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O-Zone: In the conversation

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Sean from Jacksonville

One for Uche Nwaneri. RIP.

Former Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri passed away Friday at 38. Nwaneri, a fifth-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, started for the Jaguars from 2007-2013 and was a key member of the offensive line when running back Maurice Jones-Drew won the NFL rushing title in 2011. He also played on the 2007 playoff team and started 92 games for the team. More importantly, Nwaneri was a friendly, well-respected and likable person. I covered Nwaneri from 2011-2013 and feel fortunate to have known him for that short time. He was well-liked by teammates and continued to have a strong bond with Jaguars fans following his retirement. A tough, tough day for the Jaguars community.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Watching this MNF game John and I gotta say something. Football is a brutal game that we all love with our soul, but what happened to Hamlin on the field supersedes anything about football. From the entire Jags fanbase I wanted to send all the prayers and well wishes his way. That was one of the most serious things I have seen in sport.

You're referencing Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsing in the first quarter of the Bills' game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. He was administered CPR on the field and taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The scene was as frightening as any you will see in sports, with players crying and showing a level of concern I don't recall seeing in fifty years watching the NFL. As of this writing, Hamlin was in critical condition with few other details known. It was indeed a reminder of the violence of the sport. I have little to add to the discussion of the situation except to join with everyone in hoping for the best.

Sean from Jacksonville

The Titans will no doubt attempt to be the spoiler this Saturday. No matter the injuries or quarterback, they will try to pull one off just to be shmucks. But my expectations are tempered, so I expect the worst, but hope for the best.

When the Tennessee Titans play the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday, they will be playing to win the AFC South for a third consecutive season. That's not "spoiling." That's trying to get into the postseason as division champions.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

Regarding running back Travis Etienne Jr.'s speed on his 62-yard touchdown run, he was recorded at 21.62 mph on the play, which is the seventh-fastest ball carrier speed recorded in the season so far. So yes ... he was moving faster than we've seen him move to date.


Mike from Cortland, NY

It's so easy to be excited about so many things, and so many players factoring into what looks like will be sustained success for years to come. On the flip side, how shocked are you that Josh Allen hasn't been able to develop into an elite guy? I'm shocked.

I wouldn't be so fast to give up on Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen. It's well-documented that the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft hasn't reached the level he wanted this season. But he leads the team with 20 pressures, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and three forced fumbles – and is absolutely coming on in recent weeks. He had one of his better games this season against Houston Sunday with three QB hits, a sack and a forced fumble. He's still the player I least want to see the Jaguars lose defensively.

Brad (The Barbarian) from The Avenues

What is the best in life, John? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their fans.

We have talked a lot in this forum lately about the importance of being nice. Perhaps we need a reminder.

Boxcutter Bill from Mass

All I keep thinking about is 1999. When we were stacked, beating up on people and the Titans came down to Jacksonville and broke my heart. It can't happen again, right? We got this. We're moving up they are moving down. They won't break our hearts again. What does his Funkyness think? Please tell me we got this.

I think the Jaguars will win Saturday. They are favored to win, playing at home and they have earned that favorite's role. They have won four consecutive games and the Titans have lost six consecutive games. But this is the NFL. The Titans are the two-time defending AFC South champions and are playing for a chance to save their season by winning a winner-take-all game for the division. This will not be easy. It will not be the biggest upset in NFL history if the Titans win. The Jaguars don't "got this," but is this a game I expect them to win? Yes.

Richard from Orange Park, FL

The Jags now sit at 8-8 going into Week 18 for an AFC South title matchup. Who would have thought the Jags would be in this position at the beginning of the season? No matter the outcome of Week 18, this season is arguably one of the best turnaround seasons in a very, very long time. This one just feels vastly different than any Jags team in terms of ceiling and may very well be capable of bringing a Lombardi to Jacksonville in the next few years.

It's difficult to compare turnaround seasons, because most franchises that have struggled and suddenly find success rightly believe they have overcome much adversity to do what they have done. I suppose it's possible other franchises have overcome more than the Jaguars have overcome in recent seasons. Maybe.

Alan from Mandarin

So, the NFL has once again screwed the Jags. The Titans get nine days rest, we get a short week. Why? Because the NFL eschews fair competition for money. They see two small-market teams, so we'll play them on our "dead" Saturday night, reserve Sunday for less meaningful big market games. It's not just a lack of respect, it's a statement that we don't value you, tough, deal with it.

The NFL opted to put the Green Bay Packers, of the most high-profile franchise with a high-profile quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, on Sunday Night Football over two smaller-market teams. Because of course they did. Why in the world wouldn't they? As the Jaguars become consistent players in big games with consistent postseason appearances, this will change. They're in prime time on Saturday night. That's a start.

Mike from Jacksonville

Mr. Zone, why do our opponents week after week have so many tackles for loss against us? Is it scheme, play calls, or lack of skilled blocking?

The Jaguars run a lot of run plays that call for runners to run wide rather than between the tackles. Those plays are slightly slower to develop, so when they fail, they often result in losses. The Jaguars are 10th in the NFL in rushing, eighth in total yards and 11th in points so the play calls scheme and skill level of blocking are – generally speaking – OK.

Mike from St. Augustine, FL

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson has this team and the fans believing! Feels a lot like 1996.

Yes, it does.

Tucker from Gallatin

Hey, John. Stop the run. Tackle Titans running back Derrick Henry low. Stay in passer lanes when rushing the quarterback. We win.


Cliff from Everywhere with helicopter

Offensive line has been very good during the second half of the season. But when you rewatch this Houston game, count how many exceptional blocks are made by No. 84 to spring Jaguars running backs. You may need to take off your shoes.

Jaguars tight end Chris Manhertz is a very, very good blocking tight end. He played very well Sunday against the Texans. He's just one of many really productive free agents signed by the Jaguars over the last two offseasons.

Brad from The Avenues

Darn missed it by one day. As for the talk about getting slighted by the flex that's okay. One less day isn't going to affect us. A few more days rest isn't going to help the Titans. Come Sunday morning, "WE OWN THE SOUTH"!

Brad remains "all in."

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Am I crazy or do the Jags seem like the fourth-best AFC team with a bullet?

You're not crazy. The Jaguars are improving rapidly. I can't put them on par with the AFC's No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds – the Bengals, the Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs. Those three teams feel separate from the AFC and have earned that status not just this season but with past postseasons. But the Jaguars currently hold the No. 4 seed and have victories over the No. 5 Baltimore Ravens and the No. 6 Los Angeles Chargers this season. It's probably too soon to say they're clearly the fourth best team in the AFC, but they're sure in the conversation.