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O-Zone: Hug it out

JACKSONVILLE – Broadway bound.

Let's get to it … Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
I'm trying to figure out what the big difference between this year and last year is in regards to the pass rush, and the only thing I can come up with is that Sen'Derrick Marks has been out. After watching Big Hen and Stroud dominate when I was younger, I'm sort of partial to interior defensive linemen because they allowed the team to get pressure even with sort of average defensive ends. Do you think that's maybe what we've been missing from not having Marks this year?
John: There's no question Sen'Derrick Marks' early absence has hurt the pass rush. He registered eight and a half sacks last season and got more penetration than any other Jaguars defensive lineman. Chris Clemons and Andre Branch also haven't had the pressure they did last season, though that drop-off hasn't been extreme. Remember, while the Jaguars registered 45 sacks last season, this was not a dominant pass rush. It was a good pass rush that got sacks on a pretty high percentage of times on which it got pressure. Missing Marks certainly has hurt, but overall it's just not a great pass-rushing group individually yet and certainly will be an area that's addressed moving forward.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
When Telvin Smith came into the league, many said he was too small to be an effective linebacker. He has since proven he can be an every-down player who is effective against the pass and the run. With the speed of the game increasing and high-flying offenses becoming the norm, do you think having at least one Smith-like linebacker will become more common in the league?
John: If they have Smith's speed, quickness and nose for making plays, yes. Those traits are rare.
Ralph from Santa Fe, NM:
Hey John, first time asking a question. How good do you think both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns can be? Also, do you think the Jags still have momentum from their previous win having gone through the bye? Thanks!
John: Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns can both be very good. I think Robinson's high end is a multi-time Pro Bowl player while Hurns – such as say, Keenan McCardell – can be a very productive player for a long, long, long time. As for your second question … sure, the Jaguars have momentum. Whether they will have that after kickoff Sunday remains to be seen.
Aaron from Europa:
I think a lot of us are confused about what's happening with Demetrius McCray. He was one of the few bright spots on defense last year. However, this year we haven't seen anything indicative of regression because he hasn't really been on the field. We also didn't really get a chance to see him in preseason to judge his play. So we don't really have any context as to why he's a third-string player and special teamer now.
John: Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley addressed this somewhat Wednesday, saying basically that while both McCray and Dwayne Gratz are fundamentally sound, neither has shown enough ability to make plays on the ball – interceptions, pass breakups, etc. – to stand out and force their way into the starting lineup. That's probably the best way to portray McCray's situation. The Jaguars aren't down on him, but they're trying to find a player at the spot who stands out. House has a chance to be that player – and has been at times -- and cornerback Aaron Colvin has shown himself to absolutely be such a player.
Talha from Boone, NC:
I say we finish the season 9-6, what say you?
John: I say if the Jaguars finish 9-6, someone's got some 'splaining' to do.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
Mr. O, who do you see as core players right now going forward?
John: Potential core players include Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Telvin Smith, Brandon Linder, Aaron Colvin and perhaps Luke Joeckel. I didn't include rookies, because it's way too early for that, but perhaps T.J. Yeldon, A.J. Cann, Dante Fowler Jr. and Rashad Greene. Not all of the above will become core players, but they have a chance – that's a good thing.
Jesse from Islamorada, FL:
I am pulling these stats out of my rear end so I maybe really off, but I was thrown by Chris' question this week. If I recall correctly, our Robinson leads the league in 20 yard receptions and leads the league in yards per catch. Hurns is third for yards per catch. Did I dream those stats? The Jags have lots of issues and lots of little problems stopping them from having a winning record currently. Not throwing deep enough or effective enough does not appear to be an issue from my seat.
John: Please don't pull things out of your rear end and post them on this website.
Casey form Philadelphia, PA:
Zone, Benny and the Jets, Joan Jett, Big ol Jet airliner or Leaving on a Jet plane? What say you?
John: Jet, by Paul McCartney and Wings. Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh … ooh, ooh. Jet.
Jackson from St. Augustine, FL:
In London I was watching and saw Yeldon had no short-yardage carries. Toby Gerhart got short-yardage carries but there was no production and he wasn't finding the holes. Shouldn't Yeldon get at least some short-yardage carries? What do you think, John?
John: The Jaguars haven't to this point used Yeldon much in short-yardage situations, with a big reason being he already is playing on first- and second-down situations as well as on third downs. Being a three-down back is a big responsibility for a rookie, and to put him in a short-yardage role means adding to that. He has proven capable of handling the three-down role. Reading the tea leaves this week, I'd say there's pretty good chance he gets to show if he can handle the short-yardage role, too.
Buddy from Bellingham, WA:
If the season starts now, maybe someone should tell Gus to start practicing. Let's all take a day off.
John: Or better yet: let's drive older, veteran players into the ground and cause further injuries to a team that is finally getting healthy!!
John from Ramsey, N.J. :
With Cromartie covering Hurns and Revis covering Allen Robinson, who do you think has the better day... T.J. Yeldon or Julius Thomas? I see this being a breakout game for either one of those guys.
John: First, I think Hurns has a chance to have a good day; Antonio Cromartie is a very good cornerback but he hasn't been infallible this season and allowed two touchdown passes last week. As for Yeldon/Thomas, I think Thomas is in a better position to have a big day. Yeldon certainly has a chance to be productive, but the Jets' run defense is good enough that it's hard to imagine a breakout day in terms of 140 or 150 yards rushing. As for Thomas … yes, if Revis is on Robinson, then this is the sort of game where the Jaguars need production from the tight end position.
Don from Ponte Vedra, FL:
So I'm guessing if the odds makers would set an over/under on how many plays that Marqise Lee will participate in through the last nine games, the over/under would be 25. I will take the under, how about you?
John: I'd take the over.
Kyle from Ohio:
You wanna know what is better than the Colts being 3-5? The fact that the almighty, the anointed one, the best there is the best there was the best there ever will be is 1-5. It is so awesome seeing the player deemed to be the best ever before even taking an NFL snap is sucking it up. Better yet, the Carolina game proved that the defense and O-Line excuse is a complete joke. #OVERRATED.
John: I'm glad you're having a good time. Sports are supposed to fun, and you are savoring the moment. I wouldn't get too cocky over Luck's struggles. I'd be surprised if they last long.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
When Greene and Lee are back in the lineup and we run a four-receiver set, one of those players has to be open, right? Do most teams have four really good defensive backs to cover all four of our guys?
John: No.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, no question today. Since this is the time of the year when people think about the things they are thankful for, I just wanted to say thank you to you. You are a straight shooter. You give your opinion about things that readers ask even if they do not like the answer. You have published many of my questions (which is always a nice bump to help me have an even better day) even though sometimes my questions are probably lame or stupid. So, I know this is your job that you get paid for, but I wanted to say "Thank you for what you do."
John: Come on in for the real thing

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