Back off the bye. Ready to get ready for Oakland.
Let's get to it . . .
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
In your "Ten Things" posting last week, you mentioned the lack continuity on the offense. Do you believe the Jaguars are struggling offensively due to the complexity of the playbook – as Lee Evans referred to in the offseason? To my eye, it doesn't appear much different than that of the past. Have they not completely installed it? This sounds like two questions, but I'd like your input. I miss Stroud and Henderson. That's a story for another day.
John: The offense for this season is pretty much installed. That's not to say there won't be wrinkles on a week-to-week basis, but for the most part, this is the offense. It's honestly hard to say how much difference there is in the offense from this season to last. It appears the same, but a lot of that is because it is struggling again and struggling offenses tend to look pretty similar, particularly if they have much the same personnel. I do know no matter how much difference there is, there's going to be an adjustment period with new terminology and a new approach. There's also going to be an adjustment as coaches become accustomed to the strengths of the players. The end game here is it doesn't matter how complex the playbook is, or how much the team struggled in the first five games. There needs to be serious progress in the coming months.
Sandro from El Paso, TX:
What is the update on Daryl Smith?
John: Daryl Smith has been progressing the last month and a half and for the last couple of weeks nearing the bye, the word has been that he might be ready for Oakland. A groin injury can be serious and his was. His status will be a major storyline this week as the team prepares for the Raiders, and I expect we'll have a pretty firm idea by Wednesday.
Matt from State College, PA:
One of the reasons for the offense starting slow is because the group is "learning Mularkey's system." Why design an offensive system that takes half a season to learn? If you know that the offense might struggle at first, why not draw up things that will work in a shorter timeframe and might lead to more productive offensive performances?
John: You put in a system for the long haul, but I don't know that the system or its complexity is a primary reason for the struggles of the offense. Sure, it takes a while for players to become versed in any system, but this group struggled last season and most of the players knew the system. It's up to the line to block, for the receivers to get open, for the running backs to run and for the quarterback to make plays no matter the system. I suspect that will improve as the players get more comfortable in the system, but whatever the system, these guys need to play better.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
I've decided that as difficult as it is to have the most wins in the league, it must be about equally difficult to have the least. Therefore, I've decided that every move the Jaguars make from here on out should be focused on winning the Battle to the Bottom. And in that battle, the game against the 1-5 Raiders is hugely important for tiebreaker purposes. Thoughts?
John: It's way too early to talk about draft positioning, though I know the talk is out there and I have no doubt it will continue. And I'll go on record now saying what I said last season – I never, ever, ever think a team should play to lose. Let the debate reign over that, and everyone's entitled to their opinion, but that's not how players think in the NFL, and it's not how people who run franchises should think, either.
Tom from Katy, TX:
Murlarkey leaves the Falcons and their offense starts to click, with mentions the offense they're running now was "simplified" to better suit the players strengths. He comes to Jacksonville, with a young quarterback, and the offense doesn't produce. Maybe his offense is not very good and too complex? Thoughts?
John: Mularkey's offense ranked No. 10 in the NFL last season and was in the top half of the league his four seasons there. After a slow start in 2004, the Bills scored 30 or more points in six consecutive games. In 2001 and 2002, the Steelers ranked No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, in total offense with Mularkey as the coordinator. I'm not here to say Mularkey reinvented offensive football, but to say his system can't succeed just isn't the case.
Adam from Jacksonville:
Would a fan appreciation day be too farfetched to expect? I would like to see some legitimate APPRECIATION toward the people who have been going to last home games. Send season-ticket holders SOMETHING?
John: The Jaguars are about as fan-friendly as any team in the NFL in terms of game-day experience. They also have their tickets priced phenomenally well. Say what you want about the Jaguars, and the product on the field hasn't been what anyone expected through five games, but it's hard to argue that the team doesn't care about its fans.
Jeff from Boonsboro, MD:
Who you do think the Jaguars should take with the first pick in the 2013 Draft?
John: I'm not dim. I get the joke, and believe me – it's VERY clever – but there are 11 games remaining and I don't believe the Jaguars will be picking first in the 2013 NFL Draft. If by some chance that would happen, it stands to reason they likely would look at any position – yes, including quarterback – because if you qualify for the No. 1 selection you're probably looking at a complete reset, but we're a long way from that coming out of the bye.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
Anyone who thinks any coach could coach a talented team to the playoffs clearly hasn't seen the train wreck New Orleans has been this year without its head coach. Get a grip. If you don't think coaches are a huge factor in the NFL, think again.
John: Head coaches are huge in the NFL. There are often cases where coordinators can step in and out without being noticed too, too much, because there are times when a particular scheme and game-day play-calling don't make a huge difference. But in terms of setting the structure for an organization and putting the team as a whole in position to succeed, the head coach often makes a dramatic difference.
Chuck from Jacksonville:
After the conclusion of the afternoon games the AFC looks like this –two teams with five wins, six with three, four with two and four with one. The glass half-full person would say we are only two games out of the playoffs with as poorly as we have played and nine of our remaining 11 games are against AFC teams. We still have a shot at the playoffs if we can start playing football and not whatever they want to call what they played the first five weeks. What say you, John O?
John: Glass half-full, half-empty – it doesn't matter. When you're 1-4, you don't worry about the rest of the conference, and you sure don't worry about playoff scenarios. When you're 1-4, you worry about winning a game and getting to 2-4 and then you worry about winning another game. Once you have won a couple of games, then you can talk about other teams and scenarios and the like.
Ivan from Jacksonville:
Watching the 49ers-Giants game, I saw something very interesting: the 49ers have 12 players on their roster drafted between '04-'08 and the Giants have 10. Those are the veteran players leading those teams to the success they are having. The Jaguars have six players from those drafts.
John: The Jaguars without question are young and they have fewer core veterans from those years than you would like. That's not the entire reason for their struggles, but it is indicative of the youth and inexperience on the roster.
Fred from Orlando, FL:
Is there any chance left the Jags make the playoffs? The next 4 games they could go 4-0?
John: Sure, there's a chance. The NFL can change in a hurry, and a victory can turn into momentum and that can turn into a run. When you're 1-4, you can't say making the playoffs is probable, but if things turn around in the next two weeks and you get to 3-4 with a couple of road victories, I guarantee you I get a bunch of playoff-oriented emails.
Jonathan from Section 105:
In expanding on the question by Matt from Manassas, Va., it took Alex Smith more than 5 years and four different coaches. Gabbert has an arm and can make the throws as he has done when he is protected well. Why hasn't it been brought up that maybe the coaching isn't the right fit? Alex Smith didn't get his right match until 5 years into his career, I don't want a coaching carousel, but it appears to me Mularkey isn't the right head coach, just like he wasn't the right head coach in Buffalo.
John: Five games, Jonathan. The man has been on the job for five games. Please, for everyone's sake, just slow down.