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O-Zone: Merriest of days

JACKSONVILLE – May your day be most merry and bright, and may you get as much as you receive.

Let’s get to it …

Austin from Jacksonville

I keep thinking back to the 3-1 start and how good Bortles looked against New England. The injuries the offense have suffered this season would have hindered any quarterback. Based on what we saw Sunday, is there a chance Blake is on the roster and competing for the starter job come preseason? Also, do you see Blake starting next week?

What a difference a victory makes, and the question of quarterback Blake Bortles’ short- and long-term future indeed has become a major issue among Jaguars fans in recent days. But while I have written ad nauseam that injuries were the major difference between the Jaguars’ offense this season and last season, let’s not forget: Decisions on whether to move on from a quarterback are based on how the player performs over a long – in this case, multi-season – period rather than one game, or a small stretch of games. Bortles was a serviceable quarterback in a functioning offense last season and was not substantially different for the most part this season. But the Jaguars’ actions in benching Bortles earlier this season make it clear they do not see him as the quarterback of the future, so I can’t see a scenario in which Bortles starts for the Jaguars next season – and I would be surprised if he’s on the roster. I don’t think one game would change that. I do think Head Coach Doug Marrone would be very tempted to start Bortles in the regular-season finale, though. I mean … why not? Stay tuned.

Sean from Jacksonville

Now, I wonder if Blake will start the last game? Hasn't it always been said by Marrone that the players that give the team the best chance to win would be on the field? I know you've said, "It's time to move on...", but with the team historically bad the last few weeks with Cody Kessler at the helm I couldn't understand why they didn't "move on" from him, too. *Sigh* Let's just get it over with, so I don't bust a blood vessel.

The easy answer would be to start Bortles Sunday against Houston. This hasn’t been a season for easy answers.

Riker from Texas

What happens if Blake beats Houston next week?

The Jaguars would finish 6-10 and the Texans would make the playoffs but not win the AFC South. Bortles also would get a chance to win the last two games of his Jaguars career – and yeah, I still think they would be the last two games of his Jaguars career. There will conversations along these lines following the season, but sometimes it’s time to move on from a quarterback no matter what logic might tell you. This still feels like one of those times.

Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL

Getting rid of Bortles is a mistake. Whether bridge or backup, he’s clearly the best option considering the finances.

OK.

Jeremy from Jacksonville

Please help me out, Mr. O. My brother and I don't fully agree and I can't find a proper replay online. Did Jaguars kicker Kai Forbath hit his lineman in the rear end on his long miss Sunday? It kind of looked like he did to me. But my brother says that's not the way it went down. I need to know so I know whether I can lord it over him this Krimma. Oh, and merry Krimma to you and yours (please say I'm right).

I would love to side with your brother on this one. I regret to inform you that yeah, Forbath’s kick at the end of the first half Sunday indeed hit the rear end of a lineman. Merry Krimma.

James from Salt Lake City via Jacksonville

I'm not sure it's been said but “the only problem with our defense is our offense.” They in most games have had to stay on the field much too long. Heck, even the best wear down. Keep our defense as intact as you can. Then just please fix the offense.

“The only problem with our defense is our offense …” I’m pretty sure this has been said. I am pretty sure it has been said because I have said it over and over until people are sick of hearing and reading me say it and write it. But it’s not as much the defense getting worn down as the unit rarely playing with a lead. That has significantly reduced the unit’s opportunities for sacks, takeaways and touchdowns – statistics that defined the Jaguars’ defense a season ago. Does the offense need some fixing? Absolutely. But you’re right – the Jaguars’ defense if kept relatively intact still will be a unit that can keep this team competitive next season.

Jeff from Orange County, CA

When will players be held accountable for these unsportsmanlike penalties? Yes, you scored but it doesn't give you the right to make a selfish statement. If I recall, a similar play kept the Steelers alive in the playoffs last year. From an outside point of view, it doesn't seem like there's any accountability for those plays.

You’re referencing a taunting penalty against Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith after Smith’s 33-yard fourth-quarter interception return Sunday – and yes, Smith was similarly penalized following a fumble return for a touchdown against Pittsburgh in an AFC Divisional Playoff last January. Marrone knows it’s an issue. What do about it? Do you take your best players off the field? Maybe. I do know getting the issue solved will be among Marrone’s highest offseason tasks. That doesn’t explain how it has gotten to this point, but it will undoubtedly be a priority moving forward.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Another very near disaster turnover by a receiver late in the game.

This happened when wide receiver Rashad Greene Sr. fumbled late in the game Sunday. The group has made too many key mistakes too often this season. The trend hasn’t defined the season, exactly, but it sure hasn’t helped.

 Jonathan from Jacksonville

I love Krimma!!!

Who doesn’t? Merry Krimma.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Mr. Zone, you said that cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue are sure to be back next year. Can we add Calais Campbell to that list, pleeaase?? He ain't nigh done yet. And a VER MERR FUNKOLERR KRIMMA to ya!

I suppose you’re referencing a recent O-Zone answer when I was asked about core players for the Jaguars. I answered Ramsey and Ngakoue. I answered that way because when I think of core players, I think about players around whom a team plans to build for the long-term. Under that definition, Ramsey and Ngakoue are the only two Jaguars players I consider locks to be “core” players. But I do think defensive end Calais Campbell will be back next season. Considering his consistent level of play – which he somehow raised again Sunday – I can’t imagine the Jaguars not keeping him next season. And VER MERR FUNK … whatever.

John from Ramsey, NJ

All I want for Christmas is a quarterback every fan will stand behind. As much as I'm a fan of Blake Bortles, I realize not all share my fandom. Thank you for all you do to keep us cheery and bright. Peace, Love, and Happiness to Jag Nation, all the players, Jackson de Ville, and the Roar. Merry Christmas!

When I worked for the Colts, fans criticized Peyton Manning. You’ll never ever find a quarterback every fan will stand behind. Merry Krimma.

Fred from Naples, FL

Nick Foles or Joe Flacco? I would take either one. Merry Krimma!

I would, too – give me Foles, but neither are cure-alls and Foles has been available in recent seasons for a reason. Merry Krimma.

Andy from Roswell, GA

No question: just wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Also, just wanted to say thanks and that I appreciate the entertainment and information you provide and for not being a jerk when I awkwardly interrupt your vacation. You've made this extremely disappointing season tolerable and even a little fun. Thanks!

If I wasn’t a jerk to you, I probably was to someone else. Merry Krimma.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, they can never take the Krim out of Krimma. Merry Krimma to you and the entire Jags Team!

Well said. And Merry Krimma to you as well.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Happy holidays, John. Here's to not allowing life's difficulties to ruin our holiday fun. Cheers, salud, and a sante!

What? Merry Krimma.

TomD from Jagsonville

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.

Merry Krimma.

Michael from Jacksonville

Oh, Great Satirist: KRIMMA!! Someday, the avid, every day readers (myself and that other guy) would love to sit around the campfire and hear the tale of the origin of Krimma.

“Krimma” has its origins in a secret society to which only the most learned, charming, devilishly handsome among us are privy. I learned of it by mistake. I know enough to know I’ve already said too much. Merry Krimma.

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