JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Greg from Arlington, VA:
How much blame does Nathaniel Hackett get for Bortles' mechanics regressing so much from last season to this season? How could he not see Blake Bortles' windup looking so pitiful and not doing anything about it? Very concerning for me.
John: A couple of thoughts here: One is that while a quarterback coach's job does involve mechanics, identifying a mechanical problem doesn't mean having a quarterback who is able to fix the problem. More pertinently, it also does not mean having time to fix the problem. Remember that under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement coaches are limited in how much time they have with players – and most of that time for quarterbacks is spent on execution, game-planning and practicing as opposed to working on mechanics. Tweaking and honing mechanics must take place before organized team activities begin, which is why Bortles worked with Tom House in California so extensively in the 2015 offseason. The most important thing to remember, though, is that Bortles' mechanics have nothing to do with Hackett's ability to game plan and call offensive plays. One has nothing to do the other – and how someone fares at one is no indication of how they will perform at the other.
Erik from Jacksonville:
Johnny-O, the difference between the Titans game and the other losses is that I felt nothing as I watched. Emotionless. I didn't yell, cuss or throw my hands up in disbelief. I absolutely expected the loss – though not as bad as it was. I have mentally checked out for the season. It's simply not fun anymore to watch or go to games. I am not alone.
John: I know.
Sam from Jacksonville:
O, thanks for all you do. My Cubs are in the World Series ... the quarterback for my alma mater plays for the Bucs … and my remaining season tickets are on Stub Hub. I'll check back in after Black Monday. The Jags will be lucky to win four games this year and I can't take it anymore. I've reached the point of apathy ... I never thought I'd get here.
John: I believe the Jaguars will win more than four games this season, though I can't blame you for disagreeing. I also can't blame you for apathy. That's because it's not up to you to avoid that feeling; it's up to the team – and the team hasn't played well enough to make you avoid it. There's no rule that says the team can't start playing better and make you feel better about the rest of the season. We'll see if it does that.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Start Brandon Allen.
John: We're not there yet.
Taylor from Maryland:
So if Bradley can change his mind and make a coaching change, then so can Khan, right?
John: Yes, though I don't believe he will.
Mike from Middleburg, FL:
I agree with our coaching style – staying positive – but do you agree that we need to open up a can of whip a## to get things back on track?
John: I'm not a big believer that whip a## is needed to be a good head coach, but considering the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that continue to occur, something is needed. The Jaguars pulled Dante Fowler Jr. out for the remainder of the first half after a second-quarter penalty Thursday. He has had a lot of silly penalties this season. Perhaps that's a start.
Bill from Folkston, GA:
Do you think that putting Bortles in so soon in his first season has been a detriment to his development as a quarterback? Along with that I ask, did we do the same thing to Blaine Gabbert? Both have been put in behind substandard offensive lines and have taken a heavy toll on sacks. Do you think that possibly both had the potential to become much better than what they have?
John: No. In particular reference to Bortles, I never got the impression the past two seasons that he was suffering from any sort of heavy toll of being sacked too much. And he actually has struggled more this season playing behind a line this season that has pass blocked far better than it did in his previous two seasons.
John from Jacksonville:
What was it about Bortles that Caldwell liked that he didn't like in Carr?
John: Potential, size, mobility, intangibles, upside – mostly upside.
Bruce from Freehold, NJ:
Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny … Nah, it's total darkness on the edge of town.
John: Stay cool tonight, Eddie.
Tony from Jacksonville:
OK, so our defense gives up 354 yards in the first half and is playing worse than last year in spite of a huge talent upgrade, and we fire the offensive coordinator? Our quarterback regresses badly this year, and in your words is the single biggest issue with our team, and his position coach gets promoted? Smells like scapegoat to me.
John: I understand why you're picking up that odor, and certainly any midseason coaching change has a tendency to take on that aroma. The Jaguars reached a point where something evidently needed to be tried. This is what they're trying. It's not the ideal option, but when you're changing coordinators midseason it's safe to say you're past the point of ideal situations.
Clarence in Section 124 and Fort Worth, TX:
Is it possible for Bortles to improve his footwork and accuracy in the offseason or is it too late? I was also wondering if his throws are off because his arm may be tired or hurt.
John: Yes it's possible to improve those things in the offseason. Bortles in fact improved those things in the 2015 offseason – though they seem to have regressed this season. It's not my impression that his arm is tired or hurt, though that doesn't mean it's not.
Jason from Lancaster, PA:
O-Zone, can you let us readers know your thoughts on Brandon Allen? How does he look in practice, mechanics ... accuracy, etc.? What are the differences between him and Blake?
John: My thoughts on Brandon Allen have been gleaned from organized team activities, training camp and preseason because we don't see practice during the regular season. He has arm talent and throws a good-looking ball. He at times looked better in terms of spiral and velocity than Bortles; but spiral and velocity aren't the NFL end-all. He appears to have a lot of positives, and I know the team very much likes his potential. That does not mean he yet knows fundamentals and NFL basics – or that he is ready in terms of grasp of the offense – well enough to start in the NFL.
Randolph from the Depths of O'Har:
I find it difficult to understand the piling on of Blake Bortles. Sure, he's been inconsistent, and downright gun shy at points. However, he is the only bit of offense thus far. It's him in the third and fourth quarter making things happen. With zero run game, and defenses having adapted to the Jags long ball threat, we are clearly a team with a very incomplete offense. I don't understand how the majority of the offensive woes are placed on Blake's shoulders. What say you, All Mighty O?
John: I agree that there has been some piling on of Blake Bortles – and without question I've been guilty of that here in the O-Zone. The Jaguars indeed have struggled in the run game and that is not all on Bortles. Still, the current NFL depends on the passing game executing at a certain competitive level. The Jaguars' passing game, particularly in the last two weeks, hasn't done that. Some of that has been receivers dropping passes, but the biggest factor has been Bortles' inaccuracy and decision-making. It's probably accurate to say those issues have gotten more play than any other issue facing the Jaguars, but the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. When that position is struggling it's front-page stuff and nothing else makes the front page.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
So how long do we have to wait until we get a winning team? Every year we hear "this team is getting better. Wins will come. We are close. We are close." I'm sick of the "just wait your turn" shtick. When will it finally be our turn? I'm really sick of waiting.
John: This is a common feeling among Jaguars fans and an understandable one. It's also of course an unanswerable question. Many teams in NFL history have gone through long periods of losing and frustration. The Jaguars are in the midst of one that unfortunately compares to some bad, memorable eras. It's difficult because losing stinks and it often seems as if the down cycle will last forever – or, as if there is no way out. This is not the case. It's hard for people to see positives about the Jaguars right now, but the biggest positive is the roster is improved from four years ago. The climb from where the Jaguars are now to respectability is not nearly as long or arduous as it was four years ago. That doesn't mean the Jaguars will make that climb in any certain amount of time because the NFL is not scripted television and there are no guarantees. But it does mean there is more hope than four years ago – even if that hope is tough to see right now.
O-Zone: Unanswerable question
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Greg from Arlington, VA: