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O-Zone: One more squandered

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ted from Austin, TX:
I take James "Little Man" Stewart at the goal line; tied for most in a single game. I know it was only one game, but 'Wow,' what a game.
John: James Stewart's five-touchdown game came in a 38-21 Jaguars victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in October 1997. Stewart scored a bunch early – three times in the first quarter – then wound up scoring on a 1-yard run in the third quarter, then on a 1-yarder in the fourth quarter to tie the record. It's a game and a performance that seems to get forgotten when Jaguars fans discuss memorable moments, which is perhaps indicative of how many special moments and performances the Jaguars turned in during those early seasons. Perhaps the game is somewhat forgotten because it was one-sided, or because that season didn't end with a remarkable playoff run. Or perhaps it's because Stewart didn't have the career that Fred Taylor – the other running back selected by the Jaguars in the first round – had. Whatever the reason, Stewart's five touchdowns remain tied for the most rushing touchdowns in NFL history in a single game and should probably be remembered more prominently when discussing the team's biggest moments.
John from Gloucestershire, England:
For those of us not resident in Jacksonville, will there be highlights of next week's unveiling of the scoreboards on Having watched the construction on the live cam it would be great to see them in action.
John: I think there might be some footage available on the site at some point.
Mike from White Plains, GA:
Still loving the column, O-Man. While I agree with you that runners need at least five guys attempting to block and they deserve some credit, it shouldn't diminish the greatest of backs. Look at the teams Walter Payton played on (especially in the 70's). He wasn't behind a Hall-of-Fame line or even very good linemen. Great running backs shine regardless of whether they have to make their own space/yards or not. From what I've seen of Jim Brown, he doesn't seem like the kind of fellow who relied a lot on an offensive line to power around and over folks. Who is the best running back you saw who did the best with little to nothing around him?
John: Payton and Brown certainly did plenty on their own. The greatest backs often do, and players such as Adrian Peterson do now. At the same time, even the greatest backs need an offensive line to give them at least a sliver of room to run on a consistent basis. Jaguars running backs too often in recent seasons have been tackled in the backfield with practically no room to run. That contributed to the troubles in the run game, as did Maurice Jones-Drew's injuries and increasing wear and tear. In football, practically all successes and failures are group efforts rather than individual, and the same has been true of the Jaguars' running game in recent seasons. As for the back I've seen who did the most behind the least, I'd go with Barry Sanders.
Jonathan from Orange Park, FL:
I think Mike Alstott was one of the best goal-line runners back then. Surprised he was never mentioned.
John: He has been mentioned several times in this Conversation That Will Not End. I just can't put him among the best short-yardage runners of all time.
James from Socorro, MM:
I had a dream recently that the Jaguars were trailing Oklahoma, 74-72. Josh Scobee lined up for a game-winning field goal as time expired, but I didn't get to see the end of the game. Do you think he made it?
John: Your head must have hurt when you awoke, because you had to have taken something powerful, exotic and wild to have had that dream. As we've discussed often, the best college team would lose to the worst NFL team by many points. So, while Scobee almost certainly would have hit the field goal, it wouldn't have been a game-winner as much as one to add some more points to a one-sided score.
Dave from Jacksonville Beach:
O-man, are the video boards gonna be ready for Carrie on the 26th? If so, is our future so bright were gonna need shades?
John: Yes. Yes.
Mike from White Plains, GA:
Love the column O'Man. I believe Guy's epiphany was about the replay shown after every play (I think this started back in the '60s), not so much the replay of questionable calls. I know it helps a lot in the stadium as well since you don't get that close a look from the stands. Would that crack the Top 3 reasons for popularity in your opinion?
John: Oh!? Well, that is a different question now, isn't it? I don't know if replay alone would be in the Top 3 reasons, but there's little question television is a huge reason – perhaps the biggest reason – for the game's rise in popularity over the last 50 years. It's probably too simple to say the sport and the medium grew in lockstep since 1960, but the sport is far more friendly to television than to radio and an argument can be made that it is as enjoyable on television as in person. That argument is particularly powerful with the advent of HD Technology, and is one reason the league is so diligently working to enhance the game-day, in-stadium experiences around the nation.
Troy from York, PA:
O-man, who do you think needs to play better this season for the Jags to be more successful? The offensive line or the defensive line? I mean, I know both should, but if you had to pick, which one which would you choose?
John: Each area is so critical it's hard to pick just one. But because you insist on an answer, I'd say the defensive line. If you assume the defense will be the strength of the team this season – and many do assume that – then you also assume that the strength of the team needs to play well for the team to be successful. If you follow that logic, then the defensive line must play well for the defense to be successful. At the same time, it's hard to imagine the Jaguars being improved this season if the offensive line isn't improved. The offense has to be more consistent and that has to start with the line.
Byrd from Eastside Duval:
My wife said I spend more time reading about the Jaguars than I do spending time with her. She asked me to promise to not read the O-Zone for a week. That started Wednesday. What should I do if I get caught?
John: I'll tell you what to do: Man up. Tell her who runs the household and tell her in no uncertain terms that it's your house and you'll darned well do as you please. I mean, I wouldn't do it – and I don't know anyone who would – but I'd love just once to see someone give it a shot.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
The dead zone is a time when a lot of writers start making predictions. With Gil Brandt and a few columnists from ESPN and Bleacher Report speaking very favorably of the culture with how Gus Bradley runs things and strong drafts from David Caldwell, it seems that if the Jaguars start this season off strong, they could become media darlings.
John: More and more media types indeed are saying more and more positive things about the Jaguars lately. That's fine for fans and fun for fans. People who have followed this team passionately for a long time deserve to feel good about things, but the praise in the present means as much as the criticism from the past, which is to say in reality it means little at all.
Patrick from Merced, CA:
Any chance of having a snow game this season for the Jaguars? Sorry, if I made you feel like a weather man.
John: This falls into the category of Can You Not Read a Map? which isn't a category, but should be now. The Jaguars play the Baltimore Ravens December 14. That's as good a guess as any.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Last year, the Chiefs went from a 2-14 team to a playoff-caliber team. What team(s) that had four victories or less last year would you figure to be the most likely for a playoff run this year?
John: I'll take Atlanta. The Falcons retained their coaching staff and also have what appears to be a reliable quarterback. That means stability, and with the return of Julio Jones, that could mean a chance to improve significantly.
Mandy from Section 414 and Tallahassee, FL:
Hey, Mr. O!!! This Jags girl is getting antsy for my season tickets to arrive! Do you know when they will be mailed out? Also please tell Mr. "K" happy belated birthday for me please...
John: Soon. Will do.
Richard from Woodsocket, RI:
Hey John, it's only me who shares my birthday with the GREAT Johnny O. I may be 55 and you are 48 but have a great one anyway. GO JAGS!!!
John: Three days until players report.

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