JACKSONVILLE – Game-day O-Zone.
Let's get to it …
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
We can finish 8-8 and still not make the playoffs – and I would not consider that a bad thing. I think in the long run it would do as much for this team and fans going forward. I do hope we make the playoffs, but we do not control our own destiny. So, 8-8 would be great any way you wrap it.
John: I wrote and said often before the Colts game last week that the last four games obviously would have a huge effect on how the Jaguars' 2015 season would be remembered. The Jaguars were 4-8 at that point, and the difference between 8-8 and 4-12 obviously is enormous. The same remains true of 5-11 or 8-8. Right now, the overriding objective as the Jaguars close out the season remains the same – to continue building on the progress made so far this season, and to continue showing this is an ascending team with a core that can continue to grow. That's a lot of building and continuing, and there's not too much talk about playoffs in there. The reason is obvious: the Jaguars can control the building/continuing part and can't really control the playoff part. If the Jaguars get through these last three games and we still have the feeling that things are moving in the right direction, then that's the main thing. Is that 6-10 … 7-9 … 8-8. We'll see? Not that the playoffs wouldn't be cool, too.
Dave from Section 410 and Jacksonville:
John: /raises hand.
Bruce from Gotham:
Watching Thursday night's game made me wonder how different things could have been if Mr. Khan did indeed buy the St. Louis Rams and perhaps Mr. Kroenke had ended up buying the Jags. Mr. Khan probably would have committed the Rams to London games and worked out a stadium deal with the city and worked hard to keep the Rams in St. Louis and the Jags … well, let's just we say could have had an owner less enthusiastic about keeping the team in Jacksonville. So here's one fer Mr. Khan.
John: Jaguars fans who value the team in Jacksonville could indeed throw out a "one fer Mr. Khan" any morning, afternoon or night and not be inaccurate. The day he bought the team easily is one of best days in franchise history. Anyone attending Sunday's game need only glance around EverBank Field to see that. Also, don't discount Wayne Weaver's impact on this: he had multiple chances to sell the Jaguars to people who might have moved the team. He made it a priority to find a buyer who was not only dedicated to the Jaguars but to Jacksonville. That wasn't easy, but he did it.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
I hope it's not time to give up on Lee yet, but man, he is invisible on the field.
John: It's not time to give up on Marqise Lee. Not even close. He was injured early in the season, and Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson in his absence solidified themselves as the outside receivers in this offense to the point that it has been difficult to find a role for Lee. But as far as invisible … nah, not really. Lee has caught 17- and 21-yard passes in the last two weeks that clearly have shown the elite-level speed and athleticism that give him a chance to develop in the NFL. The book is far from closed on Marqise Lee.
Jeff from Rutland, MA:
With two former Seattle defensive minds going head to head this week, does that mean both coaches know what to expect from the other team?
John: To a degree, yes. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn both coordinated the Seattle defense under Pete Carroll and both now run versions of the Seattle hybrid 3-4/4-3 scheme. That does give each coach some insight into the opposing defense, but I don't know how much impact such things actually have on the game. As Blake Bortles noted this week, it's not as if the Jaguars' offense goes against the Jaguars' defensive scheme in practice each week; the offense instead prepares for the schemes it is playing – and the Jaguars haven't played a team running the Seattle scheme in some time.
Marc from Section 239:
O, what's your opinion about booing your own team? I, too, was frustrated when Myers missed yet another extra point, but to boo your own team seems counterintuitive to me. Am I missing something?
John: Fans pay their money; they obviously can boo if they want. I think Jason Myers in all likelihood will get through this extra-point drama and be a good NFL kicker, and I said earlier this week I don't think he will miss any more this season. But if I was a fan sitting in the seats at EverBank Field and he missed another … well, I might be tempted to boo, too.
Dylan from Fleming Island:
What is the latest with Dante Fowler Jr.? Is there any timetable for when he'll be back on the practice field? I know we're all dying to see him get to work!
John: I don't know that we know exactly when Fowler will be on the field, but the expectation is that he will be full-go for training camp.
Jason from Jacksonville:
Thursday's column ... best one you have had. Does it feel good to have something to talk about related to football and the team on the field?? At this point, you are usually answering that you won't answer draft questions yet.
John: You're referring to the View from the O-Zone Thursday in which I marveled at people not believing or seeing that Blake Bortles is actually good. I don't know how good or bad it was, but it was enjoyable to write because it's honestly perplexing to me that people can't at least see that he's good with the real opportunity to get significantly better. As for feeling good to be able to talk about football and the team on the field … in the four previous seasons I always wrote about the team and what was going on on the field during the season. There always is plenty of time to write about the draft in the offseason – and that's true no matter the record during the regular season. But certainly, this season is more enjoyable. November and December always are more enjoyable if the playoffs are still a possibility.
Carter from St. Augustine, FL:
Luke Joeckel statistically seems better this season with fewer sacks allowed, but I feel like he still struggles with the more-athletic, quicker ends who can beat him around the edge. I also notice he often receives help from Lewis. Granted, he has clearly improved since last season, but is he really the left tackle of the future that the Jags want protecting their franchise quarterback?
John: It's going to take time, I suppose, but Jaguars fans need to forget this idea of the Herculean Left Tackle Who Can Be Put On An Island And Block The Blind Side Without Help and Walk Into The Annals of NFL Lore … those guys are rare these days, if indeed they exist at all. Luke Joeckel has given up sacks and few pressures this season, and he has played really well at other times this season. He has gotten help from Marcedes Lewis at times, and at other times he has done fine on his own. This is the norm for left tackles in the NFL these days, and Joeckel overall is doing fine. I don't know yet that we know his NFL future, but I doubt the Jaguars need to immediately focus too much on finding a replacement at the position.
James from Saginaw, MI:
Enough with all this football talk … let's get back to what really matters, John. … Have you seen the new Star Wars yet? And if not what are you waiting for man?!
John: I suppose I'm waiting for desperation to set in.
Jim from Section 104:
I believe we have the next great lockdown cornerback in Nick Marshall. This guy has all the moves, speed and athletic skills of the great corners that have ever played in the NFL. Congrats to Dave and Gus for another great UDFA project to go along with Allen Hurns.
John: Nick Marshall had a good game after a difficult start the other day against the Colts. There is a thought in the building that he has a chance to contribute in the secondary for the foreseeable future. I don't know that I'm ready to start using terms and phrases such as "great corners that have ever played in the NFL" when discussing Marshall, but he appears to have a chance to be around for a while. That's the first step.
Steve from Section 206:
Hey O, will you be dropping in on the half pipe at Sunday's festivities? That would certainly be worth the price of admission.
John: The only dropping I'll be doing is some knowledge all over Jaguars radio on the pregame show yo.