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O-Zone: Always grinning

JACKSONVILLE – Look Ahead Wednesday.

Let’s get to it …

David from Orlando, FL

Zone: When our offense sustains drives, our defense stays fresh and dominant. When the offense sputters, the defense gets tired and becomes a shell of itself. Is that why it has been said that this team was built to play with the lead?

The Jaguars have allowed four touchdowns this season and have yet to allow one when leading by less than double digits. They rank first in the NFL in total defense and first in passing defense. Only the Washington Redskins (44) have allowed fewer points than the Jaguars’ 56 points allowed, and the Redskins have played one fewer game (three) than the Jaguars (four). At no point this season has the Jaguars’ defense looked “like a shell of itself.” The reason this team has been built to play with a lead is the defense is perhaps the NFL’s best, and has a fierce pass rush with a very good secondary. The unit plays pass defense extraordinarily well. When you play pass defense extraordinarily well, you typically hold leads.

Mike from Rochester, NY

What are the chances that the NFL flexes the Jaguars-Chiefs game to Sunday Night?

Zero. The game will be on CBS Sunday at 1 p.m. with Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson on the call. While NFL games can be flexed beginning in Week 5, the league doesn’t flex games this close to kickoff. There are too many factors such as changing television crews and accommodating people working/attending the games.

Kyle from Noblesville and the Mean Streets of Arlington

O-man, this season is looking more and more like 1999. On our schedule I see only two matchups that really bother me: this week and, of course, Tennessee. Tennessee only has the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and us left in the same category. I am beginning to think 12-4 this season will only get a wild card and 13-3 might not win the division, either. This game against Kansas City seems to loom larger than Week 2 in the grand scheme of things...

This game is bigger than the Patriots game because the Chiefs are 4-0 and the Patriots are 2-2. What game is bigger could change by season’s end, but that’s how it looks now. I don’t know that I see the Titans or Jaguars getting to 14-2 because they both typically play a lot of tight games, but who knows? I’ve been wrong before. But don’t assume 12-4 for either the Titans or Jaguars. Twelve games remain for both, and either team would need to go 11-3 to make that happen. That’s tough going.

Paul from Gainesville, FL

I'm convinced your inbox goes to Bizarro World some days.

Yes.

Jordan from Jacksonville

I know this will sound harsh, but as of now the Leonard Fournette pick has been a bust.

It doesn’t sound as harsh as it does silly. Fournette has had injury concerns. Perhaps he hasn’t performed at the level you might want from a No. 4 overall selection. But a bust is a player who contributes nothing and you regret drafting. Fournette absolutely is not a bust.

Steve from Stevensville, MD

Pat "Showtime" Mahomes is the absolute craze of the league right now. He has been playing at an unbelievable level. But he hasn't played Sacksonville. This is the game of the week, maybe the game of the year coming up. I am ready to scream: DUUUUUUUVALLLLLLLLLL

DTWD

Jarrett from Crosby, ND

Zone, I'm concerned (no need to apologize!) that second-year defensive end Dawuane Smoot has been a healthy scratch in each game so far. I was led to believe (by you) he was an important part of the defensive-line rotation, so why can't he get on the field? I was counting on him to move into an even bigger role in the years ahead.

I won’t apologize for your concern, though being concerned can be … you know, concerning. But you’re right that Smoot being a healthy scratch isn’t a great commentary on his development. He contributed last season and showed promise. He then missed much of 2018 training camp with an ankle injury and has yet to play his way into the rotation. It likely will take an injury to another player at this point for him to be active. When he is, he needs to perform at a higher level than he has performed thus far to earn a spot in the rotation. That’s his status right now.

Gary from Suffolk, VA

We are 3-1 and second in our division. Although it’s early in the season, looks like that late-season game against the Titans will loom large and be a deciding factor for the playoffs. #DTWD

Well, yeah …

Logan from Wichita, KS

This is exactly why you don’t mess with soft-tissue injures!! We had zero reason to push Fournette back. I respect his desire to fight through it for the team. But that was not smart at all! We need him healthy long term and now that won't happen. This is really not good.

Fournette was cleared to play. While it’s awesome that you know more than the doctors about hamstrings in general and Fournette’s specific situation, the Jaguars’ policy is to play players when they are medically cleared.

Josh from West Palm Beach, FL

Hey, John: I know you get a lot of questions, but I wanted to ask again: Why are we not taking a look at a guy like Bo Scarbrough? A big bruising back, who has that power to get to the second level, he’s sitting on the practice squad for the Cowboys waiting for a chance to contribute to a team. We have T.J. Yeldon; but what do we have if Yeldon goes down? Corey Grant is not an every-down back. I just feel like there should be some action when your top player on offense is struggling to play.

Your question assumes a couple of things. One, that the Jaguars are not “taking a look” at Scarbrough. They certainly have taken a look at Scarbrough, having done so during the pre-draft process last offseason. They and 31 other teams apparently have decided that he’s not an improvement over what they have on the roster. A thing to remember, too: just because a player is on another practice squad doesn’t mean he will sign with you if you approach him. The player’s current team can raise his salary or open a roster spot to retain him; a player in that situation may opt to remain with his current team if he believes his long-term chances are better there.

Chris from St. Augustine, FL

I read a recent article stating that the best move right now is to put Fournette on injured reserve. That way he will be eligible to be brought back after the bye. Do you agree with this? If they do this, do they sign another back for the time being or go with three we have? I do get a little concerned about going with the three we have because T.J. being a little banged up may have contributed to the Titans loss, Corey Grant is not a full-time back, and Brandon Wilds doesn't have much real playing time. What are your thoughts on this?

If the Jaguars were to place Fournette on injured reserve he would be eligible to return in eight weeks, or no sooner than the team’s December 2 game against the Indianapolis Colts. This indeed would be the best move if you knew for certain Fournette would be out for seven or even six weeks or so. What’s so tricky about his injury is it’s very difficult to know the duration of a hamstring injury. What might seem like minor issues to physicians might feel major to players, and it’s difficult for explosive skill players to open up with even minor issues. I doubt the Jaguars put Fournette on IR for that reason. If they do, I expect them to go with Yeldon, Grant and Wilds while possibly signing a fourth running back. I would be a little surprised if a fourth running back worked his way into the rotation. If that were to happen, I believe the Jaguars already would have signed the player. Their approach under Head Coach Doug Marrone has been to promote players from within. I would be surprised if that approach changed.

Terry from Chester, VA

Mr. O: What’s up with Coach Marrone? After the game, and also on Monday, he looked like something is bothering him. No smiles, no jokes, just seems like he’s upset. Can you shed some insight?

No, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone wasn’t happy Monday. His star running back has a hamstring injury, and he has to figure out a way to stop an offense that looks like the greatest thing since Tickle Me Elmo when the Jaguars play the Chiefs Sunday. Besides, who said everyone has to be happy all the time? This is the NFL, not a petting zoo. Tell you what: If you want happy, go to Disney World. It’s a couple of hours south and you can’t wipe the grin off that mouse’s face.

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