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O-Zone: Pour some sugar...

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Logan from Wichita, KS:
I don't care who they faced. The Ravens have a darned good defense and I don't think we have a snowball's chance in hell against them on Sunday with our play-calling and pathetic excuse for an offense. Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory already see the most stacked box in the NFL. We won't win with runs into the heart of a stacked box and throwing short cross routes to get batted down or thrown behind receivers. I am fed up with this trash play year-in and year-out. When will it ever end?
John: I agree the Ravens have a very good defense, and I agree the Jaguars' play-calling against Tennessee could have been more aggressive. But remember: the play-calling was relatively aggressive early against Houston in Week 1. It got less aggressive once the Jaguars took control near the end of the first half. The play-calling was conservative against Tennessee when the game was tight, then the team got into a stretch of difficult, penalty-caused down-and-distance situations in the second and third quarters; the game got away from the Jaguars at that point. I doubt the Jaguars' play-calling this season will be as aggressive as fans would like because I doubt the team believes it has the personnel at quarterback or receiver to be a pass-first, aggressive offense. It certainly doesn't appear to have that sort of personnel. But I do think you'll see more plays designed to get defenders out of the box as the season moves forward. That doesn't have to mean deep shots down the field on every series. It can mean misdirection, quick screens … some scheming to get receivers one on one. But whatever they do, they have to do something. Because you're right: it's tough to run against eight-man fronts. That's no secret.
Eder from Mexico City, Mexico:
Hey John, one for Mexico City.
John: No doubt.
Red from Jacksonville:
Get ready to be surprised, John. Ryan Nassib will be named Jaguars' starting quarterback in early December. Book it.
John: I'll go ahead and pass on booking that. Let me be clear: While Nassib's presence on the roster by definition means it's possible he starts, he is here as a practice quarterback and in the event of injuries at quarterback. Is there is a scenario near season's end that the Jaguars could shut down Blake Bortles if they are so far out of contention that it becomes silly to risk an injury to Bortles and therefore be committed to paying him $19 million next season? Yes, that's a scenario. Could Chad Henne play in that scenario and do so poorly that they play Nassib? Could Henne get injured and the Jaguars be forced to play Nassib? Sure. Such scenarios exist because anything's possible. But in terms of Nassib coming out of nowhere to win the job and magically become the Jaguars' starter, no … don't expect that to happen – just as there was no reason to think it was going to happen in the preseason with Brandon Allen. I'm sure I'll get more questions about it. I'm sure people will roll their eyes at this answer. I'm sure people will wonder why in the world Nassib isn't starting and why they don't "give him a shot." I'm sure of those things because this ain't my first quarterback rodeo. But will it happen? I learned long ago never to say never in real life or sports, but if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised.
JT from Rosamond, CA by way of Jacksonville:
It's reported that the Chiefs would listen to offers for Alex Smith. If Bortles continues on his normal path, should we give Andy Reid a first-round pick for him? This team feels like it's a quarterback away from taking this division.
John: The most credible report I've seen about the Chiefs trading Alex Smith was one from Adam Schefter of ESPN. That report was that Kansas City will be willing to listen to offers for Smith after the 2017 season. That sounds right because right now Smith is starting for the Chiefs and they appear likely to be a playoff contender this season. Would the Jaguars be wise to explore a trade after the season? Sure. Would they be wise to give up a first-rounder? Would that be at the expense of drafting a quarterback with that first-rounder? The last question is significant.
Dave from Dallas, TX:
Hi John: We're certainly seeing some churn. Is anybody's job safe?
John: I have a hunch Jalen Ramsey will be on the roster for a while.
Josh from Fernandina Beach and currently Fort Lauderdale, FL:
O-Man, what Westbrook's true status? Thanks. Go Jags!
John: Jaguars rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook is on injured reserve after undergoing core muscle surgery. He would be eligible to return eight weeks into the season if healthy.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I think the critical difference for this team is going to be its ability to sustain drives. For that to happen, they're going to have to find some things that work in the passing game. That doesn't mean they need a wide-open playbook, but they need a handful of plays that they can execute consistently, and not just when the first read is wide open. Do you think that's likely to happen soon enough to keep this team competitive, John?
John: Teams usually don't have a few plays that always work because NFL defenses usually are good enough to take away things that offenses believe always work. One key to success in the passing game is having multiple receivers who can beat single coverage; you need multiple receivers who can beat single coverage because if you only have one, defenses are going to constantly double and shade toward that receiver and take him away. A second key is having a quarterback who can read the defense correctly and make throws consistently beyond the first read to the receivers are receiving single coverage. These two elements sound easy in theory and are difficult in fact. Do the Jaguars have either of those elements? Not to a degree enough to have had an effective passing game in recent seasons. Will they develop that soon? We'll see.
Eric from Jacksonville:
What are the teams travel and practice plans for London?
John: The Jaguars will leave for London Thursday afternoon and arrive in London Friday morning local time. They will practice early afternoon local time on Friday.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Just saw that from 2014-2016, the quarterbacks with the most passes batted at the line of scrimmage were Ryan Fitzpatrick (38), Ryan Tannehill (41) and Blake Bortles (56). How is his number so high? It can't be purely coincidence, and it can't entirely be explained by teams usually playing with leads, allowing their pass-rushers to "tee off" on Bortles. Especially considering that at least one of the passes tipped by Tennessee's defensive line led to an interception, and that this team cannot afford to turn the ball over, what can be done?
John: I continue to get questions about "what can be done" about this issue or that issue regarding Bortles. It often comes down to him or players around him simply doing things better than they have been doing them. Batted passes usually are "on" a lot of different things: offensive linemen not blocking in such a way to get pass-rushers' hands down, a quarterback not getting into position to throw through proper lanes, a quarterback waiting too long to throw the ball, offensive linemen not protecting well enough, the defensive line getting good rush, luck, etc., etc., etc. Bortles can do better. The line can do better. But if you're thinking that there's some drill that can be run in practice and have the issue magically disappear … nah, it doesn't work that way.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
I couldn't be sicker of you sugarcoating last week's performance with "They won in Week 1 and are 1-1." That game was a third-down pass interference call away from being the same story as this past week and every other week for the last three seasons. How can they not have addressed the quarterback situation during the offseason??? Picking up Nassib now reeks of pure desperation.
John: I was going to say something about being bored with the whole "sugarcoating" thing, but then I thought how cool it would be if reading me really made people sick – I mean, like "physically" – and it was so awesome I couldn't stop smiling.
Tom from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hello, Mr. O ... I know fans are going to fan and fan, but it's amazing to me how quick they jump on and off the wagon. The team is 1-1 after two complete opposite result games. It usually takes about four-to-six games into a season for a team's identity to truly emerge. Let's just watch what happens and see where it goes. I'm sick of the losing, too, but geez ... 1-1 is still the best start this team has had in the past six years.
John: Sugar-coater.

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