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O-Zone: Passion play

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ryan from Oklahoma City, OK:
John, I'm worried. We keep hearing that if playing Blake Bortles over Chad Henne would mean a better chance of winning, it would be so. And while it's true Henne hasn't been entirely at fault for the Jags' offensive impotence, let's not mistake what he has been for good, either. Does that mean our guy, our quarterback of the future is, you know, kind of bad? You see behind the scenes, so what say you?
John: This seems to be something people are having a tough time grasping. And on the surface, your logic makes sense. But this is not a surface issue. It's not that Bortles won't someday play at a higher level than that which Henne is playing now. The Jaguars clearly believe he will. That's why they drafted him No. 3 overall and that's why he's the quarterback of the future. Right now the feeling is that Henne's experience and knowledge of the offense gives the Jaguars a better chance to win than Bortles' developing potential/talent. It doesn't mean Bortles won't be good. It means the Jaguars feel it's not his time. Yet.
Perry from Orange Park, FL:
What's up with the quarterback coach telling Henne that none of the sacks were his fault? I can understand Gus being reluctant to criticize him after the games but at some point can the coaches offer a little constructive criticism or admit that Henne makes some mistakes that put the team in bad positions?
John: Let's keep this in perspective. It's not as if quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo was sitting in a meeting with Henne saying, 'Hey, Chad!! Everything was awesome!!!" Coaches and players meet daily, and there was certainly criticism with an eye on what could be done better. That's the case every week and every day. Henne when discussing this this past week said he believed there were plays on which he could have made better decisions. No one's reluctant to give constructive criticism, and Henne doesn't strike you at all as the kind of person who recoils when receiving it.
Mike from West Des Moines, IA:
I think the return of Cecil Shorts III and Ace Sanders to the receiver group is going to help. The success of the entire team will ultimately come down to how the offensive line plays. However, having Shorts out there, the quarterback can feel confident he will be where he is supposed to be. Sanders has experience now and has the quickness to get open underneath consistently. So whoever the quarterback is, they can have some amount of dependability and consistency. Will sanders be the Y receiver when he returns, or is the talent such that he will now have to be the fourth receiver on the field?
John: If all of the Jaguars' receivers are healthy, Shorts, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson will be the top three receivers with Sanders the fourth.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
When the Jaguars made final cuts, one I was concerned about was Marcel Jensen. I figured that without Marcedes Lewis, we were in a world of hurt at the tight end position. How do you think Jensen will do now that Lewis is hurt?
John: I think he will play like a rookie – because he is one – which means I'd expect him to be inconsistent. I think he'll be a better receiver than blocker, and that he'll make some plays in the passing game. He has legitimate NFL skills there.
Alan from Maine:
This team will be lucky to finish 1-15 this season. It's going to take more than just a couple of practices to eliminate all of the mental mistakes that are happening on both sides of the ball. It seems like there's a major lack of focus and concentration from this team. I hope that the return of Cecil Shorts III and Johnathan Cyprien helps eliminate enough of the mistakes, but everyone else needs to start putting in more effort in the mental aspect of this game.
John: Wow, downer alert, but that's understandable. Sunday's game in Washington was jolting, to put it mildly. And indeed there were far, far too many mental errors. That was a heavy theme all week, and I'd expect it to be better Sunday. If the Jaguars had shown themselves last season to be a team prone to mental errors and missed tackles, then I might share your concern about a lack of focus. But I don't know that it's accurate to make blanket statements yet. The Jaguars had an awful game against the Redskins, but for the most part played well against Philadelphia. There were some mental errors by younger players and backups, but it wasn't the avalanche we saw against Washington. Give it time. If it's a trend, it's a problem. If it's a blip, then it's just that – a blip.
Terrance from Jacksonville:
I've never seen a team rotate so many offensive linemen in and out of the lineup. Is our line that bad? We are now resorting to starting practice-squad players. Obviously, we know what the offseason entails.
John: Well, the line certainly wasn't good last week, but I don't know that the rotation is quite as dramatic as your question indicates. The Jaguars were searching for a center from the start of training camp, but aside from Brandon Linder winning the right guard job, center is the only significant change on the line. While the Jaguars released Cameron Bradfield after he started two games, he was filling in as a starter at right tackle for Austin Pasztor. Pasztor is the starting right tackle. He has been out with a hand injury, and I imagine he'll resume that role next week.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
If the Great Building "Plan" was to put together an offense too young to let our top draft pick play regardless how bad it is, and a defense again ranked near last, who takes most of the blame for this pathetic plan? Khan, Bradley, or Caldwell? Just curious.
John: I think each would take responsibility. Because it's a long-term plan, we'll all just have to wait and see what words best describe it.
Scott from Honolulu, HI:
I should have been a little clearer. I understand the run-blocking has been awful, and I never said Gerhart doesn't have the ability to run off tackle. The difference is when they try to run off tackle he doesn't have a chance and usually loses a yard or two, putting them in second-and-long as opposed to second-and-8-or-9 when he runs between the tackles. With the offense that is struggling so badly on third down any little bit helps.
John: True, but the Jaguars are trying to get this offense established and that means eventually being good rather than just "not last." With that in mind, you need to run the plays that are the base of your offense – and the stretch play is very much that.
Alex from Austin, TX:
My gut feels like we are gonna see Bortles about halfway through this game. Am I crazy?
John: We'll see. It feels like Bortles will play relatively soon, but your premise seems to depend on the Jaguars trailing big to the Colts halfway through the game. I have a feeling that won't be the case. If by chance it is, could we see Bortles? Anything can happen, but I don't get the feeling that's the plan.
Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
You would have made a good therapist, John. You listen to people's feelings without getting hooked in and reactive. Your emotional insulation must be industrial strength. You're good, man.
John: Marry me?
Mario from Miramar, FL:
As far as I know Mr. Khan, GM Caldwell and Coach Bradley were not part of the Jaguars' organization seven years ago. Heck, you weren't here seven years ago either. A new rebuilding era started last year. Fans need to suck it up. I mean, fans need to understand and stop blaming the current owner, GM and coach for what was done before they joined the Jaguars.
John: True, but that's a tough pill for fans. I think most fans logically understand that Dave Caldwell had to start over, and that he had nothing to do with what went on before him. I think most fans also logically understand that the organization is in many, many real senses an entirely different one than before. Colors and name may be the same, but in terms of direction, philosophy, etc., it's a very different place than even three years ago. All that is true on paper and in fact. But fans are emotional and fans' emotions understandably tell them that losing stinks and it's been going for a long time.
Logan from Fleming Island, FL:
We are indeed some passionate fans here in Jacksonville. Some more than others, and some just need a big hug after blowout losses. But hey, let's go out there and show up for our team on Sunday. Go Jags! Moodachay!
John: #DTWD

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