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O-Zone: Tried and true

Posted Jan 12, 2018

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Justin from Virginia Beach, VA:
62-7, John! 62-7 was the final score in Dan Marino’s final game when the Dolphins played the Jaguars (real fans know). Let’s hope for a similar outcome Sunday. This will be Big Ben's final game. If we can force retirement, then they should just induct the whole defense in the Jags Ring of Honor.
John: You’re excited, Justin. That much is clear. And it’s understandable. These are exciting times around the Jaguars, and the NFL playoffs are heart-starting and heart-stopping stuff. But this is a different circumstance than Jaguars-Dolphins following the 1999 season. The Jaguars had home-field advantage with the NFL’s best record that season while the Dolphins had limped to Jacksonville on a short week as a wild card. Marino was clearly very close to retirement and past his prime. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are a controversial call from the NFL’s best record this season with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs – and the Steelers have won 10 of 11 entering the postseason. Roethlisberger also has played at a high level pretty much since a Week 5 loss to the Jaguars, so don’t get the idea he’s limping anywhere right now – or that he’s close to retirement. The Jaguars clearly are capable of winning Sunday, but I wouldn’t go this game in expecting them to turn in another one-sided victory. A victory of any margin would be as significant a victory as this franchise has registered. Ever.
Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
Idk, Jack seems more interested in hitting people than playing football. #FightOn #TeamLee #LewisandMJDarecoolthough
John: What?
Bryan from Reston, VA:
Lot of hate out there, both locally and nationally, for a team that had just three wins last year, yet is one of eight teams left in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Not sure where the disconnect is other than haters gonna hate I guess. Even if the season were to end at Pittsburgh on Sunday, we’ve got a lot to hang our hat on this year compared to seasons past. Keep expectations high, but let’s not forget the fact we’re still playing in mid-January.
John: The time for savoring what the Jaguars accomplished will come, and that should be a satisfying experience for fans because this team has accomplished a lot. For now, it’s playoff time. That means fans gonna fan and media gonna media, so sit back and enjoy it all as it happens.
Jeremy from Rhode Island:
If the Jags win 10-3 this weekend I will not complain one bit. I don't care what Bortles' stats are!
John: You are not alone.
Brian from New Hampshire:
Why do we not see more designed plays for Blake Bortles to use his mobility more? Once he started moving and running, he looked like a different quarterback versus Buffalo. I feel the team is trying to make him a pocket passer first, which he is not. Let him roll out more, let him run more. It seems get him to relax and start throwing a better football.
John: The reason the Jaguars don’t usually do this is a belief that Bortles indeed is perfectly capable of being effective in the pocket, as well as a belief that he developed as a pocket passer this season. Evidence throughout much of the season – until the regular-season finale and the Wild Card game, really – supports this. But the Jaguars are now in the middle of what is very much a one-and-done, all-chips-to-middle tournament. If there are situations that call for Bortles to run – and for the Jaguars to design plays for him to run – I’m all for it. And I would guess the Jaguars do that at least a few times on Sunday.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
Mr. O, does it feel like everything that's happening around this game is turning us into the bad guys? Like Ben saying he's coming for us, AB coming back, and now I see Ryan Shazier is back in the building. Obviously he's not practicing but still him being there has got to be like a "we're-winning-this-for-him" type of thing. I don't want to rain on the parade but I see storm clouds brewing...
John: So?
Travis from High Springs, FL:
What do they mean when they say, "It really helps a quarterback to be in the same system and really understand it"? I've heard a lotta stuff about Blake having three or four different offensive coordinators and having to learn a new offense (system) every year. But they also say that Tom Brady has a great understanding of his system, and the Patriots have had a lot of different offensive coordinators since Brady has been in New England. So what's the difference in the way they talk about it?
John: It indeed can hinder a young quarterback to have to learn a new system every year with new terminology, new philosophy, etc. Bortles essentially has had a different coordinator three of his four seasons, with each of those coordinators – Jedd Fisch, Greg Olson and Nathaniel Hackett – having different terminology and pretty different approaches as far as how they wanted the offense run and the quarterback position played. While Brady indeed has had different offensive coordinators, those coordinators have run basically the same offensive system with Charlie Weis first running the offense from 2000-2004 then Josh McDaniels – who worked for the Patriots while Weis was the coordinator – assuming the role two years after Weis left and holding it for all but three seasons since. Brady has changed coordinators a few times, but he always essentially has run the same system. That hasn’t been nearly as much the case for Bortles.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
No one says we can win. Last victory was a fluke. We don't have the offense to keep up. They will run on our defense. There is no way their quarterback throws picks again. We have no chance. We are playing with house money. Boy! I cannot think of a better mantra to tell the Jags players all week. I LOVE IT! Please pick against us, please say we have no chance. Seems to me to be the perfect thing to tell these players to get them fired up and in the mindset to do just that! #DTWD!
John: #DTWD
Joseph from Fords, NJ:
Do you think the Steelers are playing Antonio Brown just so Jalen Ramsey will shadow him? Meaning Brown isn’t at full health, but playing just to take out the best corner in the league?
John: I don’t cover the Steelers so I don’t pretend to have a feel for the pulse of their inner workings on the level I do the Jaguars. The word from Pittsburgh this week is that Brown is healthy. If that’s the case, then you play him because he’s that good. If he’s not fully healthy, it seems that would benefit the Jaguars because it would mean the NFL’s best receiver isn’t at full strength.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Why can I not focus at work, my appetite is off and I don't even feel like drinking in anticipation of Sunday?
John: Because playoffs.
Kyan from Le Mars, IA:
Sunday at one point they zoomed in on Dante Fowler Jr. and it was a revelation. I had completely forgotten about Fowler. Is it because he hasn't had any of the dumb penalties or that he just isn’t making huge plays? How has his play been? Here is to hoping his name gets brought up a lot on Sunday due to sacking little Ben!
John: Fowler is playing well. He’s not yet an elite pass rusher and he may not reach that level, but he plays with an energy, effort and a violence that makes him important as a third-down/nickel player. On a defense that swarms and plays with violence and energy and effort he’s a key component.
Mike from Claremore, OK:
Do you expect T.J. Yeldon to be active this week due to him being better in pass protection since the Steelers were No. 1 in sacks this season?
John: Yes.
Sandro from El Paso, TX:
Should the Jaguars stack the box against the Steelers, playing man to man, forcing Ben to beat us?
John: The Jaguars should play their scheme, which is to emphasize taking away the run on early downs then to rush the quarterback with four players and play with seven in coverage behind those four. That approach has made the Jaguars very difficult to beat defensively this season – and it worked in Pittsburgh in October.
CD from Fleming Island:
Hey John, is there anything about the 3-4 and Pittsburgh's personnel in particular that could create a good matchup for the Jags as it relates to the running game? Or will our success running the ball be a fingers-crossed situation?
John: /crosses fingers
Tom from Charleston, SC:
When are you going to stop blowing smoke and hiding behind not-so-funny jokes? All of the "experts" (and I use Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason and Steve Young as examples) contend that BB5 is not and will not be a viable starting QB in the NFL. What makes their evaluations mute? Certainly not because John says so.
John: A bum stops a guy on the street and asks for $10 for food. The guy says, “No, you’re only going to use it to gamble.” The bum says, “Oh, I’ve got gamblin’ money!” Now, c’mon … that’s funny.

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