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O-Zone: Knock on wood

JACKSONVILLE – Look Ahead Wednesday …

Let’s get to it …

Al from Orange Park, FL

I very, very much want to see Mr. Campbell back next season for a variety of reasons. Mr. O, can you drop the right word in the right ears to make it so?

I would be surprised if defensive end Calais Campbell doesn’t return to the Jaguars next season. The team structured the contract he signed in the 2017 offseason to allow parting ways with Campbell with little salary-cap ramification after this season. That made sense given Campbell’s age. Campbell is 32, and it’s a truism that most 32-year-old NFL players are on the downside of their careers. But there are exceptions to every NFL truism, and Campbell clearly is an exception to this one.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

You gave a few reasons why Calais Campbell is able to dominate at his advanced age of 32 years. How much of that is due to him being 6-feet-8 300-plus pounds and having great technique?

A lot.

David from Section 236

O! So, ultimately, the explanation for the vanishing logic behind the “...move on...” explanation was ... the Jaguars didn’t move on. And I am not just talking about Bortles playing in the game; I am taking about your postgame report that he took more snaps at practice, etc. Merry Christmas to logic and you and yours!

Sometimes it’s time to move on and circumstances dictate that you can’t move on quite yet. The Jaguars needed quarterback Blake Bortles Sunday. The offensive line and quarterback Cody Kessler are struggling to that degree. Maybe they’ll need Bortles Sunday. Evidence would suggest they will. I don’t think that will be the Jaguars’ direction after that.

James from Socorro, NM

You can blame injuries all you want, but drafting Taven Bryan (a backup defensive lineman) instead of Lamar Jackson (the most important position in all of sports) is a boneheaded move that ruined this season.

Sure. OK.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

What's more important, the Jaguars going out and beating the Houston Texans, or the increase in draft position that might come from losing? Obviously, you play to win, but which would be more beneficial for this team for next season?

Losing. That doesn’t mean they’ll try to lose, or want to lose, or even that they’ll actually lose. But, for next season losing would be better.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I think Jaguars wide receiver Donte Moncrief might be coming into his own. What do you think?

Sure.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Will Carlos Hyde be returning next year? He seems like a pretty good option as the No. 2 back. That would be one fewer positions to address.

Entering this past Sunday my answer would have been likely not. Hyde, after being inactive the week before, rushed for 47 yards on eight carries against Miami and looked quicker and more decisive than Leonard Fournette. Consider my answer changed.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

I get the frustration and the calls to rebuild, fire coaches, players, general manager, etc. I don’t agree, but I get it. Left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder, wide receiver Marqise Lee, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and running back Leonard Fournette were intended to be starters throughout the 2018 season. They haven’t been. Pretty hard to win consistently with over half your starting offense out. Don’t you think, John, that absent those injuries, this would have been at least a 9-7 team?

Without question.

Jordan from Jacksonville

Is Leonard Fournette just an average running back?

That’s how he has played and performed more often than not this season. He was a lot better than that as a rookie last season. It’s fair to assume that Fournette’s hamstring injury and the injuries to the Jaguars’ offensive line have a lot to do with his performance this season. It’s also fair to expect him to be much better next season.

Bill from Hammock, FL

Johnny O, how could Bortles have been re-signed? What were we thinking paying him that much money? … etc. etc. If we recall, we were a couple plays from the Super Bowl last season. Bortles led that run. At one stretch he was the top-rated quarterback. Heading into 2018, he had the benefit of playoff experience and renewed confidence. I can completely understand the resigning. Obviously, in retrospect it proved to be a mistake. However one that is understandable based on the circumstances. Agree?

Of course.

Gabriel from Wyoming

I have heard a lot of hype lately around the Baltimore Ravens’ revamped offense, using various types of runs to throw defenses off. After watching them against the Chargers Saturday, it was clear that Lamar Jackson isn't yet a decent passer - though at least he throws a spiral. Yet, they're thriving under the read options with several running threats. It seems like Baltimore is showing a good formula to stick to the run like we do, and I think our defense is even more talented so they'd theoretically be even better as the compliment to that style. Do you think there's any chance we could try to imitate that, given our seemingly stacked running back group (Fournette, Hyde, Williams) and our wildly talented runner in Bortles?

I don’t think next season’s offense will involve Bortles. I do think you can still win running and emphasizing defense. I still think that will be the Jaguars’ best chance to win next season, though the idea must be to begin developing and improving this passing offense.

Edward from Los Angeles, CA

Blake Bortles may not be a franchise quarterback, but at least he's not boring. I've literally fallen asleep in a couple of these Kessler-led games.

Fair.

Phil from Woodmere, NY

I feel the urgency to cut Bortles is coming from an emotional place and not a logical one as there’s no way we can afford an upgrade who would also want to keep a rookie’s seat warm. I get the feeling that the team thinks the fans just want him gone. Can we do a poll about what the team should do at quarterback next year to see what the fans actually want? I’ll bet that more people would vote for “keep Bortles and use our first-rounder on a quarterback” than most would think. The problem is that the most reasonable people in the room (or the stadium) are usually not the loudest.

I don’t doubt that there many who would want the team to keep Bortles and use its 2019 first-round selection on a quarterback. I also don’t doubt a poll would show as much. I do doubt that the Jaguars’ decisions regarding their quarterback next season would be influenced by such a poll.

John from Jacksonville

Who would've thunk it? The Jaguars will be the focus of the entire AFC South this coming Sunday afternoon. They have the ability to knock the Texans out of winning the division title by beating them. If this happens, the winner of the Colts/Titans game Sunday night will claim the title. In this scenario, I would have to hope the Colts beat the Titans, I think. What an odd end to the season for our division that could lie in the hands of our Jaguars. Play Blake!

Hey … one fer Blake!

Andy from Roswell, GA

What are your thoughts on Linder? I believe he's one of the better linemen we have, but I don't think he's been able to play a full season. Can he be a core player if he can't stay on the field? Or should I be changing how I view the annual longevity of the offensive line?

Jaguars center Brandon Linder indeed is the Jaguars’ best offensive lineman when healthy. He has played 13 or more games three times while playing nine and three games this season and 2015, respectively. That’s two severely shortened seasons with three others shortened by some short-term stuff, so it’s probably not fair to make a sweeping statement that he “can’t stay on the field.” Is he a core player? Well, he’s probably the closest thing the Jaguars have on offense. I will say that.

Chris from Mandarin

Do you think Devin Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame?

Sure.

Mark from Green Bay, WI

Dede Westbrook is one tough son of a gun.

Westbrook indeed is tough, but he’s more than that. He’s an instinctive player who has shown this season he has a chance to be a productive player in the NFL for a long time. Entering this season, Westbrook essentially was the Jaguars’ fourth wide receiver behind Lee, Moncrief and Keelan Cole. I don’t know that Westbrook ever will be a front-line, elite “No. 1” receiver, but he has a chance to be a really good starter.

Sam from Lawrence NSW

Hi O. We should be favored to feature in next season’s Hard Knocks. Do you think it will happen?

Goodness gracious … let’s hope not.

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