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O-Zone: Simply put

CHANDLER'S CROSS, England – Let's get to it … Nick from Cocoa Beach, FL:
Hi John … hope you answer this as it is my first time writing you. Blake Bortles' interceptions and decision-making don't bother me as those are just things that come with experience. What has bothered me is the clear regression of his mechanics since he first came into the game against the Colts. His throws do not have the same velocity or the same accuracy. I assume this is due to less time spent on his mechanics since becoming the starter. If this is the case, do you think it would be prudent to try to fit more mechanics-work into practice, until the "fixes" are second-nature to him?
John: I would guess whatever regression you see in mechanics does have to do with time spent on them. I haven't noticed a dramatic slide in this area from Bortles – certainly not to the point where he was during the early part of the offseason. Bortles has said a few of the interceptions this season have been about mechanics, though the concern when he addressed interceptions a few weeks back was clearly on decision-making. Theoretically the Jaguars could work more mechanics into practice, but game weeks in the NFL are about preparing and game planning for the opponent and that's most of the focus goes. Realistically, it's going to take time for these "fixes" to become second-nature – a couple off-seasons focusing on it, perhaps. It's not uncommon for quarterbacks to struggle with mechanics during the regular season. The good ones figure out how to stay as solid during November and December as they are in training camp.
Dakota from Dupree, SD:
O, haven't heard much about the o-line lately. Generally that is a good thing. How they been, O?
John: Better.
Mike from Mandarin:
I read an article from Profootballtalk.com, and there was a comment from Jaguars President Mark Lamping I didn't particularly care for. Mark said something to the effect of "it's totally worth playing two home games in London" because of the revenue. I know Khan is committed to Jacksonville, but I feel two home games played in London is not fair to the Jacksonville fan base. We still draw better than several of the other smaller markets, so I don't think "two home games" in London is fair. Maybe a home preseason game over there, but not two regular-season games. What are your thoughts?
John: My thought is pretty simple: you read the story wrong. Lamping didn't say "it's totally worth playing two home games in London." He said "London is worth two home games for us." What he meant was the revenue generated from a "home" game in London is worth two home games in EverBank Field. It's something he has said on more than one occasion.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Hey, Zone: Dallas seems gettable now, much more so than a couple of weeks ago when they were mowing people down. If Romo is a no-go I'm predicting a win. This week a lot like Cleveland week in that the Jags are playing better and on the cusp again. If Blake can keep it to one turnover and Denard can keep pounding the rock against a below average defense I think the home-field advantage will put us over the top.
John: If Tony Romo doesn't play, the Cowboys certainly are more "gettable." That's true of most teams with established, veteran quarterbacks on Romo's level – and he is at a high level. When he's in the game, you can't pay as much attention to running back DeMarco Murray. In turn, when Romo and Murray are both playing effectively, it makes the Dallas defense that much better. Romo matters, and if he's playing, then that's a much different and more difficult task for the Jaguars Sunday.
Tucker from New York, NY:
Why aren't more people freaking out about our special teams mishaps this season? They say that when you're trying to develop a raw, talented rookie quarterback on an inexperienced offense, you need to support him with a solid defense. How about special teams, John? Is that important enough to warrant some blame for our losses? Shouldn't someone be held accountable for the embarrassing performance of this unit?
John: I'm not sure what you mean by freaking out. I've received more emails about special teams this season than any of my previous seasons – and justifiably so, I might add. Pretty much everyone covering the Jaguars has written and talked about it, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley gets asked about it a lot. By accountability, I assume you want people released or fired. I don't see that happening on any "freak-out" scale. Special teams is the domain of young players, and I get no sense that you'll see a midseason coaching change or roster overhaul.
Brian from Section 101 :
I believe a regime change would hurt the Jaguars growth and development, do you agree?
John: Without question.
Ted from Jacksonville:
I thought that Gus said he would play the players that give us the best chance to win. Can you honestly say he is doing that? Chad was not great but he never lost them the game. It was a team effort. But the last couple of weeks Blake has lost them the game.
John: We can go round and round on this, because it's an unprovable point. I completely understood why coaches early in the season were hesitant to play Bortles. They were worried he perhaps wasn't quite ready, and they were worried for a lot of the reasons we have seen. At the same time, there's still plenty of evidence that Bortles has given them the best chance to win. They had been outscored 105-10 in 10 quarters at the time they inserted Bortles into the game in Week 3. Since then, they have gone into the second half of all games with a legitimate chance to win. The offense has run better at least partly because of Bortles' presence and he has done for the most part a decent job on third downs. He has made mistakes, it is true, but a pretty strong argument can still be made that his presence is helping more than hurting.
Kent from Jacksonville:
I don't understand why the coaches want to go with Toby Gerhart over Storm Johnson. From a skill set they are similar, maybe Johnson being faster in a foot race. You are getting the same thing, yet it seems like they are trying to justify their spending by shoving Gerhart down our throats. Why not go with the younger, cheaper back?
John: First, the coaches didn't spend anything on Gerhart; the front office did that. Second, the Jaguars are 1-8 and focused solely on improving the first number. That takes precedent over justifying any spending. The Jaguars this season have played Denard Robinson over Gerhart at running back and LaRoy Reynolds and J.T. Thomas over Dekoda Watson at the Otto. If they were trying to justify spending, those decisions wouldn't be made. Gerhart has been effective as a third-down back in the passing game in recent weeks, so the Jaguars have used him there. He also appears to be getting back to full strength after dealing with an injury early in the season. That's why he's playing.
Peter from St. Johns and Section 242:
I usually respect John Clayton's analysis on ESPN, which is why it was sad to read this line in his assessment of the Cowboys' playoff chances: "Next Sunday's game against 1-8 Jacksonville in London should be an easy win." Since no NFL win is "easy," he obviously meant "comparatively easy." Clayton is pretty perceptive. It will be nice when statements like that become ridiculous. How long, John? Maybe next season? Even longer?
John: I actually already think the statement is a little off base. The Jaguars haven't been an easy victory for teams since Week 3.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
O-man, when you left the Colts did you even imagine the Jaguars would be having the issues they are now? I mean when you looked at the position for "Senior writer - Jacksonville Jaguars" did the success of the team weigh in on your choice to take the job? I can't imagine someone would voluntarily take this abuse day in and out. And to make things worse the Colts are looking better and better now. Any regrets?
John: No. Not remotely.
Guy from San Antonio, TX:
It looks as though we might miss the playoffs this year. That being said, I do feel like we have been improving in a lot of different positions on the team, and have a lot of building blocks for the future. What are the main positions that you feel we need to upgrade next year in free agency and the draft to become competitive next year?
John: I think the Jaguars will probably look at pass rusher early in the draft, and a pass-receiving tight end in free agency. I also think the Jaguars will look at outside linebackers next offseason.
Jason from New York, NY:
A simple joke from a simple man.
John: Yes, please.

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