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O-Zone: Ho, ho, ho

JACKSONVILLE – Merry Christmas.

Let's get to it … Frank from Jacksonville:
Blake Bortles does make mistakes, but he also takes the blame for almost everything that happens and puts it on himself. A bad hot snap: "I should have caught it." A dropped pass: "I could have thrown it better." An unabated blindside sack: "I should have gotten rid of it." What a great teammate and leader who never once has said anything to sell out another player. I'm a big fan.
John: You very succinctly put into perspective one of the major reasons teammates love playing with/for/alongside Bortles. There's a leadership/"it" factor with quarterbacks. It's about many things, and it's hard to define, but a lot of it is about teammates believing in the quarterback. It's attained in different ways, but it must be attained for a quarterback to succeed. Bortles absolutely has that as naturally as can possibly be imagined for a young quarterback.
Bill from Saint Petersburg, FL:
Can I get one fer Jags worthy of a Monday night game in 2016? That game should be against Green Bay … that would be a great one … went to the game back in 2001.
John: Hey! One fer MNF – and for the first time in a while I wouldn't automatically rule it out.
Ross from Mechanicsville, VA:
With the improvement this summer being well-reported and obvious, I was hopeful for six wins. I am happy with five. Next year I am hopeful for eight wins. The following year I will expect playoffs. After years of hope and sadness, I am thrilled to see the best group since the 1990s. Do you see this group becoming better than the 90s group?
John: Postseason success is a special, memorable thing in the NFL. The 1990s group made the postseason four consecutive seasons, won four postseason games and played in two AFC Championship games. That's not the stuff of legends, perhaps, but it ain't routine, either. Let's let this group attain a winning record before we start comparing the eras, but yes – this group looks like it has a chance to be good.
Paul from Jacksonville:
John, I need your help (which is as frightening a thing as I have ever typed.) This season has been frustrating. But I can't seem to stay angry, bitter and frustrated for too long. By midweek, I'm already looking forward to the next game and shaking my head at the "fire Gus/Dave/all the players" crowd. The Jags seem so close to being the kind of team that the Black and Teal faithful have longed for these past many years. My problem is I suffer from chronic optimism. What do I do?
John: Look forward to next season.
Steven from Duval:
I asked you earlier in the season about A-Rob making the Pro Bowl and you were spot on. After seeing the list, I can understand who made it over him – whether they should have or not, I get it. But – and this a big but – why is Telvin Smith not even mentioned? This guy played sound football all the time and made the great plays that stand out as much as anybody. Does it have anything to do with some outside linebackers being basically ends with good sack totals?
John: Thank you for your question about a big "but." I'll always answer those, especially on Christmas. Smith's lack of Pro Bowl recognition indeed has much to do with a lot of outsider backers who make the Pro Bowl being "Sacks Guys." There's no question the selection process is skewed toward pass rushers at that position. Generally speaking, it's difficult in this era for a four-three outside linebacker to be recognized as elite because he typically doesn't rush the passer enough to be a league leader in sacks. That's the general theory. I've said before I believe Smith is good enough – and that he makes enough big plays – to be an exception to the rule. I still believe that.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
Wednesday was my birthday and I saw you at EverBank. It was a dream come true. Twenty-five is looking up already!
John: My advice: dream bigger … Wait, you're 25? Never mind. The dream is over.
Steven from Duval:
Why is Davon House always touted as our No. 1 corner? Seems to me that Aaron Colvin rarely gets beat and doesn't even get thrown at very often. I don't actually watch game film, but during the games Colvin sure seems to be playing like he's turning into a shutdown guy. In my opinion, House's picks were all lucky and he is out of position way too often. Thoughts?
John: My first thought is you're a little tougher on House than necessary, and I don't really see his interceptions as lucky. He also has a ton of passes defensed this season, and he didn't fluke into all of those. He has gotten beat a few times this season, but considering the lack of pass rush, it has been tough for Jaguars cornerbacks to look great this season. You're correct, though, that House isn't truly the Jaguars' No.1 corner over Colvin. It's more a matter of the players having different roles. The Jaguars like House's coverage ability and think he can be really good long term. They also like Colvin's ability on the outside and his ability to move inside and play nickel in obvious passing situations. It's hard to cover the opponent's top receiver all over the field when you're moving inside to play the nickel.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
O-Man, I beg to differ with your answer to Scott from Ponte Vedra. Two of the best cornerbacks in the league today, Josh Norman and Richard Sherman, were drafted in the fifth round. Here's to hoping the Jaguars spend at least one pick on a defensive back in 2016. Sooner or later Dave Caldwell is going to hit on one.
John: He already has.
Andrew from Tehachapi, CA:
I assume you've seen the news on Justin Blackmon. You know something? I'm glad. He was one of the last decaying remnants of a Jaguars team known for being pathetically outmatched. This a new team with new ideals and we don't need distractions. I hope the young man gets the help he obviously needs, but he doesn't deserve a spot with these Jaguars.
John: I've indeed seen the news on Justin Blackmon, and in fact have mentioned it several times in recent O-Zones. I'm not remotely glad about the news, though. I liked Blackmon during the times I dealt with him and absolutely wouldn't wish his current troubles on him – or anyone, for that matter. Either way, the recent news doesn't change Blackmon's status with the team. He was suspended indefinitely before and he remains suspended indefinitely now.
Steven from Duval:
I like Roy Miller a lot, but if he is such a good nose tackle why don't we play more three-four? I've also noticed other teams seem to get a lot of pressure off of stunts on the line. I never see our defensive line do it. It seems like with Branch's athleticism and Miller's talent we should at least try it.
John: The Jaguars don't play 3-4 more because they run a 4-3 hybrid scheme. I don't know how right or wrong that is, but that's why they do it. The Jaguars do stunt. They have stunted this season. It honestly just doesn't work all that well.
Ralph from Jacksonville:
Merry Christmas to you and the Oehser family.
John: #Christmas'tillwedie.
Dave from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Merry Christmas to you, John, and to everyone at And thanks for all you do.
John: #CTWD
Jeff from Jacksonville:
So, how can our coaches get Blake to stop throwing interceptions, or less of them? Is it just something or someone he is not seeing, or something else altogether? Thank you and Merry Christmas.
John: Blake Bortles is on pace to throw an interception per game this season. That's a few more than ideal, but it's not a tragic number considering the number of big plays he makes – and considering that he is still a young quarterback with young teammates in a young offense. What the Jaguars need more than anything is for Bortles' interceptions to come in less game-turning spots. A couple of things need to happen for that to happen. One, the Jaguars need to improve around him so that they have more leads; that will help every interception to not be a game-turning error. Two, he needs to mature a bit and make better decisions. Both things should come with time.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
Why do fans write you anger-filled questions every day? I feel like you take a lot heat that you shouldn't or don't deserve. You aren't a player, a coach or an owner. John, we appreciate you. You are a nice guy and people like you. Merry Christmas to you and yours this holiday season!
John: #CTWD
JT from Jacksonville:
Merry Christmas, O. I don't know what Krimma is.
John: I pity you.

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