JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeff from the Rutland Frontier:
I feel like Seattle is a tough team to beat – and in fact will be too tough for the Jags. But I also said in August that this team would get a maximum of six wins this season. So, sometimes I get these things wrong – and sometimes I even like being wrong.
John: I waver on this game seemingly each time I think about it. On the one hand, I see Seattle as an experienced, playoff-savvy team that has played a lot of big December games over the past half-decade. Been there, done that? Yes, the Seahawks have an advantage on that front. They also have quarterback Russell Wilson and a very good defense. My gut feeling a lot of times when I think about Sunday is the game will be tight with the Seahawks – i.e., Wilson – finding a way to make key plays at the end. If that happens, it won't mean the Jaguars aren't ready for prime time or that they're a year away. It wouldn't mean they couldn't win their final three games and win the AFC South. It will mean they weren't quite ready to beat Seattle on a given day. But while my gut feels that way a lot of the time, there's just as big a part of me wondering if maybe the Jaguars' defense really is "that good," meaning good enough to harass this Seattle offense the way it harassed so many offenses already this season. I wonder if maybe this defense's speed can overwhelm the Seahawks and negate the edge Wilson gives them. That part of me wonders, too, if maybe this is the Jaguars' time to ascend. That's just as possible as the Seahawks winning. What will happen? We'll find out Sunday.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
The fan base on Blake Bortles is divided almost like the Republicans and the Democrats. I always liked Bortles and I have noticed an improvement on his techniques. Hate it that he is under the microscope.
John: He plays quarterback in the NFL. The microscope comes with the job.
Ross from Pooler, GA:
Jay, with his ankle consistently sore and keeping L-4 ineffective, why not start Corey Grant? He, too, runs with power and I dare to say an equal or greater amount of speed! What say Yoo, John?
John: I say blocking is contributing to Fournette's ineffectiveness just as much as his ankle – and while Grant runs with power, it's hard to make the argument that he is as powerful as Fournette. Even while dealing with the ankle, Fournette is the team's best running back. And when you're fighting for a postseason berth, you play your best players.
Dave from Los Angeles, CA:
Fournette is very talented. Great player to have on the roster. But imagine if we had lucked into drafting any of the other late-round rookie running backs producing nice numbers this season, and used our first-round pick on a more premium position. Perhaps that would've been a wiser strategy?
John: Perhaps. Would those late-round running backs have produced the same numbers as Fournette with the offensive line struggling at times to get interior push? Would those backs have given the Jaguars the same power? Perhaps they would have. Perhaps not. Every draft is full of perhaps and perhaps not. I'm not saying it's not interesting reading. I'm just saying don't expect any definitive answers when trying to look back and reassess a draft.
Mike from Rochester, NY:
How do you see the Jaguars defending Jimmy Graham this week? Watching this team this year and over the last few years they have struggled defending the tight end position.
John: The Jaguars have allowed three touchdowns to tight ends this season. That's one every four games. They have allowed tight ends about four receptions a game and just over 40 yards per game. While it's fair to say the Jaguars have struggled covering tight ends in past seasons, I don't know that they're struggling this season. I anticipate Barry Church and/or Tashaun Gipson covering Graham with some Myles Jack mixed in at times.
Terry from Miami, FL:
We have so much going good, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But, I think someone stands out as a leader. Poz! When asked to move, he did. When asked to play, he did. He is a class act, handling every situation with style and grace. He is a rare commodity in the NFL Today. One for Poz!
John: Posluszny would tell you that all he did was do his job when asked – and do it at as a high a level as he could. He would be right to say that. But to handle his new role with the professionalism and class he displayed … I won't say no one else would have done it and I won't even say it's rare. I will say it's commendable, and there's no way it was easy. So, yeah … one fer Poz.
Fred from Naples, FL:
I think the cool thing about Blake's recent success is to see the team around him when he is doing well. They genuinely like Blake and want him to do well. I think they realize he is busting his butt every day in practice. I think his light has turned on and he will perform this way the rest of the year; well into the playoffs.
John: Bortles' teammates undoubtedly support him. A lot of this is because of his work ethic – and I believe a lot of it is because teammates know he is playing well, that he has command of the offense and he is giving them a chance to win more often than not. I agree the light has turned on to the extent that Bortles is far more aware and in control of this offense than he has been in any of his first three seasons. That doesn't mean he has developed to the point that he's going to complete 26 of 35 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions every week. He's not there yet, and it sure doesn't seem the players around him are there yet. It also doesn't mean the late-game mistakes are behind him; he has to prove that's the case before we can say it. But I see no reason Bortles can't perform at the level he has performed a lot this season. That's going to give the Jaguars a chance to win more often than not.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
Just watched Jalen thread. Why do these reporters ask a question and can't seem to accept the answer? Not to mention some of the questions are unbelievably stupid.
John: You're talking about the Jalen Ramsey interview with the media Wednesday. I was there. There was nothing wrong with the questions asked in the interview; a locker room setting doesn't always lend itself to the most erudite questions. There was also nothing wrong with Ramsey's responses. He doesn't always love reporter's questions. His responses sometimes indicate as much and a couple indicated as much Wednesday. That's OK. I usually find Ramsey's interviews entertaining. I found a few answers Wednesday entertaining. I wrote a story. A while later, I went home.
Nick from Palm Coast, FL:
Will Telvin Smith be ready to play on Sunday? He is probably the only one to shadow Russell Wilson.
John: Smith remained in the concussion protocol Wednesday, but he practiced full so I would guess he will play Sunday. But he's not the only player who can shadow Russell Wilson. Myles Jack is perfectly capable of doing so as well – and I suspect he will at times.
Little Kid from Family Site:
Maybe Not as Big a Jackass..." I thought this was a family site! Now go wash your mouth out with soap!
John: Yes, reading "Jackass" in the O-Zone … that's what will send the next generation careening off the rails. That's the tipping point.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
The Seahawks game Sunday is huge. If Russell Wilson wasn't playing, I'd say the Jags are a lock to win, but Russell is the league's Most Valuable Player in my opinion. Can you guarantee a win? This is a true test to see where the Jaguars rank among the Top 10.
John: I can't guarantee I find my way out of my neighborhood to find the interstate in the morning. This is a tough matchup. Seattle is an experienced, playoff-hardened team and those teams are tough to beat in December. They give you nothing and everything must be earned, through the fourth quarter. This will be an all-day sucker.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
CUT MARQISE LEE!!!!! Remember that one?
John: Yes. The notion was as silly and uninformed in the moment as it seems now in retrospect.
Mitch from Hartford:
Hey, O: My wife and I are flying down from New England for our first NFL game as the Jags take on the Seahawks. Any words of advice? We are both quite excited.
John: My advice? Wear headphones and stare straight ahead, feigning deep thought. Otherwise, you may have to speak to another human being. That sucks.
O-Zone: Advisory board
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeff from the Rutland Frontier: