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Good signs from Gabbert

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As expected, an angry, angry inbox Monday.

Sigh. Let's get to it . . . Desmond from Minneapolis, MN:
I know it was raining and I know it was Gabbert's first start, but that playcalling? Really? We can't win games like that.
John: We'll address this topic quickly and try to move on. I'd guess more than half of my emails since game's end were about the conservative play-calling in the second half Sunday. I agree it was too conservative. I agree that all things being equal, you have to throw more – even with a young quarterback – to win in the NFL. The argument for being conservative on Sunday were the sloppy conditions and a young quarterback. Had the Jaguars scored on one drive in the second half, the conservative approach probably works. That's how it works in the NFL. If you win, you're vindicated. If you lose, you're criticized. I expect the play-calling to get more aggressive as Blaine Gabbert gains experience. We'll see.
Bryan from Hickory, NC:
I'm proud of my daughter when she was yelling at the TV for Blaine to throw the ball. Like Jack, I was thinking the clock wouldn't start until the ball was snapped. Was Jack correct?
John: The clock starts once the official determines the challenge is over and teams should be ready. The officials called the play correctly, though I have seen cases when they allowed the team to get to the line of scrimmage.
Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL:
A few thoughts... 1) On two punt returns, the Jaguars should have let the ball enter the end zone and start at 20. Instead, they were caught. Not a good way to get field position. 2) Del Rio calling delayed runs on third-and-long is just plain silly. I get conservative, clock-kill offense, but you need to take chances. 3) Crossroads game against New Orleans is a bad place to be when your offense is in a coma. That being said, I like how Gabbert handled himself. Some of the throws he made were honey-hole throws! Bright things ahead but perhaps we may need to wait a year. Do you concur?
John: It's hard to argue most of your points. I especially like how Gabbert handled himself. He obviously is raw and he has much developing to do, but there were good signs in that area Sunday.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Well, since you have decided to ignore my question several times, I will ask it again: You, and several talking heads, said you cannot pay attention to what happens in the preseason. Could you tell me what is the difference in what we saw in the preseason and what we have seen the regular season thus far?
John: Never meant to ignore your questions. I stand by my stance that the preseason is not a way to prejudge regular-season success, but when you're right, you're right. This regular season hasn't looked that much different – offensively, at least. I think defensively the Jaguars look a lot better than they did in the preseason.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
The most disheartening thing about this loss is not that the Jags dropped to 1-2. Being down one game in the division isn't exactly devastating this early in the season. It's the fact that we will likely be 1-3 this time next week. I don't see the Jaguars matching up well with the Saints. I felt like the Panthers game was our best shot at coming out of the first quarter of the season at 2-2. Your thoughts?
John: I don't like to give up on games before they're played.
Kenny from Tampa, FL:
I believe this team needs to run the ball effectively to win but please tell me why there were only two passing calls in the second half until Carolina took the lead in the fourth quarter? I mean Gabbert did throw a touchdown on the final play of the first half
John: No argument here. At some point, you're going to have to let Gabbert throw. Maybe those conditions – the wet ball, the first start – weren't perfect, but the time has to be coming soon.
Ryan from Delray Beach, FL:
So, Gabbert first NFL game: How many center/qb fumbles did we have? Lost count, but know it was more than anyone would like. Is that them still getting used to each other? Jitters being his first game? Or the weather just being that sloppy?
John: In this case, I think it can be attributed to the weather. No excuse, because it didn't happen on the other side, but Gabbert took responsibility afterward. I give him credit for that. He's willing to take the fall and accept responsibility. I think that's a good sign.
Andy from Jacksonville:
How is it that the Bills turned around so quickly from just a year ago? A Bills team that got manhandled by the Jaguars last year looks head and shoulders above us this year. Is being a passing team making it easier to rebuild? I'm confused.
John: Ryan Fitzpatrick is further along in his development than Blaine Gabbert, who started his first game Sunday. It's deeper than that, but that's a big part.
Dane from Jacksonville:
I was surprised to hear Jack Del Rio criticize the officials for rushing to set the ball without giving the Jaguars a chance to set up for their next play. What I saw was them set the ball, start the clock, and the offense stand and burn 8-10 seconds with very little sense of urgency. They had to have known that after the review the clock would immediately start, since the ruling on the field was a completed pass. What am I missing here?
John: Your interpretation of the officials' situation is correct.
Chad from Las Cruces, NM:
Maybe they should look at moving Monroe to guard, too. Or outfitting his uniform with pockets, and keeping his hands in there. His penalties were killer.
John: They sure didn't help, although the holding penalty was a little questionable.
Tim from St. Pete, FL:
I'm sure I won't be the only one with this question, but it seems that the Jags were double penalized by the review inside two minutes. They rushed to the ball to get the snap off (5-10 seconds) and just as Gabbert gets the ball, they stop play. Then when they put the ball down, the refs blow the whistle and the clock starts. Now there is even more time off the clock before the play can start. They lost probably 15-20 seconds that could have been used for another play. What does the NFL have to say about this?
John: I thought the same thing at first, too. Still, if the Jaguars had been at the line ready to snap when the clock started, I don't think much time would have been wasted.
Andy from Roswell, GA:
What is going on? To be sure, I see some positives, especially on defense (and Britton looked pretty good at guard), but how did the offense go from being above-average to almost unwatchable? Is it really just the quarterback play? If the rest of the season is going to be like this, it is going to be hard to watch.
John: Right now, I'd pin most of it on quarterback play and not yet calling plays that can take advantage of Gabbert's strengths.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
I'm a Jags fan from Day 1, but I tried to take our advice and take the "I like to watch approach" today and be objective. My eyes told me that the Jags are in for a long season. We really do have the worst receiving corps in the league. They only have two issues - they can't get open consistently and they drop too many passes. How long will it take Chastin West to learn the playbook well enough to get on the field?
John: I have more problems with the drops than separation. Sometimes separation happens and sometimes it doesn't. Receivers must catch the ball. Failure to do so creates bad down and distance situations and takes away big plays . . . oh, heck, you've just got to catch the ball.
Scott from Ft Lauderdale, FL:
Was it me or did the offensive line not help the cause today? Also what is going on with special teams? Special teams used to be a source of strength and two weeks in a row they have looked very ordinary.
John: The offensive line probably could have pass-protected better at times, but they blocked for the run pretty well and overall, I didn't come away thinking the group was bad. As for special teams, there's no question there have been too many errors the last couple of weeks. Against the Jets, it was the kickoff returns and Sunday – well, clearly Matt Turk has had better games. The Jaguars consider that area a strength. When it's not, they're at a major disadvantage.
Nathan from Jacksonville:
Well, the easy part of the schedule is over, and the Jags are only 1-2. October could be very ugly! We have a quarterback that is only allowed to throw on third down, if it isn't a draw, and the Saints coming in on Sunday. God help us.
John: You're right to be concerned. A better effort is needed from a lot of areas against a team that attacks like New Orleans.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I know the "Fire Del Rio" Chorus will be singing loudly in your inbox today. Any guesses on how many wins it will take to get them singing a new song?
John: A lot more than one.

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