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O-Zone: Keep on winning

JACKSONVILLE – Thanksgiving Day O-Zone. Gobble, gobble.

Let's get to it … Mark from Archer, FL:
John, I am enjoying this season. People are talking about seeding now with the Steelers and Patriots. Is it still too soon to talk about possible seeding for the Jags? How if they keep rolling like this they might even get a first-round bye?
John: No, it's not too early to talk about the playoffs. Or seedings. While coaches and front-office people certainly don't want players thinking that a good mid-November record guarantees anything by the end of December, Thanksgiving absolutely is the time for fans and media to start lining up postseason projections. Those are fun. They're cool. Talking about those things in December is part of what makes being a fan enjoyable. That doesn't mean it will happen. And it doesn't mean the Jaguars will win the AFC South – or even make the playoffs. As Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said this week, "Seven doesn't get you anything in the NFL." But the Jaguars are 7-3. They lead the division by a game and they're a game behind the conference leaders. They're right in this thing for the first time in a long time. It's absolutely OK to talk about seedings. This is fun. Enjoy it.
Roger from White House, FL:
John, I don't miss the anxiety of Jason Myers extra-point or field-goal attempts, but I do miss his kickoffs going into or through the end zone.
John: Fair point.
Abe from Mobile, AL:
Have we been either tied or alone in front of the AFC South the entire season? I feel like we have.
John: Yes. Your feeling is correct. The Jaguars never have won the AFC South, but they have been tied or in first place since Week 1 this season.
Big on Blake from Philly:
Deion Sanders is starting to believe in Blake! We're finally speaking the same language. One fer Bortles. Duuuuval.
John: Well, if Deion says it...
Nelson from Jacksonville:
Hey John, I may have missed it but isn't this the time of the season to start calling for Caldwell to be fired?
John: I imagine the calls for David Caldwell to be fired will reignite around the same time the discontent over Tom Coughlin, Doug Marrone, Todd Wash, Nathaniel Hackett and the senior writer begin again – i.e., before the end of the Jaguars' next loss.
Silly Max from Section 116, Row 37 UoP Stadium:
Johnny-O, words can't describe how stoked I am for this weekend. FINALLY, after 11 seasons following the Jaguars, I'll be watching them play in person! As a Cardinals season-ticket holder I do follow both teams – and I can tell you that the Blaine Gabbert behind center for the Cards is not the same guy we saw each week when he played in the Du. He's much more composed in the pocket; makes quick, accurate throws; and has no trouble checking down when necessary. That said, Cardinals O-line is patchwork at this point. Jags win it on the road by 13.
John: Cool. Wave to me. I'll be in the press box. I won't wave back, but it will be good exercise for you.
Dan from Ken-tuck-ee:
You have been getting lots of questions about the defense and comparing them to previous greats such as Baltimore and Chicago. My question is how would you rank this defense against the franchise? Is it better than the '99 defense or more like the '05 defense? Keep on keeping on.
John: The season isn't over yet. Until it is, it's difficult to make fair comparisons. If the season ended today, though, this Jaguars defense would be the best in franchise history – and there wouldn't be much of an argument. They lead the league in sacks, points allowed, yards allowed, takeaways (tied) and passing yards allowed. They have been dominant in seven of 10 games, and they have been close to dominant at times in the other three. Still, the season lasts 16 games. We'll see.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
If defense wins championships, we are on our way.
John: True that.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
The list of Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalists announced again includes Tony Boselli. There seems to be a growing belief that he could make the Hall of Fame this year, which would be pretty cool. Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith unfortunately did not make the list; however, a second former Jaguar did: Torry Holt. Holt only played one season in Jacksonville and it was certainly a less than stellar performance, but if he somehow makes it this year or in the future, should the team and fans celebrate his inclusion? Truthfully, I sometimes forget that he even played here in 2009, so I think Holt's theoretical induction would be difficult for me to get excited about.
John: I never quite know how to answer questions asking me what fans should get excited about. Excitement tends to be a personal thing. At least that's the way I remember it. As for Holt, I doubt the team will do all that much to honor him when he is inducted. He did only play one season here. His connection to the franchise is relatively limited. Should you get excited about that? Sure, if you feel like it. If not, don't.
Hassan from Irving, TX:
Six out of our ten opponents so far have been held to nine points or less. That is just stupid. How does this defense compare to the 2013 Seahawks and the 2015 Broncos?
John: Through 10 games, the Jaguars' defense compares favorably statistically to any defense from the last decade and a half or so. Leading the NFL in total defense? In passing defense? In sacks? In points allowed? That's unbelievable. Here's the catch: those Broncos and Seahawks defense dominated the best of the best – and did so in the postseason. The Jaguars have yet to do that – and that, of course, is the ultimate test.
Matt was cold at the game:
I was on the 35-yard-line in Row One at the Cleveland game. Please, please, please thank A.J. Bouye for the interception ball; he gave it to my wife. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was really cool being so close to the sideline. The thing that really jumped out at me was how involved Calais Campbell is on the sideline. It didn't matter if things were going well in the game or not so well he was the one picking everyone up and getting ready to go back out there to get the job done. I've never really bought into the "he's-a-leader-on-the-team" mumbo jumbo but he changed my mind this Sunday!!
John: We usually look ahead after Wednesday. This email made it worth making an exception.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA:
Here's a hypothetical for you: If the Jaguars reach 10 wins with a few weeks left in the season, do you shut Leonard Fournette down for a few games in hopes of having him close to 100 percent for the playoffs?
John: No. If the Jaguars clinch their playoff seeding, then by all means several players – not just Fournette – should be rested. But not before.
Jim from Cowford, FL:
The talking heads are throwing a lot of accolades around for coach of the year, but not one mention of Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone; a coach without even an adequate quarterback! No nationally-televised games really hurts all our guys! Your take?
John: I don't stay glued to the national NFL coverage as some do; I have enough to do covering and writing about this team. But I've actually sensed the Jaguars have gotten quite a bit of attention nationally this season. Michael Silver from NFL Network has been to town, as has Judy Battista of NFL Network. The Jaguars have had multiple Player of the Week honors, and I have seen the Jaguars' defense being discussed on high-profile platforms on NFL Network and ESPN. As for national-television appearances, the Jaguars haven't had any this season for a very legitimate reason: they haven't been good enough in recent seasons to warrant being on national television. If they make the postseason and continue this sort of defensive performance, I imagine that will change in a big way. They not only will be more high-profile, they're turning into a fun team to watch. Will a lack of a national-television hurt some Jaguars players in postseason honors? I suppose. Establish yourself as a perennial double-digit victory team, though, and I suspect a lot of this perceived disrespect will work itself out.
Jim from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Hi, John: I was one of the originals who were at the stadium in January 1997 cheering on the jet. I was 47 at the time. Now, I am 67. Last year, I was wondering if I would live long enough to see a good Jaguars winning team. Well, it is here. To anyone who complains, here is my response: who cares? Just keep on winning. Have a great day and keep up the good work.
John: Very cool.

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