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O-Zone: Fond farewell

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

_Kinzie from Asheville, NC         _

I realize that every given Sunday any team can win, but with how both teams are playing, the Jags should expect to be the more formidable opponent against the Texans, yes? Anything less would be a disappointment, correct?

The Jaguars certainly will be favored and expected to win against the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field Sunday. That's the reality when you have played as well as the Jaguars have played twice this season – and when you're playing a team that hasn't won a game a month into the season. But the reality also is the Jaguars have been inconsistent enough to lose twice. The Texans have been in every game in the fourth quarter this season. The Texans also have won eight consecutive meetings against the Jaguars, so they won't enter this game believing they can't win. Houston also will have a desperate element that always makes teams tough at this point in the season. Still: the Jaguars absolutely enter this game believing they should win. They have played better than the Texans this season and deserve to be favored. They haven't been in that situation in a long time, certain not under Head Coach Doug Pederson. How they handle that situation will be a storyline to watch.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

One fer the BOAT …

Former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles indeed told the Pardon My Take podcast this week that he had retired from the NFL. The news understandably led to an outpouring of reaction from Jaguars fans, nearly all of it overwhelmingly positive. That's as it should have been. Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2014 NFL Draft, never lived up to his draft selection and his career wasn't what he or the team hoped. But he was the quarterback during a really memorable 2017 season that very nearly ended in the Super Bowl. More than that, Bortles endeared himself to fans throughout his time in Jacksonville. And what fans saw from Bortles in interviews was what he was: A guy who appreciated being in professional football and who never acted like being well-known made him better than those less well-known. So, as he ends his NFL career, one for the BOAT? Absolutely.

Josh from New Milford, CT

I know I am not the only one, but I am definitely not in the majority. I loved Bortles as a Jag. I wish the team was better and he was more consistent, but he played hard each week. I hope he enjoys his retirement.

I can't imagine he won't.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Shout out to Bortles. Cheers to retirement. Easily the most polarizing quarterback in Jags history. Always will be grateful for 2017.


Pete from Jacksonville

Why do NFL players who haven't played any appreciable amount in a few seasons feel the need to "announce" this retirement from the NFL (Clay Matthews, Blake Bortles, et al) like they think someone besides their families care? Please let Shane know it was the Japanese that bombed Pearl Harbor, not the Germans.

A couple of thoughts on your Bortles thought. One is that Bortles didn't announce his retirement as much as he said it during a podcast interview. Second is that the reaction on social media and emails I have received – this one included, somewhat ironically – indicate that enough people were actually interested in the news to merit it being news. As far as Shane and the Japanese … forget it. He's rolling.

Bo from Winter Springs, FL

Who bombed Pearl Harbor???


Josh from Lakewood

Have you thought of anything clever to say when you get the inevitable comment from someone who knows their history but not their Belushi?

Working on it.

Andy from Halifax

While you would always rather win, do you think that losing these tight games and facing early adversity will help this team mature faster? The more times they are exposed to tight games and lose, the more they will learn what not to do and – by process of elimination – will eventually win!

Losing tight games certainly can help teams mature. Whether it happens depends on how the team responds – and specifically, how the quarterback responds. Teams typically don't need to worry about getting those opportunities. Most games in the NFL are decided on a few plays. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence will get more than his share of chances to mature in that situation.

Jason from Green Cove Springs, FL

It seems the national perspective of the Jaguars this year is that they beat two wounded teams and even if they beat the Texans this week it's just beating a winless team and no big feat. Will the Jags not get national respect until they beat a good un-injured team?

I never know how to answer questions about respect in sports, nationally or otherwise. This is because how a team is perceived – whether it is respected or not – usually depends on what someone happens to be reading or watching on a given day, or in a given moment. Plenty of national media types were sending plenty of "love" the Jaguars' way after they beat the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. Some of that "love" did come with the very fair reminder that the Colts and Chargers were beat-up teams when the Jaguars played them, but the love nonetheless was real. I would guess the Jaguars will get more respect/love if they move to 3-2 this week and that they will get more moving forward the more they win. Bottom line: If the Jaguars make the playoffs and win there, they will get more than their share of recognition. And love. And respect. And if they don't get these things, what will it matter? They'll be in the playoffs. That feeling is better than respect because it's real.

Everywhere with helicopter

Apparently Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach has never read the "Comments" section. Let me explain what a "comments section" is …

What's a "comments section?"

Paul from Saint Johns

How would you grade Jawaqn Taylor's right tackle performance against the Eagles? My inexperienced eye told me he struggled mightily.

Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor, after three stellar games, played well for the most part against the Eagles. He had a couple of bad plays that resulted in sacks. For an NFL offensive lineman, that means he had a rough game.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

Enough with the whole past performance issue and the Texans. As our game against the Los Angeles Chargers showed, this is an ENTIRELY new team with a new mentality. The old superstitions and tendencies no longer apply. The first thing you have to do is accept that change is possible, from what Doug is showing us it is. The only issue I have is how much it seems he goes away from the proven production too easily. Last week running back James Robinson only got eight touches when it was his between the tackles running we needed in that slop. I get Doug loves his air offensive attack, just seems there is a time and place for it, a monsoon is not one of them. Jags by 21 points Sunday. Calling it KOAF.

Pederson on Wednesday said he's not discussing the Texans' eight consecutive victories over the Jaguars this week, and why should he? This is very much a different Jaguars team, and the past won't have much effect – if any – on Sunday's outcome. As for Pederson's play-calling … I expect this to continue to be a topic because play-calling always is a topic. But Pederson simply isn't going to lean toward a run-centric or ground-and-pound offense. He believes you throw to score and run to win, and he also clearly seems to believe that you generally must throw in the modern NFL to loosen defenses to run effectively. Pederson just doesn't believe you run effectively by simply turning and handing the ball to a running back. And while the Eagles ran effectively Sunday, they did so in part because they had a run threat at quarterback and used run-pass option effectively. The Jaguars aren't going to go as heavily in that direction with Lawrence at quarterback. Bottom line: Pederson's play-calling was fine in victories over the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers, and it has been called into question after losses to Washington and Philadelphia. There's a pattern there. And it's always coaching in the NFL.

Joe from Jacksonville

John, we must discuss the news of Bortles. He certainly was an entertaining presence. I'll always cherish the 45-42 victory over the Steelers in the playoffs the most, with the 30-24 victory over the Seahawks a close second with him as QB1. He's also one of a handful of players I've been fortunate to converse with around town, and he's genuinely a nice and straightforward guy. Could we get a one fer Blake?

… and still another fer the BOAT.