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O-Zone: Old-school guys

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it…

Don from Marshall, NC

C.J. Beathard really does need to be starting somewhere. The guy has been just amazing every time he gets a chance. The Jaguars stole that guy. If I did not have a quarterback, he would be the one I would go after. It's no surprise that Trevor ran back after his injury, that backup is too good to let that happen. Go Jaguars!

You're accurate in your assessment, with perhaps a touch of overzealousness. Quarterback C.J. Beathard, signed as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason, indeed has played very well when given opportunities with the Jaguars. He has proven to be a better game player than practice player, because there definitely were times in training camp and the offseason he did not perform particularly well. But the Jaguars always liked him as the projected backup quarterback this season for precisely the reasons he has looked good when he has played. He always is prepared. He approaches the position professionally. I don't know that his destiny is to be an NFL starter because he hasn't performed as well over long stretches in the NFL as he has so far this season. And I certainly don't think rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence was running to return to the game this past Sunday because he feared losing his job. But Beathard is proving to be a damned good backup quarterback – maybe the perfect backup for Lawrence.

Jerry From a Lonely Outpost in Tampa, FL

How would say our linebacker group looks so far this year? Strength or weakness? I haven't heard much about Jack or Wright lately.

I'm assuming by "linebacker group" you're referencing inside linebacker Myles Jack and Damien Wilson and not outside backers such as Josh Allen, etc. The inside backers for the most part have been fine this season. Wilson is very good against the run and has played that way. Jack seemed to take a few games to adjust to playing inside in this scheme, and the group overall has mirrored the entire defense: Not great at times, really good at times. The defense and this group seem to be coming together and playing better in recent weeks. 

Gary from High Springs

John if the jaguars recievers started catching the balls like the last preseason game against dallas. i mean they caught the back half of the ball with there fingertips, caught ém off there shoestrings. they caught everything...a pass that's almost in the breadbasket should be a sinch.

I get emails like this sometimes.

Kendall from New Zealand

Hey, O. I promise I'm not getting prematurely angsty about Trevor, but after all the pre-draft "generational QB, safest pick since Andrew Luck" comments bandied about, who looked the more polished, more accurate quarterback halfway through their rookie season? Does Trev still hold up to the Luck comparison? (I know Luck had more weapons around him, but trying to separate that out.)

Luck was better in his rookie season with the Colts in 2012 than Lawrence has been this season. This isn't overly surprising because few observers thought Lawrence was as good a prospect as Luck as much as he was the best prospect since Luck. But I don't really know what "hold up to the Luck comparison" means. Lawrence will be fine. He's improving. He has all tools. He needs to more accurate and that will improve. Again, he will be fine. (You can't separate that.)

Ed from Boynton Beach, FL

Hey John, what's the story with Cisco? Seems since Rudy Ford has now stepped up and is being recognized by the coaching staff ... is Cisco the odd man out?

Not really. Rookie safety Andre Cisco essentially has been playing behind Andrew Wingard. Ford, also a safety, has moved into the team's nickel role – which is different than the role Wingard/Cisco play. I expect Cisco to play this season, and perhaps start at some points. I don't expect that to be imminent with the defense improving dramatically the last two games.

Justin from Jax

Hey, John! How are the Jaguars game-planning for the referees this week? Which playbook and schemes will the officials use to tilt the scales for the Colts?

I expect the Jaguars will game plan for the officials as they and every sane team in the NFL do each week – by realizing that there is no grand conspiracy or favoritism for (or against) any team, fans' persistent and passionate belief otherwise to the contrary.

_Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA      _

Hi, John. Long-time reader, first-time question submitter. Re: the Jags run defense, how would you compare the rushing attacks of Jonathan Taylor and the Colts to that of Derrick Henry and the Titans (top two rushers in the league)? How much of a test, and a revelation of the defense's apparent improvement, do you think the gam will reveal? Any thoughts on what and how they will do it, and a prediction of what the results will be?

You're not a first-time question submitter. The running attack of the Colts and Titans are similar in effectiveness. Sunday is a big test for the Jaguars' defense because the Colts are a much more balanced offense than the Buffalo Bills – and because the Colts are playing very well offensively in recent weeks. The Jaguars will have to bring players into the box on Sunday to defend Taylor, which will create different dynamic than they faced against a quarterback/pass-oriented Bills team. I expect the Jaguars' defense to play well – though not to be as dominant as it was last week. I expect the Colts to win because I don't know that the Jaguars' offense can score enough to beat a Colts team that likely will score in the high teens or low twenties even if the Jaguars' defense plays very well.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, it's pretty sweet to see a player like Rudy Ford earn his way into our defense, and take advantage of the opportunity. How high of a ceiling do you think Ford might have if he continues to show up the way he did last week?

Very.

Josh from Fernandina Beach (via Ft. Lauderdale)

Yo Grizzle: What's the sizzle on J-Rob? Are we going to have him back for the Indy game?

Jaguars running back James Robinson practiced limited Thursday. That's his most extensive work since sustaining a heel injury against Seattle in Week 9. I would project that gives him a much better chance to play against the Colts Sunday than was the case last week. Stay tuned.

Jason from Green Cove Springs, FL

Do you think it would be a good idea to give C.J. Beathard a series or two a game? Trevor is the obviously the future, but he dinks and dunks and really struggles with the deep ball the few times a game he actually tries. Beathard looks comfortable opening up the offense and letting it fly during the preseason and his brief action in the Bills' game. It could help our offense score some much-needed points and maybe help to back some defenders out of the box. What do you think?

I do not think the Jaguars should play Beathard over Lawrence for a series or two a game.

Eric from Columbus, IN

Is it a little concerning it took eight games to realize we are better at zone than man? Isn't that generally something you know by Week 3?

Not really. This is a new coaching staff that is working with a lot of new personnel. Sometimes, as was the case with Ford emerging as a good option at nickel, coaches need to see personnel in game situations and give those players increasing opportunities over a few games to determine what they can do. I suppose you can look at it a couple of ways. One is that the coaches took too long to realize the players were better in zone. The other way is that the defensive coaches were flexible enough to move Ford into the lineup and to adapt to the personnel when they saw what they were doing early wasn't working. Not all coaches would do the latter, so maybe give them some credit for that?

Nick from Annapolis, MD

Sometimes I feel like I live in a different reality from everyone else. It seems everyone in the NFL, including a very respected Peter King, is outraged over the Cassius Marsh taunting penalty. There's this narrative that he wasn't taunting, he was just celebrating. I see what he did as an obvious attempt to celebrate towards an opponent, which is certainly taunting. He went several steps out of his way to face and direct his celebration towards essentially the entire Steelers team. How is this any different than picking out one individual player and directing your celebration at them? These rules need to black and white. Don't intentionally celebrate towards an opponent. I don't see the big issue.

I thought it was taunting, too. And unnecessary. Everyone should get off our lawns.

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