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O-Zone: Short and sweet

JACKSONVILLE – This will be a slightly shorter O-Zone than normal.

It's not out of laziness, prominent though that may be for yours truly. It seems the aftereffects of Hurricane Matthew – combined with the Jaguars' bye week – conspired for fewer questions than usual. I also spent Saturday afternoon picking up sticks, gassing the generator and waiting for the power to return.

Around 8 p.m., the lights came on at O-Zone Manor. All was back to normal and I felt very grateful for that. Here's hoping everyone reading can return to something close to normal as soon as possible.

Let's get to it … Mr. Choco from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic:
Does a backup left tackle normally make more money per year than a starting guard, right tackle or center in the NFL? As we all know, backup quarterbacks can make considerably more than other starting players. With left tackle being arguably the second-most important position on offense; I wonder how coveted backups are at this position.
John: Backup tackles might make a bit more than other backup offensive linemen, but they rarely make more than other starters.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
People think we should win the Raiders game because we always hear how tough these cross-country trips are. So, if we struggle to play in Cali (but not in London?) a team from Cali should struggle here, too.
John: OK.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
On Jags of the Round table this week you said you wondered if what we saw from Bortles on Sunday was what he was. If that's what he is going forward and in Year Three, then I think the quarterback of the future is not in the roster.
John: That's a fair debate. Bortles was good at times – good enough for the Jaguars to win – against the Colts, but he was not elite. Where he goes from the Colts game – how he and the Jaguars build on his style in that game and utilize it in the offense – could well determine a lot about the direction of the offense and the future direction of the franchise.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
I agree that holding and/or pa$$ interference could be called on the va$t majority of play$, and I believe a careful replay analy$i$ would $upport that po$ition. I've never con$idered my$elf a con$piracy theori$t, but increa$ingly I do believe official$ can and do purpo$efully help determine the outcome of game$ by way of tho$e two penaltie$. On a related note, I think many of the league'$ top bra$$/long-tenured owner$ would love for Mr. Khan to abandon thi$ $mall market for the greener field$ of the UK, but the only way I ever $ee him doing that i$ if the team continue$ to flounder to the point where they completely alienate the fanba$e. On another related note, 1-3 feel$ much different than 3-1...
John: I'm a big fan of the $ in place of "S" as a way to make a point, even favoring the technique over CAPITAL LETTERS and exclamation points!!!! I'm also almost certain somewhere in your email you were making points about conspiracies. You initially seemed to believe that officials purposely control the outcome of games. While I supposed you can never discount the possibility of a rogue official doing this, to think that there would be a league-wide conspiracy or someone at the league office mandating such action … I'd be stunned if that was the case. There is too much to lose on the part of the league and there would be far too high a risk of exposure. You also mentioned Shad Khan abandoning the Jacksonville market for London. I don't doubt there are some owners who would like this, but everything Khan has done since purchasing the team shows a striking commitment to Jacksonville – and in the end, it's his team and he can keep it in Jacksonville if he so chooses. As far as 3-1, being better than 1-3 … I Googled this and you're exactly right.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
John, I think most agree that in terms of mechanics, Bortles has regressed a bit. I know that working on fundamentals is looked upon as an offseason activity, but why not during the season? Sure, the demands of in-season practice are high, but surely the quarterback coach can find a little time to focus on the basics?
John: I'd be surprised if there wasn't some focus on Bortles' mechanics during the bye week. It's also something Bortles and Jaguars coaches always monitor. At the same time, it's difficult to have a full-on rework or even re-tweak fundamentally during the season because of time – and because the focus during practice is on preparation for the upcoming game. Oh, and don't call me Shirley.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
You have often said you prefer a quarterback who can win from the pocket. However, for that to work you need more than "that" quarterback … you need an offensive line that can protect him and actually "give" him that pocket with enough time to make a few reads. If you don't have that offensive line – and right now, ours is not on that level – then you have to be able to throw on the move as Blake has shown the ability to do. In my opinion we need to take advantage of this mobility for the time being and get him outside the pocket intentionally much more often. Rolling him out gives him options, including throwing the ball away instead of taking an eight-yard loss on a sack. This is until our offensive line becomes "very good" or elite …. which may take another offseason or even two. Somewhat agree? #DTWD!!
John: Not really. Part of a quarterback's ability in the pocket is the ability to sense pressure and read blitzes well enough to help his offensive line. A quarterback functioning at a high level often can do so behind an offensive line that isn't among the NFL's best. He can do this by getting rid of the ball at the right time, and by moving in the pocket to avoid pressure. There were times in the past two seasons that the offensive line struggled enough that few quarterbacks if any could have functioned behind it. But this year the line has pass-blocked more than well enough for a quarterback to function from the pocket or with the occasional rollout or controlled scramble. This is not to say the line has been otherworldly good in this area, but Bortles in the first three games had several occasions on which he rolled or ran into pressure when the line blocked well enough for him to have gotten rid of the ball.
Big Papi from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico:
The Jaguars' season begins and ends with success of the running game. The run game is the building block for play action and directly controls how the opponent plays defense. If a team has to bring more players into the box it opens up the passing game especially on the perimeter. It also adds to the ability to control tempo, the time of possession and therefore gives the defense a chance rest. What are your thoughts Señor Juan? Run to setup the pass or pass to setup the run?
John: I don't think this ever as cut and dry as it as some believe, and you usually need some semblance of balance. For the Jaguars this season, though, I believe they need to establish the run for essentially the reasons you cite.
Kyle from Parsippany, NJ:
Glad to hear you made it out if the storm relatively unscathed. I hope everyone else was just as fortunate.
John: Me, too.

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