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O-Zone: Team player

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Logan from Wichita, KS:
Why did Tashaun Gipson have to poke a wounded animal? The Browns' record says they are bad, but their scores and personnel dispute that record A LOT! I hope Gipson didn't light a fire in the Browns that will rage on us come Sunday. There is nothing worse than losing a game you should win because you started a fire you couldn't put out. And seriously: if we lose, we are back to being a huge joke in the NFL and a lot of hope will be gone.
John: I'll offer a few thoughts on this "story" – and yeah, the "quotation marks" show what I think of the story's ultimate importance. While players' comments – especially comments critical of opponents – make for entertaining midweek reading, they tend to lose steam once the game begins. That's not to say the Browns can't win Sunday; they absolutely can. But if the Browns indeed beat the Jaguars Sunday, it will be because the Browns played without the mistakes that have cost them a lot of games this season, or because the Jaguars made enough mistakes to allow the Browns to win a game the Jaguars should win. Or maybe the Browns will just put it together and outplay the Jaguars. Any of those things are possible, because it's the NFL – and because the Browns appear to still be playing with hope despite their record. But nothing that happens Sunday will be because of Gipson's comments on his former team. As for your thoughts on the dire implications of a loss … nah. If the Jaguars happen to lose Sunday, they will be 6-4 and still very much in the AFC South and the playoff chase. This is the NFL. Good teams lose to teams with horrendous records all the time. It's why teams rarely go 0-16 or 16-0. This isn't college football.
Dylan from Duval:
It's nice to wear Jags gear around town with above-normal pride. People are excited. One for Duval. #DTWD
John: #DTWD
HD from Jacksonville:
With our wide receiver corps depleted, any idea why there hasn't been more emphasis on tight ends? James O'Shaughnessy has been mainly absent from a reception perceptive after a couple of flashes early on – and with Marcedes Lewis … well, it is hit or miss. It seems like when he is on he can catch everything thrown his way – and some other times, not so much. But in any case, it doesn't seem like there has been much focus on tight ends in the passing game. Any thoughts?
John: The receiving ability of the tight ends – while good at times – is not an overriding strength of this offense. Their role this season reflects that.
Tim from Jaxx:
Winning sure makes your job easier, doesn't it zone?
John: Not particularly, but it makes the readers (most readers, anyway) a lot happier. I do like that.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Right now, it looks like there are only five good teams in the AFC (Steelers, Patriots, Chiefs, Titans, Jaguars). Everyone else is either having a quarterback crisis, devastated by injury, not that good to begin with or inexplicably loses games despite good talent (Chargers). In order for the Jags to miss the playoffs, two of these teams would have to turn it around quickly; do you see any of them doing that?
John: The Jaguars have a two-game lead on the final wild-card spot. With seven games remaining, that does give them a significant chance for their first postseason appearance in a decade. Still, history shows that at least one team that people currently see as "not good" will play well down the stretch. I believe the Raiders – and perhaps the Ravens – are capable of doing that.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Those three home games in a row in December look to be important.
John: I'll Google this.
Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Near the end of the Bengals game, the Jaguars could have taken a knee; instead, they ran three more plays. Right tackle Jermey Parnell limped off after the third play, and then [quarterback Blake] Bortles was seen having some heated words with [Head Coach Doug] Marrone as he walked off the field. As I was watching, I thought it unwise to run plays when you didn't have to, considering someone could get hurt. Now Parnell's hurt. Thoughts?
John: My thoughts are that this is a tricky spot. Should the Jaguars have knelt in that situation? In retrospect, perhaps. But the adrenaline was flowing, and it's understandable that Bortles and the offense wanted to score again in that situation. Bottom line: players get hurt in the NFL. I'm for resting players when situations call for it, but you can't not run one or two plays out of fear of a player getting injured.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Can some of your readers stop and smell the flowers? Geez, what a unhappy, ungrateful bunch.
John: So true. Aren't they great?
Alan from Jacksonville:
The Browns can run the ball and they can stop the run. On paper, they have a talented roster, which sounds like another team I know from a year ago. If we played the Browns 10 times, how many times do you think they could beat us? I am a little concerned about our team looking ahead.
John: The Jaguars won't look ahead, but that doesn't mean the Browns aren't a concern. I'd say the Browns could win this game one or two times out of 10 because it's the NFL; teams are rarely as bad as their record and a weak record doesn't make them incapable of being competitive.
Geoff from Jax:
My prediction for the rest of the season, this Holba kid will make us forget about Tinker.
John: #Tink #Neverforget
Mark from Archer, FL:
Rookie wide receivers can make an impact. Look at JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Steelers. In my opinion we do not need Dede Westbrook to come out and play like an elite No. 1 receiver. We just need him to come out and play like a No. 2 or 3 receiver. I know the argument is that he was good in the preseason against No. 2 and 3s. But those are still NFL players.
John: Actually, a lot of the players Westbrook excelled against in the preseason aren't NFL players. Such is the difference between playing in the second half of NFL preseason games and the first. That doesn't mean Westbrook can't have an impact, but that's why he's still a very unknown NFL entity.
Clyde from Jacksonville:
I have a feeling Dede could be like our past receiver Justin Blackmon. During the preseason, he reminded me of Blackmon: anytime he got the ball he seemed to make a play. What do you think, O Wise One??
John: I think Blackmon's hands and his body control gave him an elite skill set, and he was remarkably productive at times in his brief career. I can't say I see that in Westbrook until I see him work against starting NFL defensive players, but if what he did in the preseason translate to the regular season – yeah, he has playmaking ability and speed to make plays.
Andrew from Sampson, FL:
All-knowing O man: what is the actual touching-a downed-player rule. Does it mean the downed player with the ball is touching a player on opposing team or that the downed player with the ball is actually purposely touched by a player of opposing team?
John: All that's required is a touch. Purpose or intent has nothing to do with it.
Kevin from Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada:
Can you speak to the performance of the interior defensive line over the last few weeks, including what the addition of Marcell Dareus has meant to the unit? You hear a lot of the pass rush and Calais Campbell, but not as much of how Malik Jackson and Abry Jones are doing, and how Sheldon Day is progressing? Thanks, eh.
John: The interior defensive line for the most part has been good. From this view, it appeared to struggle against the run early in the season – and those struggles were addressed with the trade for Dareus over the bye week. The run defense has improved from 32nd in the NFL to 25th since his arrival, and the team has allowed 58 rushing yards per game in the two games. Jones appears to have played well for the most part, and he seems to have played better in recent weeks. Jackson appears to be making more of an impact in recent weeks after being on the injury report with a groin issue for most of the first half of the season.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
The weather in Cleveland for Sunday will be windy and cold. Will this have an impact to the Jaguars media team not sequestered in the press box?
John: I work from the press box on game days. Most of the rest of the Jaguars media team does not. What impact will that have on them? I don't care about that. Does anyone?

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