FOXBORO, Mass. – Game-day O-Zone.
The readers are ready. There's a buzz in the air. We're a few hours away.
Let's get to it …
Herb from Pittsburgh, PA:
Great moments ... are born from great opportunity – and that's what the Jags have here, boys. That's what they've earned here. One game. If they played 'em ten times, the Pats might win nine. But not this game. Not Sunday. Sunday, we play with them. Sunday, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Sunday, WE are the best team in the NFL. The Jags were born to be underdogs. Every one of them. And they were meant to be on that field Sunday. This is the Jags' time. The Pats' time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great football team New England has. Screw 'em. This is the JAGS time. Now go out there and take it.
Mike from Irvine, CA:
What are the chances, in general, that a player plays if he is listed as "questionable?" I feel like I read somewhere that both probable and questionable means the player will almost certainly play, but I'm not sure whether that's true. Somehow, I would be surprised to see both Brandon Linder and Luke Joeckel in the lineup Sunday.
John: The official breakdown for the NFL injury report is as follows: probable means a 75 percent chance a player will play; questionable, 50 percent; doubtful, 25 percent; out, 0 percent. Now, because of the nature of injuries obviously we're not dealing with exacts here. A probable player almost certainly play and a doubtful player almost certainly will not. The grayest area understandably is questionable, because it's where teams typically put players who will be game-time decisions. Linder and Joeckel will be game-time decisions Sunday, so they're in that gray area.
Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
I know, I know, I should stop reading what they have to say on nfl.com because inevitably it makes me angry. This week, however, I read one paragraph pointing out the improvements with the team and predicting the Jags would finish within a TD of the Pats. I should have stopped there. The next paragraph was a guy saying the Pats would drop a 50 burger on the Jags. O-man, are they trying to drive up my blood pressure or what? 50 points? That's just rude.
John: They gotcha … or, put another way: nfl.com, 1; you, 0.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Here's hoping that come Monday we can say the name "Eric Wilbur" in the same way we say "Woody Paige."
John: He gotcha, too, but yeah, Wilbur's column was pretty out there in terms of cheap shots and rolling out tired Jaguars storylines … on that front, Paige's column was probably a tad more original.
Vishwa from Jacksonville:
Hi Johnny O'Sir, don't mean to jinx him, but the best thing about Blake Bortles is he is available every week. Durability in a quarterback is the best stability a franchise can have. If the Jags keep it close against the Pats, one of the best teams in the NFL, it will be the vindication of this ship sailing in the right direction. Apart from a mistake-free game I feel the Jags having success running the ball is the key if they have any chance of beating the Pats. Thoughts?
John: Durability indeed is key for a franchise quarterback, which is why teams generally speaking do what they can to keep the quarterback healthy. It's also why many teams/general managers generally prefer quarterbacks who play from the pocket as opposed to quarterbacks who put their bodies at risk by running as a primary part of their game. This will get a chorus of "What About!!!??!!??!! this quarterback or that quarterback, but those protests aside, that's reality. That's a bit of concern with Bortles because he is an effective runner; what you hope is he can continue to run intelligently and keep himself out of danger. As far as the Patriots' game Sunday … as I've said before, I'm not big on control-time-of-possession-run-run-run as a way of beating teams with high-powered offenses. If that's who you are and it's what you do well, then do it; if not, play your game. But as far as that mistake-free thing? Yeah, that would be a plus.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Are you the one that wanted to talk about playoffs? You were kidding, weren't you?
John: I see we're still in the Jim Mora-Playoffs thread, which became an O-Zone thing when I mentioned this week that I was at the press conference when then-Colts Head Coach Jim Mora delivered his infamous, oft-imitated "Playoffs!!?" rant. No, I didn't ask the question, but the question actually wasn't all that silly. The Colts at the time weren't out of contention for the postseason. But it did come during a season-ruining slide that eventually cost Mora his job. Thus, the rant.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, any thoughts about making Cyp a linebacker? He is the same weight as Telvin. He is a hitter. Cyp does have trouble in coverage.
John: To my knowledge, there is no thought of making Johnathan Cyprien a linebacker. Even if there was that thought, the Jaguars already have an undersized linebacker (Telvin Smith). He makes it work on the weak side of the defense because of exceptional speed and playmaking ability. If you were to make Cyprien a linebacker, where would you put him? At Otto in place of Dan Skuta? In the middle in place of Paul Posluszny? Cyprien is a strong safety. Many strong safeties struggle at times in coverage; it's the nature of today's pass-oriented NFL.
Corbin from Middleburg, FL:
Hey John, the Colts have not been looking good so far with their first two games and the Titans are looking questionable. So, do you think the Jags have a shot at taking the conference title this year? With the way we looked in the Miami game, I think we have a shot, but I may have over-exaggerated a bit.
John: The Jaguars are 1-1 and tied for first in the AFC South. Of course they have a chance at the division title, but we're wa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-y ahead of ourselves. Let's get to the midseason before we start talking playoffs.
Stanton from Jacksonville:
Why is the announcer at the beginning of the home games referring to our defensive line as the "Hit Squad?? I am all for cool nicknames like the "Steel Curtain," but I don't think we have earned a nickname with this team yet. Also, it should probably start with the fans coming up with the nicknames or maybe the press, but not the announcer. Go Jags and hope we have a real nickname soon.
John: The defensive linemen have called themselves the Hit Squad for a while. I'm not sure how it started, but whatever … you're a lot more into this issue than I am, I'm afraid.
Bob from Fort Bliss:
When will we see Julius Thomas on the field? When we do finally get to see him, how many targets do you think he will get a game?
John: Thomas is scheduled to have his injured hand reevaluated next week, so we'll have a better idea about his return at that point. As for his targets, he'll be a big part of the offense. What that means in terms of targets will depend on matchups and how the game plays out.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
When the Jags beat the Patriots Sunday, that will be the biggest win in Gus/Dave's regime. I think the confidence that would instill in the team would be invaluable. And in the near future, when the Jags are contending for playoffs, division titles and Super Bowls, I believe this win would go down as the turning point for the franchise. What say you? #DTWD
John: If the Jaguars were to win Sunday it indeed would be the biggest victory in the Bradley/Caldwell era. As for what the victory would mean in the long-term, if the Jaguars move on from such a victory and begin winning consistently it would indeed be a touchstone moment. If not, then it won't mean much. Sort of like the Miami game last Sunday, come to think of it.
Mitch from St. Paul, MN:
They say the recipe for Sprite™ is Lemon & Lime. I tried to make it at home – there's more to it than that. "Hey, you want some more homemade Sprite™?" "No, not till you figure out what else is in it."
Josiah from Fargo, ND:
John, I had a dream last night that I checked the box score of the Patriots game and they lost to the Jags, 31-26. Then my dream changed where the Jags lost, 31-36. And then finally it flipped back to Jags win, 31-26. Could that dream mean something? I also dreamed that I drank orange juice and when I woke up I was craving orange juice.
John: I think you may actually have been drinking Mitch's Sprite.