O-Zone: The Great One

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Travis from High Springs, FL:
If the Jaguars beat the Titans in the last game and both teams finish with the same record, how do they determine which team wins the division?
John: The first divisional tiebreaker would be head-to-head record, and that would be a 1-1 tie in your scenario. The second tiebreaker would be division record. If neither team loses again within the division until the finale, the Jaguars would finish with a 5-1 record in your scenario compared to 4-2 for Tennessee. If the teams finish with the same division record, the tiebreaker would be head-to-head record against common opponents. Both teams are 5-1 right now against teams on the other team's schedule; obviously, a lot can change on all fronts in the final seven games.
Chad from Nashville, TN:
Looking at the remaining schedule by opposing team record, it makes sense to say the five of seven games are very winnable and the other two seem like the Jags are at least evenly matched. That is the optimistic view. Our offensive players seem to be falling apart from a health standpoint. We are getting more and more lingering injuries to the offense at all position groups. Are we healthy enough to beat the teams on the immediate horizon?
John: Falling apart? The Jaguars play in the NFL and the NFL is professional football. It's a violent game in which players get hurt – and that makes the sport one of attrition. The Jaguars' defense has been remarkably healthy this season, and the entire team has lost just three players of significance for the entire season: wide receiver Allen Robinson and long snappers Carson Tinker and Matt Overton. Elsewhere, the offense is now dealing with an ankle injury for Allen Hurns, a lingering knee issue for Marqise Lee and a few short-term injuries on the offensive line. That's not falling apart in the NFL; that's actually a pretty healthy team in November. I don't know which games on the horizon the Jaguars will win, but I don't see injuries derailing what this team has going right now.
Riley from Calgary, Canada:
Since the Bills traded away Marcell Dareus, they have lost against the Jets and the Saints, while giving up just under 200 yards of rushing. Is this just a mere coincidence or was Marcell having a bigger impact on that defense than what many failed to acknowledge?
John: I don't know the full impact of Dareus' departure on the Bills, though statistics indicate the Bills are missing something in the last two weeks.
Talha from Raleigh, NC:
We are a game behind the AFC leader and tied for the lead in the AFC South. When was the last time heading into last part of the season we were even this close?
John: December 2010.
Nathan Since '01 from Provo, Utah:
John, "You better get excited!" Not for my thought that "Hard Knocks" would eventually have to feature my Jaguars. So I ask you, why not now? I feel it would be great; it would spread and strengthen the brand and expand the fan base. How much of a distraction could it be? Total anarchy. Thanks. #THEIRONBANK
John: If the league mandates that the Jaguars appear on Hard Knocks next offseason – or any offseason – then I suppose Executive Vice President Football Operations Tom Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone would have to put up with it. Such is the nature of a mandate. I can't imagine Coughlin or Marrone would be thrilled with the situation, though. As for the question of how much of a distraction it would be … plenty, though I imagine any distraction at all would be enough for the powers-that-be to not like the idea.
Jim from Pahrump, NV:
One demon remains in order for the Jags to make the playoffs: Beat NFC teams more than once every two years.
John: I don't know if I can go there. The Jaguars have struggled against NFC teams in recent seasons because they've struggled against all teams in recent seasons. They lost to the Los Angeles Rams earlier this season because the Rams are good. They still play the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks of the NFC West this season. Maybe if they lose all those games the "NFC thing" will really be a thing. But not yet.
Frankie from the Mean Streets of Ponte Vedra, FL:
Would Dede be back by now if the Jags had sat him down the last game of the preseason?
John: I have no idea because I don't know if Dede Westbrook would have needed the core-muscle surgery had he sat out the final preseason game. The issue for Westbrook now is showing he has picked up the offense, and showing he can play well enough to be a productive member of this receiving corps. That wasn't a given during the preseason, as evidenced by him working with the backups and reserves as opposed to the first team. Because of the absence of Hurns and Robinson, he almost certainly will get ample opportunity in the coming weeks. We'll see if he makes a significant contribution. The Jaguars certainly could use one.
Romeo from 619 now but 904 born and raised:
Please tell the Jags that the Browns can't and won't be a trap game.
John: OK.
Ian from Leeds, UK:
Looking at net points, we're fourth in the NFL and first in the AFC. Granted, it's not a real measure of success, but it's nice to be able to find frivolous stats that make us look good after such a long time or ... well ... not being able to find anything like that ...
John: Net points actually are a decent indicator of how a team is playing. The Jaguars have been at or near the top in the category much of the season, which is pretty reflective of how they have played.
Roger from White House:
The Jaguars are better without Leonard Fournette spinning before he gets to the line and backing into offensive linemen.
John: And they're even better when he has room to run.
Sean from Harrisburg, PA:
Hey O, it appears with Hurns out for a while and Robinson already out, our wide receiver depth is getting pretty slim. How concerned should we be moving forward with the passing game considering Jaydon Mickens, Jaelen Strong and Dede Westbrook haven't really played at all yet?
John: Very. That doesn't mean the Jaguars' passing offense is a lost cause for the rest of the season. Bortles has done a nice job at times in the last few weeks working the ball to Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole, and Westbrook certainly showed explosiveness and playmaking ability in preseason that makes his potential intriguing. Because of those elements, it's not unreasonable to hope the Jaguars can make plays in the passing game in the coming weeks. But should the area be a concern? Absolutely.
Jon from Brentwood, CA:
I heard that the officials said they "pieced together" the opinion that Tashaun Gipson was touched down in overturning the on-field touchdown decision. If the officials are now playing Dr. Frankenstein in assessing plays that can, surely, only lead to more "monstrous" (and not in a large way) calls being made. I thought there had to be "clear evidence" to overturn a decision. Please can you try to explain?
John: I also heard the pieced-together theory. What I have not heard is an official explanation of how officials determined on replay that Gipson was down. If they indeed "pieced together" evidence, then you are correct. That is against the spirit of the rule, which indeed is that there must be clear evidence. The whole essence of replay is that a call shouldn't be missed that a guy watching a game in a sports bar could easily make. Once you get beyond that, you're beyond the spirit of replay – and overturning the Gipson touchdown based on assumption darned sure would have been beyond the spirit.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
You brought a real laugh with your comment that you have been "as critical of Blake Bortles as anyone over the past few seasons." If anything, you have been one of his most vocal supporters …
John: A great man once said there is often a difference between what is read and written. Wait, that wasn't a great man. It was me. Great speaker or not, it's striking how often the saying is true.
Neil from Gloucester, UK:
Dear Mr. Oehser: I keep seeing that the Jaguars are currently 6-3, which is an extremely good record. Excuse my lack of knowledge of all things NFL, but the questions that you receive seem to intonate that most fans are generally very unhappy. I'm not sure I understand? Isn't all about the wins/ loss column? Thank you.
John: That same man who once uttered, "There is often a difference between what is read and what is written" also once rolled over during a nap and mumbled, "Fans gonna fan." Maybe he's great after all.

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