Jaguars Mailbag: Was the loss a needed wake-up call? Is Bortles good enough to lead JAX to playoffs?

This week's Jaguars Mailbag features questions regarding the loss to the Cardinals, quarterback Blake Bortles and more.

Gigantor asks: Was the Week 12 loss to the Cardinals a needed wake-up call for the Jaguars?

Mike Kaye: In some ways, I think so.

The Jaguars' big-play defense had masked a lot of the offensive concerns over the last few weeks. During the Jaguars' four-game winning streak, the offense only produced six touchdowns, with three coming against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7.

Since the bye week, the Jaguars have relied heavily on the defense coming up with turnovers. The offense has struggled to consistently move the ball and the special teams unit has allowed for some big returns. 

The Jaguars needed the offense to carry equal weight against the Cardinals. The Jaguars' defense produced two late turnovers and a touchdown and the offense still couldn't deliver a win.

It's time to acknowledge some shortcomings in personnel and move around the depth chart if the coaching staff feels like others can improve the lineup.

Yes, the Jaguars have been without three starters on offense for two weeks. No, that isn't an excuse.

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Captain Howdy asks: Why don't the Jaguars move Brandon Linder back to guard and Tyler Shatley back to center?

MK: I've been among those asking the same question. However, I think the logic for the Jaguars is that having a strong backup that can be inserted into three different spots on the line is appealing.

If you start Linder at guard and Shatley at center and one of them gets injured, you need to move the other to the fallen player's spot. Then you need a replacement for the player who is moving, meaning you need to move two players to make up for the woes of one.

That's the only logic I can really find with the personnel decision. For what it's worth, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said he was pleased with the performances of Chris Reed and Josh Wells against the Cleveland Browns.

We shall see if the Cardinals game changed things.

Adam Eiswerth asks: Can Blake Bortles take the Jaguars to the playoffs?

MK: Before this becomes a look at his shortcomings, let's remember that the Jaguars are 7-4 and are currently in the fifth seed of the playoff race with Bortles as the team's starting quarterback.

Since the bye week, Bortles has completed 88-of-152 passes (57.8 percent) for 846 passing yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also run for 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

While the mobility factor has kept the Jaguars in games at times, the passing product has been mediocre.

Bortles has thrown the ball over 30 times in all four games since the bye week. That wasn't the plan for this offense when the season started but issues with the running game have forced Bortles to carry the unit to some extent.

He has benefited from the playmaking ability of his defense, which set him up with terrific field position during the team's four-game winning streak. On Sunday, he didn't receive that benefit until it was too late.

Those "issues" (or things that happen for most NFL teams) will pop up again, maybe even during critical moments. If Bortles can't turn things around, no matter the issues with the offensive line, wide receivers or running backs, the Jaguars may be put in a rough spot.

Injuries happen. Defenses - even talented ones - go on turnover droughts.

The offense needs to be able to handle its portion of the process. Bortles is the ringleader and the offense will typically live or die with his involvement. 

If he can play like he did against the Colts in those instances, the Jaguars should have smooth sailing to the playoffs. If not, this team could take a dive.

I think the Jaguars are a playoff team as long as Bortles' isn't the key to their success.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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