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O-Zone: The Pretender

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Josh from Section 106:
It was disappointing to see Allen Robinson speak disparagingly about the home crowd. I have owned season tickets for the last 15 years – since I could afford them – to the tune of several thousand dollars annually. We have put up with season after season of losing. If they win some games, I bet the crowd doesn't boo as much. Let him know I said don't worry about the boos and just go cash his game check. Too bad they can't dock his pay for those two drops … Oh, well.
John: This unsurprisingly is a hot-button topic this week – and you know what? It absolutely should be a hot-button topic. Robinson on Monday commented about fans booing during a one-sided loss to the Raiders Sunday at EverBank Field. His comments drew pretty much the same reaction from fans and readers as similar comments by Telvin Smith early in the season: anger and resentment. That reaction from fans is correct and understandable. Fans had every right to boo the performance Sunday, just as they had every right to boo earlier in the season – and just as they have every right to boo whenever they choose. I get that booing bothers players. I get that it hurts. I get that from their perspective they're doing all they can to win and they're working hard. This is an emotional, high-intensity game and many players understandably react emotionally to being booed. At the same time, when teams don't meet expectations, being booed is part of the deal. It's also the third rail of NFL fan-player relations. Players who touch that rail by criticizing fans do so at their own risk. It's never going to play well. Never.
DJ from Charleston, SC:
Please give me a good reason to let Blake keep starting. Put in Henne or Allen and look for our new quarterback in the offseason.
John: The reason you don't bench Blake Bortles is doing so pretty much finishes him as a starting quarterback in Jacksonville. He has struggled this season, but he hasn't struggled enough yet to change the direction of the franchise at that position.
Michael from Tucker, GA:
During the preseason, I made mention that the Jags can't stop the run if either Miller or Poz is not in the game. Well, this news about Miller is probably the worst news possible. The only thing we had going for us was a defense that kept us in every game. My question, now that we can't stop the run the rest of the year, what can be done to save our season?
John: You say the news about Roy Miller III being out for the season is about the worst news possible. You are correct. Miller's presence has been key to this team's run defense the past several seasons, and there usually has been a pretty direct correlation to the presence of him and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny to stopping the run. Abry Jones and Sen'Derrick Marks are expected to play in Miller's place. How they play and how the team responds to Miller's absence could go a long way to determining how this defense plays the rest of the season.
Josh from Jacksonville:
I remember repeatedly saying "I'm not worried about the offense..." during the preseason. Is it rare for things to have regressed so badly in the offseason with very little personnel changes?
John: This is the most prevailing question around the Jaguars in recent weeks, but the reality is the Jaguars' offense hasn't regressed all that significantly. This was not a great offense last season. It was a good offense at times that produced very good statistics at times. But many of the same issues from last season – slow starts, running-game issues, turnovers, not scoring enough when the game was in doubt – are plaguing it again. The problem is the offense was expected to improve with a group of young players having played together two seasons. That hasn't happened and the result is a lot of disappointment within the team and outside of it.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Jalen says he would "do it again" and "won't be disrespected." Stupid hothead. Doesn't he realize that he can't help us win games if he's ejected and that he just made himself even more of a target for every receiver he'll face the rest of the year to try and bait him into a fight? Make your statements with your play, not your mouth, rookie.
John: I look at the Jaguars right now and think there are a lot of things about which to worry. Jalen Ramsey's not on that list.
Scott from Section 237:
Can you explain why Blake Bortles is so inaccurate and such a long release and trouble throwing fade routes after three years? Are there any other successful franchise quarterbacks playing in the NFL with those types of mechanical issues? Also why doesn't Bortles throw any timing routes? Finally when I watched Bortles the whole game he seems to wind up to throw with a delayed motion like Byron Leftwich.
John: Can I explain why Bortles is so inaccurate? I honestly can't, except that his footwork doesn't seem fundamentally sound right now and his mechanics from the naked eye don't seem sound, either. Sure, there are franchise quarterbacks in the NFL with mechanical issues; Philip Rivers' motion is hardly textbook and he's absolutely elite. As for why Bortles doesn't throw timing routes, so far they don't seem to be a strength. Look, we can pick apart all of these issues with Bortles – and I'm sure we will until he begins playing better – but he has shown in the past he can play far more effectively than this. He's going through a very difficult time right now – the toughest time of his three NFL seasons. It's up to him to pull out of it. The Jaguars believe he will. We'll see.
Graham from Dundee, Scotland:
O! Out of curiosity, after all the penalties against the defense how would an opposing team assess the Jags' D? Would they say that it is indeed still a young team up and coming and learning how to play together? Or would they see this as an already good "D" and beginning to look nasty and getting a reputation of being physical and strong?
John: I'd say they would see it as a young, ascending defense that still lacks a dominant pass rush. That makes it a formidable defense – but a beatable one and one that has a tough time intimidating or forcing turnovers.
Garrett from Ballston Lake, NY:
O-man, this week is a HUGE week for us. Well, every week is from here on out. But if we beat Tennessee and Indy and Houston lose to two very good teams we are a game out of first place in the AFC South, which is absurd to think about. Hope is still alive. Somehow, someway we still have a shot! Go Jags!!
John: You're right, but the standings are a periphery issue right now. This team needs to beat the Tennessee Titans Thursday and they need to look like a composed, disciplined team with a functioning quarterback. If they do those things then hope is still alive.
Marco from Lima, Peru:
The only bright side on the Jags; debacle is that our division sucks. We are still a game and a half away of the Texans and by beating Tennessee and the Texans in the upcoming weeks we can get back on top of our division. They just need to start playing some football. Moodachay!
John: #DTWD
Mike from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I am confused about our passing game. If teams are double covering A-Rob then why are we not throwing deep to Lee to pull the safety away from A-Rob? Lee is our fastest receiver, yet I do not recall us throwing deep to him once this season. Look what Derek Carr did with Michael Crabtree at the end of the half. A-Rob will continue to be doubled until we force them to respect our deep shots.
John: Teams are playing more two-deep safeties against the Jaguars to take Robinson away, but the two-deep approach can discourage deep balls to other receivers, too. Still, your point is a good one. Bortles did throw deep to Lee once this season: in Week 3 against Baltimore. It nearly worked. It wouldn't be a horrible idea to try that again.
Jerrel from South Carolina:
If I pretend to be Jerrel from South Carolina will you answer my question? Is the AFC South the worst division in football? We had so much hype in the offseason now we have the most pathetic division.
John: Jerell spells his name with one "l." I know this because we're close.

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