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O-Zone: Different feeling

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Shawn from The Streets of Arlington Are Mean:
That game was like a season (so far) of firsts. The last time that happened was when Tom Coughlin was coach. I still have that bold idea this draft class will be one for years (or decades) to come (in terms of talent) … jars on the shelf are gaining experience, game day, live.
John: The Jaguars' victory over the Giants Sunday did have a feeling of "firsts." It had a feeling, too, that it could be the start of something. That's in large part because you saw things you've been waiting to see – defensive touchdowns, Marqise Lee making plays, game-winning plays from Blake Bortles. The obvious follow up is now the Jaguars have to grow and build from that. A "thing" is only the start of something if you move forward, grow and do something big. Otherwise, that "thing" is just something cool that didn't mean much in the big picture.
Simon from Adelaide, Australia:
Gotta admit: I'm a little scared of Sen'Derek Marks
John: You're going to be a lot more frightened if you don't learn to spell his name.
Jeremy from Andover, KS:
The Jags made lemonade out of lemons. There is some good stuff from the game, no doubt. But, can we please not over-hype the second win in 13 games and call it improvement? The Giants are 3-9 and we did not just win the Super Bowl.
John: It was the second victory in 12 games, but who's counting? And I don't know how much over-hyping was done. I wrote stories and discussed the game on, which incidentally is my job, and I discussed that there were good and bad things that happened. There was quite a bit of bad in the first half, but it was significant that the team responded in the second half and found a way to win. But either way, thanks for the input. I'll take it into consideration when planning out my week.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
Do people not realize that not only is this Luke Joeckel's first season at left tackle, every week he has to go against the best and most-experienced pass rushers the NFL has to offer? That's a difficult task for an experienced left tackle!
John: You're right, and no, people don't really realize that. Or if they do, they don't really care. I wrote early this week that Joeckel is struggling, and that's right. It's also right to say that it's not unusual for a rookie left tackles – and you are right that that's what he is – to struggle. The fairest way to portray Joeckel right now is that he is indeed struggling, and he indeed needs to play better, but at the same time he is not playing poorly and the Jaguars are better with him in the lineup. Very, very few left tackles in the NFL right now don't have struggles, especially early in their careers. Joeckel can play better, but there are rookies in his situation who play a lot worse.
Steve from Walla Walla, WA:
I hate to use the "B" word about a young and VERY necessary player but it's been long enough now. The total whooping we received at the left tackle position Sunday was ugly enough for me to think that the "bust" label is no longer unthinkable. He's NOT a fifth rounder. He was the second pick in the draft. I think the team has the right to expect much better effort/results. Thoughts.
John: As has been noted often, Luke Joeckel didn't have a great game Sunday. He got burned by Jason Pierre-Paul for a sack and also was called twice for holding penalties. You can make the argument that the holding penalties were a bit "ticky-tack," but they also were enough to be called. I'm not going to spend every O-Zone this week and this month breaking down Joeckel, so let's say perhaps for the final time this week that, no, he's not as dominant as you'd like from the No. 2 overall selection in the draft. I get that people are going to criticize that because of his draft position, but he is not a bust and this team is better with him at left tackle than they would be without him.
Matt from Midlothian, VA:
We're going for two too early.
John: I'm not going to write this topic every day this week, but since we're still looking back at the victory over the Giants, I'll repeat my thought from Monday once more. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley probably did err in going for two down 21-16 in the third quarter. When you go for two in that situation, you're assuming you need a two-point conversion and a field goal to tie. It also sort of assumes you're close to being done scoring for the game. You don't generally want to assume that in the NFL – not in the middle of the third quarter. At the same time, the way that game was going Sunday, and the way the Jaguars have been playing offensively lately, I don't know that I completely blame Bradley for believing points would be scarce. There's not exactly a huge frame of reference this season for the Jaguars scoring 25 or more points in a game.
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
Blake Bortles missed on a few throws, but overall, I was impressed with how he played. Anytime we can go an entire game without turning it over I'll take it. I'll also take two defensive touchdowns any day as well. The offensive line has to play better, no question. That's an area I expect changes to be made in the offseason. Big changes. Do you agree?
John: I agree on Blake Bortles, and this may be a good time to offer some perspective on him. As much as he has been picked apart and criticized by fans and observers this season, the game he played on Sunday was significant. It was significant because he clearly is working on not throwing interceptions and he went the entire game Sunday without throwing one. While doing that Sunday, he made some bad throws and bad plays, but he also found a way to drive the team for a game-winning drive at the end of the game. During that drive he twice turned second-and-15 plays one play after a Jaguars penalty into first downs. He did it once with his feet and once with his arm. That's good stuff. That's confidence-building stuff. He still needs significant work in the offseason on mechanics, and as he grows and develops, he may need to better figure how to maintain solid mechanics throughout the course of the season. That's an area where many young quarterbacks struggle, and the quarterbacks who succeed figure out how to master it. As far as the offensive line, I agree that we'll see some changes. As to what those changes entail, and how big they are, time will tell.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Who is this Colvin guy?
John: Aaron Colvin is a rookie cornerback the Jaguars selected in the fourth round in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was projected by many to be a second-round-ish selection before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament at the Senior Bowl. The Jaguars thought it was worth a fourth-round selection to get a talent like that, although they also knew because of the injury they would have to wait a while to see him play. Colvin spent the first 10 games of the season on the non-football injury list, but after two games, it appears he may have been worth the wait.
Mike from Section 238:
It seemed like our offense became "unstuck" when we spread it out four wide. More room for Blake to operate. More room for the Wildcat and sprint draw. Then it all bogged down again when we went to a more conservative two wide receivers when briefly leading. Think we're finally on to something.
John: There seems little question that this team does like to spread it out, throw it around and play up-tempo. That seems to be offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch's comfort zone and it certainly seems to fit the personality of these young players. At the same time, if you play that way you better be consistent and better be good at it, because when you struggle playing that way your defense is back on the field very quickly. The Jaguars are searching for the right balance there, and while there seems little doubt you will see more spread and tempo, there will be some conservative peppered in.
Emil from Tallahassee, FL:
Bortles to Lee all day. I understand the risks associated with calling those plays, but I'd love to see about five tries a game. Let those kids play.
John: I assume you're talking about trying the play that resulted in a touchdown five times, and yeah, as Jedd Fisch likes to say, that was cool. I don't know that you're going to see five sideline passes into the end zone to Lee every game because you don't always get into that situation five times. But will you see Bortles targeting Lee quite a bit in these last four games? Yeah, I think you'll see that.
Cole from Orlando, FL:
Things seem... different around here... did the Jags win or something?
John: I'll check.

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