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O-Zone: Resident genius

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

John from JaxtoAtl

There are two quarterbacks on the Titans’ roster who beat us last year a total of three times. Each defeat was more humiliating than the last. Sunday should be interesting! Do you think we see more of the two-back sets we saw in the preseason? Also, if we are undefeated without Fournette ... any rational theories on that? All of mine are irrational.

Titans quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert indeed beat the Jaguars three total times last season, but I would argue that each defeat was not in any way more humiliating than the last. The loss to Mariota and the Titans in Week 2 was far and away the most one-sided loss of Doug Marrone’s tenure as the Jaguars’ head coach – and it came at home. When Gabbert and the Arizona Cardinals beat the Jaguars in November, the loss came in a hard-fought game on the road. That game was far less humiliating than Week 2. As for the Titans’ victory over the Jaguars in Week 17 last season, the Jaguars already had clinched their playoff positioning as well as the AFC South championship. It was really a meaningless game for the Jaguars, and therefore not that humiliating at all. And I do believe we’ll see two-back sets from this offense moving forward. Regarding the Jaguars being 4-0 without Fournette, the Jaguars are a good team – and have been throughout Fournette’s career. Good teams find ways to win when good players miss games.

Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL

This is the kind of game where we could use The Poz.

OK.

Dan from Cary, NC

John, an answer you gave in Saturday’s column made me wonder: how much of the offense is offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's? How much does Head Coach Doug Marrone or Tom Coughlin get involved with the offensive strategy? What about the offensive tactics? Same for the other functional areas, defense and special teams. I'm curious who consults with whom and whom works directly with whom. Go Jags!

There sometimes does seem to be some confusion about this, but remember: Coughlin doesn’t coach the Jaguars. He hasn’t coached the Jaguars at any point since his return as the senior executive vice president of football operations in January 2017. He is involved in the football operations, and he has final say over football decisions, but he isn’t on the sidelines in game days nor is he in the coaches’ booth. While Hackett is in charge of installing the game plan and calling plays, Marrone absolutely has final say over anything that happens in terms of game planning and play calling. And it’s Marrone who dictates the spirit of what is called. If, say, Hackett wants to call a deep pass on third-and-2 and Marrone tells him, “We’re running twice here …” then Hackett absolutely is going to call two running plays. But that scenario doesn’t come up that often. Marrone and Hackett have been together a long time, and the coaching staff spends the entire week working together to formulate a game plan. They’re not going to differ too often in terms of what they want to do come game day.

Nick from Palatka, FL

Mr. Zone, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has never missed a game due to injury and his consecutive regular/postseason season starts are 66, right? So, assuming his monster toughness continues, after the 2019 Super Bowl victory ... er, start – he would be in or real near top 20 all-time? Wouldn't that be really cool? (Or am I just being silly).

Sure, it would be cool. Bortles’ toughness, reliability and durability are all major reasons the Jaguars like him to lead this team – and they’re traits that are often overlooked. The more this team succeeds, the more those traits will be noticed.

Jeff from Jacksonville

What exactly is the leverage call that occurred on extra-point attempts in the Jaguars’ game against New England? I also saw the call in a couple of other games this past weekend. Is this a new rule or stricter enforcement of existing rule?

Leverage is defined as a defensive player jumping or standing on a teammate to attempt to block a kick. Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell got called for it a couple of times Sunday. It’s a call that’s tricky because it doesn’t get called all the time and it’s not always obvious. I can only assume it’s being emphasized more this season, but I haven’t heard that players or coaches have been told as much.

Dudez from Jacksonteal

So has Bortles finally turned a corner?

Bortles has played well far more often than not since the beginning of last season. He has thrown 29 touchdowns with 15 interceptions since the beginning of last season. He played in the AFC Championship Game last season. He didn’t commit a turnover in three postseason games last season. He is 14-7 since the beginning of last season. Where is the corner?

Brian from New Hampshire

I get that the NFL wants to project the quarterback because it’s an offensive league, but correct me if I’m wrong: quarterbacks are still football players. Late hits I understand being flagged, but falling with your weight on someone is called a tackle. Soon the NFL will just not have defenses play.

The NFL wants to protect quarterbacks because the quality of the game suffers when starting quarterbacks don’t play, and because the quarterback is the most identifiable player on many teams. A league needs quality play and identities. As for what things are called … when you fall on a quarterback with your weight on him when it could have been avoided, it’s called an “unnecessary tackle.” The league is smart to try to legislate the play out of the game. The rule perhaps needs some tweaking, but the intent makes sense.

Marc from Lima

John, are we in a new golden age of quarterback? It seems to me every team has a legit quarterback at helm, with perhaps the exception of Arizona and Buffalo that still have some promising rookies at the position. I can't remember any time in the past when I could say this. Is it because rookies come more pro-ready? Or the longevity of quarterbacks makes it easier to have a 30 competent QBs in the league?

This is a good age for quarterbacks in the sense that most teams have a clear starter, and there are a handful of all-timers currently playing: Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers chief among them and perhaps players Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. But there are also many teams that have starters who are assumed to be good who still must prove themselves. If all of the quarterbacks that people have assumed in the last few years will be great turn out to be as good as expected, then yes … this is a golden age. But a bunch of the players who have been anointed still have much to prove before this is a golden age.

Jeff from Jacksonville

John, I go to other team websites sometimes to see what the other writers and fanbases say about the Jags. It has become rather eerie now due to the all the websites now looking so much alike. If there is one thing I appreciate that makes this site different, it's that all the other writers are mean-spirited, sarcastic, and snarky, with an attitude inversely proportional to their wit. Wait...

Shut up.

Don from Ponte Vedra, FL

Can the Jaguars keep all their players if they wanted to? My guess is that Tom Coughlin gets to keep whoever he wants. Go Jaguars!

It’s unrealistic to think the Jaguars will be able to retain all front-line players they want to keep in 2019. They will be able to replace some departing players with drafted/developed players as has been their plan for several seasons, and I imagine they will be able to restructure a contract or two, but it’s not accurate to say they will be able to keep “whoever” they want.

Renee from Duuuuuuuval!

John, is “loathe” too nice of a word for the Titans? They are repugnant, despised, abhorred, detested miscreants ... if the Titans fell off the face of the earth, the world would be a much better place. You know Biff is right, loathe does sum up how we feel! Go JAGS! Duval ‘TIL We DIE

DTWD

Brian from Fleming Island, FL

Hey Zone, what’s all this about the “Philly Special?? It’s the “Duval Special,” first unleashed against the Titans, Dec 24, 2016!

You’re talking about the throw from wide receiver Marqise Lee to quarterback Blake Bortles that resulted in a touchdown in a one-sided Jaguars victory over the Titans on Christmas Eve, 2016. And yeah, that play came well before the Philadelphia Eagles used a wide receiver-quarterback pass in the Super Bowl – and it is weird that such a big deal is being made of it. Teams have thrown to quarterbacks after handoffs to wide receivers or running backs for years. It doesn’t make coaches geniuses when they use it successfully. Gutsy? Yes. But geniuses? Nah. Biff’s the only genius I know around these parts.

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