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O-Zone: Breaking it down

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Queenstown, MD:
This defense is officially something special ...
John: This was sent immediately after the news that the Jaguars had traded a sixth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. The addition of Darius indeed appears to address the Jaguars' lone defensive issue – run defense – in a significant way. As good as the Jaguars' defensive line has been most of the season, it was not a particularly stout unit - and it was ranked 31st in the NFL against the run. Dareus at 6-feet-3, 331 pounds immediately adds stoutness – and it stands to reason that will help against the run. As for the defense being "officially something special," it already seemed special. Maybe this will make it special, special – or something like that.
Renee from Duval:
John!!! Dareus? Stopping the run? GO JAGUARS!
John: Fans love trades. I'm usually not one who pushes hard for midseason trades because they're discussed a lot more than they actually happen. This one makes sense, though. Dareus played for Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone in 2013 and 2014 – and he had the two best seasons of his career, registering 17.5 sacks during that span. He seems to address a need against the run. It seems like a good fit. Stay tuned.
JT from Rosamond, CA:
Only issue with this defense was against the run. Enter Marcell Dareus...
John: Indeed.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Which one of the five remaining home games do you think the Jags could win?
John: Perchance I detect a note of sarcasm in your question, Steve? Or perchance not. Either way, I don't know that there's all that much reason for sarcasm when it comes to this team through seven games. It clearly is an improved team with what's becoming a good formula for winning. It therefore is a team capable of winning any of its remaining nine games if it plays as it has so far this season defensively – and if it plays mistake-free on special teams and gets efficiency from quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jaguars are also capable of losing any of their remaining nine games if they struggle to stop the run, commit turnovers offensively and give away special teams points. As far as this whole thing about the Jaguars and EverBank Field, the idea of them not being able to win there has been overblown. They were bad for a long time and lost a lot wherever they played. They have won five of nine games since Doug Marrone took over as head coach late last season. They are 3-2 on the road and 1-2 at EverBank Field during that span. The better they get, the more they will win at home. It will be cool for fans when they start to win at home – and yes, it's important. And it will happen.
Chris from St. Augustine, FL:
The defense and running game are the strengths of this team. We are 4-3 but couldn't one say that Blake Bortles won two of those games with his quarterback play??? One fer Blake Bortles!!! At least until the next game where he completes less than 60 percent of his passes … #DTWD
John: It's probably a reach to say Bortles won two games this season, but it's not a stretch to say he played really well in two of the Jaguars' victories – and neither is it a stretch to say he has played well in at least three games this season. Bortles for the most part hasn't played poorly this season, and the team thinks far more highly of his play this season than many observers seem to think. So, yeah – one fer Bortles – until, like you said, the next game in which he's not perfect.
Verne from Des Moines, IA:
So, O-man, this defense is playing inspired ball this year. They are already only the third team in NFL history to record two double-digit sack games in a single season. This is the most exciting season they've had in over a decade. Probably the best team since '99 – and possibly their best defense ever! When the offense or special teams don't blow it, they seem to be capable of not only beating, but blowing out any team in the league. I really feel like not only is a deep playoff run possible, but they might be able to win the whole thing. Am I getting ahead of myself to get excited about a possible Super Bowl?? I'll hang up now and listen off air.
John: Getting excited about the Super Bowl in November is the very definition of getting ahead of yourself. And this is a team that hasn't won two consecutive games this season. But this team has some strengths that indicate they can win their share of games the rest of the season. If they package those strengths with improvement in the passing game and run defense they could win enough to get to the postseason. The entire AFC – and indeed, the entire NFL – is bunched together. The teams that make the postseason will figure out a way to string some victories together – and those teams will improve on what they're doing now. It's all yet to be decided. Stay tuned.
Dan from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, in your response to Sid from Sidsonville you said "This isn't the NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball." My question is why didn't you continue the trend and use MLB?
John: I didn't feel like it.
Ronald from Akutan, AR:
Why do most networks focus on yards and not points allowed? Right now, the Jags have the second-best defense stat with 96 (110 total with the kickoff return and blocked punt). With that in mind, the game with Cincinnati will be with two of the Top 5 defenses.
John: Networks and media typically use total yards when citing league rankings because that's how the NFL lists teams in official league rankings. I don't anticipate the league changing that because it's the easiest way to rank them and because the league has been doing it this way for a long time. I don't know what the impetus would be to change.
Aaron from Aldie:
I guess we are beating our chest by handling a struggling Colts team, they do this against the Bengals and I'll help them.
John: I am sure you knew what you meant.
Jeff from Rutland, MA:
The past few years have made it difficult to guess how Blake will play week to week, but having to practice against this defense just might help him raise his game a bit.
John: OK.
Matt from Glen Burnie:
I really don't understand how everyone is already putting Ws in columns against teams we play in the future. Did we already forget about the Jets game? There is only one game that should be focused on and that is next game. Luckily, it seems like the attitude in the locker room is pretty grounded and everyone on the team knows you can only take it one week at a time.
John: Fans look ahead and count victories and losses; it's what fans do and it's what they're supposed to do. And no, the players in the locker room aren't counting anything. But that's not luck; that's an awareness that this is the NFL and not college football. The NFL is a week-to-week league and winning is hard no matter the opponent. That's something a lot of observers and fans miss, but it's true. It's especially true for this team.
Eliz from Miami Springs, FL:
John: Zgdw.
Irving from New York, NY:
Hi, John. What are your thoughts on the Tennessee Titan threat? I get an eerie feeling about that team against the Jaguars. I remember them being the thorn in the Jags' side in 1999 when no matter how good the Jags were, they would fall to the Titans. I am sort of reminded of that season. Do you notice this as well? Any thoughts on that John? Thank you sir!
John: The Titans are good. They run the ball well and they have a very good offensive line. That makes them a tricky matchup for the Jaguars.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Is there a specific player or players for the Jaguars that you would be at least mildly surprised if they didn't make it to the Pro Bowl? This isn't a question of "most likely to be selected," but rather, a player playing at such a high level, it would be considered almost a snub if they weren't selected.
John: If Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey continue to play as they have this season and don't make the Pro Bowl, I would consider that a snub.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I'm glad they re-signed Telvin Smith. He is one of the better linebackers in the NFL and he really is a playmaker on this defense. The defense is definitely better with him on the field. In your estimation, where does Telvin rank among 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL?
John: Up there.

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