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O-Zone: Give it time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … David from Elgin, Scotland:
Hi John, made the 12-hour train journey to London for my first-ever NFL experience. Met some great people at Wembley and Regent Street (even managed a photo with three of the ROAR) from all over the U.K. and Jacksonville itself. How did the atmosphere compare with previous years? I feel more and more U.K. fans are adopting the Jags as their "second" team. I know of at least one who lost his voice from all the cheering and the booing of the Colts' third downs.
John: There's no question the Jaguars' London fan base is growing. There are statistics to prove it, I'm sure, but I don't care as much about those as the feeling I get from being in London and from interacting with Jaguars fans there. Most of the direct interaction I get is from those who attend the Union Jax party the Saturday before each Jaguars home game in London. The passion from those fans always has been off the charts, and the numbers have grown each year – perhaps not exponentially, but significantly. You also see far more people wearing Jaguars memorabilia walking the streets around Wembley and in London. Those things mean more than statistics to me. On those fronts, the growth has been notable.
Brian from Brandon, MS:
Why not have Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. both start in base defense going forward?
John: Because for now the Jaguars want the base defense to be balanced and strong against the run. And for now, that means having Tyson Alualu – or Jared Odrick – at the strong-side end position.
Robert from Jacksonville:
John, Adrian from El Paso seemed upset the Jags played the Colts in London because it was a divisional game. As a football fan here in Jacksonville, I would like more of the London games to be division games. The reason is we get to see division rivals every year. If you take a non-division AFC home game and put it in London, we do not see that team in EverBank again for six years – eight years for an NFC team. This, of course, does not take into account preseason games. I am sure everyone has their opinion, but this is another way of looking at this topic.
John: One reason teams can't spend inordinate time trying to please every fan equally is because there are many, many fans – and therefore many, many views on such things. Many fans never will love the annual London home game, so the Wembley game is probably never going to make all Jaguars fans happy. As far as an ideal London opponent, I get as many emails unhappy about giving up a division game as I do about giving up a "premier" team such as Dallas or San Francisco. My sense is the longer the NFL plays games in London the more the league is going to try to make those games attractive. As the Jaguars improve, that probably will mean playing more attractive games over there – whatever it is you mean by "attractive."
Taylor from Germantown, MD:
I'm glad Jacksonville finally won, but why does Jacksonville struggle to hold leads? They blew a big lead to Buffalo last year in London before coming back to win, were ultra-conservative in the Baltimore game which led to the loss and almost let a 17-point lead slip in the fourth quarter Sunday. The Jags need to learn to step on an opponent's throats when they have the lead.
John: The Jaguars play in the NFL. Getting leads is hard. Holding leads is hard. Very few teams are good enough to routinely "step on opponents' throats" and win games by double digits. Denver seems to be doing it consistently this season and Seattle has done it the last couple of weeks. Those are two elite defenses. As the Jaguars' defense improves – and it appears to have a chance to get very good in the next couple of seasons – I suspect you will see this team able to do this more consistently.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, please explain the rationale behind having Arrelious Benn run a two-yard route toward the sideline on the short side of the field – and actually throwing him the ball – when you need to kill the clock. Please help me/us understand this play call/execution. Thanks! Go Jags!
John: The only rationale for that play is you're trying to use a play you think will work in that situation. Perhaps that was the one they felt was best. But honestly: I didn't like the call, either. I thought for the great majority of the game most of the Jaguars' offensive approach made a lot of sense. That play to Benn that led him out of bounds indeed was an exception.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
Hey O-man, is the 2016 Jaguars draft class possibly the best top-to-bottom class in our history?
John: We'll see.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
Last year, Davon House was without-a-doubt the best corner on our team. This year, he may be the fourth – at best. What in the world happened to him during the offseason? I know Jalen Ramsey is playing elite, but House seems to have majorly regressed from his play last year.
John: Fair point.
Jim from Middleburg, FL:
If you could change any rule in the NFL what would you change? I would change the spot penalty for pass interference. That gives the refs too much power in deciding who wins a game. Go back to the college rule.
John: There's no way I would change the interference rule. While you're right that it does create huge yardage on questionable calls at times, the negative of changing the rule would be allowing defenders to intentionally interference on long passes downfield. That would create scenarios late in games where defenders would take the penalty rather than trying to play defense – therefore eliminating a lot of big plays. As for a rule I would change, I would try to do something to make the unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for roughing the quarterback a little less extreme. There absolutely must be rules to protect the quarterback, but the penalties we see for very minor, unintentional brushes of a quarterback's helmet don't seem to be within the spirit of the game.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Now that I have had time to breathe, I felt better about the loss to Green Bay than I do about the win over the Colts. I am starting to get on board with the group that is blaming the coaching for the Jaguars' poor performance. In the Green Bay game the team played hard the entire game. …
John: Your email went on for a long, long time about how conservatively the Jaguars played to allow the Colts back in the game. I didn't cut short your email out of disrespect, but because … c'mon, the Jaguars won for the first time this season Sunday and they did so beating a quarterback who has made his mark in the NFL by finishing off rallies like the one he started Sunday. The Jaguars figured out a way to win Sunday. Rallying late in games is what Andrew Luck does. Against pretty much every team. Remember, too, that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had been struggling mightily entering the game. I'm not sure putting the ball in his hands the entire second half and asking him to attack with intermediate and short passes without a complementary running game would have been a very prudent approach. And this really wasn't a case of the Jaguars being too conservative. They threw a lot in the second half of the game. They threw deep relatively often. They also ran enough to try to run clock. I didn't love the late pass toward the sideline to Benn that stopped the clock, but overall this team did enough to win the game. The Jaguars got six sacks from a young defense that appears to be improving. Mostly, they got the victory. That's what mattered.
John from Cape May, NJ:
An apparent strength of Fowler's coming out of college was his versatility along the defensive line. You saw him line up on the right side, the left side, play the three technique, play over the center and rush the passer standing up. Yet, through his first four games he mostly just has been lining up on the offensive's right side. What gives? He is clearly on his way to being a disruptive force and I would think it would behoove the Jags to start getting creative with him and lining him up in different spots.
John: A couple of thoughts on your thoughts. One is that the NFL is a far different sport than college football, so it's going to be tougher for any player to be effective in as many spots as he was in college. Another is while I believe the Jaguars will move Fowler around the defense, Fowler is a couple of weeks into his NFL career. A few weeks ago there was concern over him needing to "become a better pro in a hurry." Let's let him get good at his current positon before having him try to function at others.

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