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O-Zone: Stay tuned

Posted Dec 23, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Fred from Naples, FL:
As a longtime Jags fan from Day 1: To all those concerned about losing players and coaches next year: "Enjoy the moment ... this is so much fun. You never know when it’s going to happen again!” Remember 1999?
John: I’ve thought a bit about this in recent weeks – and it seems to me the whole notion of fans stressing over the future while a successful season is still going on is a relatively recent phenomenon. I don’t recall worrying about coaching changes, player departures and the draft when I was a passionate fan of the Washington Redskins growing up; I perhaps had a vague notion that a coordinator or assistant might leave, but it didn’t occur to me that it might be such a seismic change that I needed to spend months fretting about it. Perhaps it was just a different, simpler era before people realized it’s always coaching in the NFL – and before unrestricted free agency changed the offseason landscape. Or perhaps the change has come with the rise of 24-7 NFL News, Twitter and the blogosphere – not to mention forums such as this; maybe people are just much more in tune with assistant coaches, contract machinations and other issues that once qualified as NFL minutiae. However we got here, your point is correct: Enjoy this season. The Jaguars are in the playoffs. They’re playing for postseason seeding and a division title. The entire day Sunday – first, Titans-Rams and later 49ers-Jaguars – will be about late-December football that matters. This is why players play. It’s why coaches coach. It’s why fans fan. This is the good stuff.
John from Jacksonville:
Get the EverBank Field sound system ready. It's time for some Batman music with the words "Trash Man." What a combination ... Sacksonville, Trash Man, Moodachay, and a whole lot more.
John: #DTWD
Travis from Winter Garden, FL:
O, I know this is probably an unpopular thought, but do you think that having Leonard Fournette in the game makes this offense predictable? In the three games in which he has been out, it is almost like it frees up the offense to do whatever it wants. I'm not trying to take away from the player that he is; I'm just curious your thoughts on if he is being used correctly when he is healthy?
John: Fournette is being used fine. I do think defensive coordinators are a bit less apt to stack the box when he is out of the game, which does contribute to the Jaguars being a little more balanced – and to being able to run effectively – when he’s not playing.
Mark from High Springs, FL:
Bortles, Playoffs, KRIMMA!!!!!
John: #krimma and yeah … #Bortles and #playoffs, too.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
I wouldn't be in a rush to get rid of Marqise Lee or Allen Hurns just because our young three are playing good. I think this season has showed injuries at the position happen so you can never have enough good players if you can afford it.
John: Injuries happen at all positions most seasons. One of the least-mentioned key points about this Jaguars season is that the defense has had just one player miss a start because of injury: weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith’s two-game absence because of a concussion. It’s far more common to have to play through various injuries at all positions, so yes: keep either Lee or Hurns – or both – if you can. I doubt you can, but it would be ideal if possible.
Pradeep from Bangalore, India:
Hi John, this Christmas seems to be a cheerful and happy time in Jacksonville. Thanks Jaguars organization, players and staff for giving Jaguars fans and city of Jacksonville so many wonderful moments this season. Merry Christmas.
John: True that. #DTWD
Jason from Da ‘Hass:
Do you think that Jaydon Mickens can have a similar or better career as a slot receiver as or than, say, Julian Edelman in New England? They seem to have perfected the use of smaller, quick players out of the slot. Watching him navigate traffic for that touchdown on Sunday was very impressive!
John: Mickens has had an impressive month that should earn him a lot of playing time and opportunity. He is surprisingly quick in and out of breaks, and that trait gives him a chance to succeed in the league. Remember, though: he has caught two career touchdown passes and Edelman is one of the more underappreciated big-time NFL players of the last three or four years. Let’s let Mickens go through the maturation phase of playing a few games then figuring out how to play against defenses more familiar with his style before we place him too high in the ranks great slot receivers.
Derrick from Jacksonville:
Not bragging but I called 12-4 after the demolishing of the Texans in the first meeting. It’s looking doable. Now my Super Bowl prediction. Rams versus Jags. With that said, with all the hype that my Jags are now getting, I hope they can stay grounded and continue to play the way they are now. Just win Baby, the great Al Davis once said.
John: Well, at least you’re not bragging.
Bradley from Carson City, NV:
Driving over the hill in a couple of days to spend Christmas Eve in Santa Clara. Pretty excited. Earlier this week you answered a great question as to how you defend against the Jags offense. Interested to learn what your strategy would be against the Jags defense?
John: Hope your team can run effectively. Hope your team doesn’t fall behind. If your team falls behind and can’t run, hope your team has a mobile quarterback who can get away from the pass rush – and hope the Jaguars’ secondary has some breakdowns.
Will from Birmingham, AL:
I am not saying he is going on to win four Super Bowls, or have a Hall of Fame career, but do you see similarities between the start of the careers between Blake Bortles and Terry Bradshaw? Both high picks, highly scrutinized early in their careers, but improved as their teams got better. If I recall, didn't Bradshaw also get benched several times, kind of like Bortles got benched?
John: There are similarities in the high points of their stories, though honestly it’s tricky to compare quarterbacks across eras. There is more perfection expected from the position at an earlier age these days – and far less patience shown. But yes – a lot of people wrote Bradshaw off for a long while early in his career and many did the same to Bortles. The latter has a long way to go before approaching the career of the former, but the last month has been a good sign.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
John I hope you, your family and all of Jaguar Land have an awesome Christmas, a Happy New Year and very happy holidays. Let's wish my friend Heilyn happy holidays, she's visiting from Costa Rica. Feliz Navidad chica! We're the jolliest sons of guns this side of the nuthouse, John!
John: #DWTD
Steven from Memphis, TN:
Do you see in the remaining games or next year that Leonard Fournette will also be a receiving threat? He has 29 so far but do you think that number should and will increase ?
John: Fournette is averaging a little less than three receptions and 20 yards receiving a game. Yeah, I could see those numbers getting up to three or four receptions for 40ish yards a game at some point. Why not?
Saud from Jacksonville:
This season has seen a lot of weird officiating. Will the NFL review the rules and officiating in the offseason? Some have been play-related calls like the Steelers' touchdown being overturned. Others have been arbitrary ejections/suspensions. There seems to be inconsistency in both areas. Ejections and suspensions don't really do jack if the same problem player is back on the field causing problems in the next game they're in. Will the NFL address these issues in the offseason?
John: I doubt you’ll see special meetings or committees formed to address this. That’s because the league office is constantly reviewing officiating – and because the NFL’s Competition Committee meets annually to consider such issues and make recommendations to ownership. All of these things will happen this offseason just as they happen every offseason. How well the issues will be addressed obviously can be debated, but all such issues will be addressed.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
O-man, I might be crazy, and 1999 was a long time ago, but this team feels more special and has overcome more adversity to put us in contention. Do you think this Jaguars team could be better than our previous best team?
John: It has a chance. It will be judged – like all teams – by how it fares in the playoffs. I believe this team is capable of reaching the AFC Championship Game. I believe it is capable of winning against any team anywhere. It has a chance to be special. Now, it must go out and show that’s the case.

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