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O-Zone: Pond crossin'

LONDON, England – The pond has been crossed. Cheers.

Let's get to it, shall we … Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
Strangely enough, that loss didn't feel nearly as bad as usual.
John: You know what's weird? After a fiery, ornery, just-plain-angry inbox early Sunday, this was a common sentiment among post-game emails. There was a lot of disappointment, but there also was a general – if not exactly unanimous and happy – feeling that the Jaguars fought back and played well in the second half. That doesn't make 1-8 better and it doesn't make this a playoff team, but if the Jaguars had gotten in that situation in the second half against a good team last season it almost certainly would have turned into a one-sided runaway. That's not happening this season. I said before the season that I thought this team needed to be more competitive in losses against good teams. I said that would be the ultimate measure of improvement. On that front, the Jaguars are improved. It doesn't mean the Jaguars have improved enough, but it is a step in the desired direction.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
Zone, I know you are a busy man, so I thought I'd write your What We Learned column for you: 1. The Bengals are a good football team; the Jags are not, at least not yet. 2. You cannot win games in the NFL with a jayvee special teams unit. 3. The defense came back to earth against a really good offense. 4. Jedd Fisch wanted to be very conservative with Bortles Sunday, with good reason. 5. Bortles continues to make really poor decisions in crucial moments. That's a start, anyway …
John: thx
Pat from Wayne, NJ:
Defense played well. Offense played well. Special teams lost us that game.
John: Yeah, the special teams weren't great. That's not a long answer, but I have a feeling we'll have a chance to get deeper into this area in the coming questions.
Rick from Muskogee, OK:
Rookies do rookie things ...
John: Yep.
Jason from Dallas, TX:
Blake talked about seeing two different quarterbacks when he looked back at how he played at UCF. Well, I think we're seeing a third with who has reverted back to his flawed mechanics in college while trying to fit the ball where the second quarterback can. One more week til the bye...
John: I think we're just seeing a rookie quarterback. We're also seeing one who's playing with mostly rookie wide receivers and a young offensive line that is still struggling to pass protect. Those are factors people get tired of hearing about, talking about and discussing. But it's where Bortles is and it's where the Jaguars are.
Rob from Jacksonville:
Thoughts on the poor special teams play? Especially the unforgiveable error by Scobee kicking off … something is going on there. It doesn't show on his official stats really but he has made some huge mental errors and as fans, we are not use to that from Scobee. And the punt blocks … what was that? Indicative of a pervasive mental lapse on special teams?
John: The special teams play has been rough. Really rough. The blocked kicks and field goals are to the point where they're not surprising, and that's disconcerting – to put it nicely. But when you talked about Scobee's mental errors you used the plural. Sunday's kickoff out of bounds was something you can't have, but I don't remember one before that. He kicked low on a 55-yard field goal that was blocked against Tennessee, but you sort of have to do that and it's not really a mental error.
Kalani from Oakland, CA:
I still see improvement, John. I love this team!
John: #DTWD
Richard from Orange Park, FL:
I've come to the conclusion that Blake Bortles makes the same mistakes over and over. All of his picks come when he is under pressure and thrown over the middle. Isn't this coachable? And I don't think anyone needs to be fired but there needs to be more time spent with Blake on these issues. It seems like it just happens over and over and I know Blake is smart and wants to compete. Can the rookie get some coaching?
John: I'm not sure that we know how much time is being spent with Bortles on this issue. For all we know, he and Jedd Fisch are spending days and nights over Dominos and Diet Pepsi doing nothing but talking about this issue. Probably not, of course, but these topics are being addressed. Time is spent on them. He's working through it. This is the process. You're watching it live. And the interception Sunday wasn't the "same mistake over and over." He tried to throw the ball out of bounds. He didn't accomplish that. It wasn't any fun to watch, but it was new.
Sean from Jacksonville:
If Gus Bradley is still the head coach after this season, then it is obvious that no one in Jags management has any clue on how to build a winning team. The team is in the bottom of every stat category and Blake Bortles is showing himself to be a huge project, not a first-round pick. Not to mention the fact the Bradley pressed the panic button way too early and put Bortles in for no reason other than to appease fans and the owner. Now, those fans are questioning if Bortles is a bust. Bradley has turned the Jags into the Titanic.
John: I get emails like this sometimes.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Denard Robinson is cool. I like him.
John: Yes.
Nathan from Fort Collins, CO:
I know some are mad with the result and usually I am, but I was actually satisfied with the Jags Sunday. Yes, they made a few mistakes, but I saw growth from all of the team and they held a pretty good offense in check most of the game. I see the team starting to gel!
John: Good eye, and as I said earlier, there were actually quite a few emails like this Sunday night. There were some good signs. This was the sort of game the Jaguars lost big most of last season – a game on the road against good, division-leading team. Sunday's game had every chance to turn into that sort of game. It didn't because the Jaguars fought, scrapped and made some plays to get back in it. The defense forced turnovers in the second half and the offense made enough plays to rally. People are seeing it. They might not love what they're seeing, but there's a little more to like than last season.
Weston from Greenville, DE:
When do you think we will have a good season?
John: Soon.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
There have been games this year that were painful to watch. At least this one was (mostly) fun to watch.
John: It sure was for a while.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Hey John … you and Sexton please spare us the "this team is improving" bs. Leave it to Sexton … this is the most improved 1-8 team in the league.
Dan from Jacksonville:
John, the Jaguars have to be the best 1-8 team in the history of the NFL. Do you agree?
John: Sort of, but I'm scared of what Jerell might do if I say it.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
John, I've been supporting Bortles up until this week. He said he's learning from his mistakes, but I cannot figure out what he's doing after that interception. There's no way he saw an open receiver in a sea of orange. It would be different if it was a weird look, or he was under pressure, or anything, but he was looking right at it and had about 3-4 seconds to just sit there and look at completely covered receivers. I don't understand how he decides to throw the interception. That's not even teachable because it's so obvious it would be like trying to teach him not to turn around and throw the ball backwards. What is he doing?
John: It's understandable to be a bit befuddled after that interception. It looked awful, and you just wondered what he was seeing. As it turned out, Bortles did see it. He saw Allen Hurns covered. He saw him covered well. He tried to throw the ball out of bounds. It didn't happen.
Nell from Jacksonville:
We rallied back in the second half John. We had the Bengals worried there. It was the little things than did us in. Defense played good with all the injured guys on that side of the ball. Special teams has to get better. Interceptions are unacceptable but Bortles only had one. He looked better.
John: I guess. I thought he actually looked pretty similar to recent weeks, and for a while, I wondered if he wasn't being a bit too cautious. He looked a little better at times in the second half, but at the same time, he had a couple of balls dropped that could have been interceptions. He's struggling. He's working through the process of being a rookie. He has to grow through it and I believe he will in time.
Daniel from Howell, MI:
I always see Jedd around the quarterbacks during the games, where is Frank at on game day? Also, why did Bortles throw that ball?
John: Jaguars quarterback Frank Scelfo is in the coaches box on game days. Bortles said he tried to throw it out of bounds, and the pass didn't work out as he hoped.
Ian from Leeds, UK:
So that looked like a team getting beat by a better team. I'm kind of OK with that. Special teams needs a lot of work, though. Can we start looking forward to Wembley now?
John: Yes.

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