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O-Zone: Memorable day

Posted Jan 8, 2018

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Jeremy from Dodge City, KS:
How about a one fer Marrone for giving the game ball to the great city of Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere!!!
John: This was among the first things Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said in his postgame press conference after a 10-3 victory over the Bills in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game at EverBank Field Sunday – that he had given a game ball from Sunday’s victory to the city of Jacksonville and Jaguars fans. It was a pitch-perfect move given the circumstances. It was the Jaguars’ first playoff home game in a decade, and players afterward said the crowd absolutely played a huge role. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey called the atmosphere “dope.” Marrone since taking the Jaguars’ head coaching position has talked about giving fans a team they can be proud of, and he has talked about the team earning home-field advantage at EverBank Field. The Jaguars have played in front of a sold-out crowd in the last three games at the ‘Bank. The fans are proud of this team. Home-field advantage has been earned. Now, the city and the fans have a game ball to prove it.
Nechemyah from fifth dimension:
John, let’s hope that Hackett can call a better play than slant to 27 and screen to 89 next week because we are going to need all our bullets firing against the Steelers.
John: One of the Jaguars’ first plays Sunday was a slant to rookie running back Leonard Fournette. He dropped the pass. If he hadn’t, he might have scored. But yeah, let’s hope offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett can do better.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
First of four. Don’t matter how. #dtwd
John: #DTWD
Jeremy from Newport, RI:
If we lose next week it'll be due to a skittish game-plan by Nathaniel Hackett, not because the roster isn't good enough. The play-calling in the first half of the last three games has been atrocious.
John: Yes, because it’s always coaching in the NFL – even in the postseason. Especially in the postseason.
Howey from Ormond Beach, FL:
After reading the local experts on Final Analysis, all I can think is “Any Given Sunday.”
John: Our local Jaguars experts on Sunday pretty much all believed the Jaguars would win, and many believed they would win handily. Most correctly believed that the Jaguars’ defense would play very well and those of us who believed the Jaguars would win comfortably believed the Jaguars would be able to run effectively – or that the Jaguars’ offense would hit big plays. A couple of things happened instead: the Jaguars’ struggles to run in the second half of the season continued, with the exception of quarterback Blake Bortles; and the offense could not hit big plays in the passing game. As a result the game was closer than most of our “experts” predicted. Oh, well.
Tony from Land of Confusion:
Can we officially put Doug Marrone in as Coach of the Year for finding a way to win with how the offense played in the first half? Halftime adjustments didn't work miracles, but they did just enough.
John: Sure.
JT from Rosamond, CA:
Defining drive from Bortles? He looked like hot garbage in the first half and gave the defense some much-needed rest and scored the touchdown. Beautiful work!
John: The Jaguars’ third-quarter touchdown drive Sunday was clutch. It was the biggest drive of Bortles’ career in the biggest game of his career. And it’s why you absolutely can’t write off Bortles’ game Sunday as terrible despite throwing for just 87 yards and a touchdown. When it mattered the most, he made multiple big plays and got the Jaguars a critical touchdown. Credit to him for that.
Bill from Springfield, VA:
A win is a win is a wonderful! Was it really that hard to throw a good pass? The defense needs fewer penalties. Let's beat Steelers again!
John: A victory indeed is a victory, particularly in the postseason – and yes, Marrone said the wind really was a factor Sunday. Even he seemed a bit surprised how much the conditions affected play, but he said it certainly was a factor.
Bryant from White Plains, NY:
It wasn't pretty, but that's almost how this team is going to win. Big defense with steady offense. Let's get some better quarterback play and see what happens.
John: The Jaguars would like to do just that Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Great team, game and game-day experience. Couldn't be happier for this city and organization. Moving on is awesome. Go Jags!!!
John: #DTWD
Will from Riverside:
John, will you be fired if you gave us your true feelings about Bleak Lobster?
John: I’ve written and expressed my true feelings about Blake Bortles throughout his career, and I don’t plan to stop. I wrote ad nauseam throughout the 2015 season and the following offseason that he had major strides still to make – this while many other media were anointing him as a franchise quarterback. I have written throughout this season that he has improved in many areas, and I wrote in December that I thought he was solidifying himself as the team’s quarterback of the future. I wasn’t particularly concerned when he threw five interceptions over the last two games. But Bortles really struggled Sunday. Maybe the wind was a factor, but there were also some throws and decisions that you can’t make in your fourth season. Was Sunday enough to alter the team’s long-term approach at the position? I doubt it, but we’ll see. The Jaguars are one of eight teams still playing football this season, which means questions about the team’s future will have to wait a while more.
Miguel from Section 144 and Duuuuvvallllll!!!!:
A win is a win is a win is a win! I’ll take it! Blake did not play well, but since he is known to be inconsistent next week he’s going to be lights out, right Zone?!
John: That’s the hope. It’s not right to assume Bortles will play well one week because he didn’t play well this week. But as Marrone said after the game, nothing that happens one week in the postseason necessarily matters the following week. The Jaguars will game plan and approach next Sunday differently than they did the Bills. I got the idea the Jaguars believed the only way the Bills were going to score enough to win Sunday was if the Jaguars gave them the ball with interceptions or fumbles. It seemed that dictated some of the game plan. I could be wrong on that, but that’s how it felt. I was surprised the Jaguars weren’t more aggressive Sunday and I was surprised there were no big plays in the passing game. Perhaps they’ll be more aggressive against the Steelers. We’ll see.
Other Mike from Atlanta, GA:
John, Skittltydo.
John: No doubt.
Robert from Reno, NV:
I'm still tingling. What an awesome performance by the defense to give us the win. But what I just don't understand is, we had our best receivers in today and I didn't see any catches from them. Why? Couldn't they get open against one of the worst defenses? Or, are we going to put this on BB5 … again.
John: First, the Bills’ secondary is not one of the worst in NFL – far from it, actually. One way the Bills were particularly dangerous entering Sunday, in fact, was in the area of creating turnovers. The Jaguars seemed determined Sunday to not allow a very good Bills secondary chances to force interceptions and therefore change the game’s momentum. It seemed that – combined with a nastier wind than many expected – severely the passing game. That seemed true for both teams.
Joshua from Savannah, GA:
I sent an email earlier saying Blake is trash. I stand by that. The defense carried the team and Blake did just enough with his legs because his arm was awful. HOWEVER, my thoughts on the Steelers are that we have one advantage: Ben throws similar to BB. It is a slower release with a lot of staring down receivers and I think it really plays to our defenses’ strengths. It is also a huge reason we had five picks earlier in the year. My hate for No. 5 remains, but the way we match up with someone who plays fairly similar (yet mammothly more impressive) bodes well for Duval next week.
John: Could be.
Jay from Salem, OR:
It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. What do you feel the Jaguars need to do offensively to get the job done against the Steelers next week?
John: The Jaguars will need to run more effectively and hit big plays in the passing game. I frankly can’t see them running more effectively because they haven’t run particularly well in the second half of the season – with a couple of exceptions. One of those exceptions was the victory over Seattle. I said after that game if the offensive line played that well the rest of the season the Jaguars would go to the Super Bowl. That hasn’t happened, which is a major reason the Jaguars don’t look as strong as they did a month ago. Because they are struggling to run I believe the Jaguars will need to hit big plays in the passing game to be better offensively against the Steelers. That will be difficult. We’ll break it down more as the week continues.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
O-man, that was exhausting, but we won! And that my friend, is what we will remember.
John: True that.


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