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O-Zone: Fixture fixation

LONDON – Game-day in the UK.

Let's get to it …

Dakota from Fleming Island, FL:
This looks like it could be a very tough game. The Ravens' defense arguably has been the best in the league and their offense has been respectable. We need our defense to play like it did in the first half of the last game and our offense needs to be significantly more effective early and throughout the game and we might* keep it close and entertaining. I can't expect that we will win, but one fer a good game and respectable performance from our Jags.
John: Nah. I can't do one fer respectability Sunday. This Jaguars team needs to be beyond that against a team such as the Ravens, who – while good – aren't elite. I don't know that I "expect" the Jaguars to win, because this team hasn't yet built a body of work to deserve that expectation. But I do think it's a game they can win and that they should win if they are the ascending team they believe themselves to be. The Jaguars' defensive players want and believe themselves to be a unit that can control and win games – and while the Ravens' offense has run well this season with some balance, it doesn't have the dominant line of the Titans or game-changing skill position players. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is good - very good, in fact – but the Jaguars' front should be able to pressure Flacco behind a rebuilt offensive line. The Ravens' defense also is good – perhaps, great – but it has thrived off turnovers. The Browns' offense moved effectively at times against Baltimore last week, so the Jaguars' offense should be able to function. If the Jaguars' offense turns the ball over once or less Sunday – and that's a significant task against this Ravens team – I say the Jaguars win a third consecutive game in London.
Josh R. from Fernandina Beach, FL:
O-Man, in your opinion, will Cam Robinson and Jalen Ramsey play against the Ravens this weekend? Thanks!
John: My gut is yes. That's particularly the case with Ramsey, who played all snaps against Tennessee last week after not practicing the week leading to the game. I expect he'll play and play well against Baltimore despite the ankle injury. I have less of a feel for Robinson, who was placed on the injury report Friday with a shoulder injury. But my guess on Robinson is he will play.
Alan from Jacksonville:
With the injury to Allen Robinson, I think we need to immediately relieve Marqise Lee of punt-return duties. Not only would losing Lee to an injury be devastating to our ability to stretch the field, but he also seems to lack that kamikaze mentality needed to be truly dangerous. Why not give Jalen Myrick a shot?
John: I tend to side with your approach – that it's usually best to keep starting, front-line players off special teams. The reason: you want them fresh – and perhaps more importantly, you want them free from injuries for what presumably are their more important roles on offense or defense. But this Jaguars regime clearly takes special teams very seriously and Head Coach Doug Marrone has been up front since he took the job about his belief that starters can, should and will play special teams. As for why the Jaguars don't "give Jalen Myrick a shot," they believe Lee is better enough at returns than Myrick that they put Lee there. And while Lee seems more explosive on kickoffs than punts, don't overlook his ability as a punt returner. He's got enough tight-space quickness to surprise you there.
Chris from Jacksonville:
So, I saw a thing that said the Jags are worth about three times what they were worth when KHAAAAAAAN bought the team. It's almost as if a guy that showed up in the United States with pocket change and is now a multi-billionaire knew what he was doing when he bought the team and said "I am committed to Jags and Jax together" (paraphrased). Maybe, just maybe, given enough time to realistically expect to turn the team around, he'll see us through to the Super Bowl. Thoughts? (also, ask if he's hiring; I hear the senior writer is terrible and could use replacing)
John: I think Shad Khan's vision as a businessman is paralleled by few. I'm not going out on a limb there; his success speaks for itself. I also think he's the first to tell you the Jaguars have not won enough during his tenure; this frustrates him and has been as disappointing to him as it has been to the fans. The on-field performance is tougher to control than the off-field results. While Khan and the city by mutual desire can make changes to transform EverBank Field and downtown, there are 31 other teams trying to do the same thing the Jaguars are trying to do on the field. The Jaguars clearly haven't done those things as well as a lot of teams in recent seasons. There are some good signs that's changing. We'll see. (And by the way, you're right about the senior writer; word is he's trying to ride his good looks and charm as long as he can).
Cliff from Jacksonville:
Hey, OZ. I for one don't have a problem with us playing Bortles this season. I do not think he's likely to turn into an elite superstar, but I don't think there were other options that would've been significant enough upgrades to warrant a move this past offseason. Sure there's Kaep, but what is the point, really? Win one or two games more? While that could be enough to contend for the division, that's because of the weak state of division and would not give the team a realistic chance in the playoffs if they managed to get that far. I'd rather us save our money, go with Blake, be happy we got Leonard Fournette (was skeptical of the pick at the time), and go for the quarterback in the draft. This season is not lost and we set ourselves up for an explosive 2018 and beyond. That being said, I don't think TC and DM gave up on this season before it began. They just evaluated the situation they were in and figured, "We have the talent to contend. Let's see if our guy can make the most of it."
John: Sounds like you've got it a lot of it pegged, but let's be clear: if the Jaguars believed this offseason or now that an available quarterback would be the difference in one or two games – and therefore getting to the playoffs – they would sign that quarterback. The decision to not pursue available quarterbacks isn't about saving money or any other off-field issue. And trust me: neither Tom Coughlin nor Doug Marrone gave up on the season before it began. Question the moves and decisions they make all you want. They're in a business where their decisions are questioned all the time. But don't question that they're doing what they believe gives them the best chance to win.
Dave from Duval:
If you are worse than Blake Bortles and you can't take his job from him, you have no upside or expectation of winning a game if called upon, then you are a waste of a roster spot and money. When Chad Henne parts ways with this organization, he will never be on another NFL roster and will never take a meaningful snap. Book it, write it down, take it to the bank. John, I really question your football acumen.
John: I have no idea if Chad Henne will ever take a "meaningful" NFL snap again. It's possible he won't, because backup quarterbacks sometimes go years without playing meaningful snaps. But had the Jaguars released Henne this past offseason, he would be on an NFL roster again if he desired to play. As for my football acumen … I don't know, Dave … All I can do in this forum is share what I've learned in two-plus decades being around the NFL and talking to the people who have played, coached and administrated the game. Sometimes, I'm wrong and sometimes they're wrong. Believe it or don't. I anticipate sleeping well either way.
Zach from Ocala, FL:
Why haven't we seen a flea flicker yet? They stack the box, Blake Bortles audibles a flea flicker where Leonard Fournette tosses the ball back to Blake, and Blake tosses the ball for a first down. Why can't we get creative? And a flea flicker is creativity level.
John: Well, $#%&, they sure can't call it now.
Alex from London, England:
Really excited for the game in London, despite all the negativity already surrounding the Jags after last week. Would just like to point out that I think most of us would've taken 1-1 from the first two games, and that 7(!) of our remaining fixtures are actually against teams who are currently winless.... Food for thought.
John: I texted my son a screen shot of an NFL show on U.K. television that referred to this week's games as the NFL's Week 3 fixtures. I love that, for some reason.

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