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O-Zone: Point taken

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Game-day O-Zone.

Let's get to it … Logan from Wichita, KS:
If the Jaguars lose to the Colts Sunday all of our hopes and dreams are dead. Our schedule from here on is very weak – and if we lose to the Colts it shows that our young team doesn't show up against teams they should beat. No one gave us a chance in Houston, London or Pittsburgh; we played up to the competition and won. Everyone said we should cake walk at home two times – and against the Jets – and we played down and lost. If we lose to the Colts, that is enough of a data set to say this team is going nowhere considering that we have a really weak schedule remaining.
John: First, I can't address "hopes and dreams;" I ran low on those long ago. But your assessment of what Sunday means to the season is a bit over the top. First, no one NFL game is an indictment or summation of an entire team or season; the league doesn't work that way. Second, anyone who said the Jaguars would have an easy time against either the Los Angeles Rams or Tennessee Titans lacked an understanding of those teams and how they matched up against the Jaguars. And to say the Jaguars "played down" in their losses is to not understand that the NFL – unlike college football – is a game of matchups in which one big play or two can dramatically swing a game; the talent level of most teams is that close. What would it mean if the Jaguars lose Sunday? That the Jaguars will be 3-4 and probably a game behind in the AFC South. It would be a disappointing loss. But it wouldn't end the Jaguars' season. Not even close.
Chris from Jacksonville:
How does a Jaguars team that has hitched themselves to a clearly consistently dysfunctional Blake Bortles release their kicker after a moderately tough couple of games? I am an avid Jaguars fan, but I just don't understand some of the decisions within the offense.
John: There are many reasons a team can release a kicker as opposed to a quarterback, the most pertinent reasons being that it is comparatively easy from contract and game-planning perspectives to release a kicker. It also is comparatively easy to find an available kicker to perform at a reasonably high level. None of those things are typically true at quarterback.
Scott from Medford:
If the Jags could snag Eli Manning via trade does the Super Bowl window open for this team?
John: The Jaguars are almost certainly not going to trade for Manning. He doesn't want to be traded and wants to finish his career with the New York Giants. I don't know that these facts will end people speculating about this, but we can all dream, right? Would such a trade for a well-known quarterback open a Super Bowl window for the Jaguars? It would almost certainly improve the team. To a Super Bowl level? Perhaps. But at what cost? Two first-round selections? For a season or two? And does it improve them enough to significantly increase their Super Bowl chances enough to make it worth the cost? Likely not.
What from Jacksonville:
Say "What" again.
John: What?
Geoff from Jacksonville:
Did they leave Marcedes in London?
John: Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis had a big game against the Baltimore Ravens in London. The Jaguars were able to get him into matchup advantages and take advantage of those situations. That's more doable some weeks than others.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
You have said multiple times that Blake Bortles has cut back on his interceptions, citing it as a reason why he is the best option at quarterback on the roster. The fact is, he is throwing interceptions more often this year than he did last year. He has an interception every 34 pass attempts this year, versus throwing one every 39 attempts last year. He has not improved in that area; he has simply been handcuffed by the coaches and is throwing less. He may still give the team the best chance to win, but let's at least call it like it is and stop trying to making sound like he has gotten better.
John: I don't know how often I've written that Bortles is playing better than last season, but if it helps people sleep to believe I have written it … so be it. The Jaguars believe Bortles is the best option at quarterback. They believe his ability to extend plays is important for this offense, and they believe for the most part he's making the right reads and right decisions. I believe they need to back up that belief by letting him throw more downfield against the stacked boxes the team is seeing at the line of scrimmage. At the same time, the Jaguars' receivers and skill players must do a better job in the passing offense getting open and making plays more consistently. Has Bortles improved from last season? I don't know. Is he playing well enough for this offense to be playing better? Yeah, probably.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
If the current trend continues, I am seriously worried about our bye week.
John: It's dicey.
John from Cedar Rapids, IA:
Do they still pump in crowd noise at Lucas Oil Stadium? Just wondering.
John: I have no idea what they do at Lucas Oil Stadium. One major reason for this is I work for the Jaguars and not the Colts – and I don't pretend to know things that I'm not in a position to know. I do know people believe the Colts pumped noise into the old RCA Dome. People I knew in Indianapolis who worked at the RCA Dome – people with no connection to the Colts, and people who would be in a position to know the truth – said this was untrue. I found the acoustics there similar to say, the Minneapolis Metrodome, which was very loud. Did they pump noise in the old RCA Dome? I don't believe they did, and I never heard any credible evidence that they did. But if it makes you happy to believe it … believe, baby, believe.
Gilbert from Jacksonville:
It's Game Day, zOneiO – and I'm just giddy about it. Have you ever been giddy?
John: Yes.
JT from Rosamond, CA:
OK, I'm going to keep asking this question because it deserves to be answered, but what is going on with Linder besides "illness?" He is our best offensive lineman and I have never seen such a vague reason to be out.
John: Linder is out with an illness. I appreciate and understand your curiosity, but neither you nor any other fan or casual observer of the Jaguars "deserve" a more specific answer than that.
Tom from Loughborough, England:
Blake has to be the most infuriating player ever. You see the range of performances he produces from on-point at Wembley to off against others. There's no doubt he is doing better than last season, but this team will have a greater chance of success by bringing in a veteran name under center soon.
John: It depends on what you mean by "soon." Next offseason? Perhaps? The next few games? Or even any time this season? Highly doubtful.
Justathought from Duval:
What trades do you see the Jaguars making? Hurns and late round pick for Jeffery?
John: And the Eagles would be interested in this why?
Josh from Harrisburg, PA:
John I started growing a playoff beard week 1. My wife is starting to get worried what should I tell her?
John: Tell her, "This is my house and I do what I want when I want how I want." I do this all the time. My wife acts like she doesn't like it. But she loves it. I can tell.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, if the Colts stubbornly refuse to trade Luck to the Jags for a song, do you think maybe the Packers will finally give up on Aaron Rodgers? Maybe the Patriots will finally cut bait on Tom Brady and the Jags can sign him for the league minimum. If none of those, maybe bring Montana out of retirement?
John: Shad Khan … hire this man!!
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
You're missing the point from Tom. You said "with more reliable quarterback play." How about a more reliable quarterback? Bortles is not the long-term answer for this team to succeed, O. Seems like you are having a hard time saying that. In order for this team to go to the next level and win consistently they need a new guy in the center. You can at least admit that!
John: I'm not missing the point – and because telling me what I can and can't admit hurts my feewings, it's not a great way get questions answered. I've written often in recent weeks and months that I expect the Jaguars likely will address the quarterback position in the offseason. I've written that they need better quarterback play. I've written that it's an issue. It seems maybe I'm not the one missing the point …

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