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O-Zone: Excitable boy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dave from Orlando, FL:
Johnny-O: As a Jaguars fan, I am so ready to kick that football, but I'm afraid it's going to be pulled away and I'll go somersaulting through the air! How can some fans talk playoffs and be so confident when this team has yet to win two games in a row? How can some fans be so quick to touch the stove that has burned them so many times and for so long?
John: This is a fair question about a legitimate feeling – and I imagine it's a feeling many Jaguars fans share. Shoot, I feel it when trying to project how this team will fare Sunday. Should the Jaguars win Sunday? Yes. Will they? Well, this is a hard team to trust right now. The Jaguars have looked so good four times this season that it's natural to be excited about any game. And there are many reasons to look at this as a game as one the Jaguars should win. At the same time, the Bengals clearly are good enough to beat the Jaguars – and the Jaguars have shown the ability to give away enough big plays (see: Jets and Rams games) to make things tough on themselves. The Jaguars have a real opportunity in the next two weeks to not only set themselves up well for a playoff push but to show their fans first-hand just how good they really are. That's what happens if they beat the Bengals Sunday and the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday at home. But if they lose those two games, it's difficult to tell people this season isn't just more of the same. Welcome to the NFL, I suppose: Every game is difficult and every game matters.
Donald from Orange Park, FL:
It's entirely possible Jimmy Garoppolo could wind up Rob Johnson – all hype about an unknown, only to see a valuable draft pick traded away.
John: We shall see.
Geoffrey from Orlando, FL:
What a whirlwind of activity at the deadline, even reports of a trade being denied because it was submitted to the league late. I can't remember the trade deadline ever really being a motivating factor to trade. I always believed that the focus on scheme mitigated midseason trades more so than other sports. To what would you attribute the plethora of deadline activity this year?
John: There are a bunch of different theories about this: I see it as a combination of a lot of teams believing they have a chance to push for the postseason and teams perhaps not valuing draft selections quite as much as they did a decade ago. There might also be an element of coaches/general managers feeling pressure to win immediately. Whatever the cause, this week was interesting. As for whether the moves made will have major impact …
Jon from St. Augustine, FL:
I wonder a bit why the Bills would want to make the Marcell Dareus trade with Jacksonville? Why would they want to help out the only weakness a team seems to have on defense that they could very well see in the playoffs?
John: The Bills wanted to clear the cap space of Dareus' contract. That was incentive enough for them to make the move.
Jess from Castle Rock, CO:
Can we please get rid of the DTWD? If the franchise had to rely solely on the city of Jacksonville or county of Duval they would have relocated. And the DTWD is an insult to every Jags fan outside Duval County. How about "Jaguars 'Til We Die!"? #JTWD!
John: No. #DTWD is cool. I like it.
Rob from Jacksonville:
I for one am happy that Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco. Because the guy I more wanted was Kirk Cousins. And I thought he would be going to San Francisco next year.
John: There indeed was speculation that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins would wind up in San Francisco next offseason because of his relationship with 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. It still remains to be seen whether Washington indeed will part ways with Cousins after the season, or if the Jaguars will part ways with Blake Bortles. Nine games remain in the 2017 season. Stay tuned.
Michael from Jacksonville:
Dear Great Satirist and Wizard of Words, PLEASE tell Martineau we are not playing Susanna Hoffs and Co. on Sunday. It's the Bengals, Brent. It's a breed of tiger. The BENGALS! DTWD
John: Who's Martineau?
Scott from Jacksonville:
Is it safe to say if Blake Bortles gets hurt and the Jags have to pay him the $18 million that we will not be looking for a quarterback in free agency because a top one would be in the same range as that $18 million – if not more?
John: No.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I have been around for a long time, and by experience, a bye week weakens a team momentum. Totally understand that the players need a break, but I bet if you look in the record book, you will find Jags lose after a bye week more often than not. Can't wait until Sunday!
John: The Jaguars are 11-11 all-time after byes. For a long time it sort of correlated to the Jaguars winning on the week after the bye when they had winning seasons and losing the week after the bye when they had losing seasons. They're actually 3-3 in the last six seasons when they have been pretty bad, so … nah.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
The MLB, NBA, and NHL all have a midseason break. Has the NFL ever considered making Week 9 the bye week for everyone? It would seem to be more fair from a competitive standpoint, but I suppose the league would risk losing some money because of the television deals. What is your opinion about the bye week? With the league placing a greater emphasis on player safety, do you think that they will ever add a second bye week again or standardize a midseason break for every team?
John: I don't know if the league ever has considered a Week 9 bye, but I've never heard of it getting serious discussion. I've never heard a great groundswell that the current system is unfair, and I can't see why the league would want to go dark for a week in the middle of its season without a legitimate reason. As for the second bye week, I have heard talk of this. But I hope it doesn't happen. The league had two byes once – in 1993. I wasn't covering the league at the time, but from an observer's point of view it was confusing and made the season feel a bit disjointed.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
How much better would this team be right now with Allen Robinson? Will Dede Westbrook primarily play from the slot?
John: The Jaguars would be significantly better offensively with Robinson. That doesn't necessarily mean they would be leading the league in passing offense, and it might not even mean that Robinson would be averaging huge numbers every game. But what Robinson would give the Jaguars is a reliable red-zone threat and – perhaps more importantly – a reliable, proven receiver on third-and-4 through about third-and-7 situations. That down and distance has been perhaps the team's biggest trouble spot offensively. It's hard to imagine that being nearly as much the case had Robinson been healthy. As for Westbrook, he said this week he is working at all receiver positions, but I'd expect him to play more outside. That's where he worked throughout preseason and training camp.
HD from Jacksonville:
Why isn't Yannick Ngakoue getting more love? He is at the very least on par with Dante Fowler Jr. – a first-round pick the year before – as a third-round selection. We have been looking for so many years for a pass rush and here comes the diamond-in-the-third-round rough. ... Time to celebrate, love the work ethic. Kudos to Yannick and kudos to Dave Caldwell. How far off is he from Pro Bowl consideration?
John: I always struggle with questions about "love," "respect" and recognition for players. I don't pay all that much attention to what others say about the Jaguars. I do know Ngakoue is starting over Fowler, and that he made All-Rookie lists last season. I've also gotten the impression that he gets about the same recognition as Fowler, though not as much as Calais Campbell. The latter part is understandable because Campbell is well-known to national media from his time with the Arizona Cardinals – and of course, because he has 10 sacks this season through seven games. I think Ngakoue will have a tough time making the Pro Bowl this season because I think Campbell will get a lot of that sort of recognition and Ngakoue will need some mega-sack numbers to get into the conversation this season. Still, I get the idea Ngakoue is going to be very productive for a while around here. He'll get his "love."
Ryan from Dearborn, MI:
Johnny O - TEEEAAAALLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is all.
John: That's actually plenty.

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