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O-Zone: Hands down

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tineke from Jacksonville:
Hi John, l am a big fan of the Jaguars. But l get very mad when reporters out of state barely mention Jacksonville – and make fun of our city, too. My question: What is the percentage of football players that stay and make a living here? I have a feeling that it is a lot. I have never heard any of you mention it on 1010XL. I am very interested to know.
John: I don't know the percentages, but former Jaguars players commonly remain in or return to the city when they are done playing. Players such as Jeff Lageman, Tony Boselli, Mark Brunell, Mike Hollis and Todd Fordham have made their homes here – and I'm leaving many, many former players out. The reason many players stay is they learn what many people who spend time in Jacksonville learn – that it is a great city to live and raise families. It's also unfairly and ignorantly criticized quite often by national media, but you know what? So what? People who know Jacksonville typically love Jacksonville. They appreciate it. I live here because I want to live here; I prefer Jacksonville to a lot of other NFL cities, including many cities with media who criticize Jacksonville ignorantly and unfairly. My advice: don't worry so much about what people say about Jacksonville. Instead, enjoy the city – and enjoy knowing what a lot of people are too ill-informed or ignorant to know or understand. Their loss, your gain.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
At 4-3 the Jaguars are a game back of the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jaguars beat the Steelers handily in Pittsburgh and could arguably be 6-1. Given the Jaguars' remaining strength of schedule and their defense's ability to hold most offenses under 20 points, do you give them any realistic chance to finish in the top two of the AFC and earn a playoff bye? Obviously, the goal is to win the division and make the playoffs, but if you're in the playoffs making the Super Bowl should be your goal. Playing at home is *usually easier than on the road and winning two games in a row is easier than three. The offensive woes make me hesitant to give you a prediction, but I would like to state that the opportunity is there for the taking, if this team so desires.
John: The Jaguars obviously so desire, but let's let them win a couple of consecutive games before we talk about playoff byes and Super Bowl appearances. I'm not saying your goals are unrealistic as much as I'm saying the Jaguars should accomplish a few other goals first.
Cole from Jacksonville:
Always been a No. 5 fan, John. Never had a doubt.
John: Yeah, you and everyone else.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Blake played great Sunday! I know one game doesn't write the book on a player, but does this game at least cause teams to ease back from the line of scrimmage a little bit in future games? The good performance in London didn't seem to have that effect, but will this one be different – or will the ineptitude and injuries of the Colts cause opposing teams to write this one off?
John: I doubt you'll see a major change in how teams play the Jaguars based on one good game by Blake Bortles – in part because Bortles and the Jaguars' offense didn't follow up a good passing performance in London with another such performance, and in part because the general consensus league-wide has become the way to beat the Jaguars is to bunch defenders near the box and force Bortles to beat them. One game, or even two or three good games, won't be enough to change that perception. It will probably take a good chunk of the season. The positive for the Jaguars is they will have a good idea entering games how teams will try to defend them. That makes game-planning comparatively easy. It also means the Jaguars will have a good chance of success – provided Bortles can make plays consistently against man-to-man coverage.
Jags Fan 818:
If the coaches let Bortles play like he did against the Colts, getting Fournette back and with our defense playing like they are, I don't see a team left on the roster that we can't beat! Go Jags!!!!
John: #DTWD
Stephen from Glorieta:
O-man, I have no power or desire to manipulate your mood. I just want to applaud the decision to rest Leonard Fournette and let him heal up a bit better. These weeks of rest will probably make a huge difference. We matched up well on Sunday and it was good for the team to realize he wasn't the whole offense. Everyone, it seemed, stepped up. Good management decisions make for better outcomes (obviously). I wish him well ... he's such an incredible talent. To mismanage him would be unforgivable.
John: While I'm sure the coaches and powers that be will bask in your applause, the decision to not play Fournette against the Colts was made by doctors – and presumably Fournette – because he was unable to play. I suppose the fact that he was cleared medically to return to the game the previous week against the Rams has caused some misunderstanding about this and made it seem as if the Jaguars had a choice to make Sunday against the Colts. Remember: just because Fournette could return to the previous game doesn't mean he could play the following week. Adrenaline often allows players to play through an injury immediately only to have them ruled out the following week; a famous case in Jaguars history came when quarterback Rob Johnson played through an ankle injury to beat the Baltimore Ravens in the 1997 regular-season opener only to be unable to play the following week. Fournette's issue was similar, which was why Marrone utilized caution last week when discussing Fournette's chances to play.
Spooky from Spookytown:
What are you going as for Halloween, Mr. O?
John: Sexton.
Lawrence from Altamonte Springs, FL:
I'm stuck in Bronco country. When will the Jags come to Denver, so I can see my beloved Jags?
John: If the Jaguars and Broncos finish in the same spot in the standings in their respective divisions this season, the Jaguars will play in Denver in 2018. The teams are scheduled to play in Denver in 2019.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
O-man - so far I think it's safe to say the Jaguars have performed better than any of us would have expected up to this point. Just maybe, we will continue to get better. 13-3?
John: Come on.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
The bye week provides a good time to look ahead. It seems the Jaguars would be expected to win each of the next four games. The next game that would be perceived as a tough matchup is Seattle. That said, things rarely go as we hope or think. So, I would think a goal for this four-game stretch should be to break the win-loss string and go 3-1. This would put the team 7-4 going into the Seattle game and on the road to an above-.500 season. Which should also have them in the driver's seat to win the AFC South. What say you, O-Meister?
John: I say what I've said about this team since Week 1 – that it is capable of winning any game when it plays well and capable of losing any game in which it does not. I also say the first two opponents out of the bye – Cincinnati and San Diego – are playing much better than they were during the early weeks of the season. I agree that the Jaguars have a chance to go 3-1 through those four games, though – and that should be the goal. That should be the goal for every four-game stretch of a season. Accomplish it and you're going to be 12-4 every season and have a chance at a first-round bye. It ain't an easy goal to attain.
Cliff from Orange Park, FL:
A lot of nicknames floating around but after Sunday's performance and considering our locale, there is only one fitting name for this defense: "Storm Surge." What could be more destructive?
John: I like that.
Chance from Windsor, Ontario:
When I look at the rest of the schedule, I get excited because I am not too worried. There will be some games that will pose a challenge, but a lot that we should win hands down … seems to me 9-7 is the worst-case scenario assuming we beat: Bengals, Browns, Cardinals, Colts, 49ers. Of the Chargers, Seahawks, Titans, and Texans ... who poses the biggest threat?
John: There are few "hands-down" victories in the NFL; the four one-sided victories the Jaguars have turned in this season makes them the exception rather than the norm. All of the teams you mention pose a threat if this team doesn't play well, and it goes without saying there's a lot of assuming going on around these parts considering the Jaguars last won three consecutive games in 2013.

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