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Doing what defensive tackles do

Let's get to it . . . Joe from Jacksonville:
Is it still possible to put Cecil Shorts on the practice squad because he has been used on the 53-man roster? Has Marcedes Lewis spent too much time being a good blocker and forgotten how to catch the ball?
John: Considering the number of readers down on Shorts, many aren't going to believe this, but the reason you don't put him on the practice squad is he would almost certainly be signed by another team. Coaches and personnel officials around the Jaguars won't tell you Shorts has been good during the regular season, but there remains a high confidence that he will be a good player and will contribute this season. As far as Lewis, he has been a very good blocker most of his career and improved dramatically as a pass receiver in the last couple of years. He has not "forgotten" how to catch, although no one would tell you he doesn't have to improve in that area this season.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
When Gabbert has no pressure, he throws darts as accurately as any quarterback in the league, but pressure seems to be killing him. At the slightest hint of pressure, he seems to freeze up, tuck the ball and run, or throw off his back foot in order to avoid the hit. There were numerous instances that he could have taken a slight step up in the pocket and had more time to throw, but he seemed to tuck the ball immediately and run east to west. This scares me!
John: Goblins and ghosts scare me. And men with thin mustaches in capes.
Nikki from Jacksonville:
Do you think that the Jaguars will wait until the off season to resign Scobee? I worry that we'll have an Adam Podlesh situation where another team makes an offer the Jaguars can't/won't match.
John: There's time to work a deal with Scobee. It's not always necessary to rush and sign every player on the roster who is playing well. Sometimes, you have to let the season play out and figure out where you are. Scobee has been as valuable as any player on the roster this season, but don't forget, he finished last season not nearly as hot as he is now. This is not a knock on Scobee, who has been remarkable this season and could have a chance at the Pro Bowl, but seven games does not a season make. Another factor in this is Scobee has told his agent he would prefer not to negotiate during the season. He wants to stay in Jacksonville, though, so if he maintains his current level, I'd be surprised not to see him back next season.
John from Jacksonville:
I'm hoping you can provide me some insight. The scenario was that our defense was dominating on all levels with about five-plus minutes left in the game and the Ravens had ZERO points. What then prompts the coordinator to shift to a prevent defense that essentially softens the defense, and allows for a score, as opposed to keeping the same format that was working for the 55 minutes so far in preserving a shutout?
John: The prevent-versus-regular is an age-old argument that has infuriated fans since . . . well, since there has been prevent defense. It is indeed frustrating, and there have been cases – many cases – where I've questioned the wisdom of using it. That's particularly true when teams go into it too early. On Monday, I had less of a problem with it than I usually do for this reason: the Jaguars seemed to go into it on the touchdown drive with about five minutes remaining, and at that point, if they could have made the Ravens use even 30 more seconds it almost certainly would have guaranteed the Jaguars a victory so long as they recovered the onside kick. In this case, the Ravens hit the long pass down the sideline to wide receiver Torrey Smith, who got out of bounds – and may nor may not have caught the pass – and that allowed Baltimore to score relatively quickly. The Jaguars defense got the interception on the ensuing series. If that had happened on the touchdown series, the move to prevent isn't being mentioned today.
Kahem from Bethel, CT:
I disagree with your response to Jordan. Curtis Painter is posting a passer rating of 85.2. That's nothing mind-blowing, but it's good enough to suggest to me that the Colts being at 0-7 means there are problems far too big for any quarterback to overcome, even one as special as Manning.
John: You have the right to be wrong.
Jim from Jacksonville:
From one report, the reason the defensive backs looked better was (1) the defensive line put outstanding pressure on the quarterback, and (2) they played an aggressive man-to-man scheme. Do you agree?
John: I do. Defensive backs almost always look better when the line puts outstanding pressure on the quarterback. One reason the Jaguars could play aggressive man-to-man defense the entire game was the Ravens' offensive line is not considered a strength and there was a belief that the Jaguars could get effective pressure up front. The Jaguars also believed correctly that Cox and Mathis could handle the Ravens' receivers one on one. When you're playing a team with an offensive line that protects well and/or a quarterback who reads coverages quickly and correctly, playing man to man can be a much riskier proposition. You also can't cover every set of receivers one on one.
Ryan from Mechanicsville, FL:
The game against Houston this weekend is a must win. I'm a little worried about it, the reason being the Monday night game against the Ravens probably took a lot out of us. It was a very physical game and with it being a short week I'm worried all the players aren't going to be 100 percent. What is the day to day like on a short week?
John: It is a concern, and not just because the Jaguars played the Ravens. Any time a team plays on Monday night, then travels the next weekend, it's a concern. It's also significant that the Ravens game ended so late. The later a game ends on Monday night the more it takes out of you the following week. It might sound silly and over-analytical to think that an hour or so on Monday night could still have an affect the following week, but trainers and specialists in athletic productivity strongly believe it to be the case. Playing the Texans doesn't help, either. They're pretty good. As for the day to day of a short week, the main difference is the coaches stuff two days of game planning into one. Wednesday through Sunday is basically the same.
Ray from Jacksonville:
I have rewatched the game while focusing on the defensive line and the tackles in particular. Here is what I saw: They may not have put up great box score numbers, but they did things that allowed others, Mincey and the linebackers in particular, to make some plays. The Jaguars had a lot of success with Mincey looping to the inside of Alualu, which ends up with Tyson occupying or in the way of Mincey's blocker as well as his own. Mincey could then bother Flacco. Alualu and Knighton seldom drew the attention of less than three offensive linemen. The linebackers had relatively clear paths to the running lanes. The attention those two tackles commanded also meant that Ray Rice had some very difficult blocking assignments. Even with the focus on them, Knighton and Alualu didn't go backward very often, so plays were being made near the line of scrimmage not in the defensive backfield. If there were a stat for "plays influenced" I think the DTs would have looked really good on paper. What say you?
John: I say that's what defensive tackles do. And the Jaguars defensive tackles on Monday did what good defensive tackles do well.
Corey from Orange Park, FL:
One huge thing that changed this week that I think made one of the biggest differences (excluding stellar defense for four quarters) is our special teams. No more 20-yard punts. No more fumbling the ball on a punt. I believe if our special teams keeps this up, we'll look a lot better than we did previously. Your thoughts
John: The special teams as a group had perhaps its best game of the season. No question that's key for the Jaguars, as they have said all year. The Jaguars emphasize special teams and when those groups don't play well, they have a tough time winning.
Eric from Boise, ID:
So Moss listening to calls. What do the Jaguars have to lose by signing Randy Moss? Quite frankly, nothing. At least see if he is the difference between making the playoffs and not.
John: Yessssssss!!

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