O-Zone: Sniff, sniff...

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I sense a disagreement. I have been impressed with Yannick Ngakoue from the beginning of the season. From the start it was clear he was a better pass rusher than Fowler. Ngakoue uses technique and moves, while Dante Fowler Jr. seems to run directly into the tackles and tries to use athleticism to get past them. I think with technique and a couple of moves, Fowler could be good; he looks really explosive for his size. However, I think given what we have seen on the field, Ngakoue appears to be the better pass rusher now and for the future. Fowler's on-field mental lapses have me concerned about his ability to learn his craft and develop his technique.
John: I wrote this week I believed Fowler is the best chance for a current Jaguars player to become a hammer-down, change-the-game, foundation pass rusher. This was not in any way meant as a slight to Yannick Ngakoue. I believe Ngakoue is headed to a long career in the NFL. I believe he has a chance to be a double-digit sacks guy. I believe he has a chance to be really, really good for a long time and to play in Pro Bowls. But Fowler was selected No. 3 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft for a reason. His skillset and athleticism is superior to that of many players around him, and it's that skillset that gives him the best chance of any Jaguars player to eventually be an elite-level, change-the-game, foundation-of-the-franchise pass rusher. That being said, Fowler must work to reach that level. He must develop pass rush moves. He must become more of a student of the game. He must become more professional. He appears to be working toward that as the season goes on. We'll see if it continues. One thing to your point, though … you said, "With technique and a couple of moves, Fowler could be good." Nah. With technique and a couple of moves, he could be elite. He's that talented.
Sam from Duval:
Hoping the players suck it up, quit making excuses, and beat the Vikings Sunday. If they don't win, it will be more than a year since the last time fans enjoyed a regular-season win at EverBank Field. …
John: OK.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL:
NFL.com research rated all 32 NFL offensive lines and the Jaguars come out eight best. Wow! What a surprise. What say you, O Man?
John: I'd say the Jaguars' offensive line probably doesn't pass the eye test to be rated quite so high. That's because it clearly hasn't been a dominant run-blocking unit this season. What it has been is a significantly improved offensive line and a pretty darned good pass-blocking line – one that certainly has played more than well enough for this offense to be more productive than has been the case.
Andrew from Sampson:
Surely Blake and A-Rob should have gotten together before the 2-10 point of the season, especially if they needed to. Maybe some of the other WR's should get together with Blake also. What say you, O'man?
John: I say Meeting Gate has become a little bit of an overblown story – in part because at 2-10 there haven't been all that many eye-popping stories around the Jaguars in recent weeks. Bortles and Robinson talk often during the season. This week's much-discussed meeting happened to include Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and came after Head Coach Gus Bradley said early in the week the Jaguars needed the pair to figure out why Robinson's 10 targets last Sunday had resulted in just three receptions. Will the meeting ignite the Jaguars' offense and cure what ails Bortles? It's possible. I wouldn't bet the house. And stop calling me Shirley.
Clay from Atlantic Beach, FL:
It is popular to compare the recent success, and lack thereof, of the Raiders and Jaguars. What do you make of this? Did we start at comparable positions in our rebuilds? If so, is the cause of the disparate results just the quarterback? Or did they take a different strategy in any more general manner?
John: Yes, the two rebuilds started at pretty similar stages – and yes, the difference in the play of the quarterback is a pretty big reason the Raiders are ahead of the Jaguars right now. The Raiders' offensive line also appears to be playing at a high level, and Khalil Mack has developed into an elite player while Fowler Jr. still appears to be going through a first-year transition that isn't uncommon for young edge players. Right now, the Raiders are well ahead of the Jaguars. That's non-debatable. It remains to be seen how long it will stay that way.
Sunil from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars' horrendous on-field performance is absolutely sucking the life out of the most passionate fans of this franchise. There are very dark days ahead and if you can't see that, John, then you may need to get your glasses fixed. I am typically a very optimistic Jags fan, but for the first time ever, I don't see the light at the end of this tunnel. It's now 17 years and counting since we have had a home playoff game. And it's over 365 days since we have even won a home game! I wonder if Shad Khan even knows that. If you don't have a quarterback, you don't have a chance. Thus, we won't have a chance for a while. How will the front office convince us to buy season tickets now? Oh yeah ... We must keep the franchise "secure in Jacksonville." I forgot. That's how they got us to buy tickets in the first place. This is way too frustrating.
John: Shad Khan certainly knows all about the Jaguars' on-field struggles, and everyone in the organization fully understands the importance of winning. The team's failure to do so, while reflecting a lack of execution in the plan, does not reflect a lack of understanding or commitment. The Jaguars under Khan and President Mark Lamping never have taken the approach that fans are "obligated" to support the franchise for any reason. They know the team must earn loyalty and commitment – and the Jaguars will continue to do everything they can to earn and reward it. I get the frustration, Sunil – believe me. I hear and read it every day. The only way the Jaguars can end that frustration is to win and that's what Khan and everyone involved will continue to strive to do.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
I know the pass protection has been better this year, but not the run. How would you rate the signing of Kelvin Beachum? Do you think they will pick up his option to lock him up for four years?
John: I would rate Beachum a very good signing. The Jaguars' pass protection struggled mightily the last two years and it hasn't struggled nearly as much this year; Beachum's not the only reason for that, but he's a factor. As far as Beachum's future with the Jaguars, this is one of many questions that can't accurately be answered until the direction of the franchise is known after the season. I would re-sign Beachum because he has fared very well in the first season after a torn anterior cruciate ligament and I would assume he would improve next season. I believe that will be the decision if David Caldwell returns as general manager. There's no way to predict what will happen if that's not the case.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
John, I have sent in many posts complaining about the coaching. Now? Not so sure. Special teams coaching? Maybe a change there wouldn't hurt. Defensive coordinator change when you have the No. 4 defense in the league? No. Offensive coordinator? Head coach? Injuries aside, the only major things wrong with the offense is the quarterback play and running back fumbles. Maybe calling for a clean sweep of the coaching staff was a tad over the top. Do you think, as I do, that last year's Bortles on this year's team could have resulted in at least a .500 record?
John: No, because I think a lot of what has ailed Bortles and the offense this season – i.e., turnovers and inefficiency – ailed them last season. I do believe if Bortles had taken the Year 3 step that most observers – myself included – anticipated then the Jaguars indeed would be .500. That does not mean I believe that Bortles is entirely the reason the Jaguars have struggled. The defense still has not developed into an elite pass-rushing unit and doesn't force enough turnovers. The special teams struggles have hurt and there were too many penalties early in the season. The running game also hasn't been as effective as would be ideal. But overall … yeah, I think the Jaguars would have won four more games with increased efficiency at the quarterback position.
CliffLives/AntiHJT from Jacksonville:
Remember that time you were popular? Yeah, neither do we.
John: You hurt my feewings.

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