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O-Zone: Keep working

Posted Jan 4, 2018

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it...

James from Destin, FL:
I saw an article about a guy named Ben wanting to play us again in the playoffs. I thought there was a season we beat them three times, twice in Pittsburgh including a playoff game. I tried to Google, but I can't find it. Am I wrong?
John: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did say this week he hopes to play the Jaguars in the second round of the playoffs next week. And this indeed did raise the ire of some Jaguars fans. But I didn’t get the idea Roethlisberger said what he said as an insult; he said it because he threw five interceptions against the Jaguars in an October loss. Any competitor is going to want to play a team against which he played poorly and prove that he can … well, less poorly. As for the playoff history involved in that potential matchup, the Jaguars never have beaten the Steelers three times in a season. They did beat the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in 2007, beating them in the regular season and again in the Wild Card Playoff round. They remain the only team to win in Pittsburgh twice in the same season.
Ed from Jacksonville:
Do you consider the offensive line to be the No. 1 item to be addressed in the offseason?
John: It’s sure it is up there.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL and currently in Fort Lauderdale:
O-Man, by all accounts, the Bills will be playing with a lot of passion coming off of last week's game. Banking on LeSean McCoy being anything less than stellar would be foolish. Here's to hoping that Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone has the troops ready for action on Saturday. This is what we've been waiting for!!! Go JAGS!!!!
John: Any playoff team is playing with a lot of passion and banking on any NFL player being less than stellar in the postseason is foolish. The Jaguars will be ready to play Sunday. Anything else would be ridiculous.
James from Durham, NC:
What does Blake say or do to opposing defenses to make them get so upset after each game? I mean, Jurrell Casey, Jadeveon Clowney and Earl Thomas have all taken the time to comment specifically about Bortles in a way that doesn't seem to happen to any other quarterback in the league. What's going on, O?
John: Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is a decent guy. I’ve always enjoyed being around him, so my assumption is these defenders from opposing teams don’t know Bortles. And since Bortles beat two of three players (Clowney and Thomas) in question a total of three times this season – and since he won the division ahead of the other player (Casey) – I can only assume all of the players in question are competitive sorts who don’t like losing. Losing isn’t cool. Players don’t like it. And something they say silly things after they lose.
Gerald from Hilliard, FL:
The Jags have slipped back to losing. So, when they lose in the playoffs and only win three games next year. What do they do then?
John: Weep.
JT from Rosamond, CA:
Is LeSean McCoy going to pull a Willis Reed? He sure seemed to look like he got shot when he went down, John.
John: I have no idea about McCoy’s status for Sunday because I cover the Jaguars and not the Bills. I assume from reports that it will be difficult for McCoy to play his cutting, quick style effectively on an injured ankle. We’ll see.
Miguel from Mexico City, Mexico:
It’s been a long time, O-Man, and I will be attending my first ever game in Jacksonville of my favorite team. For so many years, I always went to away games. For a home game, I have a feeling it will be a great one. Any tips?
John: Get to the game early. A lot of people are going. And find the Bold City Brigade Tailgate. You won’t be disappointed. (Oh, and if you have donuts, steer clear of Boselli. He made the list Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists this week and he’s going through another one of his “entitled” phases.)
Tommy from Fernandina Beach, FL:
O-man, it's obvious that the national guys don't really watch the Jags games. With the recent offensive struggles, they are quick to blame Blake for all the struggles. Is that a fair assessment or do the receivers and O-line need to take some of the blame as well?
John: Bortles absolutely isn’t the only reason for the Jaguars’ recent offensive struggles – it’s probably not all that accurate to even call him a primary one. But don’t blame the national guys. Some people locally who watch a lot of Jaguars games do the same thing.
Jeremy from Dodge City, KS:
So, this team does not play well in the cold ... should be great in Pittsburgh the n…
John: I never said the Jaguars don’t play well in the cold. I said the cold was such in Nashville that it affected both teams offensively.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
Perhaps we have underestimated Marqise Lee this season?
John: You did if you didn’t think he was important.
Nathan from Provo, UT:
Home Playoff-Zone, I was thinking back … So, there is a nationally-televised Jaguars game this season at one o'clock on a Sunday afternoon? So bitchin’. Now, the Bills are very similar to the Titans. For instance, the mobility and productivity of the quarterbacks. The "run-the-ball" offenses. What worries me is that the former's defense is built to defeat Tom Brady. Ours, come Sunday, might find passing plays scarce. Therefore, one thing the Jags need to do to win their home Wild Card Playoff game, even if it's non-scoring, is get a return on special teams. What say you?
John: I think the Jaguars will win Sunday whether or not they get a big return on special teams, but it absolutely would help.
Scott from Orlando, FL:
I don't like losing the last game of the year before the playoffs but I love not having to talk about draft picks at this point like we have for the last ten years! Do you agree?
John: The Jaguars losing the last game of the regular season before the postseason bothers me not a whit because there was nothing on the line. The best team I ever followed closely was the 1991 Washington Redskins. They lost their final game of the season with nothing on the line then won every postseason game by double digits. Losing the last game of the regular season means nothing when it comes to how a team will fare in the playoffs. But not talking about draft selections? Yes, I’m fine with that.
Nechemyah from fifth dimension:
John, is it just me or is my vision failing me. No. 44 seems he is always late to the party or always arm-tackling/reaching to make a play. Besides a couple of early in the year big plays I have not heard his name much.
John: Your vision is failing you.
Darrick from Jacksonville:
I know things are still unfolding, but do you anticipate Tom Coughlin going into the Hall of Fame as a Giant or a Jaguar?
John: People don’t go into the Pro Bowl Hall of Fame as members of teams. They go in as players, coaches or executives with their playing, coaching or working history listed in full. Going in as a member of teams is a baseball thing.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
As the regular season wraps up, it seems the jury is still out on Bortles. He had some incredible games, but he also had some serious clunkers. Is it simple enough to say that if he goes on a tear like he did in early December in the playoffs that he's our QB1 of the future, and if he falters, we'll be in the market for one?
John: I think Bortles will be the Jaguars’ quarterback next season. That’s based on what I believe the free-agent market will look like next offseason, and based on my doubt that the team will start a rookie quarterback next season. That’s not in any way, shape or form meant to say I think that is the team’s decision, which for all I know has not yet been made.
Don from Macclenny, FL:
Bortles is our offense’s Most Valuable Player? I really hope not because if he is then our offense is not very valuable. If he is our best, then we are Bottom 10 in the league at best. We have defeated exactly one playoff-caliber team in and in that game Blake threw for 95 yards. We could have won that game without either of our quarterbacks. I know you are paid by the Jags but calling Blake our offensive MVP is just insulting. Barring something miraculous in the coming weeks the guy probably won’t even be on the team next year.
John: It’s difficult sometimes to understand things. I don’t have that problem, but I find some people do. My advice? Keep working. Keep trying to get better. You’ll get it.

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