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O-Zone: Taking a poll

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Lloyd from Jacksonville:
Why are you toeing the company line so hard? No offense, but you're the only guy I know of that thinks the Jaguars sticking to the Henne plan is still a good idea for the team.
John: Lloyd, people who know me can tell you if I got offended by people not understanding how I think – or act – I'd have scant little time for anything else. Also, I don't know that I've actually said sticking with Henne is a good idea or a bad idea. What I've said is the Jaguars are sticking to the plan they laid out and they're doing it because they believe that's what's best for the team right now – and for the long term. I can write that with confidence, because why would they do anything else? Now, honestly? If it was me making the decision, I'd go with Bortles. No doubt. I'd do that because – like most observers – I am indeed dazzled by his throws and I like what I think he can become. I like that he looks downfield first. I like that he is confident in the pocket. I like that he's exciting – and goodness, is he exciting to watch. And as an observer of this team, boy, is exciting fun. If it was me making the decision, I'd put aside the worry about the mistakes he's still making and about the passes that probably should have been interceptions. If it was me making the decision, I'd throw caution to the wind and wouldn't worry about him not knowing the offense as well as Chad Henne. If it was me making the decision, I'd ignore that coaches truly believe he's not yet ready to start. But guess who's not making the decision? Me, and you may see by now there's a good reason for that.
Rick from Callaway, FL:
Henne plays faster? Huh? Explain that in two minutes.
John: I can do it in about five seconds or less. Understands what he sees from defense quicker. Gets team into correct play quicker.
James from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Since you allowed a challenge to Roy Miller, I'd like to say that I'd be extremely surprised if Lee was faster than Denard Robinson.
John: Point taken. I would, too.
Joseph from Sacramento, CA:
You said you absolutely believe Blake Bortles will play sometime this season. Why do you believe that? Is it because you don't see this team winning with Chad Henne despite all the confidence the coaches have in him?
John: It's because I think at some point a change will be made. That could be an injury to Henne, or it could be that as a staff, the Jaguars believe Bortles' knowledge of the offense and of opposing defenses makes him ready. And yes, at some point I believe it's possible the Jaguars could be out of playoff contention this season; I've said often that making a legitimate push at a .500 record would be a significant accomplishment in Year Two of this build, and I believe that's true whether the quarterback is Bortles or Henne. I believe maybe some combination of those things will conspire to put Bortles into the lineup this season. I just don't believe it's imminent.
Kevin from Richland, VA:
Mr. O-Zone, is the rumor – that I just started –that Josh Scobee is not truly 'injured' but simply holding out for more face time on the website true?
John: I wouldn't put it past Scobee to do this, but in this case, that's not what's going on. He had been bothered a bit by a quad before Friday's game and he aggravated it further on a first-half field goal. He believes he'll be ready for the opener, but it's a legitimate injury.
Tommy from Jacksonville and Section 122:
So what you mean by Chad will start the regular season is that this wasn't truly a real competition? Henne has been Gus's guy from the onset and the "competition" that we keep hearing about is a sham? At what point will he make the switch after an 0-2 or 0-4 or even 0-6 start? Kind of sounds like last year all over again....UGH!!!
John: I' m confused … what part of "Chad Henne is going to be the starter" when it was said in in March, April, May, June and July was unclear? Henne is going to start. When Bortles is ready – and the team does not believe that time is now – Bortles will start. Not before.
Daniel from Section 146 Since Day 1:
Our average outside running play must be near zero yards. Am I the only one who thinks the zone-blocking scheme isn't working? Gerhart runs up the middle quite well. Maybe time to change that "plan" also?
John: OK, remove all outside runs from game plan. Also, do this after Week 3 of the preseason. Got it. I'll pass it along.
Trey from Duval, FL:
I'm boycotting this team until Bortles starts. Gus preaches competition, and then doesn't play the best man. Screw Bradley and screw this team. I'm done.
John: Cool. Let's all say mean things about Trey. He won't know.
John from Atlantic Beach, FL:
With all the cuts coming up from other teams as well as the Jaguars, do you foresee any offensive linemen being brought in to help our o-line? Thanks.
John: I doubt it. I think the Jaguars are gearing toward having Luke Bowanko and Brandon Linder start at center and right guard, respectively. If that doesn't happen immediately, it appears it might happen sooner rather than later. I don't think the Jaguars believe there will be players released who change that scenario.
Seth from Kalamazoo, MI:
Hey, John. I saw you and yelled out your name at the Lions game. Thanks for giving me a wave! Are you used to such stardom?
John: Yes.
Scott from Wichita, KS:
Bortles really looks good against VANILLA defenses. I look forward to seeing him against a real defensive scheme that has prepped for his inexperience. The fanatics just aren't putting two and two together. With Gus being a former defensive coordinator, do you think he sees deficiencies in his game that we don't?
John: Here we go, Jaguars.
Antony from Columbia, SC:
O-Man, you predicted Allen Robinson to have a more productive rookie year than Marqise Lee. Due to Robinson's injury, do you now predict another Allen to have the most productive rookie season at wide receiver for the Jaguars?
John: Allen Hurns certainly appears poised to have a better start than the other rookie wide receivers. He has been consistent in training camp and he has been a reliable target for both Chad Henne and Blake Bortles. He seems ahead of Marqise Lee thus far and because Robinson only has participated in a handful of practices, sure, let's go with Allen Hurns – at least for the first few weeks of the season.
Joseph from Sacramento, CA:
Let's be real here: Chad Henne does not give this team the best chance of winning – nor does Blake Bortles, for that matter. The best chance of this team winning lies with how good the defense can be. The defense has to stop the opposing offense to give Chad Henne and the offense more opportunities to try and score.
John: I agree for the short-term. For the short-term, this is probably going to be a team that needs to stay in the game with defense. In turn, it probably needs to be able to establish the run with Gerhart and keep Marcedes Lewis involved. That's the short-term, because in the short-term it's a team trying to establish the offensive line and trying get its offense established. I emphasize short-term in this answer, because you're starting to see some flashes of what Bortles might be. Along with that, you're seeing that Allen Hurns may be good. If he's good and the two second-round receivers work out and Cecil Shorts is as reliable as expected … well, that's a lot of ifs, but it's also quite a few possibilities.
Ryan from Toronto, CA:
"I just haven't seen anything to make me think his style will lead to an undue amount of interceptions." I don't know about you, but I saw Lions defenders drop three passes from Bortles in his two quarters of play.
John: I saw that, too, and I suppose I made the mistake of not clarifying that I was speaking about the long-term. Yes, Bortles is going to throw some interceptions. He'll probably have games early in his tenure as a starter – whenever that day comes – that all of those passes dropped by Lions defenders Friday are interceptions. That process is one many, many quarterbacks must work through. And what I meant by the words you quoted was I don't see anything in Bortles' style that makes me think he won't work through the issue when the time comes.
Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
Please remind me again when we get to vote on who the starters are going to be. Is it September 1 or 2?
John: Neither. It's every day here in the O-Zone, and fortunately, the results of the voting – while entertaining – have no bearing on how anything plays out.

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