and one I doubt you'll see be a pattern. That's the task for Bortles this season, to learn from those mistakes and not have them become patterns. I see every reason to believe he'll do that just fine.
Tim from Jacksonville:
So, the defense already has managed to give up as many 40 point games as last season in three weeks. My question is, when is this a pattern versus the blip we all hoped last week would be?
John: It's somewhere between a blip and a pattern. I don't know when it becomes full-fledged pattern. I do know it needs to stop.
Steve from Denver, CO:
O not you again … We should all like Blake's potential, but if we could have traded a second- or- third-round pick for Kirk Cousins, we would have been able to grab Sammy W at Pick No. 3. Is it still too early to talk about next draft day?
John: I've said often I'm not a big break-down-every-past-draft guy. I understand it's fun, and it's easy to do, but there's little to be gained and no team or general manager has a perfect record on these fronts. I suppose the Jaguars could have traded for Cousins, but I also suppose that if Blake Bortles is a franchise quarterback it will look like a pretty good decision.
Mark from Jacksonville:
I do not like the idea that Bortles is going to start this year. Our offensive line is terrible. I'm afraid that Bortles will end up like David Carr because of how bad our O-line is this season. Your thoughts?
John: That's not something that ever has been a big concern – for me, or for the people who actually matter in this equation. The reason for not playing Bortles early had far more to do with concern over him not being as versed in the playbook, line checks, etc., as Henne. It had very little to do with coaches being concerned about one player or the other being hurt or shell-shocked behind the offensive line. I don't get the idea that the offensive line is going to be a major issue going forward, particularly if it stays healthy. It's not likely going to be elite, but there is ability in that group and I think it will improve as the season continues. It played better Sunday than it had the week before. Bortles being in the lineup also should help in the long run because he gets rid of the ball well and has good pocket presence. I stress about many things. I wouldn't stress over this one.
Andrew from Rosamond, CA:
Here's a nice stat for you: the Jags' point differential is a league worst -75. No. 31 is the Bucs at -50. John, we are 1.5 times worse than Tampa Bay.
John: You lied to me. That's not a nice stat at all.

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