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O-Zone: Reliable sources

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Logan from Wichita, KS:
How can you say we are any closer to a better team than four years ago? Last I checked we were 2-5 and on the verge of our seventh Top 10 pick in a row. The talent honestly can't be better because it's not showing. Dante Fowler Jr. clearly lost a step in his speed and skills, Malik Jackson is not worth the price tag, Tashaun Gibson has shown he is not capable of changing games, Blake Bortles is going downhill fast, the Allen brothers have not shown they can repeat good seasons, this O-line is terrible – and other than that, this team is really mediocre at best. Come on, just fess up: We won't be good for AT LEAST another five years at this rate.
John: I guess I say the Jaguars are closer to a better team than four years ago for a pretty simple reason: I believe they are a more talented roster than they were four years ago. This is not to say they are a team of experienced, veteran, mature players at all positions – because that's clearly not the case. This also is not to say they are a good team – because 2-5 teams are not good teams. But there are far more positions with capable players than was the case four years ago. And while this is not a week to laud specific players, I will say that Fowler's issues center around maturity more than skill set, that Jackson's significantly more worthy than your email indicates, that the Allen brothers are more capable as well and that the offensive line is actually pass blocking well despite its run blocking … but as I said, the wake of Thursday's ugly loss is not a time when anything looks or feels or smells or tastes good. As for my confession … while there's no way I thought this team would be 2-5 after seven games there also is no way this team will need five years to be competitive. Not even close.
David from Broward County:
O-Man, in response to Jason from PA asking about Brandon Allen you said, "That does not mean he yet knows fundamentals and NFL basics – or that he is ready in terms of grasp of the offense – well enough to start in the NFL." This very much describes how BB5 looks right now. I'm not saying you pull BB5 now, but you have to be prepared to do that very soon, and putting Henne in would be the wrong move. You start seriously getting Allen ready – tough given the CBA – but you have to do it, and be ready to pull BB5 soon if this lost, clueless, bad play continues. Leaving BB5 in to continue playing in this manner would surely ruin him more than sitting him down. Your thoughts?
John: I think let's see what the next few weeks bring.
Jarrod from Chicago, IL:
ESPN referred to Bortles as a "basket case" and that the locker room has lost all faith in him. Have you sensed that from the team at all?
John: I sense a quarterback who's having a remarkably difficult season and who appears to be going through the expected, understandable crisis of confidence that goes along with that. I see a locker room of teammates that knows that quarterback can play well because they have seen him do so – but that also is expectedly frustrated with losing. As for lost faith … I'm never sure how to gauge that. I sense Bortles' offensive teammates are not as confident as a group as they were last season and it stands to reason that Bortles' play is part of that. I also sense that a few productive games – or even a few productive series – would make a lot of things better in a hurry.
Mike from Section 238:
What are the CBA limits on how much one-on-one on-field instruction a quarterback can get between one Sunday game to the next during the season?
John: One-on-one time is not specifically limited by the CBA, so a player could theoretically receive one-on-one instruction any day except the players' off day (usually Tuesday). But players are in meetings, walkthroughs, film study and practice on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – a schedule that severely limits time for one-on-one, mechanic/fundamental-oriented work. That's what makes the offseason – particularly the time between the regular season and the beginning of the official offseason program – so important.
Paul from San Antonio, TX:
Hey O, so new OC and the rest of the schedule is gonna be tough except for a few games that we could win. Where do we go from here?
John: Kansas City.
Sam from Jacksonville:
O, I was able to enjoy multiple games Sunday without worrying about the dumpster fire that is my Jags. The thing that really strikes me is … so many NFL offenses have an obvious rhythm and smoothness to them from play to play. I can't remember the last time my Jags looked like that. It's so disheartening.
John: It indeed has been too long since the Jaguars have had a rhythm offensively. Offensive rhythm more often than not is reserved for teams with consistent quarterbacks functioning at a high level. Even when Blake Bortles was playing well last season he was rarely efficient and before that … so, yeah, it has been a while.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Blake Bortles does not have an NFL arm. Derek Carr has the velocity to make the tight coverage throws. David Caldwell has blown this one. What say?
John: I say that right now Carr looks better than Bortles. With Carr playing as he has played this season and Bortles playing the way he has played this season it would be foolish to say otherwise. It didn't look nearly as clearly that way at the end of last season. If nothing changes, then yeah … it's probably accurate to say Caldwell missed on the selection. Bortles obviously needs to fix some significant things in terms of mechanics and performance. If he can't, then it's a bad thing and he may have a short career as a starter. If he can, then we'll all be revisiting this question.
Travis from Boynton Beach, FL:
O man, how are fans piling it on Bortles? The same guy moving the ball in the third and fourth quarter when defenses are playing prevent is the same guy passing for double-digit yards in the first half in consecutive games. Don't get me wrong: I want Blake to be "The Guy," but right now he only looks like that guy when the game is out of hand.
John: Yes, that's how he looks – and it's how he looked at times last year. When I said people are piling on Bortles a bit, I included myself as much as anyone. What I meant was there is a lot going wrong right now – and it's truly not all Bortles. But is his play troubling right now, and it is a focal point when discussing reasons the Jaguars are struggling.
Mike from Jacksonville:
O, can you please explain why we must continue to be humiliated by former Jaguar coaches and players who go on to other teams, beat us and have better records as coaches and players of other teams? What's a fan to do? For the last several years we have attend three games each season as a small and affordable way to support our team. However given our worsening record, we are giving serious thought to pulling the plug next year and just watching the games on TV. We will stick by our Jaguars but the excuses have run out. It is time for an honest and comprehensive evaluation of the Jaguars that incorporates the history of all levels of the people who are and have been in positions of responsibility with the Jaguars- top to bottom. What went right? What went wrong? Why are we not progressing in a positive direction? Sort of like an independent auditor. What say ye? Your continued candor is appreciated.
John: I say Shad Khan now has owned the Jaguars for nearly five years. I say he's a remarkably intelligent man. I say when he makes decisions regarding the future of this franchise he will make them based on his experience, his research and his increasing knowledge of the NFL. And I say that's how an intelligent owner should make decisions.
Travis from High Springs, FL:
Hi John. No question here. Just wanted to say I just read an article on another website about three trades the Jags should make before the deadline. One was trade Allen Robinson to the Cowboys for an offensive lineman, two was trade Blake Bortles to Cleveland for their first-round pick in the draft, don't even remember the third. Just wanted to say that everyone may not always like your answers on the O-Zone but thanks for making statements that are informative, intelligent and at least based in reality.
John: It's not always easy or even possible to be correct, but it's quite possible to be more accurate and based in reality than the article you cite.

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