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O-Zone: The plain truth

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … O-line Sucks from Jacksonville:
We need an entirely new offensive line. Period. Let's cut our losses and get on with it.
John: This was a theme in O-Zone Late Night on Sunday and it's sure to be a theme this morning, so we'll address it again – and probably again and again and again this week. And I'm sure I'll get the same mocking, angry, disbelieving responses about What Game Did You Watch You Idiot? … but hey, here goes. There are sure to be choruses of people blaming the offensive line this morning. There are sure to be calls to blow it up and start over up front. That's understandable when you allow eight sacks, but it's just not reality. The offensive line was not great Sunday. But the group was OK run-blocking, particularly compared to where it started the season. The group has improved there. That leaves pass blocking and with eight sacks allowed you would think the group played very poorly. Again, wrong – it didn't play great, but a lot of those sacks this time were on the rookie quarterback. Blake Bortles must get the ball out of his hand quicker to avoid sacks. He must improve his decision-making. Again, that's not the entirety of the problem and the line is not without fault. But to say that the whole group needs to be replaced and that it's historically bad … well, that's just going too far.
Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee:
Dez Bryant has 13 receiving touchdowns this year. The Jaguars have 13 receiving touchdowns this year. Dez Bryant is going to be a free agent. We should sign him...tell Dave...thx.
John: That would be awesome – if Bryant is a free agent. Don't hold your breath.
Geoff from Orlando, FL, and Section 243:
Gotta love the onside kick, though … gutsy.
John: The onside kick was cool. Geoff liked it.
William from Section 423:
If this team learns how to play with consistency, watch out. I also wish we could take advantage of these opportunities thrown in the offense's lap.
John: That would be cool. The coaching staff and a whole lot of other people around here would like it.
Michael from Orange Park, FL:
Jags get the ball with a chance to tie at the end of the game. Better than I expected this game to play out.
John: Yeah, that's one way to look at it, I suppose. This team is tired of it being that way, though. The fans are sure tired of it. Shoot, who wouldn't be?
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
No disrespect to Justin Forsett. He seems like a good guy and I'm happy he's found success, but maybe now we can stop acting like he would have fixed the running back position if we kept him. Still sad about Daryl, though.
John: Yep.
Doug from Jacksonville :
I do not give ultimatums. I let the GM do his thing, although a 15 signing may have changed that. That said, if Shorts is signed to a new contract I will not renew my season tickets. Losing, youth, mistakes, coaching growing pains I can deal with. Giving Shorts a contract at any price I can't. I will not renew.
John: It's a good thing you don't give ultimatums. #15signing #stopthemadness
Jordan from Joplin:
If the Jaguars could score touchdowns, we'd be pretty good.
John: I think this sums up Sunday and a few other games this season painfully nicely.
Bobby from Draper, UT:
Did I see Aaron Colvin starting at corner over Gratz?
John: Colvin didn't start Sunday, but he did get some work with the ones at outside corner. The Jaguars haven't wanted to overload him, but he has played well enough at the nickel that the team wanted him on the field. Because the Ravens don't play a lot of formations that require nickel corners on the field the way to do that was to get Colvin in at corner. And yeah – Colvin starting is coming … if not this season, soon enough.
Aaron from Arlington:
Another bad game by Bortles (two good passes) but the team continues to play well. They have to draft a quarterback in next year's draft.
John: I thought Bortles' first half was better, but yeah ... overall, he struggled Sunday. The offensive line gave up a few of the sacks, but too many were on Bortles. There were also too many instances when he didn't seem to make decisions quickly enough. That's not to put the loss all on him, and it's not to say his struggles are tragic or unexpected. Rookie quarterbacks are supposed to have a long way to go. And right now, Bortles does. But don't bet the mortgage on the Jaguars drafting a quarterback. In fact, don't bet anything that means anything to you.
Fred from Waycross, GA:
The third-down pass where Blake Bortles hit Marcedes Lewis at the end of the third quarter to pick up the first down shows me that Dave Caldwell selected the correct first-round player.
John: And then there is that, which also has a ton of merit.
Raynor from Savannah, GA:
We start on the 50 at the end of the game and run a draw on third-and-7 and throw a very low percentage pass on fourth down to a very unreliable veteran receiver whom I won't name. What are our coaches thinking?
John: They were thinking that the Ravens had been getting to the quarterback pretty consistently and that a draw would work in that situation. I would have liked a screen there perhaps, but if it works there it's a great call.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Upgrades on the coaching staff should certainly be considered over the offseason. I would suggest looking at special teams coordinator, offensive line coach, defensive backs coach, and maybe offensive coordinator. What are your thoughts?
John: I think I understand the instinct among fans to change coaches and certainly the staff will be assessed after the season. You have to be careful changing coaches, though. That means changing systems and that means having young players relearn systems. If there's not serious upgrade it can do more harm than good.
Rob from Jacksonville:
Would this team beat last year's team?
John: Yes.
John from Jacksonville:
Blake Bortles? Some big-time throws today. Lots of toughness. Careless interceptions are a thing of the past. He has a raw edge that I think we are going to really appreciate next season!
John: The things you saw are real. And those are good signs. Right now Bortles' main struggles are in decision-making and fundamentals. He started well Sunday, and it appeared it got away from him at times, particularly in the second half. And that's understandable. The raw material is there. It will be up to him to smooth out the edges as quickly and efficiently as possible.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
That WAS improvement. We need a ton more from our offense and I want some new linemen (not saying all, but the idea of trusting they'll ALL improve is frightening to say the least), but it WAS improvement over last year, even with a loss.
John: I think you'll get one new lineman, and you're right that not all will improve to the degree the Jaguars hope. Not all young players improve dramatically. The hope is that most of these young players on offense will develop and form a core and after that, you make changes where needed. But yes, that was improvement. It's easy to forget that the Jaguars rarely played competitive teams tough last year and this year they are doing so. It's not satisfying, but it's still a move in the right direction.
Mark from Orange Park, FL:
Let's talk Jedd Fisch. What is your take on his offense? It does not look innovative. In fact, I have witnessed better plays drawn in the dirt playing sandlot with just a finger! The third-and-6 call at the end of the game was terrible.
John: I think Fisch's offense is pretty creative. I also think it was creative enough last year for fans to worry at times about losing Fisch to a head coaching position. I think now that the Jaguars' are struggling offensively the vogue thing is to criticize playcalling. I think I recoiled at the draw call on third-and-6 and then I remembered the Jaguars picking up a first down on third-and-8 with a draw last week. I also think I would have rather thrown a screen in that situation, but I also think the Ravens' pass rush was putting a lot of pressure on Bortles all day and it's hard to call a good play when you're allowing eight sacks. I think if the draw had worked Fisch would have been a genius because I think that's how it works when analyzing playcalling.
Biff from Jacksonville:
I'd like to throw this out for consumption: Teddy Bridgewater's leading receiver is Greg Jennings. I'm not saying Jennings is the cornerstone of a prolific passing attack, but a successful veteran changes things.
John: It sure doesn't hurt.
Cory from Madison, WI:
The conversation this season has been that this team isn't good enough to win unless everything is going right. Things couldn't have been in the Jags' favor any more than they were today. The Ravens missed two field goals, an onside kick recovery, and an executed fake punt. This team isn't even good enough to win when everything's right.
John: They sure weren't on Sunday. That's because right now the Ravens are better than the Jaguars.

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