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O-Zone: Paint it teal

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Frankie from London, UK

Credit to Todd Wash and the defense. They came to play today.

I smiled at this email and many others praising the Jaguars’ defense and coordinator Todd Wash for their performance in a 6-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. I smiled not because I was joyful (rarely do I experience joy), but because many of the emails I received Sunday seemed to imply somehow that the Jaguars’ defense hadn’t come to play in the other 11 games this season – or that Wash hadn’t done a good job in the other 11 games this season. While Sunday’s game undoubtedly was the Jaguars’ best defensive game this season, it’s not at all accurate to say or imply the Jaguars’ defense hasn’t been good this season. No, it hasn’t pitched a bunch of shutouts. But you don’t shut out many NFL offenses with today’s rules. You darned sure don’t shut out many offenses with elite quarterbacks under today’s rules. The Jaguars’ defense on Sunday played as well as I have seen them play – maybe ever. It also got a couple of breaks that allowed it to finish with a shutout as opposed to allowing, say, three-to-10 points. But this defense has played well most of the season. It has allowed a few more explosive plays than would be ideal. And because it has played from behind more than last season, it hasn’t had the sacks and turnovers it registered last season. But this defense is good. It actually could be a while before the Jaguars have a defense this good again. And it could be a long while before it has a game as good as Sunday’s again.

Michael from Middleburg, FL

Defense won this game...

Ya think?

Big on Blake from Philly

Yeah, let’s trade that guy ... only place to tackle that guy to keep him inbounds. Great heads up play to seal the win. Also, right after Jack made the game-saving tackle on Ebron the play before.

You’re referencing cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s play to tackle Colts tight end Erik Swoope in bounds on what turned out to be the game’s final play Sunday. Ramsey indeed made a phenomenally aware, athletic play to knock Swoope backward – therefore stopping his forward progress and enabling officials to rule that Swoope was in bounds. That meant the game was over instead of the Colts getting another play. This indeed was two plays after linebacker Myles Jack accelerated to keep tight end Eric Ebron from getting out of bounds and stopping the clock. Without those two plays, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck would have had 20 or 30 more seconds on that final drive – and who knows what would have happened. Big-time talents, big-time plays.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, it's good to see that our defense still has fight. They have not given up on the year like I had.

That was perhaps the most notable point to make about Sunday’s game. The Jaguars were essentially eliminated from the postseason with their loss to Buffalo last week. They had lost seven consecutive games, including the last four in heartbreaking fashion. I thought you might see the Jaguars play selfishly and somewhat in disarray Sunday. I also wondered if they weren’t due for at least a temporary letdown. Instead, they played with heart and desire – and turned in probably their second-biggest victory of the season. Impressive stuff.

Leon from Austin, TX

It has to be official Jalen Ramsey isn't going anywhere, now time to get compensated!

The Jaguars can’t re-sign Ramsey to a long-term contract until after the 2018 season. NFL rules dictate drafted players can’t resign until following their third season. Ramsey was selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Jeff from Jacksonville

Glad to get the win, but I hope all of the #FreeKessler fans out there realize that the offensive struggles weren't on Blake. That game looked no different on offense than the last seven.

You’re right that the offense looked pretty much the same this week as it did the last few. That’s logical considering the number of injuries the offense had sustained throughout the season – and considering the absence of running back Leonard Fournette. I understand people’s desire to blame quarterback Blake Bortles for all that ailed the Jaguars’ offense in recent weeks, though. It feels better to blame one thing.

Strnbiker from Dothan, AL

(A)Yes (B) no (C) maybe – cop-out response. Had Bortles played he would have tossed a Pick 6 and lost the game 7-6. And your valued response it?

If it makes you feel better to believe the Jaguars would have lost had Bortles played, by all means believe it. I’m all for the readers feeling better.

Josh from Jax Beach

Different clowns, same circus on offense. At least the defense showed up and they did get a W, so that’s cool. I guess.

You’re absolutely right. Sunday’s game did show once again that the injuries that waylaid this offense from the start of the season have yet again proven difficult to overcome. Good eye.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL

You keep saying you think we’ll get rid of defensive end Calais Campbell after this season. He seems like the best player on the team. Nobody can block him. Why would we get rid of him? Sure we drafted Taven Bryan, but Bryan could be very good and get better every year for the next ten years and still not be as good as Campbell. I feel like we should do anything possible to keep him.

I do believe the Jaguars will part ways with Campbell after the season. I believe this because the salary cap will make it very difficult to keep him. I think losing Campbell would weaken the Jaguars on the field – at least in the short term – and I think they will at the very least explore ways to keep him. But I think it will be very tough. Here’s hoping I’m wrong. Stranger things have happened.

JT from Fort Work, TX

Why fire a good coach just to run the same offense?

Fair.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Cody Kessler didn’t remind anyone of Aaron Rogers, but he managed the game effectively. He was accurate. He was consistent. He made (mostly) good decisions. Our offensive line was porous, there were too many holding penalties, and the running game wasn’t too effective, but Cody hung in. He didn’t do anything to hurt the team. The defense was incredible, playing as well as I’ve ever seen them. So, tell me, John – is there a correlation between having a QB that plays consistently and doesn’t turn the ball over and a defense that lit up the opposing offense?

Bortles didn’t commit a turnover in Weeks 8, 10 or 11 of this season, so I would say to connect the quarterback play Sunday to the defense might be a stretch.

Dan from Cary, NC

#BenchKessler

Wow.

Chris from London, UK

O-Man, I’m no expert, but surely Sunday’s game proves that our offense issues were not on Bortles. I think given all the situation – i.e., cap and lack of draft options next year – we should give him one more season??

I think considering all that has gone on and where the Jaguars will be after this season it’s probably time to move forward. It’s hard to imagine at this point Bortles being the Jaguars’ quarterback next season. And don’t call me Shirley.

Jeff from Jacksonville

I don’t necessarily agree with the “Jags-only-put-a-good-team-together-every-10-years” narrative. While the 2018 season is eerily similar to the 2008 season as far as injuries and disappointment go, this team was still pretty competitive the rest of the decade. I remember the 2010 Texans miracle pass game. I was super-excited not only because I witnessed probably the greatest pass I’ll ever see in person, but also because the Jags were 8-5 after that game. Of course it was followed by a three-game collapse, but this team was very much still competitive at that point.

True.

Roger from Houston, TX

Can we just put muzzles on our DBs? They’re killing us.

You’re referencing an early unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty Sunday on rookie safety Ronnie Harrison, which gave the Colts a first down after safety Tashaun Gipson had knocked away a pass to Ebron. This came in the first quarter and extended a Colts drive. It would be easy to write this off as a mistake of passion by a rookie making his first start. But while that was the case – and while the Jaguars overcame, it’s also the case that there have been waaaaaaaay too many mistakes such as that all season. Waaaaaaaaaay too many.

Mike from Rochester, NY

One for the guy painted in teal that they kept showing on the television broadcast. It’s been a tough year for fans. Being a fan of this team has never been easy but we must remain loyal.

Hey, one for the teal guy! #DTWD

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