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O-Zone: Some head of hair

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Seth from Denver, CO:
Did anyone else notice how much better the rush defense was after Sen'Derrick Marks came back? As soon as he left the game on Sunday, the Ravens started having success running the ball. I am concerned about the run defense now that Marks is injured again. Can we really hope for anything close to the same level of play on the interior line without him in the game?
John: Sure, others noticed it – and the Jaguars' defenders and coaches certainly noticed it. Marks matters; that's why he's one of the team's most important players. And while Marks is known primarily for his ability to rush the passer from the interior, he's an underrated run player. The Jaguars have been a pretty good run defense all season. As Marks improved in the last few weeks, it had gotten better and better. In the last two games, it had become an absolute strength. A big reason for the different level was that Marks' ability to penetrate and disrupt made it difficult for teams to run inside. The Jaguars can play good defense without Marks, but it will be hard to be as disruptive. Frankly, I doubt they will be as good. He's a core player for a reason.
Adam from Jagsonville:
Thursday night is going to be fun! Heck, the next few days are going to be fun! John, it's the middle of November and the Jags are in it. They have a chance. Big game, big stage, and big opportunity. Let's lock down the 'Bank and go get it, baby!!!
John: #DTWD
Tom from Virginia Beach, VA:
Do you think the key to winning Thursday night is to stop another running quarterback (see Carolina)? Is not being able to pressure the quarterback actually a benefit in this case?
John: It's never good to not pressure the quarterback. If you can get pressure quickly, you can bother mobile quarterbacks or immobile ones. And that pressure always forces quarterbacks to do something they don't want to do.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
What did you make of Harbaugh sending out three ex-Jags as captains for the game?
John: Whatever.
John from St. Louis, MO:
O-Man, Johnathan Cyprien is not a playmaker, which I can accept. However, why has he yet to emerge as an assignment, fundamental, safety on a consistent basis?
John: You ask your question in a way that makes you seem very certain of your premise. That certainty is not all that well-founded.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
Am I crazy to think that playing Jared Odrick at the three and having Tyson Alualu be an edge-setter would benefit this team? Odrick has shown the ability to pass rush from the middle.
John: I don't think you're crazy, and with Sen'Derrick Marks out it wouldn't be crazy at all if the Jaguars tried it.
Todd from Jacksonville:
Hey, O, when can we expect to see Rashad Greene back on the field? With Bryan Walters and Allen Hurns a little beat up, we sure could use him.
John: Greene is eligible to come off of injured reserve-designated to return Thursday against Tennessee. I expect to see that happen.
Sid from Jacksonville:
It seems to me if we make the playoffs we will be overachieving and it could set this team back in terms of drafting top-tier talent in what is widely considered a deep draft class. I think Dave Caldwell does a great job drafting talent and feel that the team's long-term future will benefit from (another) Top 10 selection. Am I wrong to feel this way?
John: Feelings are rarely wrong. I have feelings. I cry. A lot. But the Jaguars would be wrong to try to lose to miss the playoffs and move up in the draft. A Top 10 selection is fine, but the draft is an uncertain process; a few spots here or there don't provide enough of an advantage to make it beneficial to miss the playoffs. Win all you can and worry about the draft later.
Earny from Springville, AL:
Was that Brian Sexton I saw chasing Coach Bradley after the kick? Anything to be useful, I guess.
John: Yeah, the more you can do …
Mike from Navarre, OH:
What do you see as being the reason for the disconnect between Bortles and Thomas? Is it Bortles? Is it Thomas? Is it the lack of practice in game situations early in the season? Tell it like it is, O-man.
John: I see the reason as being the same reason it was last week. First, I've written since Thomas arrived in Jacksonville that it was going to be difficult for him to reach the 12-touchdowns-per-season pace here that he had in Denver. The Jaguars' offense isn't yet as potent as Denver's and Bortles in Year Two isn't on the level of Peyton Manning in 2013 and 2014. Still, I am a little surprised Thomas hasn't been more productive. Some of it is chemistry with Bortles. Some of it is circumstances (the Jaguars have narrowly missed a few big plays to Thomas). Some of it is defenses taking away Thomas, which has created opportunities for Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. Either way, the Jaguars are a better offense with Julius Thomas than without him, and I expect the numbers to reflect that a little more by season's end.
Kyle from Ohio:
Blake Bortles is bottom five in the league in completion percentage, sacks against, and interceptions. Am I wrong to be doubting him? Yes, he has some yards otherwise I'm not impressed.
John: It's fair to doubt Bortles because it's easy when watching a young quarterback to forget where he has been and not understand where he is going. Bortles, remember, struggled mightily in a struggling offense last season. He realistically wasn't going to go from that to perfection this season – especially in a first-year offense and without the full complement of receivers. He has improved this season. If you believe this is the best Bortles will be, then sure, this isn't good enough. But Bortles improved from Year One to Year Two and I don't think it's unreasonable to think that will continue. Also, you didn't mention touchdowns, either. Do they count?
Charles from Jacksonville:
Will the Jaguars win enough games to make it to the playoffs this year?
John: We'll see.
James from Jacksonville:
The Jags have scored 20 or more points five straight games. Last time that happened was five years ago in 2010. The Jaguars finished the season 8-8.
John: It's probably not coincidental that this team feels like it is moving toward a higher level than it has reached since before 2010, either. I don't know what the end game holds as far as record for this season, but I do know this offense feels like it's moving in the right direction.
Jerry from Ponte Vedra, FL:
It appears we are so anxious to stop the run we are not disciplined in reading our keys on the running back and tight end when they release for a pass? Is it possible we are too focused on stopping the run?
John: It's possible that the Jaguars have given up plays in the passing game at times when selling out to stop the run. That happens; the reverse happens as well. But this team needs to stop the run consistently and force opponents into second- and third-and long situations because of its struggles to rush the passer. If this team can't stop the run, it has very little chance of playing good defense.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
Sunday was not a 'win;' it was an act of God. Also, as a loyal fan from the beginning, I would like to motion that whoever is responsible for the design of those Thursday night uniforms be relieved of their job. That is all.
John: Did you just meet Jerell, or have you guys been hanging out for a while?
Eric from Orlando and Section 151:
The NFL coming out and saying the last play should have never happened because the refs missed a false-start penalty is a little bit annoying. If the refs got every call right all the time it would be a completely different game. They missed many calls that game that should have gone in our favor, so it's a bit ridiculous for them to even come out and report that.
John: The NFL notifies teams on a regular basis of mistakes made in previous games. This notification usually follows written notifications from teams about potential mistakes. When the mistakes occur at the end of games and when they occur on a game-deciding plays, they get reported widely in the media. That's what happened with the end of the Jaguars-Ravens game. What also happened is the Jaguars moved to 3-6.
Michael from Jacksonville:
I'm sure you can go back and watch a lot of penalties that should have been called.
John: Yes, and illegal formation and illegal motion is missed and overlooked throughout pretty much every game. Also, the Jaguars are 3-6.
Robert from Ventura:
What's up with Olson's hair? Is it always wet? Is that gel? Is it hard to the touch? It looks ridiculous.
John: I mentioned Olson's hair to Shadrick the other day. We talked casually for a bit before he began weeping the soul-cleansing tears of the insanely jealous.

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