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O-Zone: Reasonable expectations

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Julio from Hesperia, CA:
O, be honest right here, right now! Do you think this team is way too talented to be underperforming, which points to coaching as the issue?
John: I in fact never have been dishonest on this issue. I said repeatedly this past offseason I really didn't think we'd know about Head Gus Bradley and this staff until this season. That's because the talent level the past three seasons didn't really give the Jaguars a legitimate chance to win. That was very true in 2013 and 2014 and it remained relatively true last season. Now, we're six games into this season. Is the 2-4 record to be blamed on coaching? I think this defense this season has played well. It's the first time in this four-year era that either side of the ball has played at what could be called a winning NFL level – and yes, I include the 2015 offense in that assessment. The major issue right now is the offense is ineffective because the run-blocking is struggling and most of all because the quarterback is struggling. If you believe the coaching staff is responsible for struggling run blocking and quarterback play, then coaching is the issue. I don't believe this staff has coached poorly this season. Neither do I believe it has been great. I believe it has coached OK by NFL standards and that if the team had good-to-average quarterback play, the team would be above .500. That doesn't mean this staff automatically will be back. I doubt the Jaguars can finish below .500 and there not be changes, but what has gone on this season is by no means all the fault of the coaches.
Gerry from the Westside:
Blake Bortles was bad Sunday. Really bad. But it's a reach to blame him for the intentional-grounding penalty. That should not have been called.
John: You're referring to the play in the fourth quarter when Bortles was called for intentional grounding after the Raiders were called offside. I wrote Monday that Bortles needed to be more aware of the situation. I looked at the play again later that day. I was wrong. Khalil Mack was unimpeded to the quarterback and Bortles grounded the ball. A penalty should not have been called.
Michael from Yulee and Section 214:
At what point does the staff step back and say what are we doing wrong? And when will they start making the right play calls? Correct me if I am wrong, but in the beginning of the fourth quarter the Jags had only thrown 12-23. I understand you can't throw the ball a lot if it is just three-and-outs. But I think they called way too many running plays when pass plays should have been called. It is to the point we the fans are just excited for a 40 field goal to get a free sub.
John: Jaguars running backs ran 11 times Sunday. To run any less would be the equivalent of not running at all. It's also not particularly prudent when your quarterback is struggling to complete passes.
Jake from Chicagoland, IL:
Zone, this week it seemed in general pass protection looked pretty good; some plays Blake had a lot of time. It's tough to see receivers on television …. was there separation? How about on the season? Accuracy issues are obvious and much-discussed. It's tougher to know when other opportunities are there.
John: The separation hasn't always been great this season, but generally speaking this hasn't been a problem severe enough that it should completely shut down the offense.
Kyle from Panama City, FL:
It's nice to see Marqise Lee stay healthy and become an important part of the offense. That's about all the positive I can see out of this team right now.
John: That's probably not quite fair, because the defense actually has a lot of components playing at/near a winning level. Still, your point is a good one: Lee has remained healthy this season and has impressively earned a role in this offense. He is the only receiver right now consistently productive in the middle of the field, and he was the only part of the offense Sunday that provided any consistency. He entered this past offseason with a goal of staying healthy and letting the rest – playing time, production, opportunity – take care of itself. He has stayed healthy and improved accordingly. Credit to him.
Travis from Athens, GA:
John, you are wrong again. This team is very, very, very consistent. Once again we at 2-4 we are on the bottom of the AFC and one of the six worst teams in the league. And that my friend is very consistent with the last few years.
John: Point taken.
Scott from Minneapolis, MN:
The offense is just leaving too many plays on the field. Plain and simple. Now how to fix that? That's the question I'm happy I'm not being paid to answer.
John: The fix is better execution – not only from the quarterback position, but from receivers and the offensive line in terms of run blocking and the running backs. The offense seems broken; I get that. But there were opportunities to score Sunday and the Jaguars didn't take advantage of the opportunities. Criticize play-calling all you want – and right now everything is up to be criticized – but the simple truth is the offense must play better.
Taylor from Maryland:
What happened to the Allen Robinson in training camp that dominated?
John: Much of Robinson's drop in production this season stems from fewer big plays. Much of the reason that has happened is defenses are scheming to take away the deep pass. An argument can be made that Bortles needs to throw the ball his way even with defenses scheming against it, but whatever the reason, the lack of production on deep passes has been noticeably absent. The other issue seems to be that Robinson – like many of the Jaguars' offensive players – appears to be pressing and trying to make big plays. That perhaps attributed to Robinson's drops Sunday.
Tim from Atlantic Beach, FL:
In reference to the intentional grounding call, why doesn't a quarterback get called for this when he intentionally spikes the ball to stop the clock? Obviously, the center's foot isn't an intended receiver.
John: That's not intentional grounding because the rules say it's OK to ground the ball to stop the clock if that's clearly the intent of the quarterback.
Josh from Green Bay, WI:
Consistently inconsistent ... is that a fair assessment?
John: Yes.
J Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
I know this has been overlooked for other more pressing issues, but what is with Dante Fowler Jr. and his really, really boneheaded penalties? Give the kid a rulebook! His ignorance of rules and not being able to line up in a straight line aren't helping our cause.
John: You're right.
Lee from St. Mary's, GA:
Would these issues even be issues under a Tom Coughlin-led Jaguars team? I know it's players not plays, but what we saw Sunday isn't new. Blake looked lost.
John: The penalty issues in the fourth quarter Sunday … yes, a strong argument can be made that that's on coaching. There were far too many personal-foul/out-of-control incidents, and while you would like to think that professional players would conduct themselves accordingly, coaching is going to rightfully be blamed when such things happen. That sort of behavior hasn't been a trend, but one such afternoon is too many such afternoons. As far as blaming coaching for Blake Bortles looking "lost" … that's difficult. Blame coaches for play-calling and discipline, but if Bortles looks lost, it's up to him to look un-lost.
Tom from South Dakota:
Ramsey is legit.
John: Yes.
Depressed fan from Jacksonville:
How is the defense so good and the offense so bad? Help me understand, O.
John: The defense is playing better this season because it added better players and for the most part those players have been good additions. It's not a great defense because it's not rushing the passer at a dominant level or creating turnovers, but it's a good enough defense to usually keep the team in games. The offense's struggles are in one sense surprising but in another sense not. Many believed the offense would be good this season because it was productive at times last season. The problem was while the offense indeed was productive at times last season, it struggled early in games, lacked consistency and depended on big plays in the passing game for success. Bortles also threw too many interceptions. Many of those issues remain issues and without the big plays in the passing game the offensive struggles look even more glaring.
Jon from PEI, Canada:
Hey O. Going into this game I didn't expect a win, though I definitely expected a close game. This was far from reality. Am I wrong in expecting the Jags to be competitive in most of their games at this point in the regime?
John: No. Absolutely not.

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