It's not a ploy

Let's get to it . . . Mick from New Castle, IN:
I am of the opinion that a lot of times in the past the team came out flat as if unprepared on game days. Since Thursday was a dress rehearsal for actual game weeks, what was your take on how the new coaches prepared this team compared to last year?
John: That's a legitimate question, but I still very much believe this is a better-coached team than it was last year. While this was a dress-rehearsal week there were some factors that played into Thursday's performance. One, this was the second game in six days, with each game on the road. Another, and maybe the biggest factor, was this coaching staff drove this team very hard over the last few weeks of training camp. That was true during two-a-days and if anything, the practices this week were more grueling. That has been necessary because Mike Mularkey and the staff want to see what this team is about and they have a limited number of practices under the new CBA to get real, physical, padded work in. The Jaguars didn't want to use that as an excuse Thursday, but I believe it played a factor. That wasn't the only reason for what happened, but this defense looked tired against the Ravens, and considering the way the team has worked, it would make sense to have had some dead legs.
Jeremy from Navarre, FL:
Who cares where MJD is; we need the defense to show up. The Ravens made the Jaguars' defense look highly over-hyped. The defense has not been outstanding by any means this preseason and there is still little to no pass rush. For me, those are big concerns at this point! Also, what is with both lines? Plenty of bad play on the O and D Lines and if we can't win up front . . . well . . . it won't be good.
John: No, it won't be. I'd refer to my previous answer. Pass rush is about effort and quickness, and the defense didn't look quick Thursday night. It always looked quick last year, so it stands to reason that the training camp approach has taken a toll. That's OK, because there's time now to get fresh. We'll see if that's what it is, but the theory makes some sense to me.
Charles from Orange Park, FL:
What has happened to our offseason acquisition wide receiver? Has Laurent Robinson even caught a ball in preseason?
John: Yes, he has caught one pass for seven yards. I don't think it's time yet to panic over Robinson. He struggled early in camp and has looked much better in practice since. That hasn't translated to games yet. If he wasn't playing well in practice, I'd say there is reason to be concerned. A lot of times it takes a while for a receiver to work his way into a new offense. That hasn't been the case with Justin Blackmon, but Blackmon is showing he may be an elite-level player. Robinson hasn't shown that here yet, but there's time.
Scott from Honolulu, HI:
Guess you'll earn your pay this week.
John: Not if I can help it.
Rebin from Jacksonville:
Stephen A. Smith made a really good point today in saying Maurice might be holding out because of the way Jaguars have been working him so hard and practically making him the workhorse of this team. I believe the Jaguars could have tried a little harder to find a running back to at least cut down some of his carries so all that pounding doesn't hurt his body so much. Maurice just might want a new contract with how the Jaguars have handled him the past couple of years.
John: I think Smith missed the point here. First, Jones-Drew wants to carry the ball. He likes being the workhorse. He doesn't like not getting carries. That's his nature. It's what makes him one of the best running backs in the NFL. Second, the Jaguars did try hard to get a running back to cut down on his carries. They got one. His name is Rashad Jennings. He was hurt last year and isn't hurt this season. I think you'll see Jennings get the carries to help Jones-Drew not have to carry so often this season.
George from Savannah, GA:
No long passes to stretch the defense has been a recurring problem. Even Tony Boselli brought it up tonight. What gives? Can we not run a pass play of more than 20 yards?
John: So far, the short and intermediate passing game has been where this offense has looked strongest. That certainly was the case in the first two games of the preseason. Gabbert is still growing as a player, and my guess is that growth in the coming weeks will be about taking some more shots deep.
Mark from Jacksonville:
Was the team sabotaged with bad crab cakes? If I hadn't watched the game and saw that score I would assume that that the quarterbacks threw multiple interceptions and there were fumbles. This was on the D and I hope they learn much from it. That being said, it's one game and Baltimore is preeeettty good. We may want to game plan for Torrey Smith.
John: I think the last sentence may have some truth to it. What I mean is I'm not sure the Jaguars game-planned particularly heavy for that game. Not that that excuses five drives of more than 80 yards, but there wasn't much blitzing and there weren't a whole lot changing defenses. Would that have made a big difference? Hard to say. Still, I'll continue to believe this is a good defense until I see it not be in the regular season.
Jerrell from Orangeburg, SC:
Did the Jaguars take a step back against the Ravens? Where is the secondary? It looked like 2010 all over again.
John: I would say the Jaguars took a step to the side. It wasn't good Thursday and the team knows it wasn't good, but the run offense was still solid, and it's apparent that the team can rely on Blackmon. Those are two things on which to build. As far as the secondary, it didn't look good, but a secondary needs good pass rush to succeed. Aside from a few players, the Jaguars didn't get it Thursday.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
Many ways to look at this game: Ravens are very good at home, Flacco deserves a new contract, etc. What is most disappointing to me was this was the first game that was game-planned and all three phases looked poor, to put it mildly. We can downplay this and say it is just pre-season or we can have a reality check and say this team is going to go through some growing pains. Let's not suggest this team is a potential playoff team just yet.
John: I guess my question to you is, "When did we not think this team was going to go through growing pains?" Yes, the Jaguars won two preseason games, but those games weren't perfect. This is not a finished product. Gabbert is good, but growing. The players are still learning the offense, and while this team was good defensively, there is growing to do there, too. But as far as being a potential playoff team, I think it still is. Teams get beat all the time. The good ones get better afterward.
Chuckie from Jacksonville:
I'm worried that when/if Jones-Drew returns he will be disgruntled and become a cancer in the locker room.
John: I'm not.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
I wanna know if you saw the same things I saw. Blaine looks the opposite of scared in the pocket. Blackmon is really good. Anger has a monster leg. Mel Tucker can't be happy so far. Are we ever gonna throw the ball downfield? Parmele is a good kick returner.
John: I'll run down your list. No, Gabbert did not look scared. Yes, Blackmon is really good. Yes, Anger has a monster leg. No, Mel Tucker wasn't happy. Yes, the Jaguars will throw downfield. And finally, Justin Parmele indeed looked good as a kick returner. He also looked good as a runner. He seemed to help himself as much as any player Thursday.
Renay from Macclenny, FL:
I noticed on Jaguars All Access that Brian Sexton is no longer paired with Jeff Lageman. Could you tell me why that is?
John: Sexton is hosting the Mike Mularkey radio show on Mondays.
Eric from St. Augustine, FL:
John: What do you think of the possibility that Khan is using MJD's situation to get the Jags in the national press. As Oscar Wilde once said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." Perhaps this is a ploy to keep the Jags in the national sports fans minds-eye, and all parties will kiss and make up when the season starts.
John: Uh, no, it's not a ploy.

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