Victory Monday. At last.
Let's get to it . . . Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
CECIL!!!! I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it! This guy is the real deal. I'm sorry I ever doubted your analysis of him last season.
John: I like gloating as much as the next guy, but that's not appropriate here. It wasn't as much my "analysis" as what a lot of people saw in training camp. Shorts had ability and few around the Jaguars doubted he'd be successful. That thought has only grown this season, and wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan believes the guy is going to be a very good player. Sometimes players – especially young players selected in later rounds – take a while to develop. Shorts it seems is doing just that.
Eddie from Jacksonville:
Why did the Jags play prevent defense on that last play? Oh, because it works most of the time.
John: Yes, it does. That's why teams use it. The Jaguars were criticized for the defense on a long pass play against Minnesota late in the opener, because fans assume that a long pass late in a game against a defense that's leading must be "prevent." The defense on the play in the opener actually was one the Jaguars had played previously in that game. On Sunday, the Jaguars' job defensively late was to not allow the Colts to score a touchdown. Mission accomplished.
Brett from Jacksonville:
Done. I'm done with this team. No more waiting. No more excuses. After years of blind support, I reached my breaking point today. Terrible execution. Fearful and unimaginative play calling. Different cast, same pathetic show. One lucky play does not change 59 minutes of garbage.
John: Way to go, Brett. Way to go.
Erik from J-Ville:
Don't get me wrong, a win is a win and I love winning, but what in the world are the Jags going to do about the total yards the other team is accumulating. That's a lot of yards man. Gotta get that number down.
John: They do, but in the second half on Sunday, you may have seen the signs of the defense starting to get things right. The Jaguars held the Colts to three points and did a decent job when the offense continually put the defense in difficult situations in the fourth quarter. Last year, remember, the Jaguars' defense struggled at times early, particularly in the first half of a loss at Pittsburgh. In the second half of that game, the defense limited the Steelers and got back in the game. After that, the defense went on a strong run for the next several weeks, a run that basically defined its season. The defense did its job in the second half Sunday. Now, the unit has to build on that.
Alan from Pasadena, CA:
Prior to the Shorts touchdown pass Gabbert had 75 yards passing. It is hard to see on TV but is it play-calling or is it Gabbert not being aggressive and throwing downfield? Every pass seems to be a checkdown and in front of the defense, which doesn't stretch the defense. Need your eyes to tell us what we people can't see on TV.
John: I wish I had a more definitive answer. Sometimes, it appears to be the plays that are called. Other times, it seems receivers aren't getting open. Other times, and this was the case sometimes on Sunday, Gabbert throws incomplete. My main thought on the offense – and this is from Press Box guy with the acknowledgment that I am not a coach – is the Jaguars at some point in the near future need to allow Gabbert to throw more on first and second down. It's tough to be effective throwing on third and long.
William from Jacksonville:
That was the best ending to a game I've seen in a while. Not the play itself, but because Cecil Shorts got what he earned in week 1.
John: Well put.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
Good thing Derek Cox is back because Aaron Ross seems to get beat over and over again. From what I could tell, Cox played really well and should help our secondary a lot, even though we did give up 300 yards to Luck.
John: Cox did appear to help the secondary. He came out of the game near the end because of fatigue, which isn't surprising because he hadn't played in six weeks. What you saw early from Cox was a guy who is one of the better corners in the NFL when healthy. He played like it, and that certainly made the defense better when it was happening.
Antony from Columbia, SC:
John, Cecil Shorts was a waste of a draft pick. Players from small-name schools must perform in their first year, or they're a bust. It's never beneficial to be patient with young players.
John: You forgot, "Eugene Monroe is a bust."
Mark from Jacksonville:
Great to see Shorts come though in the clutch yet again; although our defense nearly lost it again. This should be a 2-1 team. We may need to practice prevent a little more.
John: The defense nearly lost it again? I'm trying to figure that one out. The defense struggled in the first half, but held the Colts to three second-half points. You could also make the argument that the offense's struggles late put the defense in brutally tough situations. The defense actually responded well in those situations. The defense kept the Colts out of the end zone on the final drive. In the NFL, that's the goal.
Joseph from Freeport:
Wow. Gabbert regained his shorts in less than a minute. I hope this is more of what we will see in the future. Now, on to a different subject: not to take anything away from the man himself but was it our o-line or the Colts defense that helped MJD turn in a beastly performance?
John: A combination. I said throughout the preseason that this line can run block pretty much no matter who is playing running back or even who is playing on the offensive line. That's usually true. But give Jones-Drew credit Sunday, too. He had a huge hole on the 59-yarder, but he had 118 other yards that were about fighting, scratching, clawing and guts.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Where the heck is the pass rush? This is obviously one of the biggest issues on the team, and this week it wasn't an instance where we "didn't have any opportunities."
John: You're right. It has to improve.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
What has happened to Blackmon, Thomas and Robinson? Are the injuries to the O-line keeping Gabbert from having time to get the ball to all of our wide outs? These guys seem to be nonexistent during the game. The touchdown play from Gabbert to Shorts had a WOW factor to it. Shorts is becoming a viable top receiver this year?
John: You're not going to get me to say I think Cecil Shorts will be starting this season and that by season's end, I think he will be the best receiver on the team. Been there, done that, still hearing about that. Seriously, Blackmon needs to play better. He had a drop Sunday you can't have, and isn't open nearly as consistently as he was during the preseason. He's a talented player. The plays should come, but sometimes with rookie receivers it takes time. In fact, with the whole offense it takes time. I wrote that often in the offseason, and it's during stretches like this, that it's both evident and frustrating.
Hugo from Jacksonville:
Let's discuss coverage of the squib kickoff by the Jaguars. Two in three weeks, What do you think of it?
John: I'll address this best I can. As was the case in the season opener against Minnesota, Mike Mularkey said after Sunday's game the plan was for Scobee to kick the ball away. As was the case against Minnesota, the ball again came in on the bounce. As was the case against Minnesota, it not only came in on the bounce, it bounced directly to the returner, which allowed a longer return than was ideal. That doesn't really answer your question about what I think of it, because I think the Jaguars aren't meaning to do it, but that seems to be what's going on.
Tim from Section 141:
O-man.... I usually look up to your trend setting attire.... but based on "wheels up".... you need to work on your tie skills.
John: If you saw my paycheck, you'd think that was one heck of a tie.
Paul from Maribor, Slovenia:
Does one win and two good plays change the NFL's opinion on our team? I know I will love and support my team in good and bad: Gabbert not great, but still without interception. He plays smart, and is not afraid to get hit. I like this kid, he's got ... Can I write (guts).
John: You can't write what you wrote, but you can write guts. And Gabbert has them. You're right about him, too. While Sunday wasn't perfect by a long shot, he did not make mistakes to cost his team the game. For a young quarterback, I've heard worse things said than that.