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O-Zone: Tell the truth...

JACKSONVILLE – Victory Friday eases into Lookback Saturday …

Let's get to it … Jensen from Victoria, TX:
I am dismayed there was no Late Night O-Zone posted. How am I supposed to know how to feel?
John: Yeah, while it's tempting to fall back into my default mode of "mindlessly blaming others," this one's on me. I made the executive decision after Thursday night's game to not post O-Zone Late Night at four a.m. – and rather, to simply post the regular O-Zone at the regular time on Friday morning. The upside? More sleep for Zoney. The downside? It indeed does cheat those up at 4:30 a.m. from knowing how to feel for a few hours. Maybe I'll rethink the approach except … nah.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I like this winning thing. It's fun.
John: That's what I hear.
Miguel from Section 145 Jacksonville, duuuvalll!!!:
Do you think Sen'Derrick Mark's performance on national television on Thursday night will help his Pro Bowl consideration?
John: It won't hurt, and what really won't hurt is getting the bonus-triggering sack on the game's final play. That was a cool story and got people's attention. It will still be tough for a lesser-known interior defensive lineman on a 3-12 team to make it, but yeah … Thursday should help.
Dane from Jacksonville:
It was nice to finally see us throw it up to our 6-feet-7 tight end in the red zone. Not sure why we haven't seen that more consistently all year, but that was a cool play. I liked it.
John: One reason you haven't seen the pass to Marcedes Lewis in the red zone all season was Marcedes Lewis missed eight games. You can throw to Marcedes Lewis there if he's not in the game, I suppose, but it probably will not be ruled a touchdown. It's also hard to throw the pass if the Jaguars aren't in the red zone, and their opportunities there have been somewhat limited.
Nick from Fort Polk, LA:
I love watching this team celebrate after a win.
John: Celebrations are cool. People like them.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
It would appear the Jaguars will have some tough decisions to make with the defensive backfield next year (except free safety). There is going to be a tough camp battle in 2015 for the starting two and nickel. What a good problem to have.
John: I get your point, but I don't think the starting cornerback or strong safety positions will be much of a battle. Aaron Colvin and Demetrius McCray appear likely to start at corner with Dwayne Gratz likely the nickel, and Johnathan Cyprien will be the strong safety. But yes, the development of Colvin back there has given the Jaguars a better situation moving forward than they had at the beginning of the season. He's what my old high school basketball coach used to call a "good player."
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
I had a friend over watching the game. He is not a regular NFL watcher, but he does like college football. I told him to pay close attention to the punt returner for the Jags. After the third attempt to return and watching him run side to side instead of north and south, he couldn't believe that the coaches continue to allow him to return punts. Please let's say the Ace experiment is over.
John: After next Sunday – probably, yes.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Don't look now but the "turnover machine" has thrown two picks in four games (and the one against the Ravens shouldn't really count). Fans can think what they want about Bortles but he is definitely learning.
John: Good point.
Logan from Big Bear, CA:
What a game! We are going to be good, John! I think sooner than later. Marqise Lee-to-Blake Bortles is truly a good sight that I believe will produce many great memories – although I think it might be time to drop Cecil, or see if we can get a draft pick for him?
John: The Bortles-Lee combination indeed is showing some very early good signs – just as the Bortles-Allen Robinson and Bortles-Allen Hurns combinations have shown signs at other times this season. That's very significant because you're talking about rookies who are all starting to show those signs. You're also talking about receivers, who have a very high-percentage chance of significant improvement in their second and third seasons. So, while improvement and growth must happen – yes, with a week remaining in the season the young skill players on offense have shown very good signs. As far as Shorts goes, I'm not sure how many more times I can write this in the O-Zone before people get it: I doubt Shorts is going to be back next year. He has struggled this season. My guess is he signs somewhere else and is immediately very productive in a second- or third- receiver role. My guess is I then will receive multiple emails from people wondering why the Jaguars let a productive receiver go. That's not saying letting Shorts go will be the wrong move. Considering the youth at receiver, it's probably inevitable. But if you put him in a more complementary role, he can excel.
Chris from Philadelphia, PA:
Originally, I thought Marks' use of the money sign was funny given his bonus. But I have rooted against Manziel for years because of nonsense like that. Upon reflection, I now think that Marks' antics were pretty classless, though generally harmless as long as it remains a one-time ordeal. What did you think about the celebration?
John: I didn't see it live, but Marks did the Manziel-money thing, right? After he earned a $600,000 bonus, right? He did it in the direction of David Caldwell, the Jaguars' general manager, right? He did it all in good fun, right? He did it while being mobbed happily by teammates after a feel-good victory, right? He did at the end of the regular-season home finale, right? He did at the end of a tough season, right? He's a guy who works hard and is a joy to be around and does everything the right way, right? The celebration was spontaneous, right? Right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right … yeah, the celebration was cool. I liked it.
Biff from Jacksonville:
One of the guys on the NFL Network asked Blake about the fact he's been immersed in football without a break for over a year: final University of Central Florida season, NFL Scouting Combine, NFL Draft, training camp – and finally the regular season. What level of mental and physical demands are required to transition from the college game, and what makes some better at the transition than others? Or you could just speak to how Bortles seems to be handling it.
John: Rookies are actually immersed in football in the manner you noted for about a year and a half. It's extremely taxing – not only mentally but physically as well. It's extremely demanding, particularly considering they are young players who are trying to learn new schemes and adapting to new environments. They are also being asked to play against a faster, stronger level of competition and to absorb more complex information. It's more difficult at the quarterback position, particularly for a player being asked to start immediately. As for how Bortles is handling it, it's hard to know because I'm not inside Bortles' mind or even sitting with him and coaches in meetings (he obviously has asked me to be there, but I told him I got "stuff" going on). It appears that he is handling it as well as could be expected. He has had games and stretches of games when he's looked confused and a bit overwhelmed. He has had stretches where he seemed to be working very hard to take what he is being told in meetings onto the field. Lately, he appears to be improving at reducing interceptions while gradually making better decisions. So how is he handling it? Considering the complexity of what he's trying to learn and the pace at which he he's being asked to learn it, not bad. Not bad at all.
Terry from Chester:
Everybody likes to bash the general manager and head coach for "bust" draft picks. How about some kudos for grabbing Aaron Colvin and being patient? He could end up being a lockdown corner - similar to Richard Sherman. Your thoughts?
John: I think you're right. The Jaguars, remember, not only picked Aaron Colvin knowing he would spend much of the season rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury, they picked Bortles believing he wouldn't play immediately. That meant they were using the draft how it should be used – to select players for the long-term foundation of the franchise and not for the first half of the following season. As far as Colvin specifically, it's not fair to compare him to Sherman, but five games in he does look awfully impressive.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
SWEET HOME ALABAMA plays ... we get a big stop and WIN. Karma.
John: Turn it up.

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