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O-Zone: A little time remaining

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Scott from Jacksonville:
In the words of Dennis Green: 'They were who we thought they were' … Now, move to the present: our defensive ends are exactly who we think they are, average at best. We are in serious trouble in the pass-rush department and there is nothing we can do about it until free agency/draft.
John: This is a legitimate concern considering the first three preseason games, and there's little question that the concern addressed when the Jaguars selected Dante Fowler Jr. No. 3 overall last offseason remains a concern with him out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. So, after three preseason games without a first-team sack, understandably many are convinced there will be no pass rush for the Jaguars this season. Until the regular season begins, there is little to be done to convince people otherwise, though it wouldn't be entirely foolish to remember that pretty much the same thing was said about pretty much the same group last preseason. That group probably won't rank among the NFL's all-time great pass rushes, but it probably wouldn't be entirely foolish to remember it wasn't that bad last season, either.
Michael from Orange Park:
Thinking the kid just might be pretty good.
John: Thinking you may be right.
Duran from Rapid City, SD:
OK, so your response to Dane regarding the thinness of the Leo position was a little skewed. You might not consider it "critically" thin in terms of quantity of players that can play the position, but it's a different story when it comes to quality.
John: We'll see. The experienced Leos who are currently healthy – Chris Clemons, Ryan Davis and Chris Smith – produced 17.5 sacks last season. They are now without Andre Branch, who produced three sacks last season. Seventeen and a half sacks isn't record-setting, but neither is it "critically" bad. I'm not saying the pass rush isn't a concern. I have the same concerns. I'm also not saying the team won't miss Fowler. What I am saying is it's not a dead-solid lock that the pass rush will be a disaster.
Kamal from San Francisco, CA:
I can't even start to imagine how angry Lions fans must be at how little pressure or pass rush they got against a team that won nine games in three years and gave up 70 sacks last season. Fans gonna fan.
John: Yep. I imagine Lions fans are fannin' too.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
The Jaguars press corps keeps harping on the defensive line, stating that the backs can't be expected to make plays if the line doesn't put pressure on the quarterback. That is true. It is also true that if the backs can't stay in their coverage long enough, the line can't have time to get to the quarterback. Seattle has shown a vulnerability to the short passing game and the Jaguars have that same weakness. Why does our pass coverage back off on the snap? Are they so afraid of getting beat long that they give up the short zones? Whatever the reason, they will never improve their interception numbers when they are always in retreat.
John: I can't speak for entire Jaguars "press corps," but I will admit to a pass-rush bias – i.e., a belief that where a pass rush goes, the pass defense usually follows. The Jaguars' defensive approach does emphasize not giving up the big play. There indeed is a necessity within that approach to stay aggressive. The team found a pretty good balance between those two last season; it needs to keep that balance this season once the secondary gets healthy and gets into the regular season.
Ben from Indianapolis, IN:
I'm not one to overreact, but after watching Yeldon and then reviewing his combine stats to find he was outside the top ten running backs in nearly all measurables, I feel I am losing my sense of optimism for him. Hope he proves me wrong. Why do you think David felt it necessary to spend the 36th pick on him when we already had Denard, Toby, and Bernard as our backfield?
John: Because the personnel department as a whole absolutely loved Yeldon and believed he will have major impact on the running game. I haven't asked around, but I'm almost sure they haven't changed their opinion after a few preseason series.
Patrick from Merced:
That feeling you get when the quarterback gets more yards on the ground then a running back.
John: … is about the same feeling I get when people draw conclusions about a running game from one half of a preseason game, particularly the team that ran well the previous two weeks.
Matt from East Palatka, FL:
A lot of folks are chatting about Davon House looking kinda 'meh' in the preseason. Is it possible that part of this could be him not going 100 percent (to avoid injury, or the likes) because it's preseason, or do you think he's still just adjusting to a new team and system?
John: I doubt House is going less than 100 percent, but there is a difference in intensity level from preseason to the regular season. People like to talk about cornerbacks, safeties and offensive tackles because they're positions where every mistake is magnified. As is the case at offensive tackle, a cornerback who isn't playing perfectly often is perceived as playing poorly. There often is a place somewhere in the middle called reality.
Robert from West Milton, FL:
Is Bortles worth a 5 round pick in my FF league?
John: Yes. No. Absolutely. Wait. Huh?
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
It seems like Ryan Davis has been very successful at generating pressure when he's on the field, yet the coaching staff seems determined to limit his snaps. I understand your comment that Chris Smith may be the Leo on first- and second down is mostly speculation at this point, but what has he done to warrant consideration ahead of Davis in your view?
John: The coaching staff is not determined to limit Davis' snaps. What they are determined to do is get Davis on the field in situations where he is most effective, and evidence from the last two seasons suggests that is as an interior pass-rusher in the team's three-defensive end – or lightning – package. As for my comment about Chris Smith, it was speculation only in the sense that Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley on Saturday said Smith likely will play first and second downs with Chris Clemons and Ryan Davis probably playing more passing situations with the possibility of some earlier downs.
Sam from San Marco, FL:
Almost time for the Jags to put the boots to the NFL! Team looks rock solid. It was obvious last year Bortles is the man. Even more obvious now. Bring on that Cam Newton dude!
John: #DWTD
Dan from CARY:
The Jaguars do a great job of keeping us fans engaged with interesting articles, videos, interviews and other touches. Thanks for keeping the flame alive, especially for us out-of-market fans that don't always get to see every game.
John: Thank you. Your words mean a lot those behind-the-scene folks at jaguars.com. They are a hard-working lot who I admire, respect and without whom I would not be able to do my job. I have the utmost admiration and these people are always in my thoughts, whoever they may be.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Chad Henne's average passer rating for his career would land him at around the 30th-best QB in the league year in, year out. In other words if Henne is in you are guaranteed to have the worst quarterback play in the league. It is not a fluke when it is over a seven-year period …
John: … sorry about that. I cut your question short. You went on continuing to make the point that Chad Henne is one of the worst backup quarterbacks in the NFL. This is not true.
Dennis from Orange Park, FL:
When a player is picked up off of the practice squad, does the team get any compensation for losing a player?
John: No.
Chris from Heath, TX:
O, I just spent two hours watching Draft Day –quite possibly the worst movie I've ever seen. Lending the NFL's branding to that "film" should garner more criticism of Goodell and the NFL than "deflate-gate" or anything else for that matter. And, for good measure, in addition to wasting two hours of my life, the NFL cast the Jaguars' GM as the biggest doofus possible--trading three future second-round picks for a top ten selection.
John: I didn't mind Draft Day too, too much. I found flaws in it, but that's usually the case when watching a movie about a subject/industry with which you're knowledgeable. As far as worst movie you've ever seen … what, did you not see "Titanic?"
Mike from Jacksonville:
I've heard the comparison of Yeldon to Edgerrin James. Why not try using him the same way with a stretch run or sweep?
John: Ya'll do know the season isn't over yet, right? Right?

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