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O-Zone: Solo shot

JACKSONVILLE – One more day until Look-Ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it … Scott from Section 137:
Why do we insist on always trying to run on first down, which puts us in second and long? Even the announcers on television said the Jaguars need to try something else – and only when we were way behind in the fourth quarter did we change. Can we continue to win without Blake Bortles improving his accuracy and missing open targets? Once again, the television announcers noted that this continues to be a problem for Blake Bortles. Thanks.
John: Although I care little-to-nothing about what television announcers say about the Jaguars, in this case they touched on a couple of hot-button topics. First off, the Jaguars do need to throw on first down a bit more than they did Sunday. They Jaguars ran 10 first-down run plays and 15 first-down pass plays, but ran on six of eight first downs when the offense bogged down in the second and third quarters. This team can't win being pass-only or even-pass-80-percent but the Jaguars probably need to throw on first down closer to half the time. Still, make no mistake: as frustrating as the run may be for this team right now, it must keep working to establish it. It's not a team that can win passing 50 times a game. As far as Bortles' accuracy and missing targets … it's undoubtedly going to be tough to win if that continues. He missed some very make-able throws Sunday and you can't win consistently in the NFL when your quarterback is doing that.
Michael from Virginia Beach, VA:
Thank God for the win, but I feel our team plays distinctively different for away games than home games. Our record drops significantly further if we go to the West Coast. Do you think we would perform better on road games if we were to leave a day earlier to get accustomed to either the weather or time zone?
John: The Jaguars already leave on Fridays for West Coast games. That's about the norm.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
I'm telling you: this coordinator staff is absolutely the second worst in the NFL – if not the worst. Terrible on defense: playing not to lose is a terrible and worthless strategy. Horrible, horrible, horrible on offense. I consider myself a fan, so when I can predict every single play call I can only imagine how easy it is for an NFL coach to know what is coming. Greg Olson needs to pull his playbook together, burn it and go to clue school. We need to PRESSURE THE QUARTERBACK with more than four linemen on defense and DO THE SMART THING on offense. Enough said.
John: I understand the inclination to criticize coaching. Believe me, I read enough here to have a lot of angles covered – and the way the Jaguars' offense has performed this season it has left itself open to criticism. But I do find it amusing when fans criticize Todd Wash and the Jaguars' defensive staff. This is a unit, after all, that is clearly improving. It is a unit that has made a huge defensive stop at a critical time in four of five games this season. It's a unit that has performed well this season. I don't know that Wash and Co. are geniuses, but to say the performance has been terrible … well, that lacks rationality.
Jason from Jacksonville:
I'm glad the Jags were more patient with Marqise Lee than I was. He's been good.
John: Yes. That's why most teams are reluctant to release good, talented players. They often end up playing like good, talented players – and you can't have too many of them.
James from Vancouver:
Maybe the problem with our running game is we seem to do the same run out of the same formation. All out of shotgun, all seemingly up the middle … maybe this no-fullback approach isn't working?
John: I agree some of the issue with the run game may be constantly running out of the shotgun, but the no-fullback approach isn't a big deal. Fullbacks are usually only used on short yardage and aren't a huge part of most NFL offenses these days. Most of the problem with the running game is run blocking. That's usually the case when a run game struggles, and that has a lot to do with this team's issues this season.
Terry from Jacksonville:
Can you tell me why Bortles rolled out on the last play of the game instead of taking a knee? Why would you take a chance of fumbling?
John: The Jaguars needed to extend the final play to get the game clock lower than the play clock. The idea was to get to a situation where they did not need to punt before the end of the game. It worked.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
"It's hard in NFL to run up tempo/no huddle the entire game ... if it doesn't work you put the strain on your defense …" What's the difference from going three-and-out four, five or six times in a row? At least we score on occasion up-tempo.
John: The difference is if you're playing up-tempo and go three-and-out then your defense is back on the field within a minute or two. That's extremely difficult on a defense. This defense is playing very well and giving you a chance to win. You don't want to do things to weaken it.
John from Clearwater, FL:
So glad for the win – and the defense is looking like it's finding ways to stay in the game without a pass rush, which is impressive. My question is what is the identity of the offense? I think answering that after three seasons needs to happen. We want to run the ball but can't. We want Bortles to roll out but no one buys play action when you can't run and Bortles isn't polished enough yet to run five wide and throw 40 times a game. So what is this offense?
John: The Jaguars are a team that is struggling to run block and that has a quarterback who is inconsistent week to week. It's also difficult right now to pinpoint one thing this offense does really, really well. It's extraordinarily difficult to identify a team's identity when you don't do anything well enough to rely on it week to week.
Ken from Jacksonville:
I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but that game Sunday was yet another example of Gus not having this team ready to play. Yes, we got the win, but that was against a 1-4 team with a backup quarterback. We had two weeks to prepare for a dreadful team and that's all we could do. I hope this is the start of a turnaround for the team, but I'm not holding my breath.
John: These are fair points because the Jaguars needed to come back from 13 points down in the fourth quarter Sunday. But I honestly didn't see not having the team "ready to play" as nearly as much of an issue as the way the Jaguars sort of went away for two quarters after Bortles' first-quarter interception. They had started very good offensively and defensively – and the first drive actually was as good as the offense had looked all season. One unfortunate bounce shouldn't have sapped that much momentum.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, oh my: BB has to shorten that windup. He looks like Juan Marichal sometimes. C'mon, Blake.
John: Yeah, I can't disagree.
Mike from Jacksonville:
John, a lot of people keep bringing up statistics from Gus Bradley's first couple of years here where they gutted a roster. Personally, I am not even looking at the win-loss column other than for this season, of which there are 12 games left. Anything prior is just not fair to look into there was nothing there.
John: Fair enough.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
Hi John, what do you think of the pros and cons of firing a coach midseason? Since you can't bring in a new coach until the following year, the players don't get any extra time in the new system. If anything they have to adjust to another new coach (the interim) and then start over completely from scratch the next year. It seems to hold no particular advantage. So, assuming Khan at some point makes the decision to let Gus go, why do it before the season is over?
John: First, I'm not sure the assumption is correct. Second, there aren't many pros to changing coaches at midseason – and history shows there's usually very little benefit. That's a huge reason Khan has said often he's not prone to making a midseason NFL coaching change.
Glen from Riverside:
O, going into the fourth quarter 13-0 but inside the five-yard line why did I have a calm feeling the Jags were going to win? I got a little nervous when the Bears kicked the field goal but still felt there was plenty of time and we would prevail. Strange? Or did others feel the same?
John: I think you may have been flying solo there, Glen.

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