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O-Zone: Turkey time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ken from Jacksonville:
How come you're the only one that puts the obvious slant on the poor play-calling inside the 10? Obviously, the good ones are the ones that work. We don't call enough of them. Too many highly regarded NFL analysts totally disagree with how we approach the play-calling inside the 10. Greg Olson is stubborn and not exactly on the ball when it comes to goal line. Why can't you just admit that?
John: My slant on red-zone play-calling is that good plays are ones that work and bad plays are ones that don't because good play calls are ones that work and bad play calls are ones that don't. Also, while I may have missed the round table of highly-regarded analysts breaking down the Jaguars' red-zone woes, it doesn't sound as if they discussed Toby Gerhart missing two holes in London – or Blake Bortles struggling with fade passes. I'm not one to say the play-calling has been perfect inside the red zone. I believe I've written several times that I wouldn't have run all three times from first-and-goal on the 7 against the Titans. But I am one to say that play-calling is usually not nearly as awful as fans believe. It's also amazing how good play-calling gets when players make plays.
Jay from Montreal, Canada:
A-Rob is a fierce man, and I'm thrilled he's on our team. Both he and Telvin deserve a Pro Bowl nod. I'm curious about your shout out to Roy Miller. Has he really been playing at that high a level? I confess I haven't noticed.
John: Yes.
Jason from Atlanta, GA:
The Jaguars tried to pass in the red zone and got sacked. They tried to run in the red zone and got stuffed. But give Greg Olson credit: I thought it was a great adjustment to go with the empty backfield set. It gives Bortles a quick option in case of a blitz and worked to perfection. Do you think we will see more of this look in the red zone since it was successful Thursday?
John: I'm sure it will be an option. One thing about going with formations because they work is other teams have a tendency to see that they work and design things to stop it. Defenses are crafty that way.
Donald from Orange Park, FL:
I sleep better knowing that Telvin Smith is a Jaguar. Wow.
John: If you're going to build a contending NFL franchise you have to hit on a few players outside the first few rounds. Consider Smith a "hit."
Robert from Lexington, KY:
The win expectancy percentage for the Jags went from 96 percent if they had gone for it on fourth and a foot to 76 percent when they kicked the field goal. Does the analytics department voice that Gus has in his headset give him odds like that to help make his decisions in real time, or is that something that isn't brought up until after the game?
John: The Jaguars must be winning consistently for people to be questioning so many decisions that have resulted in … victories. Seriously, I doubt the "analytics voice" would have been in Bradley' ear at that point because that would mean that voice feeding Bradley such percentages throughout the game. That could qualify as information overload. Plus, while I didn't see that statistic – and frankly, don't much care about it – it doesn't take into account the game situation. The Titans had just used their final timeout, which meant after the field goal the Titans were going to have to drive the length of the field for a TOUCHDOWN in 2:19. The Titans to that point in the game had scored one touchdown, with that coming on a drive aided by back-to-back interference penalties. I also doubt it took into account the Jaguars' offense's performance in short-yardage in the last month or so – and that performance hasn't really been you know … good.
David from Durban, South Africa:
Do you think it is time to show Mr. Miller some love with a contract extension? We certainly have the cap room to do so with a cap-friendly deal (by that I mean a genuine deal without those meaningless crazy numbers in the back end of the deal to pad the numbers).
John: The Jaguars extended Roy Miller's contract at the end of last season.
John from Savannah, GA:
After a Thursday game, what is a typical weekend for Jaguars players? Do they practice, have meetings, or do they get three days off?
John: No need to apologize – at least not for your question. The Jaguars met on Friday, but did not practice that day. They then had Saturday and Sunday off and will condition on Monday.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Much respect and keep up the awesome work: you are making a difficult season bearable.
John: Greg, I gotta be honest: I'm not sure I sympathize if you find this season unbearable. I don't think it's in any way a great season, and there certainly were some rough spots early, but the Jaguars have won three of four games and are in the division chase with six weeks remaining. If that's not great, it's certainly not lousy.
Rhoden from Middleburg, FL:
If I'm not mistaken, if you have one point more than the other team at the end of the contest you win. There are too many Jags fans that – consciously or not – consider college football, where you normally win or lose by a wide margin. Until they can separate the two they'll never be satisfied with an "ugly" win. And I really thought the uniforms were great.
John: I don't know that the phenomenon of which you speak has all that much to do with college football, and I don't know that it's exclusive to Jaguars fans … I do know that margin of victory doesn't matter in the NFL. I also know that many people forget that even the worst NFL teams have professional football players playing for them. Blowouts are difficult in the NFL, and they're especially difficult for young, developing teams. They will come for this team, but there may not be many this season.
Duran from Rapid City, SD:
The National Media Respect thing is silly. Look at Carolina: I still hear whispers on the radio and television of how they aren't that good. It really doesn't matter. It may feel good to hear someone that's well affiliated with sports speak about your team in high regards, but at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. I think realization of that will come with age.
John: Winning will bring "respect." I'd say it will bring all the respect Jaguars fans crave, but I don't know that that's possible. Here's the nice thing about the NFL: polls don't matter and neither does respect. You earn your way into the postseason. If you don't lose there, you get something better than respect.
Max from Logan, UT:
Screeching Weasel or Minor Threat? Will Dante Fowler Jr. start camp next year in better physical condition (more bulk, etc.) than where he would have been this year had he not been injured?
John: Minor Threat. I would expect Fowler's conditioning, bulk, etc., to be about what it would have had he not been injured. As far as his quickness and agility, we'll see, but because he has had so much time to rehabilitate, he has a chance to be very close to 100 percent.
Steve from Denver, CO:
O- I'm not angry that Branch looked good in the last series, but he acted on the last play of the game like he won the Super Bowl by himself! It's a team game. Does he act like a prima donna in the locker room?
John: Branch has taken heat from fans – and media – for his windmill celebrations, but I didn't have a problem with that last celebration Thursday. Game-winning sacks don't happen every day. His celebration didn't bother anybody. As for him being a prima donna … no – and in fact, when I see Branch this season I see a guy who appears to have grown up quite a bit.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Is there a rule stating how many alternate jerseys a team can have? I ask because I think the gold jersey would look GREAT with black pants, black socks and black shoes. Is there any plan to keep the jersey? Just don't wear the gold and gold again. Ever. Never. Even if there's a fire.
John: I liked the all gold, and I wasn't alone – though I don't know what the future holds for that look. Teams can have three jerseys – a home, away and an alternate. The Jaguars' alternate is the teal jersey, though because of the use of gold there are no plans to use the teal jersey this season.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Hell, yeah … the turkey's gonna taste better this year! DUUUUUVALLLLLLLLL!
John: Even at Frenette's.

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