Let's get to it . . .
Jerry from Atlanta, GA:
We give away a great home game against a team we see every eight years – O Man, spin that on how it helps us season ticket holders!!
John: I've already explained this several times, but because it's a bye week and because the NFL did announce that the Jaguars would be playing the 49ers in Wembley Stadium next October, now's the time to go over it again. Shad Khan is trying to build the Jaguars' brand internationally. His idea is that that by doing so, it will help raise not only the team's profile, but the profile of the city as well. By doing that, that would certainly help the city, but it would also make the franchise more viable in the long run. A healthier city with more of an international business community without question would make the market far more viable for the NFL long term, and it's the long-term on which Khan is focused with the London initiative.
Danny from Louisville, KY:
Joooooooohn. It's a bye week. What do I do? What are you going to do?
John: Daaanny. Rest. Watch a few football games without emotion or stress. Don't wish your life away waiting for the sixth game of the season. It will get here. I promise.
Chris from Jacksonville:
What is with all these uninjured players getting days off away from the team and practice? When you are stinking up the place, everyone healthy should be in practice. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. They keep saying they need to fix this and fix that and "I gotta do this better." Where is the commitment? Where is the loyalty? My wallet is closed. The remote is in my hand and my thumb is on the channel button.
John: I assume you're referring to Brad Meester, Austen Lane and Rashean Mathis not practicing Wednesday and kicker Josh Scobee being in London with Jaguars owner Shad Khan to promote the game with the 49ers next season. This really isn't about commitment or loyalty. First off, I don't think Scobee missing practice during the bye is a very serious blow in the short- or long-term. Regarding the other three, Meester routinely gets a day off a week, a common practice around the NFL with veteran players to ensure they can play the entire season. Lane is coming off a foot injury and Mathis is still recovering from the ACL that ended his season last year. It's a balance. You want these guys on the field to practice, but you also don't want them so worn down through the course of a season that they can't perform.
Peter from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I agree you can't build a team on fans' opinions. As you said, for every fan that wants this, another wants that. But there is clearly a majority voice that feels Gene Smith has not done well. There's a majority voice that feels this team is at its lowest. And there certainly seems to be a majority voice that would like to see some changes in the front office. There appears to be a clear consensus on why the Jaguars are playing so poorly. Wouldn't you agree? Also, just before selling the team, Wayne Weaver gave Gene Smith a 3-year contract extension. Do you find that a bit odd, to wash your hands of the team, but awarding that contract just before doing so? Why not leave that decision to the new owner?
John: No question that's the majority voice. I'm not denying that in any sense. And I've already written that if things continue as they have that changes would be possible. It's a results-oriented business, as Smith has said often. But there are many cases where it's just as foolish to make a decision based on the "majority" of fans' opinions. The majority of Texans fans wanted Gary Kubiak fired in 2010, and there are litanies of such examples. I seem to recall some pretty intense public sentiment to fire Tom Coughlin from the Jaguars in the early part of the last decade. That happened, and he went on to win two Super Bowls. It's the understandable nature of fans to want change and call for it in difficult times. It's the responsibility of ownership to determine if change should be made, and if called for, to make it. As far as Smith receiving a contract extension, had Khan not been on board with Smith he could have made a move. And he can make a move if and when he deems it appropriate.
Jason from Hagerstown, MD:
Eben Britton was drafted to be the right tackle. Can they let him play right tackle? Even Salaam was better than Bradfield.
John: I never covered Salaam in Jacksonville, but I can tell you that while Cameron Bradfield may not have played perfectly this season, he's playing pretty well. He also has a chance to be a very good right tackle for a long time. I don't see Britton moving back to that spot.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Arguing with friends about the team's current "situation," I constantly find myself trying to be the voice of reason. "It's not time to fire Gene Smith; you have to give him time to draft and develop this roster." "You can't give up on Gabbert after one season. The guy is 22-years old with serious potential." It's becoming more and more difficult to believe the things that come out of my own mouth. My biggest fear, and I saw signs of this Sunday, is players around Gabbert do not believe he has "it." They just don't seem to believe in him and as a result they are not putting forth maximum effort because they don't think he can lead this team. Once things start going wrong for the Jaguars, the players around Gabbert seem to get frustrated and just mail it in like, "here we go again...". Thought? Comments? Rosy-colored optimism? I'll take anything at this point.
John: Your email sums up a lot of fans' concerns, and there are times it would appear that way. One issue for the Jaguars this season – and last season to a lesser degree – is that while they have had glimpses of progress and moments of success, too often when one thing goes wrong, momentum shifts and they seem to be playing uphill. I can't say for sure that that's a lack of belief in Gabbert. I have talked to players for stories and privately who have said Gabbert had a great deal of poise when the team trailed late against Minnesota and Indianapolis, and he made plays in those situations to put the Jaguars ahead. Those glimpses aren't enough, certainly, but I just can't say that the players don't believe in Gabbert.
Nathan from San Clemente, CA:
From Pro Football Focus: "Monroe performed brilliantly, stymieing both and not allowing a single hit or hurry on his quarterback. Often compared to D'Brickashaw Ferguson, because they went to the same school, are roughly the same size, and play the same position, Monroe had a breakout year in 2011, posting the second-highest grade for a left tackle under PFFs grading system, behind Jason Peters. He's carried his play over into 2012, with a 8.6 in five games so far, rewarding the Jaguars after the used a top-10 pick on him in the 2009 draft." And he's doing it against great rushers. Can't Britton get back to RT?
John: Your email gets the award this week for Most Stunning Shift of Topic. We'll take one at a time. Regarding Monroe, it is indeed refreshing to see him getting the credit that is due for playing well. As a left tackle, he was often criticized in the past and when he has played well, it sometimes goes unnoticed. That's starting to change, and he's what he was expected to be – a potential Pro Bowl left tackle. As I was casually reading this, suddenly . . . BOOM! Another question about Britton switching back to right tackle. One has little to do with the other except that they were drafted in the same year, but right now, I don't anticipate the change. Cameron Bradfield, while having some "young-player" mistakes, has a lot of potential at right tackle, and Britton has had his problems at left guard. While I think as he gets healthier off the early-season ankle injury he could improve at guard, I just don't see him moving back to tackle unless there are injuries.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
I love our schedule after the bye week. I think it is a great mix of teams that are struggling, young teams on the rise, and teams that are playoff and/or Super Bowl contenders. We should know all we know by the end of the season (even though it seems most think they know all they need to know already).
John: The schedule on paper would certainly seem to feature teams that "the Jaguars should be able to compete with." And so far this season, they have played well against those sorts of teams, beating the Colts and nearly beating the Vikings. The Jaguars also have been able to function well and stay competitive on the road, which is another good sign. That's not to say what has happened this season has been good, but you can make at least something of an argument that the three teams that have beaten the Jaguars badly have a really good chance of playing deep in the postseason. You can't just write those games off, because clearly you want to be competing against those teams, but it does provide hope that there is a navigable portion of the schedule upcoming.
Let's get to it . . .
Jerry from Atlanta, GA: