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O-Zone: One fer all

Posted Sep 13, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Back in town.

Let’s get to it …

Frankie from London, England:
I'm so sad for Allen Robinson to be out for the season on the first series of the first game – even more so in a contract year. Thank God wide receiver is one of our deepest areas, but I don't think anyone comes close to the WR1 ability of A-Rob. It'll be interesting to see how all parties handle the contract. Maybe the injury will be better for the Jaguars’ salary cap; maybe the team waits to see how the injury has affected him long term; and maybe, just maybe, he tests free agency and his market worth elsewhere. Hate that this happened, but it’s an interesting subplot for the remainder of the year.
John: This is one to watch, though it’s too early to know how this will play out. There also is the more immediate concern of Robinson undergoing surgery and beginning rehabilitation. The good news for Robinson is several-fold: the injury occurred early in the season, so there’s every chance he can be close 100 percent early next season; a torn anterior cruciate ligament needn’t be career-threatening, particularly at his age; and, because his style is more about physicality and athleticism and less quick-twitch quickness, an ACL injury shouldn’t debilitate his return as much as a player more dependent on speed and flash. As far as Robinson’s contract, the injury complicates it. My early projection would be that placing the franchise tag on him for 2017 is a possibility, or the sides could agree to a one-year deal. This agreement wouldn’t have to be contentious, because it could benefit both sides. The Jaguars might not want to invest big-time long-term money in Robinson until they know his post-injury form, and Robinson might want a year to reestablish his long-term value.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
With Robinson done for the season, what do we do to stretch the field against Tennessee? I see the Titans packing the box with eight or nine, which means we need someone to be our deep-ball threat. Can Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Keelan Cole or Arrelious Benn fill in for Robinson's 50/50 ball-catching ability down the field and in the red zone that Blake Bortles relies on when he needs a big play?
John: It’s unlikely Lee, Hurns, Cole or Benn will match Robinson’s 50-50 ability; his ability to aggressively high point the ball is among the best in the NFL. But Lee and Cole absolutely can stretch the field, and Hurns has proven he can get open and produce in the red zone. Don’t underestimate Cole’s ability to get open, either. He needs to clean up the drops he has had in recent weeks, but he is consistently getting open. That’s encouraging.
Richard from Starke, FL:
I am changing my prediction from 0-16 to 16-0. #fullfanmode
John: You go, girl.
Nimrod from Toronto, Canada:
Looking at the schedule, seeing as we do not have any prime-time games this year, are any of our games able to flexed into prime time? Thanks for your time!
John: Pretty much any 1 p.m. game can be flexed into a nationally-televised/prime-time Sunday slot after Week 5. But the Jaguars are 1-0. It’s September 13. We’re a long way from flexing games and projecting playoff possibilities.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
This Titans game just became huge! Can the offensive line hold up against another good defensive front? Can the defense push around a good offensive line with a better mobile quarterback? If the Jags repeat the same performance (or something reasonably similar, maybe five sacks and two turnovers) against what looks like a much more competitive team, it's party time!
John: Good for you adding the parentheses, because the Jaguars’ 10-sack performance Sunday isn’t likely to be repeated any time soon. The day set a franchise record, which means it hasn’t happened in 22 previous seasons. It likely won’t happen again for 22 more seasons. Ten sacks are absurd. Ten sacks are preposterously close to perfect. Even five sacks and two turnovers is a great game; that sacks total would be season-highs for many teams. But yes … the Titans will be a good test Sunday, particularly for the defensive front. Tennessee runs as well as any team in the NFL. Pressuring Marcus Mariota will be difficult, and containing him is just as important. This game almost certainly will be tighter than the regular-season opener. Almost all games are tighter than that. Blowouts are rare in the NFL and I frankly don’t expect the Jaguars to blow many teams out this season. I do expect this team to play a lot of close games, which means this season could be interesting for a lot longer than recent seasons.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
Do you think Rashad Greene is a possibility to be signed? He would know the offense already and could play slot while Allen Hurns bumps outside. Thoughts?
John: Rashad Greene is on the Jaguars’ injured-reserve list. Because he was placed on the list before Saturday, September 2, at 4 p.m., he is not eligible to return this season.
SMH from NFL cities everywhere:
What is with all the injuries in the NFL? They should have figured out how to make it safer by now.
John: I’d assume there’s sarcasm in your question, but I know better than to assume things. Look, the NFL does a lot to promote player safety. It’s a different game than the one I followed growing up, and a huge reason is 40 years worth of tweaking the rules to make the game safer. At the same time, this is a sport played by large people running into one another at high speeds. Those men are also pushing their ligaments and muscles to extremes that often lead to injury. If you stand on the sidelines of an NFL game, you won’t wonder why the game isn’t safer; you’ll wonder how every player isn’t seriously injured pretty much every week.
Stanton from Jacksonville:
As a day-one fan and season-ticket holder, I knew we would have to eventually be good again. It seems like we are for real, or am I just too optimistic?
John: I’ve gotten a lot of versions of this question this week, and it’s a very fair question. The Jaguars haven’t been good in a long time, and Sunday’s Week 1 victory over the Houston Texans to many probably seemed too good to be true. And in a sense, it probably was too good to be true. The Jaguars probably won’t have another 10-sack game, and they may not have three sack/fumbles in a game again this season. I don’t know how many more four-plus turnover/margin games will happen this season, and I’m not sure they’ll win many games by 22-plus points. I say all of the aforementioned things because victories as thorough as Sunday’s are rare. Now, just because 10-sack games are rare doesn’t mean the Jaguars aren’t for real. I do think this defense is for real, and I think a lot of the things we saw Sunday can carry over. I think it’s a defense that can pressure the quarterback. I think that pressure can create more opportunities for turnovers. I think this defense and the running game will keep this team in games, and I believe that more based on what we saw Sunday. So, yes: be optimistic. Look forward to what might be to come. Expect a tight, competitive season – and if the Jaguars continue to improve, who knows what can happen?
Luke from Plymouth Meeting, MA:
Are you satisfied with Blake Bortles’ performance Sunday, or does he need to show more?
John: Bortles’ performance Sunday was enough for the Jaguars to win. He passed for 125 yards and a touchdown and was not intercepted. He completed 11 of 21 passes, and within the context of that game that was a perfectly fine performance. He did what was needed. The Jaguars got ahead early and didn’t have Bortles throw much more. When he did throw, he mostly was accurate. His receivers also dropped a few passes; had those passes been completions, Bortles probably would have finished with 160-to-175 yards. When the situation calls for it he absolutely will need to show more.
Glenn from Fort Leavenworth, KS:
I sincerely hope your family and homestead have weathered the storm well. I've lived through enough hurricanes (including Matthew in Savannah last year) to know how nerve-racking it can be to not be there. One fer you, the team, and the rest of the organization for the absolutely fantastic job you've all done keeping us entertained with the trivialities of the everyday while dealing with such heavy topics in the real world. Thanks, O-man. It means a lot.
John: O-Zone family: fine. O-Zone homestead: fine. We’re not in a flood zone and we were fortunate with the wind. We were lucky, and we know it. So, no … not one fer me, but one for the team, one for Jacksonville and one fer all who weren’t so fortunate? Yeah, definitely.

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