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O-Zone: Just the facts

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Josh from Rochester, MN

I have largely avoided the column and the site since the Jags’ most recent loss. There just isn't much to be excited about. With that said, I feel good about the chances this weekend. Are you expecting to see a lot of Fournette, or will the team follow the pass-heavy script of the last few weeks?

I expect to see as much of Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette Sunday as his hamstring can handle, and I expect the Jaguars to do as much as they can to establish the run. So, I imagine at some point Sunday you will see a Fournette-centric approach. At the same time, if the run isn’t working after a few series I would expect offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to do whatever’s necessary to move the ball. And yes … that might mean going pass-heavy at some point. Remember: that’s what the Jaguars did in a Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which the Jaguars all-but abandoned the run in the second half and got a previously stagnant offense moving.

Fred from Naples, FL

Hey Zone … “If not now, when?”

Good question.

Jordan from Jacksonville

There have been a lot of (unpleasant) surprises this season, but maybe the most surprising is how chaotic or unbuttoned this team has been. The London nightclub incident, Leonard not talking to reporters, A.J. Bouye declaring himself out, fights in the locker room, etc. Because Head Coach Doug Marrone and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin are in charge of the team, I really thought this would be a no-nonsense, "boring" team. I don't think any of these issues have been a huge story or a reason why the team has lost, but it is noteworthy. What's your take on this?

I wouldn’t put the Bouye story this week quite on the level of the others you mention. My impression is it wasn’t a matter of Bouye “declaring himself out” as much as him telling reporters he realistically wasn’t playing when he hadn’t yet “officially” been declared out. It’s a subtle difference, but there’s a difference. As far as the other situations, yeah … sometimes when teams lose, things go bad. No matter who’s in charge.

David from Chuluota

Zone: It’s such a cliché to say “next man up” when a player gets injured, but how does a team recover when that player is a world-class athlete of immense talent? That’s the question the Jaguars’ organization has been trying to answer ever since Carson Tinker went on IR.

Yes.

RealDeal from Toronto, Ontario

To say that the injury situation is a surprise is somewhat not true. Both tight ends and the nickel corner were signed with a history of injuries. In fact, I remember reading many sites in the offseason saying things along the lines that if the Jaguars’ new free-agent acquisitions stay healthy, then this will be a dangerous team. The only surprises have been at left tackle and running back Corey Grant’s injury. The issue was signing free agents with previous injury issues and not having a better backup plan. This is particularly true at tight end, where signing Austin Seferian-Jenkins and keeping Marcedes Lewis was the obvious choice. The other big factor is that it is now becoming apparent that General Manger David Caldwell missed on many picks especially in the first round. His best picks of Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack (second round) pretty much fell into his lap and his one big find outside that has been Yannick Ngakoue. Considering the picks and cap space he had, Caldwell should have a way better team on the field don't you think?

Nickel cornerback D.J. Hayden and Seferian-Jenkins indeed had injury histories before signing with the Jaguars, and it’s pretty well-documented the Jaguars could have done better in terms of tight-end and running-back depth this past offseason. Still, even with the injury histories of Seferian-Jenkins and Hayden, it wasn’t reasonable to think the Jaguars would sustain the rash of injuries to key components of the running game to the extent that it occurred. As far as Caldwell’s draft record, sure … the Top 5 selections haven’t worked out well as they could have, but this team this season was good before the injuries. To say that they’re not hurting the whole picture of what’s on the field is incorrect.

Dakota from Dupree, SD

Zone, a man said recently on a free Jaguars website … "Run. Somehow. Some way." Smart man. Will the Jags be committed to it?

I believe so.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

I’ve been generally supportive of Bortles because of his toughness, mobility and occasional flashes of brilliance. Some say he needs a quicker release, especially given an offense weakened by injuries. But Blake’s average “time to release” is only a quarter second slower than the league leader. Isn’t it more an issue of his lengthy throwing motion telegraphing his throws and keying opposing defenses? And is it unreasonable to think that after five years and numerous offseason private throwing camps that his motion now is as good as it’s ever going to be?

Bortles’ interceptions for the most part are a result of bad decisions – and yeah, Bortles’ motion at this point is almost certainly not going to change significantly.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

This week is going to be the most important one of the season, I believe. Only because I think it will tell the tone of the team for the rest of the season. If they come out and get wrecked like we have seen the last few games, the demoralizing effect would be considerable. But if they can come out and start looking like the playoff team from a year ago (looking at YOU Robbie Blake Bortles) then it could potentially light the fire we need to make a second-half playoff run. Am I reading too much into this or is this game that important for the 2018 season?

Yes, it’s that important.

Joey from Athens, GA

Do you think the Jags still have a chance to slip into the playoffs? With the Texans looking the way they are, having won six in a row now, I see them winning the division. Do you think the Jags can somehow win four-to-five games in a row and us be in the conversation for the playoffs again? #DTWD

You’re talking a sudden turnaround of significant proportion. Can the Jaguars do it? Sure. Do I think they will do it? This team has lost four consecutive games and hasn’t led in the second half in any of those games. They have scored six points in the first half of those games. You would have to be at least a smidge delusional to think they will do it.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

Something tells me the Jags might come out and just dominate the Colts. You get that feeling at all?

Nope.

Dave from Oviedo, FL

O - We've been injured at cornerback with players in and out of the lineup. I think the backups (Herndon, Patmon, Meeks) have held up well. Even when giving up receptions, they are right there challenging the receivers. We lack quality depths in certain positions, but cornerback isn't one of them. Thoughts?

I think you’re right. The Jaguars’ top three corners clearly are Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and D.J. Hayden, but Tre Herndon, Tyler Patmon and Quenton Meeks for the most part have performed well when called upon.

Andy from St. Augustine, FL

With the recent trade of Dante Fowler, the Jags need some depth at defensive end. I think we should move Tommy Bohanon there after the bye. He's not nearly as fast as the other running backs - but he'd be one of our fastest defensive linemen! What does your eye test say about this?

What?

Fred from Naples, FL

When is the earliest Austin Seferian-Jenkins can return from injured reserve? We desperately need him in the lineup.

Jaguars tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (core muscle) will be eligible to return December 16 against the Washington Redskins.

Chris from Orlando, FL

Come on, John: You said Kessler did play well in the second half against the Houston Texans in Week 7. He also was sacked four times. That’s one reason Bortles is starting; his mobility and escapability is an advantage for the Jaguars’ offense. Yet how many times was Blake sacked, and how many times did he go through his progressions when he had time? The announcers even noted it. Cody came, in got sacked four times and still led us for a touchdown – so please don’t hand me the same Kool-Aid about Bortles has the scrambling ability. I recall Cody running and throwing a touchdown pass to Yeldon, so can you stop agreeing with the brass and just report the facts!?

I was asked why Bortles was starting. I wrote why Bortles is starting. Your frustration with the answer notwithstanding, that’s pretty much the definition of reporting the facts.

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