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O-Zone: Teeny weeny time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Why is it Blake Bortles seems to throw a pick per game? I have never seen this before. It's like he can't help himself. That's why it's hard for me to get behind him as the franchise quarterback. He has a lack of respect for the ball and you don't win big when you play like that.
John: Jerell, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I see your point – and it's a valid one. Bortles through a season and a half as a starting NFL quarterback has improved in just about every area possible. He has improved a bit in your area of concern – turnovers; interceptions, specifically – but it remains an issue. What's most maddening is he goes long stretches of games where he plays winning, solid football and then – as was the case on Thursday – he makes a pass that from the time it leaves his hand just looks like trouble. Some good news for the Jaguars is he is improving dramatically in a lot of areas, and he still does a really good job in the clutch. More good news is his interception issue should improve with experience. But right now, one of the Jaguars' major issues no question is Bortles' tendency to commit turnovers.
Ed from Jacksonville:
Are the Jaguars learning how to win? If so, what signs of that will we see the rest of the season that we didn't see early in the season?
John: Victories.
John from Jacksonville:
I don't know Blake Bortles, but at times I really think he turns the ball over because he thinks it is all on his shoulders to win. With this win over Tennessee, I think it shows we have talent in other areas and we can start relying on that. It might actually be fun to be a Jaguars fan for once in a really long time.
John: I don't get a sense speaking with, listening to or watching Blake Bortles that he feels undue pressure to win games by himself. I do think his instinct as a quarterback is to push the ball downfield and to make plays when plays are there to be made. That instinct creates big plays and it creates big problems at times. As time goes on, the mistakes should be fewer.
Steve from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Why can't the Jags solve the inability to score touchdowns in the red zone?
John: Because they're a young offense, and because red-zone efficiency comes at a slower pace than the ability to move between the 20s. And because they're not a great power run-blocking team.
Miguel from Section 145 and Duuvalll!:
Blake looked a little jittery in the pocket compared to earlier in the season. What up with that?
John: Aside from turnovers, this is Bortles' other issue right now. He appears to be taking off and running too quickly at times and moving into pressure at other times. It's not happening all of the time, and on most plays he looks comfortable. And some of his taking off and running too quickly may be because the offensive line – while improved – has allowed some four-alarm pressure on some plays. Still, while the offensive line is without question responsible for some sacks, Bortles is, too.
James from New York:
Zone, I love these Jags. I love Gus's great attitude, the positive energy is infectious and I can really see it in the whole team. Do you think we need a little more attitude on this defense? I like to think we can do it, but sometimes you need to scare a good offense to beat them. That being said, Roy Miller was pretty scary Thursday!
John: Defenses scare offenses by stopping them, sacking their quarterbacks, hitting their skill position players hard and forcing turnovers. That's the mark of a good defense.
Bruce from Gotham:
Yeldon has really struggled in protection, especially at critical points at the end of games or where there could have been a big play had the block been there. Is this a way Denard gets more playing time down the stretch and is Yeldon's problem size, technique or a combination of both?
John: Yeldon actually generally speaking has been pretty good in pass protection, though he has struggled in recent weeks. I'd speculate that it's more of a recognition issue than anything because that's most often the issue with running backs when it comes to blitz pickup. I don't know that protection will be Robinson's way to more playing time. Having played quarterback at Michigan, he really didn't work extensively at pass protection until last season.
Jon from Salt Lake City, UT:
John, I would be interested in hearing your take on why T.J. Yeldon isn't getting more carries in the red zone, particularly inside the 10. The Jags have had trouble running the ball in this area and it seems that Yeldon's quickness and shiftiness would be helpful.
John: This is an issue of circumstance more than the Jaguars conspiring to not run Yeldon inside the 10. When the season began, Toby Gerhart was the short-yardage back. The Jaguars believed based on preseason performance this was a good approach. The package didn't get used much until Buffalo, when it repeatedly failed. The reason Yeldon didn't run when the Jaguars had first-and-goal at the 7 in the third quarter on Thursday was Denard Robinson already was in the game. The Jaguars reached the 7 on a reception by Allen Robinson that was iffy enough to possibly be challenged. Denard Robinson stayed in the game so that the Jaguars could quickly run a play to prevent the challenge. After that play gained five yards, the Jaguars kept Robinson on the field to maintain the personnel matchup. I think as the season goes on you'll see Yeldon in short yardage more, but remember: he is the every down running back, which means he's in on lot of packages. You also want to be careful not to overload him.
Joe from Philadelphia, PA:
Two questions: One, what are your thoughts on moving Dwayne Gratz to free safety? His size is similar to Earl Thomas and we've seen the Patriots successfully convert Devin McCourty. Two, what happened to Demetrius McCray? I remember him receiving praise from the way he covered Antonio Brown last year against the Steelers. Has he regressed that much?
John: Two answers: One, though size doesn't guarantee a player will be successful at a certain position, a move to free safety could be an option for Gratz down the road. Though I doubt it would happen this season, he has appeared to struggle in coverage. Two, McCray's lack of playing time wasn't so much anything he did wrong as it is the Jaguars trying to get playmaking cornerbacks on the field. Bradley indicated Friday the Jaguars would look to see if McCray needed to be in the game more … so, we'll see.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I have tried to achieve the coveted "first email" of the game the past two weeks complaining and moaning about the inevitable loss. Both times resulted in my whining NOT being posted and a victory for Jacksonville. I am going to keep this up for six more weeks.
John: You go, girl.
Santa from the North Pole:
Why is Gus rotating Evans and Sergio so much at free safety? What's the advantage of that?
John: I don't know that there really is a significant advantage to the approach of rotating Evans and Brown. Mostly, it's a case of neither player being much better than the other and both performing well enough in practice to merit playing.
Daniel from Orange, TX:
Denard's speed makes it look like he could really hurt a defense with bigger holes to run through.
John: A lot of running backs can run through big holes.
Scott from London, England:
Wow John, what a week! The way we have won these last two games makes me feel beyond all reasonable doubt that Gus Bradley is the right person to lead this team. The culture Gus has created allows this team to play with a grit and toughness that I haven't seen to the same extent in previous years. For all those who criticized Gus, including myself, it's time to admit that he is the right man to lead us moving forward.
John: Winning is cool. People like it.
Andy from Saint Johns:
Forget the game, John. What did you think of Henne's stache and the lead singer of Super Diamond's shirt?
John: I didn't see Super Diamond's shirt, but don't think for a minute Chad Henne's mustache didn't have a whole lot to do with what happened at the end of that game.
Joey from Winston-Salem, NC:
I realize I'm a little late to talk about uniforms, but the Jags could wear itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis for all I care as long as we win.
John: Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis are cool. I like them.

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