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O-Zone: Hope alive

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mike from Jacksonville:
Win and move on. Ugliest bleeping game I've ever watched, but win and move on.
John: This pretty much sums up Sunday. That was among the most-perplexing games I've covered in 22 seasons covering the NFL – and I honestly had little idea how to analyze it. The Jaguars indeed played horribly offensively for three quarters – and this offense continues to raise legitimate concerns about the team's ability to win. At the same time, the defense played well after a rocky second-quarter stretch and continues to look like a potential strength moving forward. The offense also has to be given credit for a fourth quarter that not only was productive, but was remarkably clutch given the circumstances. Are the Jaguars good? Not yet. Not from what they've shown this season. But they're 2-3 and are a play or two from being better than that. The bottom line from Sunday, I suppose, is they survived and got a much-needed road victory. You take those when you can get them in the NFL. It keeps them in a situation where if they continue to improve they can still save the season. That's not the best situation, but it's a lot better than the situation they were facing late in the third quarter Sunday.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
How many interceptions must Blake Bortles throw before the organization realizes this guy is not the answer at quarterback?
John: Jerell, Jerell, Jerell … I've written often in recent weeks that Bortles must improve, and I've written often that the Jaguars' 0-3 start was largely because of his turnovers in those first three games. But fair's fair, and if you're being fair, it's awfully hard to put that first-half interception Sunday on Bortles.
Eric from Duval:
Please explain to me the prevent defense call on third-and -7. Are they serious? Poz can't cover side-to-side crossing receivers. Let's concede an easier field goal attempt at 0-0. Why?
John: I thought the defense was too soft on that third-down play late in the first half, too. The coaches felt yielding yardage there was better than playing tight and increasing the chances of a touchdown. I would have rather seen a bit more aggressiveness, but that was why.
Adam from Bryan, TX:
John, please tell me why Malik Jackson is dropping into coverage on a key third down in the red zone? That was way too easy for Hoyer. What is going on with these defensive calls? Wasn't Jackson brought in to pressure the quarterback – not cover receivers?
John: I get some version of this whenever a wide receiver catches a pass with a defensive lineman in coverage. I understand the frustration, and I have written before I'm not fundamentally a fan of dropping linemen into coverage. It by definition takes a player out of what he does best and puts him into a situation where he's doing what he doesn't do well. The situations usually occur when a defense has blitzed a linebacker or a secondary player and the linemen drops to cover an area. If the pressure doesn't get home quickly enough then the lineman and coordinator are going to look bad on the play. More often than not, it's not as much a case of the scheme being ridiculous as of the blitz not getting home quickly enough. Still, it's a bad look when it doesn't work. No doubt about that.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Penalties, turnovers, penalties, turnovers, penalties. Why do we even bother to play?
John: Because.
Michael from Tucker, GA:
I really hate complaining after a much-needed win, but I'm beginning to think the experts were right about Ramsey. This guy can't catch a cold. My question, can you be an elite corner with no hands?
John: This is one of the more amazing emails I've received in a long time, because unless I'm reading it wrong, you're criticizing Jalen Ramsey for not making an interception on the Bears' final play. Ramsey on Sunday turned in a remarkable performance. He got beat regularly by Alshon Jeffery in the first half, but he recovered to hold Jeffery to one reception for three yards in the second half. His first half would have hurt the confidence of many players, yet he recovered to be a key reason for the Jaguars' victory. The play he made to end the game was a big-time, elite play – breaking in front of Jeffery with remarkable quickness and suddenness to give the pass literally no chance of being caught. So, he didn't make the interception? That's the last job of a cornerback – an extra, if you will. He kept the ball from being caught. He made the play and ended the game. Finally, to answer your final question: Yes, a cornerback absolutely can be elite if his hands aren't great. And speaking of elite, if the first five games of the season have shown us anything it's that Ramsey is well on his way to that status.
Jason from Da 'Hass:
Yo O: here's the analysis: Ramsey is the man! He's cool and I like him!
John: Hey, one fer Ramsey! - no matter what Michael may think.
Jason from Salem, OR:
What do you think should be done to make more Jacksonville scores on the opening drives or earlier in the game, when the Jags are not trailing in the game? It seems that the Jags are consistently battling back into the game when they are losing, after some bad offensive possessions. They have started games notoriously bad for a while and they seem as frustrated early on as most Jags fan seem to be.
John: Early-game struggles indeed have defined the offense in recent seasons. I think the Jaguars must start looking to go up-tempo earlier in games, and I think they're at the point where they will do that. I don't think they can do it the whole game, but I think they have to start finding a way to mix that into the offense. But if you're convinced that the early-game issues are all on the coaching or the offensive coordinator – and if you think all that ails the Jaguars' offense will be solved by an up-tempo approach, remember: the Jaguars turned in one of their best drives of the season on their first possession Sunday. They drove 89 yards methodically and efficiently. The ball was in Robinson's arms and popped out. That wasn't an issue of tempo or coaching.
Andrew from Fort Collins, CO:
Wow. That went from terrible to comeback fast. Won in a must-win situation and showed heart. Ramsey also showed why he was No. 5. Hope going forward.
John: This email was received a few minutes after Sunday's game. It was not reflective of the tone of the inbox to that point, but yes – the Jaguars' victory was what mattered Sunday. It was not pretty. The Jaguars probably won't win a lot playing that poor offensively going forward, but they made some big plays when it mattered. That counts for something. It actually counts for a lot.
The Voice of the Fans fom DisappointmentLand:
Nobody should feel good about that win. We squeaked one out against a bad team. Without previously proving ourselves, that makes us a bad team. No matter what the score says, the Jags need to treat this as a L.
John: The Jaguars were 1-3 entering Sunday's game. They are 2-3 this morning. They will not treat this game as a loss, nor should they.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
Oh, O … so good to get a W. In the end, that is what matters. The bad news is that this does not look like a team building on momentum coming out of the Colts game. That was ugly for most of the game. The good news is they didn't give up and found a way in the end. But Bortles has to get better or the stretch ahead is going to be tough and frustrating. Thoughts?
John: My thoughts are Bortles has to get better or the stretch ahead is going to be tough and frustrating.
Josh from Eyota, MN:
Will we ever see the offense that won the game today throughout an entire game? Bortles does look so much better when he goes no-huddle.
John: It's very difficult in the NFL to run tempo and no-huddle the entire game – primarily because if it doesn't work, you put your defense at an enormous disadvantage. At the same time, this Jaguars' offense for the past two-plus seasons has been playing much better when playing no-huddle. You don't want to do it all the time, but it stands to reason it needs to be done more.
Thomas from Williamsburg, VA:
Second-and-goal from the one-foot line and you throw a fade route. Are you serious? Just when I thought Greg Olson couldn't do anything more stupid ...
John: Loyal readers – and both of them know who they are – know I'm not a big question-the-play-call guy because usually a good play is the one that works and bad play is the one that doesn't. But yeah, on that one …
Barbara from Springville, VA:
Thanks for the WIN, Jacksonville Jaguars! Hope is alive!!!
John: #DTWD, Barb. #DTWD.

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