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O-Zone: #winner

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mike from Navarre, OH:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the 8.5 sacks Sen'Derrick Marks put up back in 2014 a really high number for a three-technique tackle? If he stays healthy and can compete at that 2014 level, this defensive line is near unstoppable. Waves of impact players. Is this even legal to be this good?
John: A couple of thoughts on your thoughts. One is that 8.5 sacks indeed is a high number for a defensive tackle, and it's a number that speaks to how well Marks was playing before sustaining the torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 17 of that season. He was a dominant force and a big reason the Jaguars' defensive line got relatively consistent pressure that season. The Jaguars believe interior pressure is very important in the modern NFL with offenses emphasizing quick releases by quarterbacks – and Marks indeed was consistently disruptive from the interior that season. As far as this year's line being unstoppable … we're not there yet. It has a chance to be good. It appears there are multiple players at multiple spots capable of getting consistent pressure. I don't know that there's a double-digit sacks guy because it remains to be seen if Leo end Dante Fowler Jr. is ready to be that guy. So, yeah, I think the defensive line can be effective – but perhaps not illegally so.
Westley from Florin:
Have you ever considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.
John: Fair point.
Jake from Hamden, CT:
With the offense looking good so far this preseason, do you expect a little less work for the starters this week than a typical Week 3 preseason game?
John: Not really. While I would be in favor of not playing Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns or Chris Ivory because I know what to expect from those players, Preseason Week 3 is the dress-rehearsal game. Part of that rehearsal includes making halftime adjustments, so I would expect most of the starters to play into the third quarter.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
The guy wearing No. 91 for this year's Jaguars squad already looks light years ahead of the guy who wore No. 91 last year. How good do you think Yannick can be this year and for years to come?
John: I think Yannick Ngakoue can be really good in the future, and I think he can be effective this season. I don't know what "effective" means in terms of number of sacks, but I think he can get enough pressure to worry and affect the quarterback in some important situations. Forget sacks: that's what didn't happen enough last season.
Rob from the Duuuu:
Coach Zone, tomorrow is Game One and you have to pick your best pass rusher to start at Leo. Is it Yannick or Dante?
John: I'm still going with Dante Fowler Jr. We'll see how it plays out once the regular season begins.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
I think the real question on everyone's mind after two weeks is, "Where have you gone, Cap Capi? Our defense turns its lonely eyes to you."
John: Stop. Please.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
After two good outings does it make sense to put Blake out there for the last two games? Do you think it would be more productive to see what Allen brings to the table?
John: It makes sense to play Bortles Sunday. If you're going to play your starting offense – which the Jaguars will do on Sunday – you play your starting quarterback. As for the preseason finale … no, I doubt Bortles or the starters will play in that game.
Jason from Jacksonville:
I don't see the problem with Blake Bortles leaning on Allen Robinson and throwing up 50/50 balls, but I think Bortles has shown progress this preseason. He has thrown a couple of back-shoulder passes to Robinson, which are more like 95/5 balls. The only jump ball he has thrown is when he and Robinson showed maturity and recognized they had a free play. In that case it was really a 100/0 ball. Just keep throwing those 5/15 balls ... those two are really fun to watch!
John: There isn't a problem with Bortles leaning on Robinson. The latter is turning into an elite receiver who excels at making big plays downfield. When he is one-on-one with a defensive back, statistics/history shows that he makes the play more often than not. When you have that sort of talent/reliability, you're silly not to use it.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
I have only seen Jalen Ramsey for a limited time. However, it felt like I wasn't watching a rookie play. He seemed confident in his assignments, and looked like someone who was right at home near the line of scrimmage on a run play. I'm sure he will be successful as a corner however long he plays there, but I feel like I saw a future very good safety. I haven't seen a rookie here come in and instantly add value, be an instant upgrade, since probably Fred Taylor and MJD. What do you see? What do the players and coaches think?
John: You're correct in your assessment of Ramsey, but I don't get the idea playing safety is in his immediate future. He has elite ability at corner, and there's no reason to take him out of that position unless he proves otherwise. You're also probably right about the last time a rookie truly added instant value, too. That's not unusual, because true impact rookies that make a tangible difference are rare. Ramsey looks like he could be just that. One reason is he's playing a position where that's easier to do than, say, linebacker or defensive line, but the biggest reason could be that he's just good enough to do it.
Zach from Jacksonville:
I'm sure you've gotten this a bunch, but what were your impressions from Ramsey on Saturday? Given the limited number of snaps.
John: He was impressive.
Zach from Jacksonville Beach:
When I look at Jalen Ramsey I see a guy who was made to blitz from the nickel corner spot at least two to three times a game. Do you think this is something the Jaguars will do with him on a regular basis?
John: Jaguars coaches understandably don't share a lot of specifics on topics such as this, but yeah … I think it's safe to assume Ramsey might blitz from time to time.
Superfan from Hypeville:
Everyone is lauding praise on Allen Robinson (correctly in my opinion) for his "next-level" star potential. It's becoming clear that opposing defensive coordinators will have to consistently account for him. What seems to get overlooked is that last season Allen Hurns (who seems to be a little left out of the wide-receiver love fest) was two injured games away from posting very similar numbers as Robinson. I understand that he has a slightly different skill set, but is it possible that all this focus on Robinson could open the floodgates for a more balanced attack across the offense and thus open things up for Hurns. And while we're at it, shouldn't more "stars" emerge generally? Am I over "fanning"?
John: Robinson indeed is emerging as an elite receiver, and that means he's a player defensive coordinators enter the game knowing they must stop. When that's the case, coordinators commit more scheme and personnel to stopping that player, tilting the defense toward that player. Once that happens and offensive coordinators/quarterbacks realize it happens, it indeed presents opportunities for other players. Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Julius Thomas – all will benefit from coordinators needing to focus on Robinson.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
Just to add to the injury thing ... believe it or not there are football players who suffered injuries in college who went on to play in the NFL and "never" get injured. If there is anything in football, that is unpredictable it's injury. #noneforJagsin16'
John: One thing that always intrigues and even baffles me is fans' reaction to injuries. I understand frustration and even anger when a player on their team is injured and can't contribute, but when that frustration and anger turns to blame or accusations about a players' toughness … baffling. Football players get injured. Sometimes they happen in waves. Sometimes they're fluky. Sometimes they occur because of wear and tear on the body. But they happen. And they always will. My thought is that fewer fans would express wonder at players being injured if they stood on the sidelines for a short time during an NFL game. When viewed at that proximity one more often comes away wondering how players don't get injured as opposed to wondering how they do.
Cliff from A Trailer Park Near You:
John, I'm a degenerate that lives in my mother's trailer and keeps coming back to O-Zone with different user names/handles because … well, I don't have a life. Do you have any suggestions on taking the first step towards self-improvement?
John: You're asking for suggestions on improvement? Free rent? A live-in cook? A glorious hobby that involves reading? It sounds to me like you're doing fine. #winner

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