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O-Zone: The Wise Man Cometh

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it ... JT from Jacksonville:
O, you may have missed Greg's sarcasm this week. I think he was looking for something like (in my best O-Zone style) "Hmm, maybe they could select a few of those teams and schedule meetings with the Jaguars on a football field. Each team would have opportunities to run plays on offense and defense, with some sort of scoring system to determine which team was more successful. If they can do this, say nine times between now and late December, we should have an accurate gauge on the Jaguars' improvement and how that compares to other teams in the league."
John: No, I got the sarcasm, though I can't thank you enough for your assistance. Help from the readers is always awesome. Greg, if I recall correctly, was not-so-subtly making the point that the way to tell if a team had improved is to look at its record. I, if I recall correctly, made the point in equally subtle fashion that the Jaguars can improve by playing more competitive games and by having a younger, more talented roster that will be better prepared for the future. That is … if I recall correctly.
John from Starke, FL:
John, I just turned 66. I did grow up during Lombardi and not the computer. I've seen many changes over the years, but what does DTWD stand for?
John: Duval 'Til We Die
Schelly from Sandwich, MA:
With Poz out, and J.T in the middle, who will take J.T's old spot?
John: With Paul Posluszny out with a torn pectoral, J.T. Thomas has moved from Otto linebacker to middle. Dekoda Watson will play the Otto with LaRoy Reynolds backing him up.
Jagfan from Section 201:
Scott from Jacksonville should look a little deeper into the stats than Blake's interceptions. Henne couldn't convert third downs to save his life, while Blake has excelled in that aspect of his game. I don't think it's a coincidence that we finally had a 100 yard RB last week, either.
John: Yeah, there's all of that and more. There's no question the Jaguars are a better third-down offense since Bortles took over, and that's a huge reason they have been competitive more often than not during that span. And there's even less question that a lot of the 185-yard rushing performance last week was because of Bortles. The Browns played six or seven players in the box, challenging the Jaguars to run the ball to win. They did, but a big reason the Browns worried about the pass was Bortles.
Bill from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Good win. Let's see what they do about Bortles next year as far as getting him help. Said we would lose first five games, win the next three (bad teams), tossup games with Bengals, Cowboys. Depends what team shows up. Split with Texans, beat Titans, lose the rest. Smith played against bad teams. Nothing to get excited about.
John: Well, you certainly have something all figured out. Get some rest. You've earned it.
Stephen Glorieta, NM:
Wait … someone bombed Pearl Harbor? Second question: "Do you think the players read the O-Zone?" I'd like to wish Poz the best and let him know we're pullin' for him to make a quick and full recovery. Thanks.
John: Some players do read and view the website, although most have an understandable distaste of me and therefore eschew this forum. I know Posluszny does read the website because a few weeks back he mentioned to me something I had written about him struggling. He wasn't crazy about what I'd written, and I joked with him later the conversation that followed was the nicest, politest, "chewing out" I ever had received from an athlete. That's the kind of guy he is … so yes, all the best to Poz.
Charles from Section 410:
What is with all the biceps injuries? Guys trying to outdo each other in the weight room or something? A trainer overdoing it? If the latter ... well, there is some 'splainin' to do …
John: I can 'splain. Football is a rough sport. Players get hurt. While this annually causes surprise and consternation among fans there is little that can be done about it and it probably will not change.
Jeff from Rutland, MA:
Brand new pools open up this year, and the Fish show up? Coincidence? I'm not buying it.
John: Shhh…
Steve from Jacksonville:
While it's true that "people hate hearing injuries as reasons for players struggling"... it's also true that it's often a legit issue. Just look at the transformation in Denard Robinson now that he can, you know, actually hold the ball with his previously injured hand. Let's see what Toby can do with an improving o-line and a good knee. Just sayin…
John: This is a fascinating storyline. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said this week Gerhart looked better in practice than he had since early in the season, and Gerhart said when he looked back on the early part of the season, he clearly couldn't run as he normally could. He has spent the last two weeks resting to get back to full health. How much better will he be? Stay tuned.
Patrick from Jacksonville:
I know it's early, but could Demarco Murray be a target for the Jags in the offseason?
John: He could, but it's pretty unlikely. There is speculation that Murray might not be re-signed by the Cowboys. This speculation comes because Murray absorbed a lot of carries in recent seasons, and because he has been injured. Backs with a lot of mileage sometimes don't get what they seek in free agency. There's also the matter of Murray almost certainly wanting a lot of money and the Cowboys not having much cap space. Still, it's sort of a reach to think he won't be with the Cowboys next season. If he is available this offseason, the carries and injuries are what would concern me if I were the Jaguars' front office. Plus, running backs are a very tricky proposition in free agency. It's a position very, very dependent on the quality of offensive line, and big names often fail to meet expectations for that reason.
Austin from Athens, GA:
THE CURVE IS GONE! I can't believe we are finally here O-man!
John: This is reference to something I said on Jags of the "Round" Table Saturday on this website. My point was that with the extensive nature of this building process, we have had a tendency to grade the Jaguars on a curve the last year and a half or so. During last three weeks, it has felt like the Jaguars have moved closer to being a normal team – albeit one with a strikingly young offense and rookie quarterback. In that sense, it feels as if the time for grading on a curve is gone. That's not to say the Credo is "Playoffs or Bust." This franchise isn't there yet. But this year does feel more like a normal team with young players who will grow.
Billy from Simple Country:
I like to think of the O-Zone as a running story about love, deception, greed, lust and...unbridled enthusiasm, written by a simple country boy. You might say a cockeyed optimist, who got himself mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue.
John: I think you've read one too many Billy Mumphrey stories.
Bill from Murfreesboro, TN:
We came down from Nashville to see the Jags. When they went 0-6, she wanted to sell the tickets and cancel the trip, but I convinced her to go; after all, she did say Blake Bortles was cute. She promised if the Jags win we would stay for two extra days. No way they win, she said. Wow, she was so excited at the game; we took in three more days plus visited Amelia Island a fourth. Now she wants us to retire down there in a couple years. Must've been Blake Bortles.
John: Blake Bortles is cool. People like him.
David Howard from Auburn, AL:
Will Blackmon has been stellar for us, but the younger guys have been improving so much he might be facing a huge fall in the depth chart for us either by season's end or during the offseason. While I know he'd be great to have to add more depth to our defensive backfield, I see the potential to possibly pick up a mid-round pick that could turn into a four-to-five year starter during the time we hope to contend for the Superb Owl. Would you say there's a relatively fair chance to see him traded to a team such as Atlanta or Green Bay for a fifth round pick? I should add that I love him as a player, but this is a business, and must be treated as such.
John: Ah, the never-ending desire to trade good players strikes again. Blackmon has been good, but there is enough tread on the tires that I doubt he garners a fifth-round selection. Either way, I think you overestimate the owl. It has been OK, but I don't know that I'd call it "superb."

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