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O-Zone: All's fair

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Carly from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Winning the AFC South is nice, but this team is so one-and-done in the playoffs.
John: While this comment is understandable considering Sunday's loss to San Francisco, it isn't necessarily true. Putting Sunday's frustration in the rear-view – and it is, after all, Look Ahead Wednesday – the fact remains the Jaguars have the AFC's third-best record and a big-time defense. They also will be playing their first playoff game at home. Could the Jaguars lose in the first game of the postseason? Sure, because any team can lose in the postseason and you're playing the NFL's best teams in high-pressure situations. But the Jaguars also easily could win multiple postseason games. I think the Jaguars need to play to a pretty specific formula to win in the postseason; they need to get early leads, force turnovers and make big plays. If they do, they can beat anyone. If not, yeah … they could lose in the first round. But don't think this team can't still beat any team it plays. It can. That hasn't changed.
Tom from Section 141 and home of an AFC South Champion:
Pittsburgh, Foxboro and Minneapolis aren't in the Pacific Time Zone, are they?
John: No.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Is it possible to overstate the positive influence of the vets who have "been there" such as Calais Campbell to all the young players on this team in terms of what awaits in the playoffs?
John: No.
Josh from Dayton, OH:
Winning helps all things, but I'm still not at all friendly to the new uniforms or logo; I own no merchandise with any of the new theme, and I don't ever plan to. That said, more teal is always better than less. We look far sharper in the teal unis, as evidenced by how many showcased photos involve the teal uniforms. Teal is the Jags' identifier. We need more teal.
John: Wow. You're dug in. That's fine. Digging in may not be cool, but a lot of people do seem committed to it. You're going to have a long wait if you're waiting for a new logo, though. Just FYI.
Biff from Jacksonville:
Can we agree that, despite how elite this defense can play, there is some serious growing up to do on that side of the ball?
John: Of course.
Tucker from Nashville, TN:
John, why isn't Marcell Dareus starting? I like Abry Jones, but early downs are more likely run plays that Dareus can dominate.
John: Who "starts" and who doesn't is relatively unimportant compared to how much a player plays when it comes to NFL defensive linemen. Dareus has played more than half the snaps in four of the last five games and he has played close to 60 percent of snaps the last two weeks. That seems about right. Any more and you risk wearing him down, which is not what you want entering the postseason.
Sam from Houston, TX:
Is anyone really questioning Clowney's assertion now?
John: Not anyone reasonable. Or anyone who understood what was going on Sunday.
Dean from Rochester, NY:
What happened to the idea of a call can only be overturned with "indisputable video evidence?"
John: Good question. The spirit of the NFL's replay system from the beginning was to overturn only indisputable evidence. When then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue pushed for the replay's implementation in the 1990s, he did so knowing that few in the league wanted the game officiated via video – but also believing that there was a need to prevent obvious, reversible errors from deciding games, seasons and careers. That concept has been lost at some point. Perhaps the league or officials have responded to criticism on social media. Perhaps there just needs to be a reset at the league level. Either way, it's out of control. Replay is supposed to change obvious calls. Put it this way: if you're sitting with two friends while a play is being reviewed and all three of you don't unanimously and easily agree what the outcome will be, the call on the field usually should stand. If you're surprised when the official announces the decision after a review, the replay system isn't working as it should.
Researcher from Jacksonville:
Studies show senior writers are grossly underpaid.
John: You had me until "-ly underpaid."
Bo from Dresden, NC:
I'm curious about Blake's ability to change out of a play. The very first play he walks up to an eight-man front … it seemed like a good time for play action. Does BB5 have the go-ahead to make audible or the first series usually scripted?
John: Bortles doesn't change out of a lot of plays yet. He has done more of this in recent weeks and I would look for him to do it more and more the more experience he gains in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's offense. Remember, too, that there's more involved in changing plays at the line of scrimmage than the quarterback. The Jaguars are playing two rookie wide receivers (Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook), a first-year wide receiver (Jaydon Mickens) and a rookie running back (Leonard Fournette). Bortles generally speaking knows the offense and what needs to happen in given situations, and his knowledge is reaching a pretty high level; that's not always as true of the young players around him. It's fine for Bortles to check into a play, but if his teammates can't react and respond, then it doesn't do much good.
Patrick from Mandarin, FL:
John, do you have the number of a good free-agent receiver?
John: I have two: 15 and 11.
Fred from Naples, FL:
It's real important that we go to Nashville and knock the Titans out of the playoffs … or we will see them in the Wild Card game in Jacksonville and we all remember how well that worked out for us in '99.
John: The Jaguars want to win Sunday and will make every effort to do so. If they don't win Sunday, fans will likely experience some '99 angst next week. It will have nothing to do with reality or what happens on the field the following week, but that won't stop fans from experiencing it.
Tim from Monks Corner, SC:
Will the real Blake Bortles please stand up? I think that in four years Blake has shown that he is not a franchise quarterback. Sure, he has an occasional good game but continues to lack consistency. There is an old saying about a blind squirrel and a nut; it applies here. Three years of futility cannot be erased in a couple of weeks. I'm glad that it happened now before Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell hitched their horses to this bandwagon with a broken wheel. A new quarterback early has to be a priority if this team is to continue to improve. I know that you disagree and if you publish this, you will try to find a way to spin it in a way that makes Blake look like the second coming.
John: Bortles for the most part played fine on Sunday, though if you want to blame him for the mistakes of receivers … well, I can't force you to understand something if you don't wish to try. There are a handful of NFL quarterbacks who are consistently at a high level week to week – and most of those are going to the Hall of Fame. I don't think Bortles is headed to Canton, and I don't think I ever said otherwise. I also don't think I've ever remotely tried to make Bortles look like the Second Coming. I do think some readers like to say things that make them look like they're flailing widely trying to get a reaction or like they simple don't understand the things they read. There's nothing wrong with readers who do this, though they sometimes do come off looking a bit silly.
Henry from Florahome, FL:
Just curious. Why was the game last week telecast on Fox? Usually, Fox only carries games where the NFC team is visiting. Go Jags!
John: Games can be flexed between networks just as they can be flexed between time slots.
Shannon from Las Vegas, NV:
Do you think Sunday's loss is a kind of loss that can humble a team enough to not buy in to what people are saying and simply play every game like they can lose it? I feel like they for the first time this year got too high on themselves.
John: I'm not usually a big wake-up call guy. I think in this case it may apply. This is a young team that has had some success. Could they need to ratchet it down a bit and be reminded they're not yet great? That's reasonable.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
You and the sycophants are correct. Bortles is definitely a franchise quarterback. Sign that man to an extravagant extension. Super Bowl here we come! Is John a genius or what?
John: I'm not a genius. Thank goodness, too, right? It wouldn't be fair to be that smart and this damned good looking.

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