O-Zone: Keep on keeping it on

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Nashville, TN

Will you ever admit that 2017 was an anomaly? You love to reference the one winning season we've had as a franchise in the past 10 years, but it was a perfect storm. Quit pretending that these "core players" somehow hold the key to making a successful playoff run any time soon. While they admittedly have talent on the team, the franchise as a whole has not shown much promise to improving the culture of being a perennial loser in this league.

Your boldness and confidence are impressive, though not necessarily as based in fact as your tone suggests. The Jaguars under the current regime – i.e., Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone – have one season with a division title/AFC Championship Game appearance and another with a last-place, 5-11 finish. They currently are 4-5 in the third season of that regime, having been without their starting quarterback for eight of nine games in that third season. The regime has drafted comparatively well in the last three offseasons, particularly the most recent offseason. Time will tell how this regime is judged, but to suggest there has been no success is incorrect – and there’s no such thing as fluking your way to a conference championship game in the NFL; if you do that, you’re a good team. It’s also unfair to call 2017 a perfect storm and consider 2018 the “norm.” I’m not saying the time before that regime wasn’t frustrating. I covered it closely and realize how difficult it was to watch. But when you’re assessing what’s going on with the team now it’s only fair to acknowledge there has been as much success as failure under the current leadership. How that will play out going forward? That remains to be seen, but I sure don’t know how it will play out. No one does. Not even the boldest and most confident readers.

Matt from Bremen, Indiana

John, as a rare northern Indiana Jags fan, I would absolutely not sit in the sun and heat of a 90-plus-degree afternoon game. But I sat in single digits in Green Bay when the Jags played them in 2004, and I'd do that again in a heartbeat. Easy to add layers in the cold but only so many layers to take off in the heat.

Yep.

Daniel from Urbandale

Talking about "misses" by the front office, I think the real problem with quarterback Blake Bortles' extension in 2018 was that he represented a good value. I think the front office knew he wasn't a top-tier quarterback, but felt they could keep him at an attractive price and that was more important to them than his abilities. He was a good enough value that they thought it would work. Quarterback is never an area where the fans want their team to pinch pennies.

The front office believed Bortles had played well in 2017, particularly in the final half of the season and the postseason. They believed that extending him two seasons with the idea of maintaining what the Jaguars were doing – successfully – at the end of ’17 made sense considering how he had played during that time. It wasn’t a matter of liking the price as much as believing that the team could continue winning with him at quarterback. It didn’t work.

Steve from Nashville, TN

When a running back gets tackled by the defense when he does not have the ball in play action, why is that not holding? Is it because it is typically near the line of scrimmage?

The play you’re referencing technically is defensive holding, but it wouldn’t be in the rule’s spirit to penalize tackling a player when the offense was trying to make the defense believe that player was carrying the ball.

Sean from Jacksonville

I root against the Los Angeles Rams a bit vehemently these days because of No. 20. I hope they are prepared for what's coming when it's time for his new contract. But it seems we're doing just fine without him. Rant over.

Trading former cornerback Jalen Ramsey looks better for the Jaguars now than it did at the time of the trade – and the more the Rams lose, the better. I won’t say the Jaguars are better off without Ramsey; you aren’t better off without players as good as Ramsey. But the Jaguars can withstand his loss if the offense can consistently get leads to give the pass rush a chance to excel. And yes … the negotiations with Ramsey will be tricky for the Rams or whatever team is involved. I anticipate he will want a contract that will dramatically reset the cornerback market. That will mean the team considering Ramsey enough of a generational talent to pay more for an elite cornerback than most teams are willing to pay the position. I think there’s a good chance Ramsey will be surprised – and disappointed – with what teams in fact are willing to pay and I will be surprised if he is paid on the level of, say, an elite-level pass rusher. I also believe he had a better chance of getting paid that level of contract in Jacksonville – the team that drafted him – than with a team less invested in him. But that’s just my theory. I’ve been wrong before. Not often, but it has happened.

Hulk from Las Vegas, NV

Patrick Mahomes wasn't who he is today two years ago when he was drafted. He was a kid that showed talent, but Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid needed to groom him before letting him loose on the NFL. He wouldn't have had the success he experienced last year had he played his rookie year. I said that to say this: We've got a glimpse of what rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II brings to the table. Nick Foles is our guy and that was the plan at the beginning. Alex Smith was the guy in Kansas City when Mahomes was a rookie and that was the plan from the beginning. When the time is right, Gardner will be back and much more polished and ready. And I'm sure he'll be even better.

Hey, one fer Minshew! Eventually!

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Few questions. Who is the best team in the NFL right now? Who is your CURRENT Super Bowl pick? Who was your preseason SB GUESS? My unvalued opinion: 1. Ravens, 2. Saints vs. Chiefs, 3. Patriots.

Few answers. The New England Patriots, because they have one loss and I’ll believe they’re going to lose in the postseason when they lose in the postseason. They’re my current Super Bowl pick because I’ll believe they’re going to lose in the postseason when they lose in the postseason. My preseason Super Bowl guess was the Patriots because I’ll believe they’re going to lose in the postseason when they lose in the postseason. My unvalued opinion: 1. Patriots. 2. 49ers versus Patriots. Patriots.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z: Do you feel like you're controlling your own destiny?

I certainly hope not.

Thomas from Blacksburg, VA

Do you think Foles can make it through the rest of the season with the offensive line that is currently in front of him? Keep in mind he didn't last two series with his only live work with them.

I can’t predict the future, though there are readers of this forum and plenty of people on Twitter willing to say they can. Do I realize Foles has been injured often in his career? Sure. Is there a high probability that Foles will get hit hard sometime during the last seven games of the season? Sure. Do I think that’s more apt to happen with this Jaguars’ offensive line? Not necessarily. The unit played well in its last game – the loss to the Houston Texans in London – and I believe Foles’ ability to get the ball out of his hand quickly and on time will help the offensive line greatly. Will Foles withstand the hits he and any NFL quarterback undoubtedly take during a game? On that front, I have no idea.

Big on Blake from Philly

Hey Zone, remember when the Jags picked a punter in front of Russell Wilson? What was his name again?

I don’t remember.

Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, I've read a number of notes bemoaning the loss of Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. They claim by not having him hurts the stopping of the opponent's running game. Was he not on the roster for the Panthers game this season and the nationally-televised Derrick Henry show against Tennessee zlast year? Just sayin'. Go Jags!!

No one ever said Dareus us a magic elixir to stop all running games – and yes, teams have run effectively against with him in the lineup. But they’re better against the run with him than without.

Scott from Jacksonville

You can always add layers. You can only take off so much before getting arrested.

Don’t I know it.

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