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O-Zone: All the best

Posted Dec 5, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Steve from Nashville, TN:
The Jags’ season has been fun and impressive so far; this weekend they have a test at home against the Seattle Seahawks, a team that our division rival – the Titans – handled easily earlier in the year. If they can beat the Seahawks, I would call that a statement game.
John: This is going to be a major theme this week not only in the O-Zone, but pretty much anywhere the Jaguars are discussed. So, we may as well get started. This indeed is as big a Jaguars game as there has been at EverBank Field in a long, long time – seven seasons, a decade, maybe longer. Regarding your context, the Tennessee Titans beat the Seahawks by six points in Week 3. But while the Titans were ahead by double digits during the second half, the game was played long enough ago that the result has little to do with what to expect on Sunday. As for the meaning of Sunday’s game, I’m not big on “statement” or “respect” games. That storyline is attached to far too many games and therefore often lacks meaning. But for the Jaguars right now, with the way they’re talking about respect and with their status as an ascending team … yeah, a victory would speak more loudly than words. This is a big one, and the Jaguars absolutely can make a statement and get respect and all of those things they and their fans covet so much.
Kelsey from Greenville, SC:
John Boy, I think this defense is spoiling me. I hear four sacks and two picks and my first thought is, “That's it?” It would seem that I've gotten too used to ten-sack games, to defensive scoring, to the Yannick Ngakoue Strip-Sack Special. They only gave up ten points and I'm almost disappointed! Just goes to show how good they've been this season.
John: Fair point.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
Blake Bortles is my quarterback, and I really hope to see him back next season. "Good" Bortles would look great with a healthy Allen Robinson.
John: Four weeks remain in the regular season and the postseason possibly will follow. For that reason, it’s difficult to speculate with accuracy what will happen with a lot of the Jaguars’ offensive players in the offseason. But would this version of Bortles – a version making better decisions, playing with more pocket awareness, etc., than past versions – benefit from Robinson’s ability to make plays above the Xs and Os? Yes. Absolutely.
Jason from Da’Hass:
Bortles has made improvements in decision-making by not forcing as many throws as in years past, and footwork as evidenced on his first touchdown pass Sunday. That cannot be disputed. However, let’s all agree his performance against the Colts should have been expected and not a sign of him turning some invisible corner. He is still struggling with accuracy and throws too many interceptable passes. If he can clean that up and become more consistent in the last quarter of the season, I may feel more confident having him on the team next year.
John: I’m trying to remember where it was written here or anywhere else that Bortles was perfect – Sunday, in recent weeks or this season. Of course there are areas he must improve. But I do wonder about your statement that Bortles is “struggling with accuracy.” I’d say those struggles have been a lot less in the last few games. He completed a high percentage of his passes Sunday because receivers caught catchable passes. Had they done so for the last month, there would have been much more talk about Bortles’ improvement. Bortles hasn’t been perfect in recent weeks, but his accuracy for the most part during that time has been inconsistent on a relatively normal level for NFL quarterbacks.
Steve from Jacksonville:
I don't know if this made the television, but one fer Jalen Ramsey. Obviously the interception was cool, but even cooler was that he came over to my section and gave the ball to a kid wearing his jersey. Totally made that kid's day. I know he comes across as cocky and arrogant (Exhibit A is that interview following the A.J. Green incident), but totally cool to see him go out of his way to make a kid's day.
John: When you’re right, you’re right. That was cool.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, finally Nathaniel Hackett has shown some imagination in the Jags’ offensive scheme. The obvious run up the middle on most plays was not working anymore with teams loading the box with eight players. This also allows Blake Bortles to expand the passing game. Well done by all.
John: The Jaguars are 11th in the NFL in total offense. I can only assume that means there are 21 offenses with coordinators less imaginative than Hackett. #finally #alwayscoaching
Jon from Chapel Hill, NC:
John O, do you think that playing only base situations for the bulk of the year could benefit Poz and the Jaguars come playoff time? That would be a significant number of plays off and he could provide a veteran presence that is more fresh?
John: I suppose Paul Posluszny being more rested in years past than before won’t hurt, but I can’t see that it will add much benefit. Posluszny is playing base-only situations because Telvin Smith and Myles Jack are on the field in nickel situations. It’s not as if the Jaguars are suddenly going to change their linebacker rotation because Posluszny is fresher.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Bortles played well Sunday, but this is the Colts tram that is struggling on offense without Andrew Luck, a banged up secondary and an overall bad defense. Come back to me when he can carry this team by winning games and playing well “consistently” against better teams like the one coming in this Sunday.
John: One step at a time, Jonathan.
Henry from Section 215:
Love the win, but I hate the fact that we kept playing nicked-up players after the game was pretty much decided. When you have a three-score lead in the fourth quarter, why not pull key players with injuries (Jalen Ramsey, Brandon Linder, Leonard Fournette)? I feel like that was a bad coaching decision. What say you?
John: I say it’s tough to call decisions good or bad if you don’t have the same information as those making the decision. I don’t know the extent of the injuries to the players; I know what I see and what can assume, but that’s different than knowing the extent. If the players could play at no increased risk of further injury, then there’s no issue with playing the players.
Rob from Common Sense:
How about "one fer" letting Fournette heal his obviously injured ankle?! Are you kidding me? He is completely unable to change direction. He had one play where he lost six yards trying to protect himself and I thought for sure he would be taken out after he practically crawled off the field … again. But no, he got zero treatment and then we trotted him back on the field with a 20-point lead? Are they trying to end his career? Don’t you think a healthy Ivory can be as effective as an obviously hobbled Fournette? Don’t you think resting Fournette until the playoffs or at least the Titans game would benefit the team and this kid in the future? I want to win but I want Fournette in the playoffs and long term. His ankle looks bad. Your thoughts?
John: Hey, one fer knowing things others don’t know and always being right! And one fer the Jaguars already having clinched a playoff spot! I didn’t know about that. Or maybe I missed it.
Geoff from Jacksonville:
Great, professional win on Sunday. But O, what is wrong with the running game? Starting to get worried since we're going to need that in the playoffs.
John: The running game essentially is what it has been much of the season. While the Jaguars lead the NFL in rushing, there actually have been few games when this offense controlled the line of scrimmage in the running game. The Jaguars hit several big runs offensively and on special teams this season, but with the exception of games against Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Rams, rookie running back Leonard Fournette typically has been under 4.0 a carry in most games this season. When he was fully healthy early in the season, he could will, squeeze and power his way for a slightly higher yards per carry than he is now; but the times the Jaguars have reeled off multiple effective runs in succession are few and far between. If you add in the fact that teams are stacking the box to stop Fournette, you have a running game that is stagnating right now. How will it improve? The best hope is for the Jaguars to continue to throw effectively. Perhaps that will get teams out of the box, which could lead to Fournette getting more room to run.
The Suckup from O-Zone:
You are the best!
John: Fake news.

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