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O-Zone: Paradise lost

LONDON – Let's get to it … Robert from Fort Bliss, TX:
What's up with all this hate towards Bortles? People need to understand there is no offensive line, which means there is no run game. No one respects the play-action pass. There are only two options – run or pass. When you take one option away you know what's coming.
John: There's certainly some truth to this – and it's very, very possible that all of the analysis, thought, commentary and pontificating on Blake Bortles' issues on this site and elsewhere has been a bit premature. Just because he has struggled to start this season does not ensure those struggles will continue. If anything has defined him in two-plus seasons it has been the ability to accurately self-assess and successfully improve when he sees areas that need improvement. There also indeed are many factors that have played into the Jaguars' disappointing 0-3 start – with a struggling offensive line chief among them. Are people overanalyzing Bortles? Are some people over-hating on Bortles? Perhaps. But however much we're overanalyzing, Bortles hasn't played well enough in the first three games of the season. His level of play may not justify hate, but it does merit concern.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
The glass is half full. Jags could be 2-1. They should be 2-1. They are only two games out of first place in the South, with every team still to play. The season is not over, but they absolutely have to win Sunday. If not, three games back in Week Four … even if they go on a run it will almost be impossible to overcome. What say you?
John: I say the Jaguars need to win Sunday for many, many reasons.
Hi John, I believe the lack of effective run-blocking (we're on pace to gain 880 yards this season) is a major reason for Blake's struggles. I think opponents know they can successfully take away our run game and force Blake to become one-dimensional. The defense is doing their job, but they will get gassed late in games without a run game. The team has just got to figure it out.
John: There's no question the troubles of the run offense have hurt Bortles. Fans roll their eyes and get angry when they hear Jaguars coaches and players talk about needing to run, but this offense must run to be effective. Bortles thus far hasn't shown himself to be a quick-timing, precision, accurate intermediate short passer – at least not enough of one to win consistently solely by passing at all costs and eschewing the run. It's also difficult to have consistent success trying to hit enough big pass plays early to spread out the defense. The hope for the Jaguars' offense on this front lies deep within the first two games of the season. There were times against Green Bay in Week 1 and early against San Diego in Week 2 – when the offensive line was healthy – that the run game showed signs of moving effectively. The Jaguars get Chris Ivory back this week. Remember early in the preseason? When Ivory and T.J. Yeldon were both healthy running behind an almost-healthy line? There were times the run game looked really good. A couple of preseason games isn't much on which to pin the hopes of an entire run offense. Right now, it's what the Jaguars have.
Al from Coldwater, OH:
Time to end the Bortles experiment. He is not the future. Dave made a huge mistake and needs to admit it.
John: It absolutely is not time to bench Bortles. I don't know that he is the future. I do know he has struggled to start this season but I also know he showed enough last season to at least show signs that he might be the future. Whatever the end result, he must play this season to find out for sure.
Zain from Orlando, FL:
Zone, let's talk line. Who is struggling? Who needs to improve? Is the right side struggling as bad as they say?
John: When an offensive line struggles it's rarely one player because there's so much teamwork involved. A lack of continuity hasn't helped. Kelvin Beachum started one preseason game and two regular-season games at left tackle, and the absence of Beachum and center Brandon Linder against Baltimore last Sunday contributed to the struggles. Right tackle Jermey Parnell indeed appeared to have some rough plays on Sunday, but I wouldn't say he's remotely alone on that front.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
Jalen Ramsey is covering like a corner and tackling like a safety. Stop me when I get something wrong. Jalen Ramsey is the best cornerback on the Jaguars. Jalen Ramsey is the best cornerback in the division. Jalen Ramsey will be one of the five best cornerbacks in the league by December. Jalen Ramsey will soon be a perennial pro bowler. Jalen Ramsey is already a better tackler than most corners in the league. As far as his talk, maybe we should look at some of the things Michael Jordan used to say to his opponents. He can say those things if he keeps shutting them down.
John: I haven't stopped you yet.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
I agree with Bob from Blackshear that Blake has lost confidence, but not in himself. I think he has lost confidence in Greg Olson. After some of these failed bubble screens and attempts to "establish the run," he throws his hands up like, "What'd you expect would happen?"
John: I don't doubt that there instances when frustration causes Bortles to look irritated-ly and frustrated-ly to the sideline when plays don't work. Are failed bubble screens frustrating? Sure. But I'd be surprised if Bortles deep down is very frustrated with attempts to establish the run. It's very difficult for any team to pass effectively without at least the legitimate threat of the run, and it's particularly hard for Bortles because of how good he is with play action.
Josh from Fernandina and currently Fort Lauderdale, FL:
Wins against Indy and Chicago give the Jags the confidence and momentum needed overcome their next two beatable opponents (Oakland and Tennessee) and get to 4-3, in theory. In one sentence (other than referencing the need for better quarterback play), what is the most instrumental key to that happening? Thanks O-hog!
John: More offensive production, which sort of ties into that one sentence that I'm not allowed to write.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
So perhaps a question. Did everyone overestimate the talent on this team or is it, for whatever reason, simply not coming together?
John: Overall the talent on the roster is starting to show up, especially on defense. It was reasonable to expect that side of the ball to take a few weeks to jell considering the new faces and young players. The surprising thing to many people is that the offense has started so slowly. There was an assumption that the Jaguars would take a step forward offensively this season. There was an assumption that step would happen sort of automatically. There was an assumption that some of the flaws we saw last year would go magically away with a year experience. To date, those assumptions were incorrect.
Jeff from Keystone, FL:
Describing the Colts' season thus far you said they "avoided a disastrous season" in reference to saving themselves from a 0-3 start. Does that mean you describe the Jaguars thus far as "disastrous"?
John: It sure ain't paradise, Jeff. That it ain't.

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