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O-Zone: Just... well, you know

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeff from Rutland, MA:
The good news: we have enough offensive firepower that if our defense just plays decent – doesn't have to be stellar, just decent – we can win out. The bad news: doing so requires a level of consistency that we haven't seen, right?
John: Your question probably applies to both sides of the ball – and really, the entire team right now. There understandably is a giddy optimism among some fans as the Jaguars enter the final three games of the 2015 regular season. The offense is showing signs of being good, and the group has been very good the last two weeks. The defense on Sunday played very well against the Colts. Just as many criticized everything the Jaguars were doing when the offense and defense were struggling a month ago, many are now ready to praise all they're doing in the wake of a 51-16 victory over the Colts. The reality is the Jaguars almost certainly will have hiccups offensively the rest of the season – as they did against the Colts in the first half. The reality, too, is that the pass rush still likely won't be consistent enough to hold the next three opponents without a touchdown. But can the Jaguars be in every game? Are they good enough to give themselves a chance to win each week – and maybe even pull away? Absolutely. But every game ain't going to be like Sunday – and they probably ain't going to be easy, either.
Chad from Sinking Spring, PA:
Zone, after all these years football is fun and exciting again.
John: It's getting there, isn't it?
Michael from Newport News, VA:
Improvement is here and we have seen it all year. This time last year you were still posting silly questions about Tim What's His Name and that Justin Blackmon guy. Now, we still have some growing to do, but this direction is a good direction. Do you foresee the Jaguars being more active in free agency this offseason? I think last year was about the right level.
John: I do believe the Jaguars will be active in free agency in the coming offseason. It's hard to say "more active," because by the time the Jaguars were done last offseason they had signed eight unrestricted free agents: defensive end Jared Odrick, linebacker Dan Skuta, tight end Julius Thomas, right tackle Jermey Parnell, safety Sergio Brown, cornerback Davon House, wide receiver Bryan Walters and center Stefen Wisniewski. That's a big group. Will the Jaguars sign eight this offseason? I doubt it. Will they be active on a high-profile level on guys they believe will help significantly? I believe so.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
I know we need to string a few more wins before it's time to talk playoffs, but I'm really rooting hard for a tie in the Colts-versus-Texans game next week.
John: As well you should.
Herbert from Midstate Office Supplies:
Is the league going to fine Telvin Smith for that cheap shot on Matt Hasselbeck?
John: Why would be he fined? Hasselbeck was in bounds.
Larry from Section 101 from 1995:
I just listened to a local-radio interview with Allen Hurns; no one has asked the question I wondered about since last year – unless I missed it: Allen, did you have some trepidation when your old offensive coordinator was replaced? Were you worried you would take a very secondary role in this offense?
John: I actually asked Hurns this question in the offseason, and while he understood the question, he never worried about it. I never got the sense anyone around the Jaguars did, either. Wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan certainly never worried about it and offensive coordinator Greg Olson never worried about it once he spent a few days in the offseason around Hurns. He has proven on a daily basis since arriving at the Jaguars he's professional and hard-working enough to function at a high level no matter the coordinator.
Scott from Jacksonville:
We all noticed Allen Robinson did not have a productive day against the Colts. But my theory is his production has forced teams to double team him more and pay a lot of attention to him. The impact is Hurns and Thomas are getting more single coverage and able to make other teams pay for double-teaming A-Rob. Do you agree?
John: Somewhat. The Colts didn't exactly double-team Robinson, but they absolutely shadowed him with their best cornerback: Vontae Davis. They also seemed to pay some attention to Robinson with safety help. That seemed to work well in the first half and not so well in the second half, when Bortles was able to work the ball to Hurns for a big play and to Thomas for a few very important plays in Colts territory.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
Who hates the wave? I had no idea people don't enjoy the wave. I find this news shocking and disturbing. It isn't easy to get 60,000 people to do anything in unison. The wave is one of my favorite things. Who are these people?
John: I'm sorry you're shocked. Shock can be … well, shocking. Yeah, a lot of people don't much like the wave. It is a little overdone, a little tired and a little cliché, but when Jaguars fans were doing the wave when pulling away for a 51-16 victory over the Colts … hey, wave on, my friends. Wave on.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
For what it's worth, I thought Andre Branch had his big play at the position he's more natural at: right defensive end. He doesn't fit at Leo.
John: You're talking about Branch's 49-yard strip/fumble recovery/fumble return Sunday, I presume. Branch was lined up at the left defensive end position with Jared Odrick, Tyson Alualu and Roy Miller also in the game, so Branch was playing the Leo end role and rushing against a right tackle.
John from Morrisville:
John, what happens when the Jags have three receivers and a running back that the other team absolutely have to game plan against?
John: Then the Jaguars get to a rare position of having four and even five skill players a team must double to stop – and as long as the Blake Bortles continues to develop and have the ability to read defenses, they become very, very difficult to defend.
Kyle from Ohio:
Bortles/Yeldon/Robinson/Hurns give me good feelings that echo when we had the prolific offense with Brunell/Taylor/Smith/McCardell. My biggest worry at the moment is that they will all leave at the point they all start clicking together at the highest level.
John: Why?
Ryan from Dearborn, MI:
John, regarding the awesome 80-yard touchdown to Allen Hurns … should I be impressed at Blake Bortles' precise timing and arm strength, or worried that it was maybe a tenth of a second away from being another disastrous pick six?
John: You should probably accept that you're going to get an element of that with Bortles. He's going to make the huge play with often thrilling results. That might sometimes result in a play such as that one to Hurns being an interception now and again. But overall, as Bortles improves, the results should continue to be more on the positive than the negative.
Ike from Waynesville, NC:
There has been more talk recently of AR15 making the Pro Bowl, and rightfully so. My question is why has there not been as much talk of BB5 having a shot to make the Pro Bowl?
John: A couple of reasons. One is that until the last two weeks, Bortles' interceptions total was probably too close to his touchdowns total to merit serious consideration. Also, the Jaguars' offense was still struggling in the red zone a little too much for people to think of Bortles playing at a high level. The biggest reason probably is the Jaguars' record. People are a little reluctant to vote quarterbacks to the Pro Bowl when their team is struggling. Now that Bortles' statistics are a little more eye-catching … who knows? Maybe the conversation about him will heat up. I don't know that I could rightfully make a strong argument for him this year. But I'd be more willing to listen than a month ago.
Jason from Jacksonville:
I hate to nitpick such a great game, but I watched the replay last night. Having a franchise quarterback running and taking hits when up by four touchdowns certainly is not bright. That is the kind of thing that can end up poorly. I'm all for the way Blake plays the game, but that was just stupid. Guess we gotta "keep chopping wood."
John: We're looking ahead, but looking forward … yeah, I don't want to see that much anymore, either.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
I knew there was a game coming where this team would whip someone's butt. I confess I didn't know when exactly, and certainly didn't expect it against the Colts. That was fun. Now, go win more. Let the playoffs worry about themselves. Just win, baby™!
John: Yep.

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