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O-Zone: Two weary men

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Tony from Suwanee, GA

I think the Jaguars need to take a long look at the decision-makers in the front office. I do not think there was much of a market for quarterback Blake Bortles as anything other than a backup this past offseason, yet they gave him a mid-level starting quarterback contract. That was ridiculous. He deserved more of a two-year, $10-million deal along the lines of the one A.J. McCarron got from Buffalo. The other problem with that is that Colin Kaepernick is available – and I think 99 out of 100 people know he is a better quarterback than Bortles. Then they trade a draft pick on running back Carlos Hyde and a week later say we cannot run the ball. Seems like it is time for major changes in the front office. Do you agree?

No, but that’s OK: Not everybody has to agree with each other on everything. The Jaguars’ reasoning on their quarterback decision this past offseason is well-documented, but where I particularly disagree is your assessment of Hyde and the running game. The Jaguars traded for Hyde with the idea that he would help them run more effectively in the short term – and that he would be a quality option and/or complement to running back Leonard Fournette in the long term. They found they were unable to run as well as they wanted in the first half against Philadelphia last Sunday week, then they passed effectively enough in the second half that they stayed with that approach – to decent results. Remember: The Jaguars didn’t trade for Hyde for one game; you don’t trade fifth-round selections for a quick fix. They traded for him for the rest of the season – and beyond. As for changes in the front office, I continued to marvel at people calling to change the people who just 10 months ago were being lauded. The NFL is a tough business, though. Times and perceptions change quickly.

Joe from Duval

Landry Jones ... sigh ... how is he going to get our team better?

The Jaguars signed former Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones to be available in case Bortles can’t play against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.

Ed from Jacksonville

Do you think the run defense is missing former middle linebacker Paul Posluszny all season?

A little, yes.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Can we call Dante a bust yet, or is it too soon? Could have taken wide receiver Amari Cooper or pass rusher Khalil Mack there. The market on those guys was a minimum of a first-round draft pick. Glad that the Jags got it right with cornerback Jalen Ramsey and running back Leonard Fournette. Jury is still out on defensive lineman Taven Bryan. Here’s to hoping another first-round defensive lineman out of the University of Florida doesn’t cost this franchise like it has in the past.

Former Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. wasn’t a bust. He wasn’t worth the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he was a productive player whose effort was always high –and he contributed for two and a half seasons. That doesn’t come close to making him a good draft selection for the Jaguars, but it does make him a decent player.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

Bruce from Surf City USA and Gene are posers. Everyone knows you can't surf the North Shore in the summer. They don't start getting swell until October. Noobs.

I can’t speak for Bruce from Surf City, USA, but longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette is no poseur. And he surfs where he wants when he wants, pal. Remember that.

Chris from Nashville, TN

I just saw Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit in Nashville. Gotta say O, you have a terrible taste in music.

I’m sorry for you.

Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hi, John: Now I hear because Jaguars looked at quarterbacks before trade deadline that there are thoughts Bortles has possibly lost the confidence of the locker room. I thought he played “OK” against Philadelphia, but just didn’t get any help from pretty much anyone. That has been the case to some degree in all our losses. Not saying Blake been good, but he is a quarterback that needs the help of his teammates. As is the case for a lot of quarterbacks in the league.

The Jaguars have lost their last four games and scored no first-half offensive touchdowns in that span. It would be unusual in that scenario if confidence in any player on the offense was as high now as it was early in the season. Are teammates questioning Bortles privately? Perhaps. Do teammates question most quarterbacks during losing streaks? Of course, because it’s an easy position to blame and it’s easier to question the quarterback than themselves. There’s some human nature involved there. But here’s the thing: very few players on the Jaguars’ offense are playing at a high level – with the exception being running back T.J. Yeldon and a few others. There’s not a lot of reason anywhere around the Jaguars’ offense right now for a lot of confidence.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, it has seemed to me that Telvin Smith hasn't been playing as well and always seems to be involved in "plays gone wrong." I'm a big fan of Smith, so can you tell me if he is playing better than a typical person in his position or not? I'm wondering if I am just sensitive to his play because I'm a fan.

It’s probably fair to say Smith isn’t playing as well this season as last. He has trailed on some big plays in the passing game, and both he and middle linebacker Myles Jack appear to have been caught out of position on run fits more often than you would like. Still, that’s not to say they’re bad, and both are better than typical NFL linebackers. The Jaguars’ defense, remember, is in no way playing poorly. Neither are Smith and Jack. You darned sure want them over a lot of linebackers.

Ryan from Detroit, MI

John, I hear a lot of talk about certain offenses that do a lot to "scheme guys open." Is our playbook/offensive coordinator not particularly good at scheming receivers open, or are our receivers not skilled enough to get separation regardless of the scheme?

I thought Jaguars offensive coordinator Nate Hackett did a nice job scheming receivers open on a lot of occasions last season, and I thought he did it at times early this season. Remember: receivers were running open against New England – and a lot of that was scheme. Some of scheming players open is finding something that works effectively – the running game, perhaps, or a particularly phase of the passing game – then scheming off the defense’s focus on the successful area. When nothing’s working – and when the quarterback and receivers are all struggling – it gets a lot tougher to scheme successfully.

Keyland from Gig Harbor

How likely do you think Kessler getting to start a game will be?

If Bortles has games in which he is careless with the ball and that carelessness leads to costly giveaways, then I would say there’s a relatively good chance Cody Kessler could start a game for the Jaguars this season. If that doesn’t happen, then I doubt he will start over Bortles if Bortles remains healthy.

David from Oviedo, FL

Big O: The Jags have had a rash of injuries this year. Do injuries have a negative impact toward the salary cap? Injured players still get paid, but then you must pay someone else to take his place … and then sometimes the replacement doesn’t work out and you’ve got to replace him. Also, weren’t we pretty close to the cap limit to start … how do we keep paying for replacement parts?

Injured players count against the salary cap. Teams plan for players to go on injured reserve and leave room to sign a number of players – usually minimum-salary players – on their current year’s cap.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-Man, I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that sometimes I start to read the day’s O-Zone and realize that I have already read it. What do you think?

You’re drawn to brilliance. There’s no shame.

Corey from Madison, WI

Complete hypothetical, if Aaron Rodgers demanded a trade from Green Bay and Brian Gutekunst had to oblige, what do you think it would it take to get a deal done, and do you think the Jags could make a legit offer?

Your scenario is so far out of the realm of possibility that there’s no precedent. Let’s say three first-round draft selections … and sure, the Jaguars have first-round selections in the next three drafts, so they theoretically could make the offer.

Mike from St. Augustine, FL

Thank goodness for the bye week. Underachieving is so exhausting.

I know I’m tired.

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