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O-Zone: Ready to roll

Posted Nov 12, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Sid from Sidsonville:
The Chargers remind me of the Titans game. They have a decent offensive line as Philip Rivers has not been sacked often, and they can rush the passer. I have a bad feeling about this game. I hope I am wrong, but I do not see us winning this one.
John: You’re correct to be concerned. This is the NFL – not college football; most games present concerns even for the best teams. And the Chargers are absolutely a difficult matchup for the Jaguars. They’re better than their 3-5 record, winning three of four games after a 0-4 start. Rivers makes them dangerous, as does a pass rush that features Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. The Jaguars, remember, are good this season because they have a reliable formula for victory: if they can get a lead, they can run effectively, play swarming defense and protect that lead. The Chargers have a good formula, too. If Rivers can give the Chargers a lead, Bosa and Ingram make it very difficult to come from behind on them. The Chargers also have the added edge of Rivers being very good in late-game, come-from-behind situations. One edge for the Jaguars should be against the Chargers’ offensive line. While the unit hasn’t allowed many sacks, that’s largely because of Rivers’ ability to read defenses and get the ball to receivers quickly; the Chargers’ line has been injured and allowed pressure. That’s a big reason I expect the Jaguars to win, but I don’t expect it to be easy.
Robert from Reno, NV:
I listened to the Friday morning interview, and I heard what the coach said about how all our running backs are truly successful. Much of this success couldn't be possible without our offensive line. My concern is that with several of our best offensive linemen being questionable, how good are our backups in maintaining the success we've had so far?
John: That’s a legitimate concern. We’ve seen this Jaguars offensive line overcome a couple of individual absences this season – center Brandon Linder for three weeks with an illness, then guard A.J. Cann with a triceps last week – but multiple absences is a different task. I expect the three questionable players – Cann, guard Patrick Omameh (knee) and right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee) – to play Sunday because they practiced limited this week. If two or more don’t play, I expect the Jaguars’ offense to struggle on at least a few series. But that has less to do with the Jaguars’ backups than it has to do with Bosa and Ingram. Those guys even give starting linemen trouble.
Nathan Since ’01 from Provo, UT:
John, with each game getting bigger, so does the competition. Do you see Larry Fitzgerald as the greatest receiving threat down the stretch? And how do you see the Jags defending him?
John: I suppose Fitzgerald – who the Jaguars will face when they play the Cardinals Thanksgiving Weekend – indeed is the biggest receiving threat remaining on the schedule, though I haven’t thought much about it. And I suppose the Jaguars will put Jalen Ramsey on him a lot. You don’t really need to think much about that to suppose it.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
You respond a lot with "we're not there yet." That’s fine because … well, we're not there yet. But it is much more fun this time of year to discuss play-off aspirations as opposed to Top 5 draft picks.
John: We’re not there yet.
Ray from Monroe, CT:
With a Chargers-Jags matchup coming, knowing what we know now about Jalen Ramsey and Joey Bosa, do you think the Chargers change their mind and draft Jalen instead? Do you think these two teams would be extremely different than they are now with the two swapped?
John: I definitely don’t think the Chargers would change their mind and draft Ramsey over Bosa. Why would they do that? Bosa quickly has developed into one of the NFL’s best pass rushers and has the look of a player who could be a franchise-level defensive end for the foreseeable future; he’s a fine player who the Chargers can build their defense around for a long time. Ramsey has developed into one of the league’s best cornerbacks and has the look of a player who could be a franchise-level player there for the foreseeable future; he’s also a fine player and the Jaguars can build their defense around him for a long time. This is a case of both teams getting the players they wanted, and both teams getting franchise-changing players. It’s also a case of both players working out. How much different would the franchises be if you swapped them? Perhaps not much. They both would still have very good defenses, which already is the case. I don’t know how much better either team would be with the other player.
Roy Pickerell, Sports Information Director Emeritus Kentucky Wesleyan College:
We are so proud of Keelan Cole from Kentucky Wesleyan College. What has been Keelan's biggest adjustment?
John: Coles’ biggest adjustment has been getting used to the speed and intensity of the NFL game compared to Division II. It’s a mammoth jump. He appeared to adapt well to that in training camp and preseason, then struggled with it early in the regular season when the speed and intensity takes a jump. He appears in the last two or three games to be adjusting again. That’s a good sign. Not every rookie can produce in the regular season. Cole is starting to be one that can.
Big on Blake from Philly:
Whoa! NFL.com just posted an article about five teams that should trade up in the draft to grab a quarterback and Jacksonville was NOT one of those teams. Three weeks ago they would've been on there. Before the season, they probably would've been No. 1 What does this say about Bortles' progression as a player and comfort in Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's system? One fer Blake! I'll be wearing my BB5 jersey this Sunday!
John: Bortles not being mentioned in that sort of article means a couple of things. One, is that perception can change very fast – ridiculously fast – in the NFL. It also says that while midseason speculation is interesting and entertaining, it’s not always a reflection on what’s actually going to happen; a similar article in late October indeed might have had Jacksonville at the top of the list – and that may or may not have been correct. But this much is true: the perception of Bortles has changed a bit in the last couple of weeks. Is that the beginning of a major change in the course of his career? Will he indeed have a chance to be the quarterback of the Jaguars’ future? Eight weeks remain in the 2017 season. Stay tuned.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
If the Jaguars can beat the Chargers, I'll be all in on how far they can go.
John: OK.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, I’ve read and heard about the Chargers’ defensive line how good their pass rush is, etc. But how good is the Chargers offensive line? Do they allow a lot of pressure and sacks on Rivers?
John: The Chargers’ offensive line does allow a significant amount of pressure, although Rivers’ savvy and pocket presence is such that he takes comparatively few sacks (11 this season).
Clint from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada:
Hey John, just curious if you can help me out with players who are eligible to come back. I'll give you a list of guys I’m hoping to see on the field and then if you can let me know the status, I’d appreciate it. Rashad Greene Sr., Calvin Pryor, Dede Westbrook, Shane Wynn and Mychal Rivera. Thanks!
John: Pryor and Westbrook are eligible to return this season. All of the others on your list were placed on injured reserve before the 4 p.m. September 2 cutoff and are therefore out for the season.
Julio from Oak Hills, CA:
O, what is the issue with Allen Hurns? He seems to have regressed.
John: Hurns actually is playing at or near the level he always has played. All of the Jaguars’ wide receivers statistics are down this season because the team is passing far less than it did in, say, 2015 when quarterback Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and Hurns all put up the best statistics of their careers. Another factor facing Hurns: with Robinson out for the season, he now is getting a lot of double teams and shaded coverage from safeties that Robinson used to face. That also has limited his production somewhat, but Hurns for the most part is still the Jaguars’ most-consistent, reliable receiver.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
How do you beat the Jaguars’ defense? Do you run the ball on them? Do you throw? How about some trick plays? The stats say run but I would not bet on it. I like No. 27 in the game against the Chargers and GO JAGUARS!
John: You go, girl.

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