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O-Zone: Go ahead... flex

Posted Oct 9, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Tom from Section 141 and the First-Place Mean Streets of Nocatee:
I don’t want to overreact, but do you think last week’s loss will be pivotal in determining whether or not we get home field and a first-round bye?
John: Well, at least you’re not overreacting – or getting ahead of yourself. And I thankfully sense the tongue is at least somewhat firmly in cheek. On a serious note, this may be a good time to welcome Jaguars fans back to the reality of the NFL winning. When you win and get in contention, every victory and every loss matter. Every game seems critical that week – because every game indeed is critical. Such is the nature of this week-to-week league. Every victory is cause for celebration; every loss is cause for pitchforks and torches at the gate. Will the Jets loss a week ago linger and look big at the end of the regular season? Perhaps. But the Steelers game could look equally big in the other direction. It’s a long season. There will be more disappointment. I get the feeling there could be more jubilation. Buckle up. Oh – and enjoy it. Jaguars fans of all people should know good moments such as Sunday’s don’t come easy.
Brian from Section 235:
It's sad. Our defense is so good. Our offense has all the right pieces except for the quarterback.
John: The Jaguars beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by 21 points at Heinz Field Sunday. I’ve been covering the NFL 23 years and never have covered a team that won by 21 points in Pittsburgh. I’ve been back covering the Jaguars since 2011 and have never covered a team above .500 after September. I’ve never covered during that span a Jaguars team in first place in October. I’m not completely convinced I’ve ever covered a team that intercepted five passes in a game, though my memory may be failing me there. I’ve only covered one other Jaguars team that had a runner run for a 90-yard touchdown, and that run was one by Fred Taylor that might rank as the best run I’ve ever seen in person – though again, my memory may be failing me. My point in mentioning these things is not to point out that my memory at 51 may be failing. It is to point out that for Sunday and for a while on Monday morning, there’s not that much “sad” about the Jaguars. Breathe in. Smile. Pick a flower. Stuff it up your nose and sniff. This was a memorable one. Enjoy it.
Daniel Since Day One:
They stopped the run, and they stuck with their own run. Did we throw the ball in the second half? Great game plan and execution! 3-2 baby!
John: #DTWD – and yes, the Jaguars threw once in the second half Sunday. It was incomplete. I don’t remember the play.
Nick from Panama City Beach, FL:
Can we just five picks every game?
John: I’d click on that.
Jon from Ocala, FL:
Hi O, Jalen is special! That is all!
John: Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey indeed is special – and so not coincidentally is Jaguars running back Leoanrd Fournette. I made the point on Sunday in one of the Quick Thoughts I do with jaguars.com senior correspondent Brian Sexton after each game that the duo’s performance vividly showed the importance of hitting on Top 5 selections. Both players made above-the-Xs-and-Os plays in the first half Sunday – Ramsey’s diving interception and Fournette’s flying two-yard dive that came on the drive after Ramsey’s interception. Without either play, the Jaguars might have been trailing or tied at halftime. With the plays, they led by one point and were very much in the game. The Jaguars suddenly look like a team with a lot of talent. Ramsey and Fournette are two major reasons for that look. It’s a good thing to hit on Top 5 selections. It matters.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Any doubt that No. 20 is one of the best corners in the league have been erased. Ramsey/Bouye 1-Brown/Bryant 0.
John: True.
David from Maplewood, NJ:
John, that guy last week was right: Fournette is completely overrated! This team has enough talent and ability to play with anyone on this schedule. That doesn't mean they will win every game but execution will decide it. They can play with anyone if they play up to their abilities, period!
John: I didn’t hear from the Fournette-isn’t-worth-the-No.4-selection-guy Sunday. I imagine I’ll hear from him again next time Fournette doesn’t run for 181 yards with a 90-yard touchdown. And yes: the Jaguars can play with anyone on the schedule. They have to play to their formula and they probably can’t let opposing offenses get away from them, but barring that … yes.
James from Destin, FL:
John, I get that Blake is tough. However, there is another member of the Jaguars that is tougher. To my knowledge, he has never missed a game or a practice. He has fought a lot of criticism with style. He has worked through countless finger cramps and never complains. That's right, it's you John.
John: Fair point.
Wilfredo from Corpus Christi, TX:
I hate to be negative after a win, but we can't rely on our defense scoring points every single game to win. We can't rely on just the running game offensively. At some point the passing game has to come alive. It's pretty sad when the defense scored more points than the offense for most of the game.
John: Look, this Jaguars offense may be a ways away from being an efficient, balanced machine. Shoot, it may not be an efficient, balanced machine at any point this season. It doesn’t appear right now with wide receiver Allen Robinson out that there are enough go-to weapons in the passing game to scare defenses. All of that is true, and there are probably going to be some moves to address these issues come the offseason. The Jaguars aren’t a perfect team, but there aren’t many perfect teams in the NFL. This Jaguars team has shown it has a formula that can work. That formula is about playing defense, forcing turnovers and running offensively. That worked pretty close to perfection Sunday, particularly in the second half. The focus moving forward obviously will continue to be ways to squeeze enough production out of this offense so the defense doesn’t have to carry so much of the load. I expect that will happen some weeks and I expect there will be weeks in which the inbox is frustrated. And so it goes.
Pradeep from India:
Hi John, when Our D plays like this it’s career-threatening for opposing quarterbacks. Our D ended Tom Savage’s career early with Texans and almost ended Joe Flacco. Now big fish Big Ben. Can’t ask for more!!
John: I can’t say the Jaguars’ defense “ended” Flacco or Roethlisberger. I can say that when this defense is right it’s forcing some pretty decent quarterbacks into some strikingly ineffective play. Pressure up front and tight coverage bothers any quarterback, but to be bothering quarterbacks to the extent the Jaguars are doing … well, it’s getting interesting. I can say that, too.
Oscar from Palm Coast, FL:
Hey O, defense outstanding, run game great – but no pass game that’s not gonna help in the long run.
John: An NFL season through five games isn’t about the long run. It’s about figuring out what you are and winning enough to stay in it until you hopefully figure out who you are enough to stay healthy and get hot late. There are a lot of teams in the NFL around 3-2 and 2-3. Those teams have some strengths and some weakness. I can guarantee you this: Not all of those 3-2/2-3 teams have a defense that has shown it can play at the disruptive, dominant level this defense has shown. That sort of strength is something that can last. Don’t overlook it or take it for granted. It might make this season really interesting.
Rob from Kansas City, MO:
Back-to-back pick sixes FOR the Jaguars! What planet am I on Sir?!?!!!!! (You know I'm serious because I used !!!!!!!)
John: I do know you’re serious! Whatever planet it was on, it’s rare. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said afterward he didn’t remember being part of a game where it happened. I’m not sure I remember it, either. The Jaguars’ defense is starting to show the ability to do a rare, special thing. It’s one thing for a defense to dominate and create points when it has the lead and knows the other team must pass. Doing it when games are still in doubt and an opposing offense can be multi-dimensional is quite another. The Jaguars’ first three takeaways all led to touchdowns – including the pick-sixes by linebacker Telvin Smith and safety Barry Church. The first two takeaways – Smith’s interception and a first-half interception by Jalen Ramsey – came with the Steelers leading. That means this defense is not only capable of slamming the door on teams, but it’s capable of creating scores with the game in doubt. That’s elite-level stuff. Then again, 20 sacks and 15 takeaways through five games is elite-level stuff, too.
Josh from Harrisburg, PA:
Well, it sure looked like Sacksonville went into Picksburgh and flexed their muscle.
John: True.

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