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O-Zone: A legendary prodigy

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Todd from Jacksonville

Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash is 1-9 when playing mobile quarterbacks the last two seasons. He refuses to place a spy on these quarterbacks or get out of a four-man-line, zone defense. With eight Pro Bowlers, he is essentially wasting the talent on this defense with vanilla concepts. Moving forward do you think he starts to mix things up since many teams are starting to follow the same blueprint to beat these soft zone coverages?

Like the report of Mark Twain’s death, the amount of zone defense the Jaguars play is at least somewhat – if not greatly – exaggerated. The Jaguars play man-to-man defense and zone comparatively equally, though the team doesn’t play press coverage as much as many would like. Remember: there are reasons for not playing man-to-man every play, not the least of which it’s not just one or two players in the coverage; it’s the entire secondary and often a linebacker. If there’s a bad matchup somewhere in there, a coordinator sometimes employs zone to prevent that bad matchup. Regardless, I would like to see the Jaguars’ corners press more – and I agree that the Jaguars must do something different against mobile quarterbacks as opposed to simply depending on overall defensive speed and pursuit. I don’t think you’ll see a great emphasis on complexity this week, though. The way to get better quickly on defense is to simplify to allow players to play faster. That’s the approach I expect.

Brian from Jacksonville

Would you agree it's time to bench Donte Moncrief? I don't think cutting him will help, but his role should revert to fulltime backup. The recent comments about his lethargic play were spot on. He makes very little effort to catch the multiple balls thrown his way, and in no way helps Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles out on contested balls. He is a cupcake. Bench him?

The Jaguars still hope that Moncrief’s size and speed will give them matchup advantages. He’s still an asset because he is a bigger target than Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook, and he is more experienced than rookie DJ Chark Jr. It has worked for two touchdowns this season.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

#FreeCodyKessler … Seriously, when is enough enough?

I’ve been asked about Bortles being replaced by Cody Kessler pretty much every week since the offseason, and I imagine the questions will continue so long as the Jaguars’ losing streak continues. The answer remains the same: While Bortles may not be playing well, and while he may not ever be a front-line NFL quarterback, he is the Jaguars’ best option at the position. If at some point the Jaguars see Bortles struggling while the rest of the offense is playing well – i.e., when he is getting ample protection, when receivers are getting open, when the running game is operating at anything close to what’s needed for this offense to be effective – then perhaps the Jaguars would make a change. They won’t do it before that happens.

Loose Cannon from Baltimore, MD

Is Taven Bryan still on our team?

Yes.

Dave from Duuval

Dear O, Fournette might not have been “great” last season but he was an integral part of the Jaguars offense, especially the red-zone offense. He was the identity of the offense! All opposing defenses’ primary game plan was to take away Fournette. That opened up play-action passes and allowed Bortles to have a streak of games in December where he was arguably the hottest quarterback in football. The Jaguars were as effective in the red zone as any team in the NFL because teams had to account for Fournette and/or they could not stop him at the goal line. So, John you may say he did not have a “great” season, but he sure played an important role in the offense.

Yes. As I have said often, the Jaguars miss running back Leonard Fournette. They need him. But he was not great. And he needs to play better than he did last season to consider him as much. That’s not an insult. Greatness isn’t easily attained.

Peter from Perth, Australia

Hey, O. I think if we split the next two games until the bye, I'd be happy. Get a bit of health back over the bye then get a roll on towards the playoff with your fingers crossed. I say “fingers crossed,” because it feels like this year the bounce is going against us a little.

You go, girl.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, it looks like we are on track for our most disappointing season ever given how good we thought we should be this year. Do you think the Jaguars can turn it around this year?

Yes. They need to find a way to piece together a running game and protect Bortles better. And Bortles needs to complement that by staying more patient behind the offensive line and letting plays develop downfield. And the Jaguars’ defense needs to play as it’s capable. Those are lot of needs, but they’re doable.

David from Maplewood, NJ

John, it seems like every week is the most important game but ... this week is the most important regular-season game the current coaching staff and roster has faced. Another loss makes it hard to believe that this season has any chance of reaching expectations. Possible, sure – but 3-4 with three straight losses and 0-2 in the division will make the rest of the season pretty bleak. Here's hoping they can bounce back and beat the Texans, but frankly based on the current state of the injury report and recent performance it seems like a tall order. And here I was hoping we could extend the not picking in the Top 10 at least to a second season.

Sunday is a “biggie.”

Cliff from Callahan, FL

We're tied for the division lead. Most other division leaders are at most one game ahead. All is not lost ...

Sunday is a “biggie.”

Troy from the Land of Confusion

For the past few weeks the only productive playmaker we've had on offense has been T.J. Yeldon, but we seem to be going out of our way not to use him. Is his ankle so bad that he's on a pitch count?

Yeldon has 31 touches in the last two games – 18 rushes and 11 receptions. He had just 11 touches Sunday against the Cowboys Sunday – eight rushes for 41 yards and three receptions for 29 yards. I agree that it would have been good for Yeldon to touch the ball more, but remember: The Jaguars ran just 47 plays against Dallas. That means he touched it a shade less than 25 percent of the time. Considering the Jaguars need Yeldon in pass protection, and considering the need to keep Yeldon fresh and healthy because of the inexperience behind him, using him 25 percent is probably about right.

Sid from Sidsonville

National media was spot on. This is NOT a playoff team. Spin all you want, but you are SO WRONG!

Ah, the ol’ “Spin-all-you-want.” Points for persistence, if not originality. I can’t give points for your assessment of the national media, though. Plenty picked the Jaguars to be good. Plenty picked them to go to the Super Bowl.

Jesse from Hilton Head Island

I asked you before the season started about Blake Bortles and in what scenario could you see him being benched for Cody Kessler. If the Jags started 0-3, 0-4, if he was just really stinking up the joint … when would you pull him? I honestly don't remember your answer but I'm pretty sure it was my question had no merit or something along those lines. So, I ask you again. If Bortles comes out this week and throws up another goose egg- would you begin to consider it time?

Of course I remember the question. As I’ve mentioned before, I remember everything I’ve ever been asked and every answer I’ve ever written in the O-Zone. I have a photographic memory – and readers with a similar strength of memory may remember I am considered the Sean McVay of NFL senior writers. My feats of memory have been the subject of numerous television specials and lengthy magazine articles. My co-workers speak of my memory in hushed tones. Men and women fall back in awe and envy when I pass, and small children tug at their parents’ coat sleeves and say, “Mom! Dad! There goes O-Zone … he of the prodigious … nay … the legendary memory.” Jaguars President Mark Lamping often asks me, “Zone, how are we lucky enough for you to work here, considering … you know … the millions you could make because of your memory?” I reply, “For the love of it Mark … the fans, the readers, and of course, my beloved co-workers.” “Thank goodness,” he often replies. “Would you like a raise?” But that’s enough about me … What was your question?

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