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O-Zone: Blah, blah, blah

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Trav from Jacksonville:
Hey O: long-time reader, first-time writer. This may be a dumb question, but: We have a one-game lead now overall, but the Titans have a one-game lead in the division. If it stays like that all the way to the end of the regular season, who wins the division and who has to settle for the wild card?
John: Trav, there are no dumb questions – only dumb senior writers. Besides, this question gets asked surprisingly often. In the NFL, the team with the best overall record wins the division. I suppose the confusion comes from college football deciding conference championships based only on conference games. The NFL is not that way because the assumption is all games played in professional football are on relatively the same difficulty level. If teams finish with the same overall record, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head games and the second is record within the division; the Titans now are 4-1 in the division and the Jaguars are 3-1. The third division tiebreaker is record against common opponents; the Jaguars are 8-2 in such games and the Titans are 7-3. A few scenarios: if either team wins the rest of its games, that team will win the division because the Titans in that scenario will finish at least tied with the Jaguars at 11-5 with a head-to-head sweep; if the Jaguars win the next two games and the Titans lose one of the next two games, the Jaguars will clinch the division before the teams' matchup in the regular-season finale based on a better overall record; if the Jaguars lose the next two games and Tennessee wins its next two, the Titans would clinch the division entering the regular-season finale because they would have clinched the better record in games against common opponents.
Steve from Upper Tract, WV:
John, we really need Telvin Smith back. The lack of speed is glaringly obvious from the linebackers. You know Posluszny looks kind of funny chasing wide receivers.
John: If you're referring to the play on Sunday when Paul Posluszny covered Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin all the way across the field on a 43-yard gain, a couple of things: Posluszny covered Baldwin fine on the play, and I don't know how much better Smith's coverage would have been in that situation. That defense is called with the idea that the pass rush will get home and sack the quarterback long before the quarterback has time to throw to a wide receiver who has run a route clear across the field. Posluszny's "lack of speed" and "lack of coverage" skills long have been one of the great myths believed by many in the Jaguars' fan base. I see the beat goes on. But yes: the Jaguars need Smith back. He and Myles Jack are faster than Posluszny – and they're faster than most other linebackers in the NFL, too.
Mr. Padre from Kingsland, GA:
I know it's still early in this "new" Jaguar era of winning but our newfound success brings up a question. When do the Jaguars have to decide if they want to remove the remaining tarps at The 'Bank and do you think that could be a consideration after just this one successful season? Considering the age and contracts and talent of this roster, I expect more of this thing called "winning" we are suddenly doing and could certainly see the need for more seat availability … you? #DTWD
John: If demand merits, I have no doubt the tarps will be removed. Remember, EverBank Field's capacity without tarps is still slightly above 67,000. That's reduced from the past because of stadium redesigns, but it's still too big for this relatively small market.
Kyle from Goodwill getting my jersey back:
How much credence can be given to the notion that facing this ALL-TIME GREAT defense every day in practice has helped elevate Blake Bortles to his current level of play? After Week 1's dominating defensive and ground performance, I shouted from a mountain top that 2017 Jags = 2013 Seahawks. I know that was a bit premature then, but HOW YA LIKE ME NOW!?
John: Practicing against the Jaguars' defense doesn't hurt Bortles, but the reality is that ones-versus-ones work is pretty limited in the NFL once training camp ends. As far as the 2017 Jags' defense equaling the 2013 Seahawks, postseason performance matters in such discussions, but yeah … so far, so good.
John from Jacksonville:
The city of Jacksonville has experienced some great football this season. Not only are the Jags atop the AFC South, the Raines Vikings won the state title – a first for a Duval County Public School since they did it in 1997. Can I get a one fer the Raines Vikings?
John: As someone with fond memories of knowing former Raines principal Jimmie Johnson and covering former Athletics Director James Day and former Head Coach Freddie Stephens – and as someone with fond memories of covering Raines in the early 1990s in the era of Patrick Sapp, Derrick Alexander, Germaine Kohn, Brian Dawkins, Anthone Lott (and Tyrone Nealy and Karlos Bean and a bunch of other really, really good memorable players) – absolutely … one fer the Raines Vikings.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
So, opposing players are allowed to choke from behind, choke slam, throw punches, spear knees, all done with an intent to injure, as long as it is against a Jaguar player because they talk smack during games? No suspensions is a joke for this and for the A.J. Green situation. At what point do the Jaguars players start protecting themselves since the league office finds it unnecessary? Player safety they say? Really?
John: I understood the rationale for Green not being suspended because he was ejected from the game and missed the second half. I do not understand the rationale for Michael Bennett not being suspended. I also agree with your premise that not suspending Bennett creates a difficult situation with players feeling the need to take matters into their own hands in such situations. If a player is attacked with intent to injure, it only stands to reason the attacked player might want to do something about it if the league office does not.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
How 'bout one fer Coach "Thunder" here? Not to take anything away from Blake, but these last few games Bortles' No. 2 and No. 3 receivers are a guy who was at Kentucky Wesleyan last year and a rookie who's now played in four games.
John: Hey, one fer Keenan McCardell – and he deserves much credit. Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are playing at a high level. For the Jaguars to be getting this much production in back-to-back key December games from rookie receivers is impressive – and McCardell must get credit for that.
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Here's an off-the-wall question with nothing to do with the Jags; I have no idea where else to find the information. Could a player theoretically play two games in one week by playing on a Thursday and immediately getting traded and playing the ensuing Sunday? Or is there some type of rule preventing a player from being able to do that (before a season's trade deadline)?
John: There's no rule against it, but it would be so difficult in terms of logistics and preparation that it almost certainly would never happen. A player would have to play Thursday, be traded Friday, fly to the opposing city on a Friday or Saturday and play Sunday. He would therefore be unable to practice with his new team. Could a punter or kicker do it? Perhaps. But I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for this to play out.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA:
Doug Marrone has done a fantastic job of keeping this team cohesive and focused. Do you think he's a realistic candidate for Coach of the Year?
John: Marrone absolutely should be a candidate for Coach of the Year. Coaches in the running for that award typically coach teams whose fortunes have turned dramatically from the previous seasons. Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams certainly would be a candidate, but how could Marrone not be as well?
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, I get and agree with your sentiments regarding the lack of any national respect for the Jaguars. But I have to tell you: it's getting tiresome to hear so-called "analysts" remark negatively about the Jaguars. One analyst recently pontificated that he doesn't "trust" a team with Bortles and that this defense doesn't belong in the class of the great Ravens and Broncos defenses from this century because those teams would never let an opponent score more than 17. Never mind that the Ravens did that four times and the Broncos eight times; and the Jags are at five times on the season. I'm sick of it!
John: Let me let you in on a secret: many national "analysts" are no great shakes, and there are few whose opinions are worth worrying much about. I get that people get irritated when their team is disrespected, but … I guess the best way to put it is I know enough national analysts to not put much stock into what many have to say. Talking heads talk. It's what they do. So? Let them talk.

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