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O-Zone: Special

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, what’s left to play for this season? Will the team start heavily playing young players so fans can at least see what we have or don’t for three seasons from now after the next rebuild is done? Aside from competing for the sake of competition, why shouldn’t players conserve their bodies for next year? What’s your prediction for how close to No. 1 overall the Jags can draft if they go 3-13?

While the Jaguars’ playoffs hopes aren’t technically dead, it’s absolutely OK to wonder the purpose of the rest of the 2018 regular season. A couple of things to remember as we get into that phase, though. One is while fans slip into that way of thinking very quickly, coaches and players don’t typically view games that way – even games at the end of a regular season; players and coaches have little to gain by playing for draft positioning. Also, while fans often talk of “playing young players to see what a team has,” there in fact are often comparatively few players in position to do this. For the Jaguars, for example, young receivers and running backs are already playing. Same with tight ends. I imagine you will see rookie wide receiver DJ Chark’s snaps continue to increase, but I would think that would have happened anyway. Defensively, it would make sense to get safety Ronnie Harrison and defensive end Taven Bryan an increased role. The same is true of cornerbacks Tre Herndon and/or Quenton Meeks. Could you see Cody Kessler get a start or two at quarterback later in the season? I suppose, though I imagine we’ll get a better feel for that over the next few weeks. As far as players conserving their bodies … if a player is hurt, then he won’t play. If he is healthy, he will play. NFL careers are short. Games are precious. If possible, players almost always want to play – or at least they should. And I imagine the Jaguars would selected somewhere between Nos. 2 and 4 overall if they finish 3-13. I don’t think that will happen. We’ll see.

Paul from St. Johns, FL

I need your expert eye O. Was Jalen Ramsey playing man coverage a lot this weekend with the other defensive backs were in zone? Was Ramsey going rogue?

I wouldn’t say it happened a lot. It did happen at least once – and it was costly. Players make assignment errors without going “rogue.” I assume an error’s an error until proven otherwise.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436 since 1995

3-13???

No. At least I don’t think so.

Joseph from San Marcos, TX

When the NFL changed the catch rule, my first thought is that it would lead to a proliferation of catch-fumbles. How many of the fumbles this year would have been incomplete passes under last year's rule?

For the Jaguars? None that I can recall. I can’t speak for every fumble around the NFL this season.

Edward from Los Angeles, CA

Is it time to get a better look at Ronnie Harrison at strong safety?

A better look in this case would mean one of the first in-game looks. While Harrison has played extensively this season as the nickel defensive back in the big-nickel package, the rookie hasn’t played much as a true strong safety. But yes … considering how veteran Barry Church has played in recent weeks – and considering Harrison likely will start with Church likely gone next season – it would seem to make sense to play Harrison there relatively soon.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

Looks like all of those "tough contract decisions" that were going to be made at the end of this season may not be so tough after all.

Fair.

Paul from Jacksonville

I wasn't one who was panicking at the beginning of the Jags' losing streak. Now, I feel like I've skipped over alarm, panic and anger and gone straight to resignation. Back to looking forward to the offseason changes at Week 10. *sigh*

Fair.

Yoav from St. Johns, FL

John, what? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!

Fair.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

One fer waaaay more Chark. Time to see what he can do and let him develop. He and running back Leonard Fournette are about all we have to look forward to on this offense and one of the few things worth watching the rest of the season.

Chark has gotten more snaps in the last two weeks than he had in the first seven games. I expect that to continue, but yeah … one fer more Chark.

John from the Apartment Next Door

Blake is so close to being praised for two straight come-from-behind wins, but the receiver room has really dropped the ball the last couple weeks. Yet he still gets all the hate?

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles in the last two games has done pretty much what the team expected from him this season. He has played turnover free, managed situations and given the team a chance to win. The receivers and defense have let the Jaguars down. And yes … Bortles does get a lot of hate. That’s how it is with quarterbacks. And senior writers. And the Kardashians.

Steve from Atlantic Beach, FL

As a diehard fan and the season now lost, my hope is every pass Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws past the line of scrimmage it is directed to Mr. Malcontent's side and he gets lit up like a roman candle.

People are mad at Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. That’s fair. If he’s going to say certain things there’s going to be a reaction. I’m sure he understands that. At least you would think he would.

Shaun from Jacksonville

With essentially the same personnel from last year, why are the Jaguars unable to get to the quarterback this year?

Multiple reasons. The biggest is the Jaguars haven’t led as much this year as last season, when 41 of their 55 sacks came when they held the lead. The secondary also isn’t covering quite as well for as long; that has given the Jaguars fewer “coverage” sacks. The pass rush is perhaps a tick off from last season, though I haven’t seen a major difference in obvious passing situations. The Jaguars also haven’t been able to take advantage of struggling offenses as they did at least twice last season – in 10-sack games against Houston and Indianapolis. Plus, teams are scheming differently and quarterbacks are getting the ball out faster against the Jaguars. All of that has conspired for fewer sacks, but the biggest reason is the lack of leads. Teams playing with the lead put themselves in far fewer situations to get sacked than teams that are trailing.

Matthew from Fort Worth, TX

Ugh. Losing sucks. Can we do some winning please?

I’ll google this.

Tom from Charleston, SC

Over the past couple of weeks, I have seen multiple excuses for the poor play by this team. One point that hasn't been considered is that this is exactly what the Jaguars are and 2017 was a fluke.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have written many reasons the team is playing poorly. And I have answered multiple questions that state or imply last season was a fluke. I repeatedly have said that’s a silly notion. The Jaguars were good last season. You won’t win division titles on flukes and you don’t make the AFC Championship Game on a fluke. I can’t remotely control whether people agree on this. I imagine many people won’t agree. That’s fine. People don’t have to agree, and I don’t expect everyone to understand reality.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

If the Colts beat the Titans, the Ravens beat the Bengals, and the Jaguars beat the Steelers, the Jaguars will be one game behind a five-way tie for the last wild card spot. Crazier things have happened. A lot crazier. Just sayin'.

The Jaguars have lost five consecutive games and they have led once in those games. They have slipped from first place to last in the AFC South and are now in 12th place in the AFC. They have found multiple ways to lose games, which is usually the case when things go bad in the NFL. They are coming off a game with enough inexcusable mental errors defensively to give you cause to realistically wonder if some players are paying attention. I assume they are, but it’s fair to wonder. Until the Jaguars win and play well doing it, it’s probably best to consider making the postseason a crazy idea.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

I guess every year there is a team that goes worst to first in their division and vice versa. And you rarely see it coming...

No, you don’t. This season has been a special kind of surprise.

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