JACKSONVILLE – It's that time of year.
It's sweater weather – somewhere, anyway. It's Turkey time – pretty much everywhere.
And it's very definitely the fourth Thursday of November.
So it is that on this Thanksgiving morning, afternoon or evening – whenever you may be reading – we offer a holiday-themed View from the O-Zone.
Reasons for the Jaguars and Jaguars to be thankful? Whaddaya know? For the first time in a long time there are plenty as T-Day dawns.
So, let's count the ways:
1)Contention.The Jaguars are in it as the holidays approach. However they arrived here, and whatever their record, they are a game out of first place in the AFC South. They have a chance to play meaningful December games. That hasn't happened in five seasons. That's a long time in NFL years.
2)Off days.Players are off Thursday. That means senior writers are off, too. Pop the corks and pass the gravy.
3)Allen Robinson.Is he the team Most Valuable Player? Maybe. Is he a Pro Bowl player? Again, maybe. Is he a core player, and a reason for the Jaguars' offensive improvement? No doubt. After last season, you thought he had a chance to be pretty good. You thought right.
4)Allen Hurns.Team MVP? Another maybe. Pro Bowl player? Don't count him out. It's really not all that fair to rank either Hurns or Robinson over the other guy. They're both that valuable, and they're both that good.
5)Movember. Without Movember there would have been no Chad Henne 'stache – and who wants to think about life without that? He shaved this week, by the way. It was a rough day.
6)Davon House.It's not like House doesn't have competition for the title of best Jaguars 2015 free-agent signing, but the way he consistently has made plays the last few weeks he gets the nod. For now.
7)Free agency, in general.Ideally, the Jaguars next offseason won't participate so heavily in unrestricted free agency as they did last offseason. Ideally, more positions would be set. But the additions of House, Jared Odrick, Jermey Parnell, Julius Thomas, Stefen Wisniewski, Bryan Walters and Dan Skuta have improved this roster. The Jaguars spent bigger in free agency than they might have liked, but it appears they spent well.
8)The short-term IR list. Without this rule implemented by the NFL in 2012 perhaps Jaguars wide receiver Rashad Greene would have been out for the season. As it was, he returned last week. And as it was, his punt return was far and away the key play of a really big victory.
9)Blake Bortles' face mask.Without something for Elvis Dumervil to grab in Baltimore a few weeks back, where would the Jaguars be? Not a game out of first place, that's for sure.
10)The standings.The Jaguars and their fans absolutely should be thankful, grateful and a whole lot of other "fuls" for the condition of the AFC South this season. The Jaguars in many, many seasons almost certainly would have played their way out of contention by now. It's not most years and as a result, there are meaningful holiday games. Speaking of which …
11)Meaningful holiday games.They're fun, aren't they?
12)Blake Bortles, even without the face mask.He's a long way from perfect, and a lot of roughness needs to get smoothed out. But the Jaguars aren't looking for a quarterback anymore, and that's huge. Absolutely huge.
13)Jaguars Twitter.I'm frankly scared not to thank them.
14)Togetherness.OK, this is corny – maybe really corny. But it also really matters when it comes to this team. A lot of locker rooms would have been lost at 1-5, but the players' belief in Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and the belief in the direction of team are real. They're absolutely what have kept this team playing hard and they're a huge reason they remain in this thing. And what's wrong with a little togetherness this time of year, anyway?
15)Bold Gold.Without the uniforms, what would people have found to complain about the last two weeks? And you know what? They were pretty cool.
16)Jason Myers.For all he cost the Jaguars – and there's no getting past two misses in Indianapolis – the kid has hit two hu-u-u-u-u-u-ge kicks this season. His 58-yarder against Miami was clutch, as was the 53-yarder to beat the Ravens. Yeah, he shanked a 26-yarder against Baltimore, but we're giving thanks today – not assigning blame.
17)Telvin Smith.He's fast, fun and friendly. Say hello to the next Jaguars superstar.
18)Julius Thomas' presence.His statistics haven't matched expectations, but Thomas being on the field doesn't hurt Hurns and Robinson. His 5-yard go-ahead touchdown against the Titans didn't hurt, either.
19)Sound construction.Without it is there any way that wall holds up when Paul Posluszny barrels into it last Thursday? He's more man than a lot of us, and he's darned sure more man that that wall.
20)Fate.It's too early to thank anyone too loudly for this, because the Jaguars must win to take advantage of their opportunity. But five of the Jaguars' final six opponents are .500 or below. The Jaguars have to earn it, but this is doable.
21)Contention. Let's give thanks for this one last time. It sure makes the holidays a little cooler, doesn't it? So, enjoy. And yeah … Happy Thanksgiving.