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O-Zone: Star of the parade

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Reginald from Jacksonville:
What do you think Nathaniel Hackett will do differently from Greg Olson and do you think the offense will move the ball better?
John: I think the Jaguars' offense under Hackett will be significantly more committed to the run and will stick with the run even if it might appear initially it's not working. The Jaguars believe a greater commitment and "stick-to-it-iveness" is needed in this area – and that the commitment will make a difference. That's the general vibe. I also think you may see the Jaguars run from different formations than you previously saw this season. I imagine, too, Hackett could mix in up-tempo possessions more quickly than Olson. Will all of that make a difference? Will the Jaguars move the ball better? I suppose I'd say yes – not so much because of anything Olson was or wasn't doing, but because it would be hard to be worse offensively than the Jaguars have been in the first half in recent weeks.
Dave from Orlando, FL:
Johnny-O, forget about poor throwing mechanics and bad play calling, this teams fortune's changed the day that the Culligan girl left town.
John: You may have a point – even though I have no idea what you're talking about.
Rob from Orange Park, FL:
There has to be more to the firing of Olson than Blake/offense playing bad since they promoted the quarterbacks coach. I doubt you are allowed to tell the real story, but there at least has to be some interesting rumors going around. Care to share any of those?
John: The real story is the Jaguars had scored six points in the last three first halves and that the offense wasn't moving well enough to give the team a chance to win. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley thought some sort of change was needed, and he didn't see a change happening with Olson as the coordinator. Once he decided that was the move, he promoted Hackett partly because Hackett had NFL play-calling experience. I've said often this week that the move feels like a Hail Mary – and that considering how Blake Bortles has played at quarterback this season, I am hard-pressed to tell you what Olson could have or should have done differently. But considering the circumstance, Bradley felt compelled to do something – and this was it. I understand the need to find the conspiracy and the inside story, but this was a case of Bradley wanting to do something – anything – to fix an offense that by any measure has been stagnant. Hopefully for all involved it will work.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Is it time for fans to start paying more attention to the national media coverage of the Jags? For years we've been upset about how the national media has slighted the Jaguars, but they seem to be the ones that have been right more often than not. I know the local media "knows" the team better, but in terms of predicting the direction of the team, they've been terrible. It was the national media that still had a question mark on Blake Bortles while the local media was prepping the display case for his inevitable MVP trophy. It was the national media who repeatedly has had the Jags at or near the bottom of the league and division while the local media has trumpeted .500 with a possible playoff push. Is it time we start believing more of what we hear from them rather than the local guys and gals?
John: Many national analysts believed the Jaguars would contend for a playoff spot and an AFC South title this season – in fact, that was kind of an offseason theme. Some local analysts – myself included – predicted closer to 9-7 or 7-9. I said repeatedly I believed the defense would be at the very least OK and that the key to the season was whether or not the offense and specifically Bortles made some very difficult Year-2-to-Year-3 improvements. That doesn't make me any sort of visionary … but it does mean I could use a rub down because patting yourself on the back can be rough on the soft tissue … but sure, listen to the national guys if you want. Considering what predictions are actually worth, theirs are as good as any.
David from Orlando, FL:
O-man, the No. 1 thing the Jags' organization needs to determine for the rest of this season is if Blake Bortles is "the man." We're not going to determine this by coddling him, by having him dink and dunk it down the field. I speak for EVERY Jags fan when I say we would rather go down in a blaze of glory than a whimper and with our tail between our legs. In the words of one wise sage (Petey Prisco), you've got to set Blake free, and let the chips fall where they may.
John: OK.
Cir-Ike Love At the Edge:
John-O, I'm on the edge looking over; it's not a pretty sight. I don't want to abandon ship. I'm so close, John. Talk me off this ledge. What can I expect from this Jagtanic (see what I did there) the rest of the year???
John: Whoa! First off: step back, Cir-Ike. We sure don't need you slipping. Second, while it has looked bad in recent weeks – and while Sunday's game looks like a very difficult matchup – all hope is not lost. Things are usually not as bad as they look in the NFL – and teams usually follow up bad losses with better performances and even unpredicted victories. That's not giving you a lot, but until the Jaguars show more, that's what I got.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, Brandon Allen has a very good arm and throws a beautiful spiral. He has excellent football acumen. He is a coach's son. About six weeks ago you implied not yet for him. If not now, why not? Blake has a head problem at the present. What do we have to lose? Thanks.
John: What you have to lose is in your scenario is Blake Bortles as a potential franchise quarterback. If you're ready to put Bortles completely in the past tense, then start Allen. Until then, don't.
David from Duval:
You want answers? You want the truth? I'll give you the truth. It hit me like a ton of bricks when Malik Jackson was on the radio Tuesday sharing his cerebral wisdom. The dumb penalties. The players calling out fans. The way they perform on the road when you need mental toughness. This in no way describes every individual on the team – and I'm not saying these guys are dumb – but there are too many weak-minded, immature, young adults on this team and that is our identity. That is Jaguar football right now. Your thoughts Johnny?
John: I haven't dug deep into this whole player-fan-whose-right-whose-wrong-who-said-what thing because, frankly, there's not much digging to do. I've said repeatedly that fans have every right to boo and that players have every right to not like it. Players also have every right to complain about it – but if they do, it will never, ever, ever, EVER be received well by fans. This is why I don't delve into it much: because the story has the same ending every time and no one ever seems to come out on the other end happy. I honestly haven't seen a booing-complaining story linger on as long as this one, but the disappointment/disillusion around this season is pretty high right now. None of this in my opinion truly reflects on the "character" of the players in the locker room, and I honestly don't believe it's a sign that players don't like the fans. They don't like getting booed and they perhaps unwisely and unfortunately commented on the matter. Bottom line? A few victories would cure a lot of ills – but I suppose that's true of a lot around this organization right now.
Daniel from Honolulu, HI:
Hey John, are you concerned that this will be Blake's third offensive coordinator in as many years? I don't think this is the right way for a developing young quarterback.
John: It's not ideal. Then again, ideal pulled out of the station a while back.
James from Yulee, FL:
Here's a crazy statement. I have a feeling Blake is quite the opposite of what people think of him. I think he's very smart. I also think when he can go to the line of scrimmage and have more freedom to call plays I think you'll see Blake just like in two-minute play well and excel. Just a feeling and I hope I am right. He's that kind of quarterback. He wants to have fun and play the game. Take the training wheels off and just let the kid play the game.
John: I've said often in recent weeks that I'd be reluctant to give a struggling quarterback more freedom at the line. I'd be surprised if that's the route that Hackett takes. But perhaps he'll shock us all and let Bortles and the offense play two-minute offense the entire game. Perhaps the Jaguars will win by 50 points and I'll be proven an idiot. If so, I'd be the happ-, happ-, happiest idiot in the Thanksgiving parade.

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