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O-Zone: Whoa there

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Todd Gurley from Los Angeles, CA:
O-Zone, am I the only one that sees we match up well against your defense? Pittsburgh had two wide receivers over 200 yards; we have four. Whereas Le'Veon Bell is an excellent running back, I am near the top of the league in total yards. My young quarterback (Jared Goff) is excellent at ball distribution and your young, aggressive defensive has shown problems staying at home. We, too, are a young, ascending team – and we feel we can go into Jacksonville and steel (pun intended) this game just as you did in Pennsylvania. Our defenses are more alike statistically than people realize. Some might say it's a wash in the run game and we have the advantage in the passing game. Why do you all think this is a slam dunk?
John: Whoa there, Todd. Whoa. Who said it was a slam dunk? I've been saying all week – on Wednesday's Zone Blitz among other places – that this Sunday's game against your club is a very difficult matchup for the Jaguars. The Rams played the Seattle Seahawks tough this past Sunday and easily could have won had it not been for a couple of first-half fumbles and a second-half interception. The Rams moved well offensively – and, as you say, there's little questioning the Rams' talent on defense. The main storyline this week around the Jaguars is how they need to win at EverBank Field and "finally" win consecutive games. What those storylines often have neglected to mention is that Sunday's game doesn't really qualify as a "should win" for the Jaguars. It is, in fact, one of the tougher games remaining on the schedule.
Michael from Fruit Cove, FL:
I've hated Blake Bortles as much as most fans have, but someone mentioned trading for Eli and I decided I'd rather stay with Bortles. This is the best we've been in a long time and Bortles is the quarterback. I think we should stick with this unless something really changes for the worse.
John: Hey, one fer Bortles! Except for, you know, the part about everyone hating him.
Omegatron from North Charleston, SC:
Do you think the Jaguars would go after Alex Smith or Kirk Cousins next offseason?
John: It's possible, but a couple of things need to happen. Smith would have to be available, which considering the way he's playing this season is far from a guarantee. The Chiefs, remember, would need to release him; he has a season remaining on his contract after 2017. And while Cousins may be available this offseason, he also has a relationship with San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. I'm not saying neither Cousins nor Smith would be an option for the Jaguars, but they hardly would be gimme putts.
Scott from Gilbert:
Zone, I don't know if anyone ever said Leonard Fournette wasn't worth the fourth overall pick ... for a team that already had a quarterback. I believe the fan narrative here has been that the Panthers were very transparent about their desire to move up for Fournette, and that the trade value would have offered at minimum Deshaun Watson and a pretty good running back. Knowing we're not going to get twenty points off turnovers and play with a lead every week, can you honestly say you wouldn't rather have an ascending quarterback that can run, extend plays, and has thrown for twelve touchdowns with a rating of 100-plus over his first four-and-a-half games? I know... the Jags didn't feel he was worth a Top-10 pick, which simply illuminates the underlying problem surrounding this organization's inability to identify quarterback talent for the better part of the past two decades.
John: I honestly can't keep up with fan narratives. There seem too many to count sometimes. So if you say the fan narrative involves the Panthers and transparency … sure. Why not? The Jaguars didn't want Watson in the Top 10 last offseason. So, does a five-game sample size of his career illuminate an underlying inability to identify quarterback for decades? Sure. Why not?
Joe from Hall of Fame City, OH:
Hey John, you might wanna let everyone know that THE TEAL IS ONCE AGAIN VERY REAL!!!!!! #DTWD
John: OK!!
Vishwa from Jacksonville:
Hi Zony, I am hearing more and more about many folks saying the Jags should make a move now and trade for a veteran quarterback. Do you agree? If you were the general manager, would you do it for, say, an Eli Manning or Philip Rivers … say, for a third-rounder?
John: If I were a general manager, I absolutely would trade a third-round selection for Eli Manning or Philip Rivers. I also would be embarrassed to call another general manager and offer a third-round selection for either of those quarterbacks. I'd also hold the phone away from my ear to avoid hearing the guffawing laughter on the other phone.
Bill from Rochester, NY:
Have you ever seen a better cornerback duo than A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey? Not necessarily covered, but seen, in general.
John: It's honestly hard to say. I don't say that to avoid the question, but I tend to want to see production over an extended period. Ramsey and Bouye have played just five games together; if they do it for a season or two, then historical comparisons start to make a little more sense. But, yes: they're playing at an extremely high level. It's intriguing to think what they can accomplish.
Justin from Tallahassee, FL:
Does there seem to be more unity in the locker room this year compared to years past? Obviously, wins bring people together but even at the start of the season has the team's bond seemed more unique to other years?
John: This team seems unified and tight, and there are many players who attribute that to a tougher-than-normal training camp under Head Coach Doug Marrone. I'm sure there is a bond. But teams also tend to be very tight when things are going well and not always tight otherwise. This team's tight. The players seem to get along well. Better than other years? That's honestly hard to say.
Scott from Jacksonville:
If the Jaguars are in the hunt for the playoffs by Week 15, would it be possible to reactivate Allen Robinson? I wasn't sure of the severity of his injury and if it was possible, but what a surge that would create for a playoff team, huh?
John: Robinson sustained an anterior cruciate ligament. His goals for returning involve next season.
Sandman from Jacksonville:
Tyler Shatley looked good against a good defense. Is it time to move Brandon Linder to guard? Would that be a better option than the left guard we have now?
John: No.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
Just curious why the Jags are playing at 4:05 Sunday. Are they just swell guys who believe in making the opposition as comfortable as possible by playing on their timetable and not taking advantage of jet lag? Oh and also, how about a little one-fer for our AMAZING rookie left tackle. I think he has performed pretty admirably for his first few games in the league.
John: The Jaguars are playing at 4:05 p.m. Sunday because that's when the NFL scheduled the game. And yes … one fer Cam Robinson. It's hard to start an NFL career much better than he has started his.
Chris from Roseville, CA:
The season ended last week and the Jaguars are one-and-done in the playoffs. Kansas City loses in the AFC Championship game and offers Alex Smith for 2018's 1st and 3rd. Do you make the trade?
John: Perhaps, but if I'm Kansas City and I just lost in the AFC Championship Game I don't know that I would be in an all-fire hurry to trade my quarterback.
Jeff from Castle Rock, CO:
I looked at the remaining schedule and none of the teams scare me. With the defense playing as well as they have in four of the first five games and the running game being better than average, the Jags could potentially win out. I'm not saying they will end the season 14-2, but it's also not out of the realm of possibilities. The coaching staff needs to put together more game plans like the London game against the Ravens and this team could dominate both defensively and offensively. The talent is finally here (except for consistency at receiver) to become a playoff team. Any chance they go find at least one receiver to improve the passing game?
John: Again, I say: Whoa there. And I must admit I stopped reading when you started talking about "winning out." Look, this is an improved defensive team. When it gets a lead and creates turnovers, it can look dominant. But it's a team that's probably going to be in close games if it can't create turnovers and close games sometimes go the other way. I think the Jaguars can get to eight or nine victories – possibly a little higher. But let's pump the brakes on 14-2. There is quite a lot of improving to do, and quite a lot of consistency to show before anything close to that happens.

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