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O-Zone: Well on his way

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
How about rating quarterbacks by who you want with the ball on the last drive when it counts? That's why I like Blake Bortles. He is going to win the game. All that other jazz is fine but mostly the games are decided by who has the ball last. There is an art to winning and the clock always works forward. It's important to get to that point of the game. That's when Blake is at his best. He is as clutch as any in the league and he does everything very well. Fun to watch! Go Jags!
John: This is a legitimate point and should not be overlooked. Bortles indeed is very good, very poised and very clutch at game's end. He believes in himself and – perhaps as importantly – his teammates believe in him. Those things matter and they are a strength. Bortles without question needs to improve some areas to allow the Jaguars to be in that situation more – and to be ahead late so he doesn't always need to make clutch plays at the end of games – but his late-game ability indeed is something that gives this team a chance to win. We've probably brushed past that too much in the constant analysis over his skills/progress in recent weeks. We shouldn't do that. Being clutch late counts.
Irving from New Britain, CT:
I want to ask your opinion on the play of Johnathan Cyprien. I think his current performance has allowed opposing offenses to feast on the Jaguars. I don't know how he remains in the starting lineup. What is your opinion on the play of Cyprien this season?
John: We're more than three years into his career, so it's safe to say Cyprien is what he is. He has missed some big tackles throughout his career, and he has missed some this season. He also has gotten beat in coverage quite a bit, though that hasn't happened quite as much this season. I believe overall Cyprien has played better this season than past seasons. He probably hasn't played to the level expected from his draft positioning, but he's the best option for this team at strong safety this season.
Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
The way I've always looked at the running game is it's the line's job to get the running back to the second level a few yards downfield, and it's the back's job to make linebackers and safeties miss for extra yardage. So far, the backs are constantly being hit in the backfield. I wouldn't blame that on Yeldon or Ivory.
John: Nor would I.
CD from Fleming Island, FL:
"During games, Bradley often will let Olson know essentially what he wants in a given situation – run, deep pass, etc. – after which Olson calls the specific play." I was pretty surprised to read that; I always thought that Gus let Olson do his thing during the game, and that his role in the offense was identity/game-planning. If that's not the case, I think that puts Olsen in a different light for me. Trying to focus and establish an offensive rhythm would be difficult I think with someone else's input. Is that normal for an NFL team? And does Gus Bradley being a defensive-minded guy hinder that at all?
John: Allow me to clarify this a bit. When I say Bradley "often will let Olson know essentially what he wants in a given situation," I'm not saying he's in Olson's grill every two or three plays. What I mean is Bradley and Olson will talk between series and decide their general approach based on field position, time of game, etc. Sometimes, Bradley might want the Jaguars to run clock. Sometimes, he might want them to be aggressive in a given situations. It is not a case where Bradley is trying to call four out of five offensive plays – but yes, the approach is common with coordinators and head coaches.
Donny from Heathrow, FL, Section 132:
The constant criticism from fans and local media regarding Greg Olson, Gus and the coaching staff is so misguided it's embarrassing to me. Olson isn't the one making poor throws, dropping passes, failing to run block – and he's not responsible for refs missing obvious penalties. As Tony Boselli tried to help Pete Prisco understand on Monday Night, the offense's problem is primarily the players – specifically Bortles and the offensive line's run blocking. While we can nit-pick some play calls, the main issue is execution by the players – not coaching. When they did their jobs in the first series and the fourth quarter, they executed what they've been coached to do! This isn't complicated and the offense is not fixed by playing more up-tempo if they don't execute the plays … and I thought we won last Sunday – or did I just dream it, Oehser?
John: The problem in the NFL always is coaching. Always. Just ask anyone.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Why can't they get the personnel they need to run the zone-blocking scheme? It seems to me based on what I hear that the personnel on the offensive line may not be great zone blockers. Is it difficult to find lineman that can zone block?
John: This line this season hasn't zone run-blocked well, but it really hasn't run-blocked that well in any way, either. The line's not perfect, but they have pass-blocked for the most part quite well – and because of that the group overall is playing better than it did a year ago. I think you may see more power blocking moving forward. We'll see.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Based on how poorly the offense has played and how good the Raiders are, I have zero hope we will win Sunday. I just pray we can keep it close. A blowout would end any false hope we had in this team. However, you know what? A loss period will suck. Can we just skip to the preseason? This no hope in sight sucks.
John: Fans gonna fan.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi John, Seems like everyone is picking Oakland over the Jags but Oakland is eighth on offense to our eighth on defense and they're last in defense to our 29th on offense. Looking forward to a good game.
John: Yeah, but try telling that to Logan.
Jarret from Crosby, ND:
Why does everyone keep perpetuating this idea that the Jaguars' offense was good or that they didn't struggle last season? They weren't and they did. A huge chunk of their yardage and stats came in so-called "garbage time" which apparently people have forgotten.
John: You're correct. I wasn't as concerned about the so-called "garbage" statistics last season, because I thought for the most part that angle was overblown. The Jaguars did move the ball at times last season, and they were effective at times. The offensive statistics they compiled weren't fake and they mattered. My bigger concern is that there were huge chunks of games when the Jaguars struggled offensively and they weren't efficient in ways that lead to winning – i.e., running, third-down conversions, consistency. I thought the offense needed to take a step forward in a lot of those areas. So far, it hasn't.
David from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, is it possible that we have the same old Blake – and that the defenses found the kryptonite to take away his strengths? Are defenses saying "If we take away this and that play, what have you got?" So far, it's not much. In the theory of evolution, if you don't evolve, you will become an endangered species.
John: This indeed is part of the issue this season. The Jaguars' strength most of last season was Bortles throwing 50-50, deep balls to Robinson. Defenses have done more this season to take those passes away with safeties over the top of the defense. Bortles has struggled in other areas with accuracy and consistency. The offense has struggled accordingly.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I think Jalen Ramsey is there already. He looks like an elite corner to me. I think the more experience he gains, the more frequently we will see him make late, game-changing plays. I have seen him in at least two games already come up and get the stop or help get a turnover when the defense absolutely needed it. What's more, I think he is the best player I have watched for the Jaguars at this stage of his career. I don't remember Boselli's rookie year, but was he this dominant this quickly? That could be attributed to the difference in the position they play, but I think Ramsey is already an elite-level player. It seems like I'm watching a free safety play cornerback – very well.
John: Yes, Boselli was this good this quickly. As for Ramsey being elite … I wouldn't put him there yet, but I would be stunned if he's not there very quickly. I'd also be really surprised at this point if he doesn't wind up being one of the best players to play for this team. Ever.

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