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O-Zone: Period

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars won Sunday. The beat the New York Giants in a regular-season National Football League game. I kid you not. If you don’t believe me, check the standings.

(Because it’s very apparent some of you don’t believe me).

Let’s get to it …

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, while I will gladly take a win any way they come – especially in a regular-season opener –  my concerns entering the season were/are: running back Leonard Fournette's durability. Will left tackle Cam Robinson take the next step in his maturation process and become our unquestioned future at left tackle? Will the money spent on left guard Andrew Norwell make enough of a difference that we can now run to close out a game? Does the offense have enough firepower to outscore opposing teams absent defensive touchdowns or turnovers in enemy territory? Regrettably, none of those questions were affirmatively answered on Sunday.

I’ll answer this question first because it pretty much sums up the inbox Sunday night and Monday morning: - i.e., the slightest acknowledgment that a victory in the NFL is a very good and valuable thing followed by an admittedly impressive flurry of heartfelt angst. Look, it’s true that hopes are high for the Jaguars this season. And it’s true many fans expect this team to win the Super Bowl. It’s also apparently true the Jaguars are expected to win every game – by three or more touchdowns. Here’s the reality: the Jaguars did not disappoint on Sunday. They did not do anything to inspire angst. They did not do anything to inspire panic. They did not lose. Rather, they … wait for it … WON! I am serious about the fact that they won – and you know this because I used exclamation points!!! And CAPITAL LETTERS. The Jaguars beat a talented team on the road Sunday. They did it with Fournette out the second half. They allowed one touchdown and three field goals. They were moving with efficiency until Fournette went out. At that point, they appeared to play more conservatively. It appears the Jaguars believed in the second half that so long as they did not turn the ball over they would win. If that was their belief, they were right. It wasn’t an aesthetically pleasing victory, but it was an impressive victory. Why? Because it was a victory.

Brett from Canton, MS

Are we sure that Myles Jack was not down this time? Go Jags!

Yes. We’re sure.

Howard from Homestead, FL

From the looks of the ESPN recap, it appears that they think the Giants won. Should we tell them?

Nah. They’ll figure it out if they look at the standings. Some O-Zone readers might even get around to figuring it out, too.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

This team got lucky the offense is straight trash. What happened to all that talk of the second year and feeling good about where they are at?

Ladies and gentlemen … Jerell! He’ll be right at home here this morning.

The Real Eric T from J-Ville

Last year’s storylines continue to define this team: Defense gives up big plays, big penalties, and the offense is the same ol’ offense is the same ol’ offense is the same ol’ offense. Oh, and the nearly $10 million to Donte Moncrief was well worth it.

You left out a few storylines: the one in which the offense was sixth in the NFL in yards and fifth in points scored, and the one in which the defense was ranked second in just about everything, and the one where the Jaguars won the AFC South and made the AFC Championship Game. Look, I’m really not trying to ignore the fact that the Jaguars weren’t perfect Sunday, but this is the NFL: Teams don’t play perfect games. The Jaguars never trailed Sunday. They moved the ball well at times when Fournette was in the game. They made defensive plays when it mattered. They really only gave up one big play defensively. Not every victory is beautiful in the NFL. But not every game in which a team struggles offensively for a half defines a team, either. This was a good victory on the road. It really was. And the Jaguars are alone in first place. Really.

Brad from Orange Park, FL

One thing you got to give Odell Beckham Jr.... his hair stays pretty all game.

I hadn’t noticed. Apparently you did, Brad.

Billy from Orange Park, FL

Before I yell at the top of my lungs: "JR20 shut the !@!# up!!! You just had your @$$ handed to you by a much better player." Then I hear that the Jaguars played zone on many of the defensive fronts. So, all powerful Zoneness, what were the actual statistics when JR20 and OBJ went one-on-one?

I haven’t had a chance to re-watch the game yet. When I do, I hope to get a better idea. It was much more than many analysts expected, though not much more than those who understand how this team plays defense expected. The Jaguars don’t typically play Cover 1 – or straight man-to-man – the entire game. There are many reasons for this, most notably that offenses typically can figure ways to get talented wide receivers open if they know what defense you’re going to run every play. Running crossing, drag routes against can be effective if you know a defense is in man because it’s difficult for a corner to cover a receiver on the dead run across the field. Here’s the thing, though: even if cornerback Jalen Ramsey had been on Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. man-to-man the entire game, Beckham caught 11 passes for 111 yards. That’s around 10 yards a catch without a touchdown. He was contained for the most part.

Bill from Jacksonville

John, aside from “it’s what they think is best,” what’s the strategy behind having two cornerbacks arguably the best at their position in the entire NFL play zone defense instead of man-to-man? This seems counterintuitive. Thanks! Go Jags!

See previous answer.

Chi from Westside, Cowford

Maaaann, we have some frontrunners as fans around here. If it's not a blowout, they whine ... Good, tough win!!! Go Jags.

True that.

Tom from Melbourne, Australia

As Leonard Fournette walked towards the locker room, my partner looked up from her cup of tea and remarked “that’s unfortunate.” She then went back to bed. Go Jags.

True that.

Damon from America’s Finest City

I have a legitimate question, O. Why didn't they call the tackle of Saquon Barkley inside the end zone in the first half a safety? Isn't the ball carrier considered down where he actually goes down and not at the point of contact? He clearly was tackled in the end zone. When a ball carrier is tackled anywhere outside of the end zone, they mark it where he went down, unless they blow the whistle correct? I don't understand that call and why it wasn't a safety. It clearly looked like one.

I’m glad your question is legitimate. We sure don’t need more illegitimate ones floating around. The officials ruled that Barkley broke the plane of the end zone during a thrust out of the end zone. I thought it was a safety at first, too. I’ll have to re-watch the game to see if that view changes.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: With all the emphasis on roughing the quarterback this year, how is it that on quarterback Blake Bortles’ first sack, a Giant jumped on top of the pile with Bortles underneath and there was no penalty? I would think having 300-plus pounds jump on a pile with several guys is worse than driving a quarterback down.

Yeah, well that’s not really a rule. Yet.

Josh from Lynchburg, VA

Myles Jack looked very good. Our secondary...not so much.

The Jaguars allowed 224 yards passing and no touchdowns Sunday. The defense as a group had six passes defensed. Nickelback D.J. Hayden and safety Barry Church both had huge pass breakups to help secure the victory with the Giants facing third- and fourth-and-6 just after the two-minute warning. The secondary will be fine. It played fine Sunday. It’s not an area of concern.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

So, did someone forget to tell Moncrief and Ngakoue that there was a game Sunday.

I asked around about this and you’re right: Ngakoue’s bad now. Good eye.

Kevin from St. Johns, FL

Not so much a question, but an observation. A win is a win, be it, ugly, less than expected, or uninspired. They are ALL W's!!!!!

This is the ultimate NFL truth, though I have been doing this job more than long enough to realize that’s not how many observers/fans are going to see it. A glance at any good team’s 16-game schedule typically reveals a few one-sided victories and a bunch of close victories. Analyzing many of those close victories often shows they were “ugly,” less than expected or uninspired. I can tell you that people around the NFL rarely see victories that way – particularly season-opening road victories over teams with new coaching staffs. The Jaguars won on the road Sunday. They’re 1-0. They’re in first place. The guess here is the victory will be one that’s looked back upon in a few weeks or months as a quality victory. Whether it’s seen that way or not doesn’t matter. It’s a victory. Period.

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