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O-Zone: If you want blood

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get it … J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Hey John! In the small time he has been here, Marcell Dareus has made a really emotional impression on me. I get the sense he's just really thankful and legitimately happy to have been brought here. He seemed very timid at first, which makes me wonder how much culture is a motivator for these guys? I can see in the guy's face how glad he is to be out of Buffalo. We must have a really strong locker room to have made this guy embrace this team so quickly. Or is it the $$$? At any rate, one fer Marcell?
John: There's no question Dareus has been embraced by this organization since arriving in October – and he does seem to be enjoying the moment. How much is culture? Quite a bit, I suppose. The culture of this team – particularly of the defense – is a tremendous positive for this organization right now. Players such as Calais Campbell, Telvin Smith and Barry Church are strong leaders, and they have undeniably set a winning tone – and the change since last season is hard to overstate. There is a positive energy and a feeling of being part of something potentially special and memorable that's hard to ignore. Accepting and embracing Dareus, of course, isn't difficult: players have a tendency to quickly accept good players who make the team better and Dareus certainly fits into that category. As for Dareus' timidity when he arrived in Jacksonville, remember: players are human beings. Dareus had just been traded from a franchise where he had spent nearly seven seasons. He was leaving the only NFL home he ever had known, and he was being thrust into a new situation with two or three days to adapt. He was in a bit of shock, and he expressed as much. It didn't make him a bad guy. It actually made him normal. And yeah … one fer Marcell.
Howard from Homestead, FL:
I'm surprised so many people don't get that it's about the money. Everyone just needs to ask, "If you could win a trophy saying your team was the best at whatever in your profession, but you'd have to personally take a pay cut to be a part of this group achievement, would you? Even if the difference was millions of dollars?" No one in their right mind would. Don't be surprised when NFL players do what almost everyone else would do in a similar situation.
John: You could also ask yourself, "If I had a chance to make life-changing money that also would change the lives of my family and perhaps ensure financial security for myself and my children would I turn that down for … well, just about anything?" I know my answer because I'm not stupid.
Will from Jacksonville:
I'm hearing and reading that the Jaguars' defense is the unit to take Tom Brady and the Patriots down this year! What say you?
John: I say the Jaguars have some winning to do to get to New England, but yes … the Jaguars' defense gives them an opportunity to beat any team they play. That includes Brady and the Patriots – because if the Jaguars can get a lead, their pass rush and coverage can disrupt any offense. The trick, of course, is getting a lead on the Patriots. They have a way of not letting that happen.
Bruce from Gotham, NY:
While I am happy for myself, the city of Jax, the team and the staff of the Jaguars that the team is doing so well, I am most happy for Mr. Khan. After great patience and giving so much to the team and city, nobody deserves this success more than him. Ever since he took over, he has taken the franchise to new heights in so many levels; to finally see it on the field must be so rewarding for him... and so deserved. To sit back and think where this franchise was when he took over and to see where it is today is mind-blowing ... and the best part? There is still more to come.
John: #DTWD
Dane from Guarujá, Brazil :
Do you see this Jags team as one that's peaking as it gets closer to the playoffs? Are we limping into the playoffs? Or somewhere in between?
John: The defense continues to get better by the week. The offense is trying to work through a difficult stretch of injuries. If the defense stays healthy and the offense can get a key player or two back, this team can peak in the coming weeks. We'll see.
Steven from Upper Tract:
John, two things … to the rest of the country, are the Jaguars spelled Jagwires? That is how they seem to pronounce it. Also, I was sad to learn you no longer are a fan of a particular college or pro team since you began covering the sport. I must say that is strange to cover an entire sport and not have any emotional attachment to a team. Almost begs the question ... why bother? Do you ever just sit down and watch a game as a spectator just for the fun of it? Or is it just a job to you?
John: I know few writers or other media types who have a "favorite team." When you cover a team or the league and know the people involved, it's difficult to cheer with the unbridled – often irrational – verve that goes with true fandom. But there's no reason to feel sorry for anyone. It's a job, but it's a good job. I'm a lucky man. I have my health. My wife tolerates me, my dog loves me and kid sometimes make the effort to fake respect for me. Cry not for Zone, Steven. Cry not.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
Hey O, do you think the Jags' recent surge in popularity over the rest of this year makes it more likely Tony Boselli will get into the HoF? I think this is his year, too.
John: I think this could be Boselli's year to get into the Hall of Fame because he's deserving and more voters seem to realize that each year. The Jaguars' success this season will have little or no influence on voting in January.
Winston from San Francisco, CA:
After the Marcell Dareus trade, folks were talking about cutting Malik Jackson in the future. I think that's silly. First, because he's playing well now that he's healthy and I am pleasantly surprised (based upon his stated reason why he picked the jags being $$$$) by the fact that he seems to really be a leader and a large media presence. I like Malik. He's a great signing. Can you tell him I said Happy Thanksgiving?
John: You can be a leader and like money, and I wouldn't worry much about who's getting released in the future and who isn't. Right now, any speculation about such things is just that: speculation.
Matthew from Jacksonville:
I wonder why Mark from Archer thinks the Titans have the better quarterback. After looking at the stats, and watching the games, it seems we have the better quarterback -- especially when it comes down to decision-making this season. Is it possible the national perception of these two quarterbacks (all the way out in Archer, FL) is lagging behind what the reality is?
John: I'd have to say overall Marcus Mariota has the better body of work than Blake Bortles and he probably fairly has the edge at this stage of his career over Bortles. That said, it is fair to say that Mariota's season thus far doesn't support the national perception that he is one of the NFL's rising stars. The jury appears very much out.
Howard from Homestead, FL:
I don't get the Blaine Gabbert bashing. No, he wasn't a good quarterback for us. But when did he ever not do his best? When did he ever represent us poorly off the field?
John: Why do people bash Blaine? Why do people who like football or sports do anything they do? Because fans gonna fan, Howard.
Jack from Orlando, FL:
It's not just young fans being captured by the resurgent Jags. I've been a fan for many years. At one point my picture even greeted visitors to this site. During most of those years I frequented this column. I was buying merchandise and attending games. Sadly, for the last couple of years I lost a lot of enthusiasm. A fan can only sustain hope for so long and I'd usually check out by Week 4. The tree of fan support must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of victories! I am happy to be back. This season we finally have a team to get behind. I am back to consuming your content, following the team, and buying tickets. One fer winnin'.
John: You must win in professional sports. No one around the Jaguars ever doubted that, and no one ever stopped trying to do that. Sometimes teams are more successful at winning than other teams. The Jaguars are having some success this season. Yeah, one fer winnin'. And yes, fans must receive blood. "Blooooooooooood!!!!"

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