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O-Zone: One of these days

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gary from New York, NY

If Yannick doesn't have a great season – let's call it under three sacks and one forced fumble – and Fowler has a good season but not as good as Yannick's 2017 season, then do you think that could have a major effect on who we sign?

If defensive end Yannick Ngakoue truly has weak season this season and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. is truly better than Ngakoue, it absolutely would affect who the Jaguars re-sign. Why wouldn't it? The Jaguars would be silly to allow a superior player to leave and re-sign the inferior player. Here's the thing, though: Ngakoue has shown absolutely zero signs of having a weak season. He has impacted games, is playing the run better than at any point in his career and is rushing the passer very effectively. He is doing this while being chipped and double-teamed far more at any point in his career. Now, I assume many readers are saying "BUT HIS STATISTICS, O-ZONE!!! HE DOESN'T HAVE ANY SACKS, O-ZONE!!! WAAAAAAHHHH!!!!" It's true that Ngakoue doesn't have a sack through three games this season, but while sacks are cool and important they are not always a great gauge for judging how well a defensive end is playing – yes, even a pass-rushing defensive end. Ngakoue had a pressure that led to a game-clinching takeaway in Week 1. He pressured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Week 1. He is not only fine, he actually is playing better than he has in his first two seasons. So … yeah, if Fowler indeed is better than Ngakoue by season's end there's a chance the Jaguars could re-sign Fowler. I doubt it will happen, though, because Ngakoue is really good; I don't see a scenario in which the team allows him to sign elsewhere.

Patrick from Nashville, TN

Offense should throw deep on the first possession to get their offense going play action at that and the defense should send all-out blitz.

Thanks coach I'll pass this along to coaching staff run pass option zone read.

Mike from Port Charlotte, FL

The NFL should fine officials for missed calls, do you agree? Because too many result in game-changing plays.

Is the league going to start fining wide receivers for dropped passes or coaches for challenging correct calls?

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

The Titans just released their No. 1 receiver for the last two years in Rishard Matthews. Given the issues we have seen in consistent wide receiver play, do you think there is a chance the Jaguars explore bringing him in to fill a veteran role in the wide receiver group? I think he could be an asset. You can never have too many weapons.

Matthews asked for his release because he wasn't getting the playing time he wanted. That could be interpreted as quitting on his team. I imagine the Jaguars would have to get a satisfactory answer on just what happened before signing Matthews.

Steve from St. Mary's, GA

John, I stayed up and watched the Vikings/Rams game Thursday. Two extremely potent offenses ... or two not very good defenses? Do you think the Jaguars could score 31 or 38 points against those defenses? Do you think the Vikings/Rams could score that many points on the Jaguars defense?

The Rams' defense is beat up and their offense is really good, and both factors could have contributed to the Rams' 38-31 victory over the Vikings Thursday. I think both the Vikings and the Rams could score 30 on the Jaguars, just as the Pittsburgh Steelers proved in January they could score on the Jaguars. But I think either team playing exceptionally well to do that – just as the Steelers did that day. I think the Jaguars' defense would have a better chance of limiting either offense because the Jaguars' defense plays at a high level more often than not. Could the Jaguars' offense score that many points on either defense? That's a bigger ask, but that's not surprising: this team is built to win with defense. The Jaguars could beat either team, but they would be better off in a 24-20 game than a 44-40 game.

Scott from New York

Reading your recent posts. I'm having the unfortunate experience of having my illusions shattered. Based on questions and comments from your loyal readers one would think that you know everything. Based on your responses I'm starting to understand that isn't the case, at least not anymore. When did your all-knowing insights dry up?


Merlin from Jagstown

So, I was thinking about this (which gave me a headache) but curious if you agree? I think a big reason Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles "hasn't seen many of those" roughing calls is he is usually moving or running when he does get sacked – either getting tripped up or knocked down from behind. He is an elusive and mobile quarterback, which is a great thing. In looking at the Clay Matthews hits and others, they are often on a guy standing still and trying to release and they get hit from the front directly. Blake is very good at avoiding those type of sacks. Now late hits on Blake .... he absolutely gets no benefit from officials.

I have no scientific evidence of this, but it does seem mobile quarterbacks often get less benefit of the doubt when it comes to roughing calls. This makes sense because they seem less defenseless and more like running backs. They are also less apt to get a call when they are outside the pocket because rules don't protect a running quarterback as much as one in the pocket.

David from Orlando, FL

Zone: Most consider the heat in Jacksonville an advantage. However, with three home games in a row, including practicing every day in the sun, could it actually be a disadvantage? You know, I like going to the beach, but after one or two days, I'm done with the sun. Thoughts?

Head Coach Doug Marrone had the Jaguars practice indoors this week, and that clearly had to do with trying to get the players' bodies back after an extended period working in high temperatures. I don't believe the heat will negatively affect the Jaguars on Sunday. I do believe the heat in the last two games, particularly this past Sunday, was a brutally difficult situation for players and fans.

Gerald from Hilliard, FL

The Jags are a run-first team, but I don't think the backup running backs are good enough to stay in this mode. Why keep them?

And do what?

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

You don't see it in the least? Could you remind me how many penalties were called against the Jags in last year's AFC Championship Game? Can you remind me how many were called against the New England Patriots? It would take 10 years of playing against that team to get the calls from that one game to "even out" as you purport that they will. I don't know why you defend the league on this stuff. It happens against any high-profile or big-market team we play. In our division, it's usually pretty even. Against the New York Jets this Sunday we will have to beat the refs also to a certain extent. DTWD

I have neither the inclination or any motivation to defend the league on any issue. I have covered the NFL for nearly two and a half decades. I do so as objectively as possible. You're essentially asking me if I believe the great majority of calls go against the Jaguars because they are "up against" some mysterious, evil premeditated officiating force. I say I don't believe that's the case. I don't expect passionate fans to agree. It doesn't change my answer.

Wade from the Westslide

The NFL is creating rules to protect the offense and punish aggressive defensive play. This does not appear to favor teams built in the Jaguars' plan. Soon all teams will be in the mold of the run and shoot and we will have Arena League scores and football will be unwatchable.


Arthurswap from Ormond Beach, FL

It appears that last week's Jags abandoned their self-described persona by giving their only healthy, active running back one carry. We often see backups blossom when thrust into the spotlight. What happened to "Next Man Up?"

Fair question.

Nick from Phoenix, AZ

First, I like seeing all these Arizona folks sending questions! It was lonely. Secondly, how would you feel about incorporating some more technology into the game? For example, sensors in the ball – coupled with sensors in the pylons and first-down markers – would take a lot of questions out of the game. Isn't it a bit silly to have that still be an arbitrary call by the zebras? I believe that the less control their arbitrary decisions have over a game's outcome is all for the better ...

My first thought is that I wonder if owners would see the benefits of such an initiative being worth the cost; it's not as if the lack of this technology has caused enough of a problem to cause a hue and cry among fans. Still, I don't mind the idea of sensors in the ball for first downs. If there was a way to incorporate this so that it was infallible, I could see it working. And I do imagine we'll see something like this moving forward. Someday.

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