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Posted Dec 6, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

David from Fleming Island, FL:
Winning is fun. Can I expect fun next Sunday?
John: Can you “expect” fun Sunday? Can you “expect” the Jaguars to beat the Seattle Seahawks? Hell, David, I don’t know: I thought the Jaguars’ game against the Colts this past Sunday was going to be tight into the fourth quarter – and I thought fans could be nervous until the end. So what do I know? On a serious note, I do think you can expect a few things Sunday. For the energy in at EverBank Field to be intense. For the Jaguars to be as ready to play as they have been for any game this season. For them to play well defensively. And yes, I think the Jaguars have a good chance to win Sunday. It’s obviously going to be a tough matchup. Seattle is a proud, talented veteran team fighting for a playoff appearance; that makes any opponent tough. The Seahawks have a quarterback in Russell Wilson who is capable of making plays above the Xs and Os – and as importantly, he’s capable of those sorts of plays over and over again in a single drive and single game. He makes you make more than one good play on a single play to stop him, or even to contain him. I absolutely think the Jaguars can win—and if they do, it would qualify as the most significant victory of the season to date. Yes, it would be more significant than beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 5. The difference in the two games? One was in September and the other is in December. A victory in December? Over a veteran, contending team? That would be big. Can you expect it? I have no idea.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
O, which matchup will be more critical: Our defense against a red-hot quarterback in Russell Wilson, or our ascending quarterback against a defense with a great deal of pride trying to overcome significant injuries?
John: Wilson versus the Jaguars’ defense. No, wait: Bortles versus the Seattle defense. No, wait: Wilson versus the …
Phil from Woodmere, NY:
The new Jaguars’ winning formula needs to be this: sell out to score points early. Do whatever it takes. They are a different team when playing with a lead and I admired how they came out firing against the Colts. If teams are going to stack the box, we can’t be afraid to take advantage of it. That was some great coaching this week. This team reminds me of the old Steelers of the early 2000s. Throw early, run late. That’s our formula.
John: You may be onto something with the winning formula. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said after the Colts game Sunday that wanting to establish a margin played into the early fake punt – and there’s no question this team plays well with a lead. When you rush the passer and cover as the Jaguars do, the quicker you get opponents into a position where they must pass, the better. I don’t know if the Jaguars will “sell out” in every game to get that lead if that means taking undue risks to get that lead; you still must play smart and you don’t want to play so willy-nilly that you make mistakes that take your struggling offense completely out of the game. As far as coaching … yes, it was great Sunday. Fantastic. A lot of fans liked it. It’s striking what a direct correlation there is between a coach’s popularity and winning. Weird.
Jags Fan 818 from Jacksonville:
The Titans are our last game. If we stay tied with them and beat them in Nashville, where would the tiebreaker game be held to get home-field advantage and would the loser of the game automatically be the wild card?
John: There wouldn’t be a tiebreaker game; there’s no such thing in the NFL. If the Jaguars and Titans finish with equal overall records, the first tiebreaker would be head-to-head record and the second would be record in the division. Here’s one way to think of it: The Jaguars can lose to the Seahawks Sunday and still win the AFC South if they win their final three games. The Jaguars would be assured of at least finishing tied with Tennessee in that scenario. And if the Jaguars win the rest of their games after Seattle, they would finish with a 5-1 division record; because Tennessee already has one loss in the division, that scenario would give the Titans at least two division losses at season’s end and therefore ensure the Jaguars winning the division.
Nick from Phoenix, AZ:
How many times this season does he have to have "maybe-the-best-game-of-his-career" games to have played the best season of his career? You have insider information ... are the players behind Blake in your opinion?
John: Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles through 12 games has played better this season than at any point in his career. That’s difficult to state “as fact,” but that’s my opinion. While he threw for more yards and touchdowns in 2015, he has had more good meaningful performances with the game in doubt this season than he had that season – a lot more, actually. Bortles has improved this season in many areas such as decision-making, pocket presence and command of the offense. As for the players being behind Bortles … yes. Absolutely.
John from Cape May Courthouse, NJ:
It's amazing how much better the offense looks when the receivers catch the ball. Blake has thrown the ball well for the majority of the season; the receivers, for the most part, haven't held up on their end. If the passing game can continue to perform like it did last week, there isn't a team we can't beat.
John: You’re correct that the receivers played well Sunday – and that they need to continue to play well. Still, it may not be realistic to expect the passing game to perform every week at the level it did last Sunday. This is a group right now made up of largely of two rookies – Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole – along with veteran Marqise Lee, and a quarterback who has been pressured a lot this season. The Jaguars also were playing a struggling Colts team that had been hurt by injuries in the secondary. Still, the passing game really doesn’t have to match the 309 yards from Bortles and 213 yards from the receivers it got Sunday. It doesn’t have to be perfect. What it does have to do is give the Jaguars some plays downfield and more consistency than it has given them much of the season. That’s doable.
Big on Blake from Philly:
You know, Mr. O-man: it's usually uncouth to provide yourself a nickname for others to use in reference, but what the Jags’ Twitter team did. It’s really making waves. One fer the Jags’ social media team and the national media for latching on to the #Sacksonville Jaguars. When nfl.com refers to Seattle's next match up in Duval vs. the Sacksonville Jaguars … well, that's just special.
John: Too true. I keep waiting for my nickname to catch on. Alas, it appears “Maybe Not as Big a Jackass As People Think” remains curiously slow to take hold.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
The Seahawks looked good Sunday night against a good Eagles team. It appears this weekend’s game will be a good barometer against a wining, playoff caliber team. This isn’t the Colts or Browns coming to town. It is a double-chin strap game. December football … and the kind of game you win at home if you expect to do well in the postseason. Thoughts?
John: It’s a good barometer – and it would be a huge victory. But to think the Jaguars can’t win in the postseason if they lose to Seattle … no.
Dan from Rincon, GA:
Paul Posluszny may not have the aptitude for the huge plays like Telvin Smith or Myles Jack but seems to be one of the most consistent players, always in the right place and making the tackle. I guess my point is that he's still very good. Have you seen a dropoff in his ability as he's gotten older? I really hope we can keep this group of linebackers together for a few more years. Our cornerbacks get all the attention, as they should, but our linebacker group doesn't look too shabby, either.
John: It’s hard to predict what the Jaguars will do with Posluszny after the season. He is an unrestricted free agent after the season and I don’t know that he wants to play anywhere else. What would it take for him to return? At what cost? Those are questions for the offseason.
Ray from Newport News, VA:
John, what am I to do? I just realized that the Jaguars will not have a Top 5 or even a Top 10 pick in next year’s draft. Should we panic? Nah. Let’s be happy. #DTWD
John: No. You should panic. That’s always appropriate.

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