O-Zone: At last

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Mike from Atlanta, GA

So, that's what happens when the defense gets to play with a lead – however small. Offenses begin feeling pressure and forcing throws, which is very dangerous against this defense – as evidenced by Telvin Smith's late-game interception.

A big myth around the Jaguars’ 2018 season is the defense has taken a dramatic drop, and that indeed was on display in a 17-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins Sunday. The unit hasn’t been quite as good as last season, but the major difference has been the lack of sacks and turnovers. I have written and said this enough that I have begun to annoy myself, but it is very difficult in the NFL to create sacks and turnovers when playing from behind. Pressure on the quarterback is the best way to create the havoc that creates turnovers, and teams that are ahead typically throw in ways they want to throw – i.e., shorter drops, taking fewer chances, throwing downfield less, etc. Throwing that way minimizes mistakes, and minimizes the opportunities for defenses. The Jaguars this season have scored two defensive touchdowns: an interception return by linebacker Myles Jack in a Week 1 victory over the New York Giants and an interception return by linebacker Telvin Smith against the Dolphins Sunday. End Yannick Ngakoue pressured Giants quarterback Eli Manning into a bad throw in September; end Calais Campbell pressured Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill into a bad throw Sunday. Both plays came with the Jaguars leading in the fourth quarter and the opponent in a situation in which it felt it had to throw to get back into the game. The Jaguars forced a lot of opponents into that situation last season and the result was a lot of havoc and defensive touchdowns. They have forced far fewer opponents into that situation this season and the result has been less havoc and fewer defensive touchdowns. Go figure.

Jonathan from Aledo, TX

Give fans a break. I can handle when Jags are outplayed but can't stand getting outcoached –again and again. It keeps happening despite Sunday's win: taunting, holding, blocks in back. No discipline in sight, and unless there’s a total coaching staff overhaul, we will be doomed for more mediocrity in 2019. Dump staff, keep Blake Bortles, start Joe Flacco and give loyal fans a break. Please?

It's always coaching in the NFL. Even when you win.

Strnker from Dothan, AL

Blake Bortles hurts my heart. He is such a wonderful man on and off the field and gives 110 percent at everything he does. My heart hurts because he is so inconsistent. If only? Yeah, I know … if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his butt every time he hopped. Woe is me.

It’s safe to say many Jaguars fans feel your butt-bumping pain – and my sense is few fans weren’t at least a little happy for Bortles Sunday. He entered the game in the third quarter and led the Jaguars to a big field-goal drive. He was gutty. He had a couple of clutch runs. He had a real nice, clutch throw to wide receiver Donte Moncrief. It’s hard to imagine the Jaguars winning Sunday if not for Bortles. It’s equally hard to imagine the Jaguars not starting Bortles in the season finale Sunday. It’s equally hard to imagine Bortles starting for the Jaguars after next Sunday. Good for Bortles to have that moment, even if it’s one of his last with this franchise.

Limo Bob from Neptune Beach, FL

Is Blake Bortles the best backup quarterback besides Nick Foles?

Ah, how the storylines and narratives change. Yeah, Bortles is a good backup. Better than any aside from Foles? For Sunday … sure.

Steve from Ajijic, Mexico

JO- Is it possible when they put Blake in the second time he told the coaches to shut off his microphone and he would call his own plays? He would take advantage of his skills like running naked sweeps, short passes with the long passes on occasion to mix it up, etc. Some of us have been telling you that is what management should have doing for years. He will never be Big Ben no matter how much Jags management wanted him to be.

Bortles had a nice drive and the Jaguars got a nice victory Sunday. Let’s not put him on the wall just yet.

Chris from Mandarin

Winning always feels good.

It’s better than losing.

Dave from Duuval

Dear O-Zone, Blake The Snake with a Little Bit of Shake n’ Blake! That’s what I’m talking about in a backup QB in the NFL!

It’s better than losing.

George from Jacksonville

Has No. 50 not learned YET not to taunt? What is up with the freshman attitude?

Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith apparently hasn’t learned not to taunt, and it indeed is a bit maddening that he often tends to often draw penalties after big plays. His teammates seem to thrive on Smith’s actions and persona at times. Smith’s taunting penalty for his actions during/after his 33-yard interception return for a touchdown Sunday didn’t hurt the Jaguars because they won the game. So, all was smiles afterward. Had the Jaguars lost it would have felt different. But they didn’t lose.

JT from Fort Worth, TX

I remember when the fans were begging to put in Cody Kessler. I believe that the Jaguars 2019 backup and starting quarterback are not on the team yet. Major offensive overhaul needs to happen in the offseason.

Yeah, probably.

Travis from Jacksonville

So... is Telvin Smith gonna get another fine for that finger wag again?

Yeah, probably.

George from Jacksonville

Looked like the O played better with No. 5.

A little, yeah. The Jaguars did run better late in the game than early. Some of that may have been an adrenaline push because of Bortles, but it felt more like game circumstance. The Jaguars ran well when they got a 10-point lead, at which point the Dolphins had to have felt like the game – and their season – was over. It’s a little harder to muster up the desire to play hard-nosed defense at such a moment.

Roger from Houston, TX

What an offense without a quarterback looks like.

Are we just figuring this out?

JT from Fort Worth, TX

Really hope the Jags keep Campbell around.

I believe they will. I believe there was a point a month or so ago where that wasn’t as clear-cut a decision, but Campbell has belied age and played through injury late in the season. Some players are good enough, professional enough and technique-sound enough to play at a high level beyond the age where most players experience a drop off. Campbell apparently is just such a player.

Logan from Wichita, KS

Do you ever lay awake at night wondering if in another universe the Jaguars didn't have almost their entire offense on the IR list and we were still in playoff contention?

I don’t lay awake at night thinking about the Jaguars.

SadJag from Duval

I wouldn’t have blamed any of the defenders for giving up Sunday. They can’t win games by themselves. That series of plays after that great play by defensive end Calais Campbell would have been it for me.

Fans and observers love to talk about certain moments being “microcosms” of seasons, particularly when seasons go bad. Sometimes, those moments really sum up the season and sometimes they don’t. It was hard to argue that the moment you cite didn’t sum up something about this season for the Jaguars. Campbell gave the Jaguars possession with a remarkable, backfield-wrecking tackle for a four-yard loss that forced a fumble that he recovered at the Dolphins. Two holding penalties, a sack and an eight-yard loss by running back Leonard Fournette moved the ball to the Jaguars 47 – forcing a Jaguars punt. But you’re right that the Jaguars’ defense didn’t quit. Had the Jaguars lost, that might have been a microcosm of the season. As it turned out it was just an example of how much this offense has struggled.

Paul from Gainesville, FL

"Calais Campbell wasn't down"

You’re referring to the above-mentioned play when Campbell forced and recovered a fumble at the Dolphins 17. It did have the same feel as the play in the AFC Championship Game last season when officials initially ruled Patriots running back Dion Lewis down only to reverse it and award Jaguars possession after review. And as was the case in the AFC Championship Game when what should have been a touchdown for Myles Jack was negated, a touchdown for Campbell also was negated Sunday. I asked Campbell after the game if perhaps we would see a flurry of T-Shirts proclaiming that “Calais Campbell Wasn’t Down.” He laughed and noted the circumstances were a bit different. True. Still … #CCWD

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / still the King of Funk … (sorry, Zone … it is a job for life … you don't get to pick and choose!) … What a way to celebrate Krimma! An unexpected road win. So from across The Pond … have a great Christmas!

Krimma comes but once a year and we’re all glad when it gets here.

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