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O-Zone: Florida strong

Posted Sep 12, 2017

HOUSTON, Texas – The Jaguars will be heading home by the time many of you read this. Thoughts continue to all dealing with Irma’s aftermath. It doesn’t look pretty. We’ll see you soon.

And meanwhile, one more day to Look-Ahead Wednesday.

Let’s get to it …

Daniel Since Day One from Jacksonville:
Twenty-one passes ... that's how you establish the run! Amazing what having a few experienced players does for a roster. A fullback? Not so useless as some think ... I think Shad's reorganization into a meat-and-potatoes team is working perfectly. No more fu-fu in Jaguars football!!!
John: Sunday was a terrific day for the Jaguars and their fans. It perhaps goes without saying that the Jaguars realistically won’t be able to go through the entire season throwing 21 or fewer passes a game, but there’s little question Sunday was their ideal formula. A couple of things happened that allowed that formula to work, most notably that the pass rush was good enough to not only hold the Texans scoreless in the first half but to create a short field for a touchdown and then to score a defensive touchdown. That enabled the Jaguars to play much of the second half with a lead, which in turn enabled them to keep the passing to a minimum in the second half. Can the Jaguars play that way every week? No. How many games they can get close to that formula could well determine the season.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Typical Jaguars, putting up stats in the fourth quarter of a three-score game. Kings of garbage time. At least it helped my fantasy team.
John: Fair point.
Kyle from Parsippany, NJ:
John, what did you think of A.J. Bouye's performance Sunday? We're the penalties a result of going against an old teammate or cause for concern? I hope everyone down in Jacksonville is staying safe. #DTWD
John: I thought Bouye’s performance was fine Sunday, and that it was neither cause for concern nor a result of going against an old teammate. I thought most of his interference penalties were the result of playing against a receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) who is very physical and who likes to make contact with the defender at the top of his route. That style of play often is going to draw a flag on either the receiver or the defender. It’s often a matter of the receiver figuring the official isn’t going to call everything on the offense and figuring offense is going to get more calls in that situation than the defense. I’ve seen nothing to worry about with Bouye, and I certainly saw nothing concerning Sunday.
John from Jagsonville:
That is exactly why you don't trade away or release very good players and starters like Allen Hurns.
John: Yes. Good players are cool. Teams like them. Particularly when other good players get hurt.
Chris from Goodnight, TX:
I'm stoked by Sunday’s result, but I can't help be skeptical. We all got excited after the Jaguars competed well against the Packers in last year's opener, and it was followed by the disaster that was the rest of last season. Against the Texans, Blake Bortles still threw incompletions where it was difficult to tell who he was trying to throw to, Jason Myers still missed must-make kicks, and Dante Fowler Jr. still made bonehead plays here and there. Until these issues are mitigated some, I will remain skeptical. I think next week's game against the Titans will strongly indicate whether the Jags can compete in this division, or whether this team will fade like it did last year. What says you?
John: Chris, this team went 3-13 last season. It’s not going to roll out 16 perfect games overnight – and my experience covering the NFL is there aren’t many perfect games even by very good teams. You win, enjoy it for a few hours, then move on to the next game. I have a feeling Bortles is going to keep throwing a few incompletions where you wonder where he was throwing. And as emotionally as Fowler plays, I think you’re going to get some bone-headed plays. I’m not saying you wouldn’t love to see those aforementioned things improved, but the Jaguars beat the defending division champions by 22 points Sunday. And there were a lot of things that happened that felt like they’ll carry forward. The offensive line play. Leonard Fournette. The pass rush. Speed on defense. Those things probably don’t add up to 16 games worth of 22-point victories, but they feel like they can add up to a lot of competitive games and a chance at a lot more victories. I didn’t mention Myers yet in this answer, because it’s tough to tell his situation. The team likes his leg talent and potential, but misses from 40 yards and in are tough to swallow. As for next week against the Titans, it’s an important game. But one game isn’t going to tell for sure whether this team can compete – just as the Texans losing Sunday by 22 points doesn’t mean they can’t compete. It’s a long season. There will be ups. There will be downs. The Jaguars right now look like a team capable of a lot more ups than recent seasons. Stay tuned.
Erik from (You know) Duuuvallll:
Busted! After a thorough investigation from my amateur sleuthing team, it is determined your alternate personality is the infamous Jerrell. I cannot reveal my sources just yet. This may be the biggest conspiracy to date. Careful what you publish John, if that is your real name?
John: I’m not saying I’m Jerell, and I’m not saying I’m not. Let’s just leave this there.
Steve from Jacksonville:
John, is it time to make the spot-foul criteria for pass interference go away? This has become a speculative call at best with the offensive player generating as much or more of the contact down the field. Receivers and defensive backs are starting to look like NBA players in the paint but the calls have the ability to be game-changing.
John: I’m assuming by spot-foul criteria you mean the offense getting possession at the spot of the foul on a defensive pass interference call. If so, then … no, I don’t think that should go away. I’m aware of the subjective nature of the call at times, but if you make it a 10- or 15-yard penalty then you have too many scenarios where defenders might be encouraged to interfere to turn a potential 50-yard gain into a 10-yard gain. That would "uglify" the game too much for me.
Mac from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
In your opinion, was the Texans’ defensive line playing poorly or was our offensive line playing particularly well? I loved watching it, but I feel I may need to temper expectations heading forward. Just seems odd that the pass rush that has had Bortles running for his life in the last two years. I hope I'm wrong, but it seems more likely that he Texans were just off their game rather than our offensive line waking up Sunday morning as All-Pros after being bad for so long.
John: The Jaguars’ offensive line played well. That doesn’t mean they’ll negotiate the entire season without allowing a sack (that would be some kind of record if they did). Some of what happened Sunday was the circumstance of the game. The Jaguars, remember, established the run early and took a decisive lead before halftime. Bortles therefore had to throw only 21 times. Your chances of keeping the quarterback well-protected go up considerably when you don’t pass very often and when the opposing team doesn’t know exactly when you’re going to pass.
Brett from Whangarei, New Zealand:
O. With A-Rob now out for the season and Dede Westbrook on IR, do you think we see another one or two wide receivers brought in from those already seen with the team this season, or do you think they go further afield for wide-receiver depth say via a trade or free agency? I think in either case Hurns really needs to be the guy for us this season for the Jags to be consistently competitive and he needs to hold on to a higher percentage of 50/50 catches. Thoughts?
John: I imagine the Jaguars will look outside the team for one receiver, but you realistically have very little chance of getting huge impact from a trade or free agent. There’s nothing wrong with trying, but teams are not lining up to give away play-making, front-line wide receivers. Hurns and Marqise absolutely need to be the guys, and Keelan Cole needs to play at a high level. Hurns has done it before, and so has Lee. The team loves Cole and honestly believes he can make a major contribution. Now’s the time to find out.
Mark from High Springs, FL:
Think of it this way: The Miami versus Tampa game was postponed. None of the FL college games were played. Jacksonville was the only football team representing the state during a time of emergency. I think we played FL Strong.
John: That’s a cool way to think of it. I think a lot of people will like that.

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