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O-Zone: Praiseworthy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
So I was reading an article where Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch was talking about the running-game struggles and lack of overall carries. He stated that teams often get more carries when leading late in the game. He said that in the 22 games he has been here we have had the lead in the fourth quarter just one time. That stat made me cringe, John … that is not good.
John: That statistic also actually isn't correct. What Fisch meant – and what he clarified after he said what you read – was that the Jaguars have only had the lead in a position to protect it by running their four-minute offense once in 22 games … but no, either way, that's not a happy stat.
Michael from Jacksonville:
Who are the Jaguars looking at in college football in 2015?
John: The good players.
Mary from Jacksonville and Section 104:
I read an article where Josh Scobee said that the officials had the wrong ball for his missed field-goal attempt and they had to get the right ball. What is the difference between the ball used for field goals and the regular football?
John: NFL teams use different balls for kicking than for offensive plays. The balls used for kicking are known as "K balls," and are monitored with diligence until shortly before the game. Before 1999, kickers were allowed to use their own balls during games, which led to kickers using extreme tactics such as microwaving the balls to gain more distance on kicks. Now, 12 "K balls" – new, untouched and therefore slick and difficult to handle – are delivered to officials' hotel the night before the game. On game day, a member of each team's equipment staff can rub down the K balls to give the balls a better feel for usage. The whole process may seem a bit quirky and extreme; then again, so are kickers.
Alex from Jacksonville:
Number of the day = 127. The number of times Babich's right hand hit the podium during his last press conference. #Bob'sRightHand
John: #DTWD
Oscar from Jacksonville:
Please explain why do we run the ball or throw a 5-yard pass when it's third-and-20?
John: This frustrates fans, as do five-yard passes on third-and-6. But while five-yard passes on third-and-6 are as often as not mistakes on the part of the receiver, short passes on third-and-a-mile plays are typically by choice. It's a choice of prudence over undue risk. The chance of actually converting third-and-20 is small and may not be worth the risk of a sack or interception, and the chance of throwing short and having a running back break a tackle and get a first down may actually be greater than throwing the ball past the sticks. Fans hate seeing it, because it looks like the offense is not trying to get a first down, but there are times it's statistically the wise move.
Brandon from Louisville, KY:
To me, it's really important to get the running game going on Sunday. It seems right now the offense is one-dimensional with teams dropping back in coverage to prevent Blake Bortles from making the big plays. If we can get the run game going don't you think that would allow the offense to open up some and maybe make some plays down field?
John: It sure wouldn't hurt.
Terry from Chester, VA:
How come no one is calling out DeWayne Walker, our defensive backs coach? It seems that group has underperformed all year (blown coverages, missed tackles, rare pass defenses, and even more rare interceptions).
John: Well, I suppose he now has been called out. As far as Walker and the group's performance, you coach what you got and coach that group to the highest level you can. I doubt Walker has had a perfect season, but when you have receivers running as wide open as the Jaguars' opponents have been running at times it's safe to say that's not what they're being coached to do.
Bobby from Salt Lake City, UT:
So the last few weeks, I have seen the defense play the run pretty good. The defensive line has done a great job at that, but I also noticed that every team we play sees that, so they kill us with the play-action pass in the middle. So many times Poz or the safeties bite on the play action. Are they just not trusting the defensive line to do their jobs? I mean, if they would let the line stop the run, which they have been doing lately, then they will be in a better position to get turnovers through the air and not allow those open tight ends in the middle. Your thoughts?
John: This no doubt has been an issue, and it's a tough dilemma. A huge part of the Jaguars' effectiveness against the run is run support from middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and safety Johnathan Cyprien. The Jaguars know they must stop the run to be successful. When they didn't do it against Washington, the results … well, we remember the results. At the same time, those players have responsibility to read keys and drop to their spots in coverage – and to make plays. The failure to do so at times has been a reason for some of the deep stuff in the middle. Every safety and middle linebacker in the NFL faces similar responsibilities. The solution? Play better – or perhaps more accurately, play more consistently.
Billy from Rosewood:
Johnny, what happened to the creativity and trick plays that made this offense fun to watch the latter half of last season? Does it have something to do with not trusting an offense with a bunch of rookies to run complex plays?
John: I wouldn't argue that conclusion.
Joe from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I understand the sentiment of the inbox. But, I hope fans realize the Jaguars may have just found one of the most coveted pieces of a successful NFL franchise – quarterback (right behind senior writer). Though we are very early in the process, it appears we have someone special behind center. And that alone will expedite the rebuild process, and perhaps alter the free -gent plan slightly so we can surround our franchise with some playmakers. I may be alone, but I'm excited.
John: You're not alone in your excitement. In fact, there's plenty of excitement around here. The soft-serve yogurt machine got fixed. Shadrick hasn't slept in two days.
Ivan from Duvalll!:
So people want Gus Bradley to take time out of figuring out what to do with the lack of talent at some positions to change the wording around in his press conferences? People do realize the problem is not being good enough right now not what a coach says after a game, right?
John: A few do. Not as many as you'd think.
Scott from Section 137 and Ponte Vedra, FL:
Besides linebackers and defense, do you think running back will be a priority in next year's draft?
John: It's hard to say. The Jaguars have four young players at the position, including two draft selections – Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson – and free-agent signee Toby Gerhart. All three have been running behind a line that hasn't exactly cleared gaping holes, so the severity of the need at running back remains to be seen. It wouldn't surprise me to see the team take running back in next spring's draft. It would surprise me a great deal to see a running back in the first round.
Mike from West Des Moines, IA:
Fire the general manager and head coach, midseason. Trade Bortles for a mid- to late- draft pick because he is a bust. Tank the rest of the season to get the first pick in the draft. Bring in a recognizable name disciplinarian coach, like Greg Schiano. Draft a running quarterback with the first pick. Bring in recognizable name veteran quarterback, like Mike Vick, or he who shall not be named. Install a run-option offense. Sign recognizable aging veterans to bring experience and leadership to the team. Spend up to the maximum cap allowance immediately. This will produce a much more competitive team. Do I get it?
John: Point taken.
Justin from Jacksonville:
Do you see us keeping the defensive front pretty much intact for next season?
John: Pretty much, yes, though I'd be surprised if the Jaguars don't address pass rusher early. Remember, David Caldwell is trying to put together an elite-level sustainable roster for the long term. The Jaguars drafted offensive tackle in the Top 5 in 2013 and quarterback in the Top 5 last year. Defensive end would be a very logical next step next offseason.
Scott from Jacksonville:
I have never heard so much homer praise for a quarterback who has cost his team two winnable games. Bortles is a turnover machine and is "moving" the offense with his feet more than through the air. His 300-yard game was based on the fact that he was facing a horrible defense and the Titans thought the game was basically over. I understand you have a very low football IQ, but you sound ridiculous when you say Bortles is showing franchise quarterback qualities. The kid is athletic but he's not anywhere close to being an elite quarterback. Heck, Carr in Oakland looks a lot better than him. So please stop with Bortles, because he is the leader of a 0-16 team.
John: I get emails like this sometimes.

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