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O-Zone: Not in my house

JACKSONVILLE – I'll start today on the subject of kneeling.

I'll start there because however we got here, the national anthem and kneeling now overwhelm all else about the NFL.

It won't be the only issue discussed in this O-Zone – and as we move forward, it may not be discussed nearly as much here as in other NFL forums.

That won't be because of a mandate that it not be discussed, or because of a fear of discussing it. Nor will it be because of my political views, if I indeed even possess such things.

While I understand the topic's relevance, my objective is to not have it overwhelm all else in this forum. I therefore don't plan to answer every question received on the topic. I have no plan to go down the rabbit hole of discussing President Trump's motives, or to discuss whether players are "right" or "wrong."

This isn't to pretend the issue isn't there; it's just doubtful discussing either side extensively here will accomplish much except to reaffirm a divide that needs no reaffirming.

I understand people are passionate about this topic, and I understand there's no easy solution. I understand many fans are upset enough about the kneeling they plan to no longer follow the NFL or this team. I have received heartfelt emails from longtime readers saying as much.

I get this. The team gets it. No one in the organization takes it lightly.

What is the end game? Time will tell.

As for this forum, I understand people want to voice their opinions here. I won't ignore the topic, and I'll do my best to inform when possible. I'll also at times post a question or a point from readers that seem to offer something unique and informative. The first one today seems to do that.

Let's get to it … Joe from Jacksonville:
I am a Marine Corps Special Forces veteran and have served for nine years. I have outlived more friends than I care to count and am only 32 years old. Unfortunately, there are many veterans that can say the same, and that is why so many are offended by the way many NFL players are choosing to protest. Most veterans and many Americans view the singing of the National Anthem as a way to remember all those who served and have sacrificed so much. Our friends did not serve for any specific race or gender; they served to protect any and all who call themselves an American. Sitting and kneeling through the Anthem is perceived as apathy and lack of appreciation for all who have given so much for our freedoms. I am completely supportive of the First Amendment and am adamant everyone has the opportunity to express their beliefs and opinions, especially if they are speaking out against oppression and injustice. I just want to write to give some context to why kneeling upsets so many. I truly believe most people understand the players' cause and support the point they are trying to make. However, in the same way President Trump's statement about firing players who do not stand for the National Anthem caused more division, the way protests have been conducted initiated the same divisive culture they say they are fighting to overcome. I could completely get behind standing arm in arm with teammates or police officers, and would love to hear about the player's concerns in press conferences, radio and TV interviews, or podcasts. I just wanted to provide the perspective of those who do not agree with the protests; it has nothing to do with the topic and everything to do with how it is being presented. #standtogether #DTWD
John: Fair point.
Mr. Padre from Kingsland, GA:
John, it's not that some think these players don't have the "right" to protest. Of course they do, but not "on the job!" I can't go to work and then stand out on the street protesting something I feel strongly about. Employees should do the job they are paid for … nothing more and nothing less. Then there's the fact that the NFL has a "rule" concerning this ... on pages A62-63. It says ALL will be present in the sideline for the anthem, standing with their hand over their hearts. It doesn't say ... "unless you feel strongly about something outside of football." Why, in a league full of rules which are enforced, is this not only ignored, no one even mentions its existence.
John: One thing to accept in this discussion is it's pointless to compare the work situations of players to that of "normal employees." NFL players are contracted employees whose skill set is unique and deemed worthy of high compensation and "star status." My guess is if your skill set at your job was deemed the same then you absolutely could "stand out on the street protesting" and not be fired. Tom Brady, for example, could stand on his head in his underwear during the anthem and insult every member of Patriots Owner Bob Kraft's family and find himself employed the next day. I probably couldn't pull the same stunt and have my code work when I left the field. As for the NFL "rule" regarding this, it doesn't exist. That's why it's not enforced or mentioned – except in the netherworld of the internet.
Jason from Da' Hass :
John, I believe that the "D" is – and should be – of an elite level. However, when you look at this win and last week's loss side by side it becomes glaringly evident that it can only remain elite if the offense can be consistently average at worst. It's amazing how different a defense looks and plays with adequate rest between series.
John: I agree that adequate rest between series can play a role defensively, and it likely played a role in the Jaguars' Week 2 loss to Tennessee. But two major factors for the Jaguars' defense so far this season have been matchups and situation. The Jaguars had a favorable matchup in Week 1 with their defensive line against the Texans' offensive line. They took advantage of the matchup and got a lead. Getting that lead got them into a situation where they could rush the passer without much fear of the run – and the result was a dominant, lopsided victory. The Tennessee offensive line matched up better against the Jaguars' defensive line, the Jaguars never got the advantage of a lead and the Titans' offense was able to control the game late. The Jaguars' defensive line controlled the game early Sunday, and the Ravens' offense never gained an edge; as was the case in Tennessee, the result was a swarming, disruptive day for the Jaguars' defense. I continue to believe a major tell for the Jaguars this season will be whether or not their defensive line matches up well with the opposing offensive line. When it does, the Jaguars have a good chance for a big defensive day. It will get lot harder when that's not the case.
Scott from New York:
In a world where O-Zone is attractive …
John: The Jaguars are 2-1.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Have the Jaguars become London's Team?
John: To a degree, yes. The Jaguars on Sunday made their fifth appearance as a "home" team at Wembley Stadium. I generally speaking have seen a significant increase in fan support and energy behind them in the last three appearances. This seemed particularly the case in 2015 and 2016, and it seemed that was the case on Sunday despite a pretty large Ravens crowd. The Jaguars are certainly trending toward status as "London's Team." It's a process.
Steve from Upper Tract, WV:
What does the term 'healthy scratch ' mean?
John: A healthy scratch is a player who is inactive when uninjured.
Steve form Nashville, TN:
I hope Marrone is able to stick to the game plan in the future as disciplined as he did this Sunday.
John: I'm sure he does, too. The thing about game plans is they're remarkably easy to stick to when they work and when things are going well. The Jaguars stuck to their game plan in Weeks 1 and 3 because they were effective early and got large leads. The Jaguars in a Week 2 loss to Tennessee were in a tight game, then drew a rash of penalties that put the offense in difficult down-and-distance situations. The offense stalled, which eventually led to the Titans getting a lead. The game plan in that game didn't call for a lot of second- and third-and-20s or a double-digit deficit. That's what it faced, and discipline becomes difficult in that situation.
Matt from Union City, TN:
Wow. Three games in and they have all been one-sided games. What does this say about our team?
John: That the Jaguars are good enough to win big against teams they match up well against when they play well and they're capable of losing big to teams they don't match up as well against when they don't play as well.
Chris in London, England:
Last year I stated I was 2-2 for live games and was happy to come to the US on your expense anywhere to help the Jags win. You obviously replied with a witty comment but surely now at 3-3 you have to be considering inviting me over to your home??
John: You'll never be welcome in my home.

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