Ah, the inbox. The wonderful, wonderful inbox.
Let's get to it
Aaron from Fremont, CA:
Call me crazy, but I can see us going 8-8 this year. The defense played well against Green Bay considering the circumstances, and I'm counting Detroit and Houston as the toughest games on the remainder of the schedule. We can play up against more teams than most would like to give us credit for and the opponents for the rest of the season all have very identifiable weaknesses that could work out for us as we keep progressing (even New England).
John: I could go for the easy line and say, “OK, you’re crazy,” which is just what I did as it turned out. Still, while 8-8 will be tough, your point is a good one. The Jaguars are 1-6 and have played better in the last two weeks. They’ll need to start playing well at home, but if they match the intensity and production they had Sunday, the Jaguars could be better in the second half of the season than the first. At this point, with this record, that’s the goal.
William from Jacksonville:
Does Justin Blackmon
want to play here? Really, he was hard to watch Sunday. He looked like he didn't care at all. I don't know if he's trying to prove a point or if he is just that lazy.
John: This was a pretty prevailing theme in the inbox. Honestly, I didn’t notice this from the press box, and neither did several others to whom I spoke after the game. It wasn’t a topic in the post-game interviews, but apparently it was the opinion of some who watched the game. I’m sure it will be a topic early this week.
Jarred from Las Vegas, NV:
Special teams get the brunt of my frustration this week. Gabbert threw for more yards than Rodgers and our defense played its best game. That blocked punt hurt and was a mistake the Jaguars obviously couldn't afford.
David from Jacksonville:
Sunday’s game made me hopeful Gabbert is the answer going forward. When he has protection he has fantastic arm strength and touch on some of his throws. He should have had at least eight fewer incomplete passes and easily over 350 yards. On a completely unrelated note...tripping, John. Tripping?! Some questionable calls and no calls to say the least. A clear holding of Austen Lane
that wasn't called resulting in a GB touchdown. Its calls like that that just makes me crazy while watching.
John: We’re discussing Gabbert plenty in the other emails, so we’ll move to your “unrelated” note. I’m not big on blaming the officiating. Usually, I’m of the belief that officiating evens out over the course of games, or at least seasons. But a lot of Jaguars players afterward were irritated with the officiating, particularly the late interference penalty on Will Middleton. Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey also was clearly irritated, and chose his words very carefully in the press conference afterward.
Ben from Jacksonville:
How do you explain passing for 300 yards and only scoring 15 points? This seems like a chronic problem for this team the last few years scoring points after a good defensive game.
John: Easy explanation for the Jaguars scoring “just” 15 points: they didn’t score in the red zone. It’s hard to say it’s chronic, because whereas before this season the Jaguars didn’t move the ball much at all at times, they moved well between the 20s Sunday. They just didn’t score.
Rob from Quantico, VA:
After a game with so many dropped passes and Blackmon seeming to give up on so many routes how do the coaches get such a young receiving corps back on track??
John: Yes, there were too many drops. Even acknowledging that, I’d say it was maybe the best game for Shorts and Blackmon combined, and that includes the drops. It wasn’t good enough because the Jaguars didn’t win, but don’t forget those two receivers are very young. After Sunday, you build on the positives, something you haven’t had much of an opportunity to do this season.
Dylan from Jacksonville:
I've agreed with you from the beginning, but I wanted to make sure everybody knows: Shorts is a good player and probably the best receiver on the roster.
John: I wish I could say I never doubted, but I’ll be honest: there were times last season I wondered about Shorts. How could you not? He really struggled. But this season he absolutely has emerged as the Jaguars’ biggest playmaker at the receiver position.
John from Jacksonville:
Say what you will about Bryan Anger
having the ability to "flip the field" for our team. But I'm sorry, I'm just not seeing it. He had plenty of opportunities to pin the Packers today and did not. Sure he has incredible leg strength but that does nothing for us if we can't start opponents inside their 10-yard line (even inside their 20 for crying out loud). Rookies need time, but if you're worthy of being a third-round selection as a punter, you should not be ranked 29th in downing punts inside the 20.
John: Anger didn’t have his best game Sunday. Not even close. That doesn’t make him a bad pick, or a bad player. It makes him a rookie. I’d be surprised if he’s not much more consistent as time goes on.
Jeremy from KS:
Give us an honest assessment of Gabbert. The O-Line is probably in the bottom third or half of the league and aside from Cecil Shorts, we do not have a reliable/threatening receiver. He definitely makes some bad decisions and throws every game but there are plenty of drops and he must anticipate a hit on nearly every down because of the play of the O-Line. I just really wonder what he would be capable of behind a decent line with a couple good receivers.
John: My assessment is he’s essentially a rookie. People hate hearing it, but it’s true. I think Gabbert made real strides, and feel like he’s playing better the last two weeks. We need to keep seeing it. The honest assessment is that I think if Gabbert plays the rest of the season we’ll know a lot more than we do now. Remember, two weeks ago, many, many people were ready to give up on him. Now, there are a few fewer people. The graph is never straight up or straight down, so let’s wait and see the trend in January.
Tucker from New York, NY:
I'm a bit disappointed by the way this regime is handling injury statuses. When Daryl Smith
originally hurt his groin, we were told he could return within a few weeks, then after the bye, and now possibly not at all. We saw Mojo on the sideline on crutches today and are still expected to believe he may come back. What is the benefit of withholding this information from the fans/the league? I'm tired of being in the dark!
John: As someone who has covered the NFL for 18 seasons, I’m always wary of teams not being forthcoming with injury. And it’s always a rub between the media/public and teams. In this case, I don’t know that it’s merited. Smith had a setback the week of the regular-season opener, and the team believed he would return following the bye. That didn’t happen, but dealing with injuries is always an unknown. And yes, the Jaguars believe Jones-Drew will come back this season. If they didn’t, they would place him on injured reserve. The instinct of most football people is to keep injury information as quiet as allowable under league rules. It’s just the way they’re wired, but for the most part, the Jaguars are more forthcoming than a lot of NFL teams.
Job from Trinidad & Tobago:
Gabbert finally had the game a lot of fans have been waiting on, but of course that isn't enough to change everyone's perspective. Was it enough for you to say we shouldn't go quarterback in the first next year?
John: One game isn’t going to be enough to change the conversation on Gabbert, nor should it be. He played better. He showed signs. Where the Jaguars go in the draft next year is going to depend on the body of work of the entire team the rest of the season.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
Gabbert has that performance in two years I am a little bit worried. Gabbert has that performance now, I am excited. He was nowhere near perfect but did enough to show that when he is playing well he can be an elite level QB. Obviously he needs to get more consistent, but for now I am happy with that performance.
John: Good perspective, and you’re spot on. Gabbert looked better, and showed progress. That was important considering he was playing hurt. He still was too inconsistent, particularly in the third quarter, but he made some throws that made you say, “Wow,” and did some things that make you think he’s maturing. Right now, that’s more than what we were saying three weeks ago.
John from Orlando, FL:
Why do we always manage to blow it? We blew the Green Bay game, the Oakland game, and the Minnesota game....
John: The Jaguars may have blown the Minnesota and Oakland games. I won’t argue that. They were overtime games and a play or two separated the teams. On Sunday, I thought the Jaguars played with a lot of heart and had a chance to beat a team with a premier quarterback. I never got the feeling Sunday that they blew it, though. This was more a case of losing to a better team.
Robert from Las Vegas, NV:
So another week of "they lost but they're moving direction" talk? Getting kinda tired of that. I want wins.
John: They do, too. And they’re just as tired as you are.