Dealing with it

Let's get to it . . . Jon from Jacksonville:
Looks like the days of All Teal are gone...looking forward to EverBlack!
John: Indeed. The Jaguars on Thursday announced they will shift to black as a primary jersey color. Sunday will be the final game with teal as a primary color. People like the familiar, and some people are understandably bothered by the change, but the team is doing what it can to undergo a rebirth and this is part of that change. Winning builds tradition, and when this team begins to win in black uniforms, they'll feel pretty traditional pretty quickly.
Kevin from Jacksonville and Section 216:
I'm hoping the return of Austen Lane to the defensive end rotation will help the productivity levels of Andre Branch and Jeremy Mincey by allowing them to rest on more snaps. I am also hopeful that George Selvie and John Chick can return in October and help this cause even further. If this group can get healthy and stay healthy I think it could have a significant ripple effect on the pass rush, John. Would you tend to agree?
John: Getting players healthy without a doubt will help the pass rush. The Jaguars essentially have been playing with three defensive ends so far this season – Jeremy Mincey, Andre Branch and Aaron Morgan. Branch is still a rookie and as we noted in Ozone live this week, rookie defensive ends rarely have fast starts. Jason Pierre-Paul registered his first sack in his 11th game. It's a position of adaptation and as Branch adapts he should improve. As the line can rotate more, that will help, too.
John from NOLA:
A few months back when it was announced Gene Smith wasn't going to do his weekly radio show, I thought you said he would still be incorporated into Jaguars This Week. Specifically I thought you mentioned you would continue doing the Scout's Eye Player of the Game feature. What ever happened to that? I miss it...
John: I said it would be incorporated into Jaguars Reporters, which it is. Jaguars Reporters airs Tuesdays from 6-7 on WOKV, and Scout's Eye typically airs late in the program.
Michael from Orlando, FL:
I got one for you, and it might be harder than you would originally think. Who would win in a fight: Greg Jones, or Ed Hochuli?
John: Jones, although I wouldn't tell Hochuli that.
Jeff from Section 142:
If you had the chance to keep one Jaguar healthy, who would it have been? Boselli? Taylor? Brackens? Someone else? If they would have stayed healthy, would any be sure fire Hall of Fame selections?
John: I'm not sure I completely get the question, mainly because although Taylor was injured at times in his career I wouldn't say he had his potential limited in that manner. He rushed for more than 11,000 yards and had multiple memorable seasons. I do believe that if Boselli had stayed healthy he would have been a lock for the Hall of Fame. He's the only Jaguars player thus that I believe that about, so I guess I'd say Boselli.
Eric from St. Augustine, FL:
Do you think the explosion in pumpkin beers is a fad or something that is here to stay?
John: Here's hoping for fad.
Marcus from Jacksonville and New York City:
Against the Colts, the Jags ran 16 times on first down and passed 7 times. Can we expect to see more balance there as the O-line gets healthier? Seems they could take a shot or two downfield with a couple of those first downs, no? I have said throughout the week and throughout the season the Jaguars would benefit from passing on earlier downs.
John: I'm not exactly breaking news there, and the Jaguars' coaching staff certainly understands the benefits of balance more than I do. Yes, I believe that the situation on the offensive line has contributed to the play-calling; it would be foolish to not adjust what you do based on the strengths of your players. As the line gets healthier and this group learns more how to play together, I'd expect far more balance on earlier downs.
Adam from Bloomington, IN:
I keep hearing more on how important it is for us to have Derek Cox and Daryl Smith back in the lineup, which I can't agree more with, but I'm still very skeptical on what that is going to fix. I agree that they will help greatly with coverage, but in my opinion the biggest hole on our defense is two sacks in three games. That stat says a lot. No pass rush and almost any QB will either find an open man, or do what Luck did and run for 10 yards an attempt. Thoughts?
John: I look at sacks differently than most people. Rather than look at the raw numbers, I try to bear in mind the situations. In the Jaguars' situation, they had trouble in the first two games stopping the run. When you have trouble stopping the run, you get in fewer passing situations and no matter who your pass rushers are they're going to have trouble getting to the quarterback if the other team isn't throwing. Dwight Freeney often told me one of the best years of his career was 2006, a year in which he didn't make the Pro Bowl and had very few sacks. He said he rushed the passer better than he ever had that season, but had few opportunities because that was the year the Colts ranked at the bottom of the league in rush defense. That's a long way of saying when Smith returns and the run defense continues to improve you could see the pass rush improve, too. To your final point, the Jaguars need to make the sacks when they're there, which they didn't do against Andrew Luck. That would help a lot.
Dan from Section 408:
Hi John, What is your estimate of Justin Blackmon's end-of-rookie-year stats? I'm optimistic that the jags offense will get rolling by midseason. Keep up the great work!
John: I've believed all along that if Blackmon is in the 700-800-yard range, that would be a really good year. I strayed from that a little when I somewhat breathlessly predicted an 80-catch season. That was near the end of the preseason, and I'm kicking myself because I know better. But it's hard for rookie receivers to put up 1,000-yard seasons. I'd say Blackmon and the offense will get rolling and that Blackmon will end up somewhere in that 700ish range.
Brian from Orange Park, FL:
Could you please explain the practice-squad responsibilities? Do they actually practice with the 53-man roster? Do they attend team meetings and game planning? If we use a practice-squad player, what are the ramifications, or if another team takes them? We are exclusively rookie except for quarterback, but is a practice-squad player something more than a developmental player? Thanks.
John: Practice-squad players practice with the team and attend meetings as if they are a part of the team. To use a practice-squad guy, he must be signed to the active roster. If another team takes them, that player must remain on the other team's active roster for at least three weeks. Practice-squad players are typically rookies or second-year players and are almost exclusively developmental players.
Emily from Boulder, CO:
Let me preface this by saying, I'm not on the Gabbert-hating wagon, but do you think that some of the receivers' drops are due to Gabbert throwing the ball too hard? Sometimes he really zings it, even when it doesn't appear that he has to. Cecil Shorts barely held onto the game-winning throw (great play!), because it was thrown really hard. Our receivers need some work, but no one really talks about Gabbert's "touch." Is that a factor in all the drops we have?
John: Gabbert does have a powerful arm, and there perhaps have been times that has been an issue, but I don't put that on the quarterback if he's throwing intermediate routes to wide receivers. In those situations, a guy has to make a catch. Now, if he's gunning screen passes through the hands of fullbacks, that's different, but in other cases, catch the ball.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
If I were the Ravens, I would be a little angry about getting a division game scheduled 3.5 days after I just finished playing the Patriots. Thursday night games used to be a Thanksgiving tradition and now we have Thursday games all season because NFL Network is trying to market their station. Do you think the NFL is sending mixed messages about player safety? Obviously the money they get from NFL Network broadcasts is more important to them than the players' bodies who are playing 2 games in four days.
John: I'd be angry, too, but short weeks are the way it is for the NFL. Usually, the better the team the more short, weird weeks you're going to get, because the NFL puts elite teams on at night. Yes, it's a mixed message about player safety, because no question the short week is hard on the body. It's also not real great for the teams that have to play those short weeks. Still, they're not going away. The money and exposure is too good, so sometimes as they say, Ya Just Gotta Deal.

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