Let's get to it . . .
Lloyd from Providence, RI:
I've watched the first four games and last night, I looked over Blaine Gabbert's statistics in comparison with the rest of the starting quarterbacks. Want to know what I found? The numbers match what my eyes are telling me. He is one of the most-sacked quarterbacks, has more passing touchdowns and fewer interceptions than Stafford, Vick or Newton (to name a few) and has the absolute lowest yards-per-attempt out of all starting quarterbacks. It looks like his offensive line isn't giving him time and his receivers aren't getting open. The numbers don't always tell the whole story, but in this case, they do.
John: There's a lot of truth in what you say. Gabbert is still playing in difficult circumstances. That's not to say some of the Jaguars' passing problems don't trace to Gabbert. There are plays when the line is doing its job and he's getting time and he's throwing too soon at times. That's part of the development of a young quarterback, knowing when you really have time and when you don't. I don't think Gabbert's as good as he's going to be in a few years, but he's good enough for the offense to be better than it has been. Players need to play better around him.
Harry from Providence, RI:
Dare you to post Lloyd's O-Zone "question." Triple stamp it, no erasies, touch blue make it true.
John: Two emails, back-to-back from Providence? Hmmmmm . . .
William from Jacksonville:
It's gut-check time for the Jaguars. This Bears team is more talented at just about every position (besides punter, of course) and honestly should be favored by about 20. The offensive line needs to become a brick wall. Gabbert must make his throws with unshakable certainty. The receivers must catch every pass they can get their hands on. The defensive line needs to stonewall Matt Forte and knock Jay Cutler on the ground relentlessly, and there HAS to be at least 2 turnovers caused by the Jags defense. Anger needs to keep it away from Hester and Scobee needs to boot it through the uprights on kickoffs. Then and only then can the Jags win. Tall order? Yes.
John: Sounds like you want FULL CONSISTENCY, but kidding aside, I don't quite agree. It's a tall order, but not as much as you might think. The Bears are good, but don't forget that they looked so good Monday night in large part because they intercepted Tony Romo five times. If you allow them to start feeding off turnovers as they did Monday, sure it's a tall order. To ensure that doesn't happen, they do need to protect Blaine Gabbert. After what we saw last week, that seems like a difficult task, but I'm one who believes this is a capable line. Eben Britton must play better and the rest of the group must start playing to its potential, but if those things happen good things can happen for the Jaguars, particularly considering the Bears are traveling for the second time in a week. Overall, the Jaguars can win this game because they don't turn the ball over a lot and because Chicago is playing a second road game in six days. That's a tough task.
Dave from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I don't know, John. I think Big Bird would be a killer slot receiver. He's not real fast, but the guy's like eight- feet tall. Imagine the possibilities!
John: Try running up the middle on Mr. Snuffleupagus.
Peter from Kingston, ON:
To answer Ross, yes this is supposed to be a playoff team. Why? Because when Gene Smith took over, we were told it would be a four-year rebuild. I'm not going to make any judgments four weeks into the season, but if the next 12 games were to go in a similar fashion to the first four we would clearly be in a worse place than we were four years ago.
John: Actually, the time frame I've always heard is five years, but whatever – you're right. The team needs to be showing signs of significant improvement throughout the rest of the season. That's far from an impossible task.
Anndrea from Seattle, WA:
John, HOW do I get you ALONE?
John: I'm honestly trying to get my head around this one, you Heart fan, you . . .
Redmond from Jacksonville:
I believe if you polled Jags fans they would say Knighton has played better than Alualu, but I keep seeing you saying Alualu has been better than him this year. Where does this come from? What are you seeing we're not?
John: The games.
Renee from Jacksonville Beach, FL/Section 104:
John! We have "the Bears" coming to our town. I feel for the "poor fool" who is in front of Eben Britton. May he let his nastiness flow over and take it out on the guy in front of him. I hope he has fun, I hope he is relaxed but focused and I would love to see him pull and send Urlacher reeling. I hope the whole team has fun. Sometimes when we try to hard or think too much, it takes us "out of our game" – oh by the way that applies to everybody out there, including you Oehser! I promise I will tail gate to the best of my abilities, sing the National Anthem, be pumped when the fly over soars overhead and cheer my Jags. Most of all I will have fun! Go Jaguars!!!!!!!!!
Michael from Prescott, AZ:
I understand it may be difficult for Gabbert when his receivers are not getting separation, but isn't he supposed to throw the ball in there anyway and let his receiver make a play? It seems every Sunday I watch other quarterbacks throwing the ball into tight coverages and making plays despite a lack of clear separation.
John: That will come. The Jaguars' coaches have been encouraging Gabbert to not throw interceptions, and to make sure the worst thing doesn't happen on a play. That means checking down. Combine that with receivers not getting open and the line not protecting particularly well at times and that's a combination that may have contributed to more than the ideal number of checkdowns and short passes. Let's see if that changes going forward. Gabbert has done what he has been asked to do. It may be time to ask him to do a bit more.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
We have more holes on our roster than Swiss cheese. Do you really think that tweaking and fine-tuning will fix what's wrong?
John: We'll see. That's what the rest of the regular season is for. I assume you're referring to players and coaches this week saying they didn't believe they are far away, and citing the need to focus on the details. I wrote this several times. People don't like hearing these things and I get that. I get that people want wholesale changes. I get that they want to hold a draft at midseason and go back the last three off-seasons and sign every free agent and redo every draft with the benefit of hindsight. Because you can't do that, what teams do during the season is focus on controlling what they can control, and that means getting better in areas of strength and improving on weak areas. I don't know if tweaking and fine-tuning will cause the Jaguars to improve. I do know I've seen teams start 1-4 and 0-5 under new coaches and have people believe there just isn't any talent on a team only to have that team get better and start communicating better and improve. Often, that was done by doing little things better. Will the Jaguars be such a team? I don't know, but the only way to find out is for them to get better in the areas they can control. Often, big losses make problems look bigger than they actually are.
Ryan from New Orleans, LA:
Any chance this game against the Bears is going to end up like the Baltimore game last year? I can see some similarities.
John: There are some similarities, mainly that few give the Jaguars a chance. That game – as a lot of NFL games do – showed the reality of the NFL, and that's that the talent often isn't dramatically different even between 11-5 and 5-11 teams. Often, it's players playing together, and doing the little things right and being on the same page. It also can mean having things go right for a team early and getting an advantage and being able to play to certain matchups after that. A lot of times it's just a play or two getting made. The Jaguars haven't made many big plays this season. In the games they have – Minnesota and Indianapolis – they either won or had a very real chance of winning. If they intercept a pass early or hold onto an interception . . . well, who knows? The Jaguars have talked all week about making a play, turning this thing around, getting a winning feeling. When that happens, things can turn. Today would be a good day to start.