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O-Zone: Ol' Tank

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Joseph from Sacramento, CA:
What's a reasonable ranking expectation for the defense this year? Also, does Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley finally have the players to fit his defensive scheme? If not, who do you think needs to step it up for this scheme to finally show results of a somewhat dominant defense?
John: I'll take a stab at this one and say the Jaguars could finish, say, in the Top 20 in the NFL in total defense this season. Or maybe they could push to finish around 15th or 16th. Or a touch better. I'm vague on that for a couple of reasons. One is that ranking can be a misleading gauge for a defense or offense. The Jaguars, for instance, were ranked No. 24 in the NFL in total defense last season, but their No. 31 third-down ranking was much more indicative of their true level defensively. I do think the Jaguars now have the personnel for Bradley's scheme. That may be the first time in his four seasons that's the case. I think the key players for this defense this season are Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr. and Tashaun Gipson. If the Jaguars get big-time seasons from those three players, they have a chance to be much improved defensively. After Saturday, it looks like Jalen Ramsey fits into that category, too.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
Wait. I don't get it. I just watched the video about Daily's Place. Why in the world would Shad Khan and the Jaguars build this tremendous facility when they are so obviously moving to London? Weird! #rollingeyes
John: Yeah, Khan's nutty that way.
Jarvis from Duval:
Can you please just say "torn ACL" instead of torn anterior cruciate ligament?
John: No. Not everyone reads every story – nor is everyone is as smart and as knowledgeable as you and I, Jarvis. So, not everyone knows what "ACL" means. It is correct to write out "torn anterior cruciate ligament" for that reason – and indeed, that is why I write it out. I do not do this to irritate people. Irritating people is just a pleasant bonus.
David from Maplewood, NJ:
John, I agree with your contention that 10-plus wins would be far exceeding expectations this year but momentum I think will play a huge part for this team in 2016, especially due to the relative youth. Because of that, I think it is imperative to "win enough" early in order to avoid negative momentum. Conversely, if this team for whatever reason – opponent injury, fluky/lucky bounces of the ball – finds a way to be even a game or two out of first by midseason, then look out. If these guys are improving and getting better as expected and they are realistically "in the hunt," the second half of the season could get pretty special –like '96 special. That team wasn't ready, either, but became ready through that run.
John: OK.
Joseph from Atlanta, GA:
Why did the Jaguars decide to play the Colts in London? Couldn't that be a big liability to forsake home-field advantage to a division opponent? Also, why don't we just play our preseason games in London? They would sell more tickets over there and wouldn't really impact the competitiveness of the team each season like losing a regular-season home game does.
John: The Jaguars didn't "decide" to play the Colts in London. It was a league decision, but the reality is with the NFL trying to increase its profile overseas the league office was eventually going to put division, rivalry games in the International Series. And while it's true that London isn't EverBank Field, the Jaguars believe their experience playing at Wembley Stadium for the past three seasons should give them a home-field advantage in the game. Wembley, after all, is the Jaguars' home away from Jacksonville. As far as playing preseason games there, that's not the approach the league is going to take. The league wants increased interest overseas and NFL fans in London are more than savvy enough to know the difference between preseason and regular season.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire:
Oh, Mighty "O!" I think you have done it now! You list the potential Jags Pro Bowl Players and miss out Carson Tinker. Brave. Very brave. Or maybe foolishly stupid ...
John: I won't sleep tonight.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
How long will Marqise Lee need to stay injury-free in order to lose the "when he's healthy..." qualifier on all statements regarding his play? Every time I hear someone talk about him, including players and coaches, they always start or finish with "when he's healthy..." It's fair, but how long will it take him to lose that stigma?
John: Good question. I've actually thought about it a bit in recent weeks. Lee is playing well – and looking healthy and impressive. Still, I – like pretty much everyone else – clarify nearly everything I write or say about Lee by saying he must remain healthy. Lee understands this, and is pretty open himself about the need to stay on the field. It feels like we're in range of being able to at least occasionally mention Lee without mentioning his health, but realistically it's probably going to take a half season or more. It has been a thing for a while. Once something's a "thing" it takes a while to un-thing.
Drunk Tomahawk in Section for the Drunks:
Sometimes I like to pretend I'm John Oehser.
John: Me, too.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
I didn't participate in sports when I was younger. However, it was just recently that I began a love affair with football. I still don't know much – anything about it at all, really – but I'm still trying to learn. Although, I do my best to pretend my way through football speak. You're my hero, John. Thanks for all that you do.
John: Well, if you're trying to "pretend your way through," you've come to the right place. I'm a big believer in sliding by without giving undue effort. It's actually what I think of as a "guiding principle."
PK Jags from Germany:
Ugh. Do you ever grow weery of the countless bufons that use wrong grammar? Only us intellectuals know what I mean. Right, John?
John: Know.
Dude from Jacksonville:
In case of an injury to a key cornerback could Lee make the transition to corner?
John: Dude, no.
Rob from Duuuuuval:
Zone, how sure is it that James Sample makes the team? Seems we've been waiting a while for some sign of development but he is oft-injured. Is he a sure thing? We need depth there and it's a good position for special teams contribution – or is there a chance Jalen gets Jordan's number after all?
John: I don't get any sense that James Sample won't be on the Jaguars' Week 1 roster. The issue, as you note, is health. He needs to remain healthy, but we're not at the point where we start discussing releasing Sample.
Scott from Satsuma:
Chad Henne looked like a rookie, not a nine-year vet. If Blake goes down, our season is shot with him. They would be better calling Mark Brunell out of retirement. Even at his age he would be better than Chad on his best. I like the third-string better. Would love to see him run second O next game. Seriously, though, O: we need a capable backup … agree or disagree.
John: Disagree. You say, "If Blake goes down, our season is shot with him." Take out "Blake" and "him" and insert the name of any starter and backup in the NFL and you would have an equally true statement. NFL teams are dependent on their starting quarterbacks and seasons are shot without them. There are exceptions but not really.
Tony from Morrilton, AR:
The penalties and our lack of depth worry me. The penalties can be addressed, but the depth I feel could be an issue.
John: You're right on both counts. I believe the penalties will be reduced, but I believe depth could be an issue. Depth is an issue for most NFL teams; there aren't really enough starting-level players to man all 32 teams, so there certainly aren't enough starting-level players for all teams to have good depth. And it does make sense that it would be an issue for the Jaguars. They're just now reaching a stage where they have what looks to be a solid starting 22 with capable players at all positions. It probably will be a year or two before they have relatively experienced depth at enough spots to withstand injury.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
Our fourth-string quarterback doesn't play as well as our first-, second- or third-string quarterbacks.
John: Good eye.
Smh from Jacksonville:
Chump Henne may not have lost the game for the Jaguars, but he certainly didn't help. Jags should cut or trade him, pronto!
John: My great, great grandfather Ulysess "Tank" Oehser used to say, "When folks are frettin' over the backup quarterback … well, I'll take that." Tank wasn't very clever with words, but he was right about that.

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