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O-Zone: Oh, wise one

Posted Nov 10, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Ralph from New York, NY:
What's up, John: Jaguars fan from Long Island here. How many wins do you think the Jaguars will finish with? If Blake Bortles keeps his level of play up, does this team have what it takes to get to the AFC Championship or is that getting too far ahead of ourselves?!
John: Talking AFC Championship Game? In early November? Of course that’s too far ahead of ourselves – but hey: it’s also what we do. While I initially thought this might be a seven-to-eight-victory team, I now believe the Jaguars can finish this season with 10-to-11 victories – and I believe they do have the defense and running game to beat any team they face. That doesn’t mean they will win every game, but it does mean they’re capable of winning any game. That includes any game in the postseason – and that’s particularly true if Bortles plays as he has the last two games. So, can they get to the AFC Championship Game? Yes, I believe this team is capable of that. There is a long time between now and January; attrition, improvement/digression for all teams will happen during that time. But right now, yes: This looks like a team capable of making – and winning in – the postseason.
Strnbker from Dothan, AL:
Ranked 10th instead of drafting in the Top 10. Quite the change, huh – O-Zone-a-nator?
John: Yep.
George from Jacksonville:
I just wanted to say I appreciate the amount of content you guys are pumping out. Each week I go to the opponents’ sites and you guys are outpacing them! Good time to be a Jag fan! Please pass on, even to your good buddy Boselli.
John: I honestly don’t know what you mean by “You guys,” but I appreciate your thoughts. I do a great job. Just ask me.
John from OFallon, MO:
In Super Bowl XXXVII, the Tampa Bay Bucs knew all of the Raiders’ offense because Jon Gruden had coached them the prior year. Has the Jags 2017 defense changed enough since Gus’ departure to ensure the Chargers’ offense is not a step ahead?
John: Former Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley indeed is now the defensive coordinator of the Chargers. That’s an interesting pregame storyline, but I honestly wouldn’t stress much about this. While Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash has done a very good job with the scheme, it’s no big secret what the Jaguars do defensively each week: they cover opposing receivers very well, then pressure quarterbacks with a four-man rush. Also remember: Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett installed his offense this past offseason after Bradley left, so while Bradley certainly is familiar with some members of the Jaguars’ offense, his knowledge of the Jaguars’ playbook and offense isn’t intimate. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said it best Wednesday when he said it’s a pretty common situation for coaches to coach against their former teams. Sometimes, the former team wins. Sometimes the new team wins. Once in a great while there’s a tie. Whatever, I doubt it will be a major factor Sunday.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
With a situation like Leonard Fournette's this past Sunday, does the player still get paid? And does the team get to activate someone else in his place?
John: Yes. Yes.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
We went into last offseason with two goals in mind: Improve the defense and improve the running game. Mission accomplished! Is it too much to ask to have the same success this next offseason in improving the running defense and the passing game? #letsdothis
John: First, the team has improved in the passing game in recent weeks – and it improved against the run this past week against Cincinnati. Also, the Jaguars have eight games remaining this season. I doubt they’ll wait until the offseason to work on improving these areas.
Barry from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Watching the game Sunday, some of my favorite plays were when Blake threw the ball away. In the past, Blake would have tried to force something when being pressured and we know what follows. Not taking the sack, not risking the interception, allowed the drive to continue. This to me shows the most amount of growth out of Blake. How do you see it, Johnny O?
John: I think as Bortles gets more comfortable in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system – and with how Hackett wants him to play – Bortles’ decision-making is getting better and better.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
On a pie chart that represents the total amount of swag and confidence level of the Jacksonville Jaguars, what percentage of the chart would be solely occupied by Jalen Ramsey?
John: Thirty-six-point-seven.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
Sup, John. I know many people are excited about Dede Westbrook coming back and hopefully giving the passing game a lift. But I think the player to maybe watch the second half of the season is Keelan Cole. Not because he is a better player than Westbrook, but he has had all season to practice with the team and you could see from the Bengals game his ability.
John: I think there’s a good chance Keelan Cole will have a bigger impact than Dede Westbrook in the second half of the season for precisely the reason you cite – and because he clearly was ahead of Westbrook throughout the preseason and training camp.
Tom from Loughborough, England:
John, do you think that Keelan Cole is the next Allen Hurns?
John: I think Cole is the next Hurns in the sense that he’s an undrafted free agent with potential to make a big impact on the offense and to stick around in the NFL for a long time. But Cole has a chance to make a different impact because he has big-time deep speed.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
If the Jags clinch the division before facing Tennessee, will they sit some guys to rest for the playoffs, or will they put it all on the table in order to beat their bitter rival who embarrassed them at home earlier in the season?
John: We’re not there yet, Marcus.
Travis from North Dakota:
You stated our defensive players enjoy playing with each other and are having a lot of success. I know we won’t be able to keep everyone, but Aaron Colvin is a big part of this defense. Do you think he takes maybe a little less money than he would elsewhere to stay with this defensive unit – or do you see him chasing the money and going elsewhere?
John: I don’t know where Colvin will play next season. I hope for his sake that some team makes him an otherworldly offer and that he signs with the team making him the best offer. I hope for my sake that offer is from the Jaguars because I like Colvin very much. I doubt Colvin will take less money to play in Jacksonville, though – and I wouldn’t expect him to do that. These are these guys’ livelihoods and financial futures. Those things transcend a lot of other issues.
Erik from Fruit Cove, FL:
Los Angeles now has two NFL teams, and both are playing in Jacksonville this year. One fer Weaver, Khan and the fans.
John: #DTWD
Sean from Philadelphia, PA:
Hey, John. What is your take on the play of Myles Jack this season? Living in Philly, I don’t get to see the games unless I go to a sports bar to watch, and I haven’t heard much about his play with all of the other stars on this defense playing so well.
John: He’s playing at a high level. His speed – along with that of Telvin Smith – has made it extremely difficult to complete passes in the flat against the Jaguars, and it also has made it extremely hard to run wide against the Jaguars. He also is improving by the week calling the Jaguars’ defense.
Robert from Reno, NV:
Did you see it? It was awesome. A formal apology written by Daniel Levitt on ESPN. They’re finally looking at the Jaguars differently. I think they finally realize we mean business. GO JAGS!
John: I didn’t see it.
Gabe from Jacksonville:
How much of Blake Bortles’ improvement can be attributed to the fact that he PRACTICES against the No. 1-ranked pass defense in the NFL?
John: It doesn’t hurt, though the amount of time Bortles and the first-team offense spends working with the Jaguars’ first-team defense during the regular season is comparatively minimal. First-team-versus-first-team work is a training-camp thing. The major reasons for Bortles’ improvement are several-fold. The Jaguars are running better and he therefore is being exposed to less pressure and fewer sacks. He also is growing and becoming more confident in Hackett’s offense. The Jaguars’ defense also is playing better and therefore Bortles and the offense are playing with leads and not having to throw constantly against defenses that know they must pass. All of those factors contribute to a quarterback with more opportunity for success, and Bortles appears to be taking advantage of that opportunity.
Cliff from Jersey City, NJ:
Yo, O. Seasons past have felt very long. This season seems to be flying by. What's that saying again?
John: Don’t take any wooden nickels.

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