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O-Zone: Happy birthday, Kelsey

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Aaron from White Hall, AR:
Way to go, Jaguars. I've believed in Blake Bortles all along and defended him to the point that I've had people yelling at me and cussing me out. It's days like Sunday that I love – when he quiets all the haters even if it's just for one day. I know it's just one game, but he has done well the whole year not forcing his throws. Let's hope Blake builds on this. Go Jaguars.
John: Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles indeed had perhaps his best career game Sunday. That's significant because he had perhaps his best previous career game against the Baltimore Ravens in London in Week 3. That's two really good games in a five-week stretch. Now, that obviously doesn't completely change the Jaguars' present or future quarterback conversation, and Bortles' detractors will correctly say he has struggled in a good chunk of five games this season. But here's how this sets up as we enter the bye: it appears defenses are going to challenge Bortles and the Jaguars' passing offense to beat them by stacking the line of scrimmage and forcing the Jaguars to throw. It now appears the Jaguars' coaches have the confidence in Bortles to allow him to throw. I don't think it's suddenly going to be Air Bortles around these parts, but I think there will be plays in the passing game to allow him to take the shots against bunched defenses. That means Bortles is going to have ample opportunity in the final nine games of the season to reset the conversation around him and perhaps reshape his NFL future. That's a storyline that could be fluid – and a bit of a roller coaster – but it's also one that could be interesting. Stay tuned.
Cliff from Orange Park, FL:
Can you tell us who that precise passer was who was making good decisions was wearing No. 5? Can you ask him to come back in two weeks and settle in as the Jags' quarterback?
John: I'll Google this.
Jeremy from Newport, RI:
10-6 is absolutely realistic. Just saying.
John: Of course it is. The Jaguars this season clearly have shown the ability to win if they get ahead early, which they have shown the ability to do if they are either functioning offensively or playing relatively error-free on offense and special teams. The defense through seven games has been a constant with rare exceptions. This adds up to a team that can potentially be really good – and one that has the potential to lose to any team on its schedule. Will the Jaguars make a push for double-digit victories and a playoff appearance? I have no idea. Can they do it? Absolutely.
Stephen from Gulfport, MS:
Too early for speculation that Aaron Rodgers will be Day One starter for the Jaguars in 2018?
John: I don't even understand.
Nate from York, PA:
John: I admit I recoiled a bit early in the season at the Sacksonville nickname. I figured the 10-sack game against the Houston Texans in Week 1 likely was an outlier, because teams just don't have that kind of day very often. Shoot, teams don't have that kind of day even twice. Well, guess what?
Aaron from Nashville, TN:
The Jaguars need to make a shirt that says "Know what I'm sayin??" in honor of Coach Marrone's press conferences. Have you noticed that phrase yet? Lol
John: I hadn't noticed it. Obviously.
Terry from Cutler Bay, FL:
OK, with what may be the most impressive win in years considering what the fear was going in, what do we now do with T.J. Yeldon? The Predators (our defense shined, but our offense does more than hold its own!) One for the Predators, one for Blake, one for T.J. Oh heck … one for everyone!
John: Here's what you do with Yeldon. You shake his hand and be very glad you have a rare thing in the NFL: depth. I doubt Yeldon's role changes much moving forward, though he clearly showed his pass-blocking skills on a couple of plays. But fear not: Yeldon likely will play again this season. This is a tough, physical running team; injuries are more likely than not.
Wrong from Jacksonville:
Great, now Leonard Fournette probably won't lead the league in rushing. With a bye week coming up, he coulda played.
John: I hoped, hoped, hoped that this was in jest. When I read it, in fact, I thought, "O-Zone will be sad if he gets more emails like this. O-Zone does not like to be sad."
Brian from Victorville, CA:
Why not play Fournette since we have a bye week coming up? I get the safe route but no matter what it's a week off! Either way, a W is a W!
John: #Ozonesad
James from Upper Marlboro, MD:
It's about time the playbook has been opened up for Blake Bortles. Those plays were just what we needed to show it's not only Leonard Fournette on this offense.
John: The Jaguars did need to have Bortles throw more; defenses were simply stacking the box too much to stop the run. In fairness to the Jaguars' coaches, though, Bortles hadn't done much this season to inspire confidence – and this team rightfully wanted to reduce turnovers from last season. I still doubt you're going to see the Jaguars go run-and-shoot anytime soon, but could Sunday inspire the Jaguars to let Bortles throw deep more against single coverage? Yeah, I'd call that a "have to."
IDK from Jacksonville:
What do you do when the haymakers start to fly?
John: Win.
John from Cedar Rapids, IA:
Last week everyone hated him, this week ... um, not so much I bet! I hope he keeps it up and quiets all the haters.
John: I'm the first one to tell you that Shadrick had been off his game a bit in recent weeks, but it might be extreme to say everyone hated him.
Teal Tomahawk from Boise, ID:
I was told not to expect a 10-sack game again? #Sacksonville
John: I was wr.., wr…, wr…
Daniel Since Day One:
What a difference a kicker makes!
John: Josh Lambo had a very good first game with the Jaguars Sunday. He made all five of his kicks, including three extra points and field goals of 42 and 33 yards. But really? That was your big takeaway from Sunday? Lambo?
Adam from Bryan, TX:
John, any chance with good play Dede Westbrook get into the starting lineup as the No. 2 receiver possibly even No. 1 receiver? Our other guys have been so inconsistent lately that it doesn't seem like to much of a stretch. What would he have to do to get moved up quickly?
John: Stay healthy and play to his potential.
Keith from Woonsocket, RI:
Jeez, O: I've noticed a lot of jags fans like to put words in your mouth. What up wit that?
John: Many prefer to read what they believe they read rather than what is written. Often, the two are the same. Just as often, it seems, they are not.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Amazing how this team seems unaffected by injury this season, as compared to the last few years. Missing ARob, Leonard Fournette, Brandon Linder, and Cam Robinson (plus a dinged-up Marqise Lee) and the offense still hangs 500 yards on 'em. I remember games where losing a guard for the second half meant the offense was done moving for the day. Gotta be coaching, right?
John: Yes, because it's always coaching in the NFL. Always.
Jason from Salem, OR:
So, what is it that makes the Jags be so dominant in odd-week games? So many blowouts in those games. I love the resiliency of the Jags to make a spectacular game performance after a loss, but I am befuddled as to how they can take two steps forward and one step back week-to-week. What says you O-man?
John: This really isn't so befuddling. As I have noted often, the Jaguars' defense this season actually has been remarkably consistent. The lone exception was the second half of the Tennessee game. They had a couple of defensive lapses against the Jets and a bad special teams half against the Los Angeles Rams, but this team is much closer to being 5-2 or 6-1 than it is to being 1-6. That's a very real statistic and it makes the coming few weeks interesting.
Dag from Jacksonville:
To those who are complaining about the Jags, just ask yourself this. Normally when we are looking for our fourth win for the year, it is usually at the end of the season, NOT before midpoint of the season.
John: #DTWD
Kelsey from Columbia, SC:
Sunday was my birthday and I have been a Jags fan my entire life. I mean that quite literally, too: on my due date, my mother was at a Jags game – and when I was actually born a week later, my mother was holding me in her arms at the hospital and she asked my dad to turn the game on. I didn't want to jinx anything, so I didn't say this. But I was hoping for a big game for my 22nd birthday this year. Whooo!!! Did those Jags deliver! Even without Fournette, we had a huge game! So thanks for the birthday present!
John: I feel very old, but this is very cool.

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