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Dropping in the trey


Let's get to it . . . Jeff from Jacksonville:
Gonna take a few days off of reading your column. When the anger dies down, I'll be back – unless you censor the goonies a little bit. How about we let them sit this week out? No questions from the angry goonies. What do you say?
John: If I censor the goonies this week . . . well, let's just say I have to find questions somewhere.
Jerry from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
You are missing the point about being at the line and ready. With little time left you need to spike the ball after every first down when you are tackled in bounds. The lost down doesn't really matter. Coaching 101.
John: You are right and wrong. In that situation, with a rookie quarterback, then yes, the Jaguars probably should have spiked the ball immediately after Lewis' catch. But the ball absolutely should not be spiked after every first down when tackled in bounds. Too often teams donate downs in that situation and sometimes they turn the ball over on downs with time remaining. It's OK to have a play ready to be run at the line of scrimmage in that situation. Gabbert may not have been ready to do that Sunday, but as he gets better, that should be something the Jaguars can do.
Dan from St. Paul, MN:
Since the review at the end of the game was about the catch that occurred around the 30-second mark, shouldn't the clock have started with 30 seconds instead of 16? I'm confused why you side with the way the officials handled the situation when the Jags were about to snap the ball at 16 seconds. It killed all the momentum, and the catch wasn't close enough to warrant the review. I think the under-two-minute review rules should be reviewed (pun intended).
John: I didn't side with the official. I simply stated they did their jobs correctly. You could make the argument that perhaps the catch shouldn't have been reviewed, but I've seen less obvious plays be reviewed. As far as when the clock started, the clock had run while the Jaguars were getting to the line of scrimmage. Because they hadn't yet snapped the ball there was no reason to reset the clock.
Jason from Mims, FL:
I've never been one to bash the play-calling, but someone, please tear that page with the screen out of the playbook. Every time I see that play my hand goes to my forehead. It seems to be a consistent loser. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm not remembering the times that play worked for us? If that's the case, please correct me. While the third-and-extra long call of a run made me say "What?" I do realize that had it worked, we'd be saying "Genius!"
John: I'm not a big play-calling basher, either, but I believe you're talking about the inside "bubble" screen to the wide receiver – and if so, I agree with you. It's hardly a play that is exclusive to the Jaguars, though. For years, I watched the Colts – at the time one of the league's elite, most-creative offenses – run it with limited success. It's a very good play in college, but in the NFL more often than not defenders are too fast for the play to succeed on a consistent basis.
Nicholas from Anchorage, AK:
Can you please clarify the NFL's policy on concussion as it applies to Michael Vick? If he sustained a concussion in Week 2, doesn't that mean he is automatically inactive the following game?
John: It does not. Players who sustain a concussion must pass what is known as a base-line concussion test before playing. That means they must have test results that match results from tests taken during a recent time when they did not have a concussion. Teams are much more cautious than they once were, but there is no rule that players automatically can't play the next week if they sustain a concussion the previous week.
Marcel from Jacksonville:
You have been in the business for a while. Have you ever seen coaches "listen" to fans and give the fans what they want to see? Or have you seen owners take fans' side when they are dissatisfied with the team's coaching/managing/ play calling? If you run a business that depends on customer satisfaction, don't you think it's important for the owner to listen to what us customers(fans) have to say?
John: The coach's job is to win. That should make the fans happy. Listening to fans in terms of details and how to win is a recipe for failure. Sometimes the fans are right and sometimes coaches will happen to do things in a manner that is popular, but that should be a coincidence rather than a case of listening to the fans.
Preston from Atlanta, GA:
Why has Cecil Shorts been invisible at receiver? Didn't you say he would be our best receiver by the end of the year? Does he even have a catch yet this season?
John: I said "could" and I have since said it's fairly obvious I got a little excited on that one. No, he does not have a catch. That doesn't mean it's time to write him off, but you obviously need to see production.
Dane from Gainesville, FL:
In the spirit of observing the 24-Hour Rule, what would you like to see from Gabbert this week against New Orleans? Assuming the fumbles were a fluke due to the weather, what would be ideal in terms of his development, one week following his premier?
John: I'd like to see him throw the ball downfield more, and I'd like to see the Jaguars allow him to throw in more non-obvious passing situations. I don't know that it's fair to Gabbert to pick apart every play every game. As I've said often, there are going to mistakes and ups and down. At times, that might mean looking worse than he did the week before, and at times, that will mean looking much better than expected. I liked what I saw from him in the pocket and the moment did not remotely seem too big for him. If he continues to make strides in those areas, his ability will carry him the rest of the way.
Bryan from St. Johns, FL:
John, saw some good and bad from Gabbert. To me, outside of the safety, the most encouraging development was that on several occasions Gabbert appeared to step up in the pocket instead of sliding outside the pocket. Thoughts?
John: I agree. If there was a good sign out of Sunday's game, it did seem that Gabbert did not have the tendency to run right or left when under pressure. In fact, on the safety, I don't know that he had much choice but to run the direction he did. The pressure was pretty intense and caused the sack.
Brock from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I know your inbox is going to be loaded with questions about play-calling, but this game gave me two areas to be optimistic in going forward. 1) Finally having a quarterback that has the arm to throw the ball anywhere on the field accompanied by the ability to stand strong in the pocket and scan the field going through his progressions. 2) The defensive backs and mainly the safeties showing they are capable of working as a unit covering opposing receivers. This year, I feel like our defense can do this on a consistent basis. John O, do you agree with these assessments or is it still too early to tell?
John: You're seeing the big picture, and that's not easy to see when you're 1-2 and frustration is setting in. The roster is improving and there is overall progress being made. That's the long term. In the short term, there's going to be frustration until you score more than 10 points a game.
Cici from Jacksonville:
Two consecutive games. Two opening drives. Two safeties. What's the deal with that?
John: The deal is it's a bad way to start a game.
Robert from Pensacola, FL:
My uncle, Jim, said he was your friend in high school. He said you could drain 3-pointers all day. How were you at football?
John: I didn't play football and in the interest of accuracy, I must show my age and admit I played just before the era of the 3-pointer. Had I come along a bit later – well, yeah, I might have dropped in a couple of treys.
James from Bossier City, LA:
I know you don't like to call games before they're played, but come on: the Saints put 40 on the board vs. the Texans, and the Jags haven't even scored 30 total points this season. How can anyone in this organization have any hope to win the game?
John: It's the NFL. The Colts nearly beat the Steelers Sunday. On paper, this looks like a very difficult matchup and I believe it's a difficult matchup on the field, too. Teams win difficult matchups in the NFL all the time. That's why there is hope.

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