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O-Zone: Winning is cool

JACKSONVILLE – Next-day O-Zone. Short week. Deep breath …

Let's get to it … Nick from Fort Polk, LA:
I'm not going to lie; I was on the Fire Gus bandwagon earlier in the season. It hit me Sunday that this "no-quit" attitude the Jags have been playing with all season starts with the coaching staff. This is an unbelievably talented football team, and once they get consistent will blow the football world away!
John: There's no doubt that if there has been a constant in Bradley's three seasons as head coach it has been that the Jaguars absolutely believe in him – and that the team has played hard whatever the circumstance. As for "unbelievably" talented … I agree there is good, young talent on this football team. I think that's particularly true on offense, and it's easy to project that unit being very, very good as it gains experience. I think there are areas on defense where talent must be added before the team as a whole is talented enough to "blow the football world away." But soon, Nick … soon.
Vishwa from Jacksonville:
Hi Johnny O … An ugly win is any day better than a pretty loss, especially when the Jags had lost 13 straight on the road. Hopefully, the Jags now will start winning the close games more often and perhaps this game is the one that starts it all.
John: Perhaps.
Brandon from Athens, GA:
Legitimate question: With Allen Hurns scoring so many touchdowns this year, who is really our No. 1 receiver?
John: That's a more legitimate question than anyone would have imagined at the beginning of the season. Can I answer in a few weeks?
Renee from Duval:
John, didn't Vinny Testaverde inexplicably fumble the ball in 1996 and the Jags recovered? I hope Dumervil's face-mask penalty also goes down in Jaguars history as the beginning of the "ride." Go JAGS.
John: Then-Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde indeed fumbled mysteriously and strangely to help the Jaguars get a key road victory in 1996. And that indeed started a remarkable end-of-season run that turned into a remarkable postseason run. There's a long way to go before this becomes that, but we'll see.
Xavier from Westchester:
Remember all the bad breaks we've had with injuries and balls bouncing the other way as of late? I look at the Ravens game and our schedule and smile.
John: I could remind everyone that the Jaguars still have a long way to go, and that this team needs to win back-to-back games before it starts smiling about the schedule. But then I remember the schedule and realize the Jaguars should be competitive in their remaining games, which means they should have a chance. Then maybe, just maybe, I understand why you grin a little grin.
Daniel Since Day One:
Same game, different outcome? I get that they don't give up and that's good, but I sure don't understand why some of the mistakes are repeated so much. One thing I noticed about Joe Flacco is he does a lot of very deep drops. It seems to give him a little more time. We don't seem to do that but wouldn't that help a little to hold off the pass rush?
John: It's difficult take really deep drops if you don't believe the offensive line will protect for long stretches; the idea of shorter drops is to get the ball out quick. As far as the whole same-game, different-outcome thing … that's something Jaguars observers can expect the rest of this season. We have seen what this team is: it's a young team offensively that can score and that will also make mistakes; it's not a team that's going to consistently generate a ferocious pass rush; it is a team that can stop the run. All of those things mean the Jaguars probably will be in most games; it also means they probably won't be pulling away early and kneeling on the ball at the end. What does that mean? If the Jaguars can win close games, the rest of the season could be a lot of fun. If not …
Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL:
John, in the flush of our victory, I think we need to give a shout out to Bryan Walters! He made an important first-down catch over the middle and was drilled in the head on a vicious hit that left him in concussion … but he hung on to the ball! I hope the league severely penalizes that player who hit him! Bryan has been a constant all season.
John: BRYAN!
Tommy from Fort Myers, FL:
From your view, how did Thurston Armbrister play for Dan Skuta? From what I saw, I thought he played well and made some much-needed plays in the run game, but did he have issues in coverage. It seemed tight ends were running open all day (total of 13 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns).
John: It seemed Armbrister did play well against the run, and at first glance – very early first glance – he may have had some issues in coverage. At the same time, considering this team's history with tight ends in recent seasons, I'm not going to say Armbrister was flying solo when it came to allowing yards to that position.
Alex from New Orleans, LA:
Win or lose, it's nice to finally be competitive week in and week out. The arrow is up. How much do you expect from Marqise Lee on a short week?
John: The Jaguars indeed have been in every game in the fourth quarter this season except New England– and in most cases, they have been in the game deep into the fourth quarter. That's a very big step. As for Marqise Lee, I expect a lot more out of him. He was optimistic about how he came out of the game in terms of health and he believes his snap-count limitations will be a lot less Thursday.
Taylor from Germantown, MD:
I'm happy with the win, but these players need to be gone next year: Gratz, Beadles, Anger, Branch, Clemons, and Gerhart. These players literally do nothing for us.
John: For various reasons, ranging from pending free-agency to structure of contract and performance, there's a good chance a lot of those players indeed will be elsewhere next season.
Steve from Denver, CO:
O, to paraphrase the guy in the NFL TV ad: "I never had a doubt." How about you?
John: I did.
Billy from Murphy, NC:
Wow. We won a game. Almost in shock here, but good win anyway – very ugly, but … hey. I am seeing Blake Bortles reverting back to poor mechanics; that is why I think his balls are batted down so easy, and intercepted. Do you think his teammates are starting to lose faith in him? Maybe I'm being a little too worrisome, but he hasn't showed he can win a ballgame on his own yet, and that is what you need a franchise quarterback to do. What do you think, John?
John: I'm not as into this whole "win-a-game-on-your-own" theme as some people with quarterbacks. I covered Peyton Manning for 10 years, and while I saw him do some great things, I never saw him win one on his own. As far as Bortles' mechanics, I won't say they're perfect, but let's keep this in perspective. Young quarterbacks go up and down, often from week to week. Bortles still has 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season, which is a dramatic turnaround from last season. And he threw for a career-high 381 yards last week. I doubt his mechanics completely deteriorated in one week.
Scott from Daytona Beach, FL:
On Myers: Cut him … oh no … wait, don't cut him. Crazy day!
John: Yep.
Kyle from Palm Harbor, FL:
O, I'm not one for piling on Joeckel. He didn't ask to be drafted No. 2 overall, but I hate to admit I've lost patience. I think he's a good player. He just doesn't seem reliable to me. As a matter of fact, nobody on that line seems reliable to me. I know everyone believes the Jags will go hard for defense in the next offseason, but this offensive line still needs a lot of work in my opinion. P.S. Did it look to you like Bortles showed some major regression in his mechanics? Either way, I'll enjoy the win for three days.
John: I figured it would be a pile-on-Luke Joeckel day when he gave up the early pressure, but he was OK Sunday – and has been better OK in recent weeks. I've said before and I'll say it again that I don't expect major overhauls on the line in the offseason. I see Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann starting at guard next season. I also see Joeckel and Jermey Parnell starting at tackle, with Stefen Wisniewski a question because he's on a one-year deal. As far as your post-script, I thought it was more decision-making than mechanics at first glance.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Jags RULE!!!!! Sign Gus to an extension!!!!! Division here we come!
John: Winning is cool. Jerell likes it.

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