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O-Zone: Proof positive

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it … Chase from Jacksonville:
Not a question, but I stumbled across an article on NJ.com about Blake Bortles sending an autographed jersey with a signed note to a family there who lost their son to a car accident last year. According to the article, the guy was a big Blake Bortles fan, and it meant a lot to the family. It's a good story, and it's a shame it's not getting as much coverage as the Clowney Trash Talk story did. One for Bortles!
John: I hear a lot of stories like this about Bortles. He’s a classy, humble guy and I’ve never known him not to be gracious and professional – even around people who probably have been critical of him. This doesn’t make him a saint, but it’s worth noting. The reason you don’t hear as much about good things Bortles does is because it’s rare for positive stories about athletes to overshadow stories about trash talk, controversy or off-field transgressions. The controversial stuff gets page views, clicks and retweets; the good stuff gets appreciated by those who take time to appreciate such things but usually doesn’t go viral. It’s not a Bortles-specific phenomenon. It’s just the way things are.
Tom from Loughborough, England:
John, please help me settle a disagreement with my friend. Assuming they are both at full fitness, who would you rather have on a team: Larry Fitzgerald or Blake Bortles?
John: This question depends on whether you’re talking about one game right now, their entire careers or at this stage of their careers. I would rather have Fitzgerald for one game right now, or for his entire career. He’s one of the best, most-reliable, most-consistent wide receivers I’ve ever seen and he has had a Hall-of-Fame career. That’s not a knock on Robinson, but no one with NFL knowledge would say he has had a better career than Fitzgerald – just as no one would say he has had a better career than Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison or a slew of other all-time great receivers. Now, if I had to take a player at this stage of his career, I would take Robinson because he appears to be at the beginning of a long stretch of very productive seasons whereas Fitzgerald is nearing retirement.
Darius from New Milford, NJ:
Had the Jaguars played well and won last week do you think Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone would still be opting to play his starters? Do you think his main reasoning for playing them this week is to wash the "stink" off before playoffs?
John: Marrone absolutely would be playing his starters had the Jaguars won last week because they would still be in contention for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the AFC.
Josh from Rochester, MN:
What was it that made Tony Boselli so good in the 90's?
John: Everything. Height, size, leverage, toughness, balance, work ethic, athleticism, knowledge of the game. Boselli was put on this earth to play left tackle and he worked to play it as well as pretty much anyone ever. Notice I didn’t include humility on the above list. It wasn’t an accidental omission.
Ambuj from Minneapolis, MN:
If we lose to the Titans, it would be an ominous reminder of 1999 when the Titans beat us three times in a single season. Let’s squash this fairy tale for the Titans this week. What say you, and what do you think Tom Coughlin has to say about it?
John: I say I understand Titan Angst, but I guess I’m just not feeling it like most fans. First, there’s no guarantee a victory over the Titans Sunday will knock Tennessee from the playoffs. The Titans can still get in if the Jaguars win Sunday, and if the Dolphins and Raiders both lose. And in that scenario the Titans would still play the Jaguars in the first round. Plus, I don’t think the Titans coming here for the first round of the playoffs is the worst possible matchup. It’s not an easy victory by any stretch, but Tennessee is not playing nearly as well late in the season as any of the other three teams in contention for the sixth seed: the Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo and Baltimore. I’m sure Coughlin would like to win Sunday. I’m also sure he’s more concerned about winning the first-round game next week, but I doubt he’s overly concerned about what happened 18 seasons ago. That’s a fan thing more than a players, coaches and administration thing.
Fred from Naples, FL:
After watching your O-Zone live interview with Dede Westbrook it is really hard to believe he had any type of behavioral issue while at the University of Oklahoma. What a terrific young man!
John: I generally try to refrain from passing judgment on players based on what I hear about them or on their reputations before I meet them. It’s not my job to pretend I know in detail a player’s life circumstance, maturity level or character outside of my dealings with the player. This doesn’t make me good or bad. It’s simply my approach. I say that to make the point that I know little about Westbrook’s past or his inner workings as a person. I have interviewed him multiple times, and his appearance on O-Zone Live Thursday was by far the most time we have spent together. What I do know is that since he has joined the Jaguars I have found him to be nothing but pleasant, patient and professional my dealings with him. He seems easy to root for, and I hope he continues to do well.
Steve from Jacksonville:
John, I'm a 54-year old man who was there on our first home opening day. Heck, I even traveled to Miami to watch a preseason game against the Dolphins in the Jaguars’ first season and was irate that Don Shula wouldn't shake hands!! Oh, the horror! And now I actually got goosebumps Thursday when I read that the very gracious sponsors and the NFL are allowing the tarps to be removed for more fans to attend! Thank you Navy Federal. Thank you FDOT and DTWD!
John: #DTWD
Sam from Orlando, FL:
This schedule turned into a pretty easy slate of games for Jacksonville. If we see Pittsburgh again, that isn't the same Steelers team we crushed. I think you need a certain amount of maturity and consistency to win in the playoffs and we simply do not have it yet. It's been a great season, though.
John: I forgot that Pittsburgh, Seattle, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Chargers were all long since eliminated from the postseason. Wait … what?
Logan from Wichita, KS:
I don't understand how our defense can be "elite" when they give up huge yards to the Titans, Jets, Cardinals, Seahawks and 49ers like they were handing out free candy. They are constantly burned by huge plays and it is truly pathetic. Our defense is great against teams playing horribly and that is it. Our defense is maybe top 20. But not anywhere near the top. Especially when you also add in the stupid-as-possible penalties they constantly dish out to rub salt in the wound of giving up huge plays. This is grow-up week or we will be humiliated at home in the wildcard game.
John: To say the Jaguars’ defense shouldn’t be considered anywhere near the top of the NFL is one of the sillier sentiments I’ve read in a while. I actually thought, “This may be some sort of record for dimness …” Then, I read the last sentence.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
How does Coach Marrone try to focus player emotions and energy into highly-skilled and athletic play on the field versus taking penalties that hurt the team and the fans?
John: By emphasizing it all week – and perhaps more importantly, by having veterans such as Calais Campbell, Barry Church and Telvin Smith emphasize it all week. It’s great for Marrone to preach about it, but if players get across the message that such behavior hurts the chance to win that message will get through.
Howard from Homestead, FL:
We're locked in at the three seed. Why make us wait to know which day we'll play?
John: Because not every team is locked into its seed. And because the league decides who plays when and on what day once the playoff matchups are set.
J Cool from Orange Park, FL:
How cool would it be if and when we beat the Titans on Sunday the Jags get to throw on their AFC South Champs hats?
John: That would be cool. Fans would like it. I bet players would, too.
Jim from Middleburg, FL:
John, reading some of what fans have to say in the O-Zone makes me wonder if the same people are readers of the Zone!?
John: There long has been a difference between what is read and what is written. The O-Zone proves that on a daily basis, even during an AFC South championship season.

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