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More balanced than you think


Let's get to it . . . Shane from Callahan, FL:
To your question yesterday from Jeff, "Jeff from Wherever: Is our receiving corps really that bad? How would we know? In three games, we have 70 pass attempts and 40 completions. Most teams had over 70 attempts their first two games. Obviously, the dropped balls are the receivers' fault but, given the lack of passes thrown, I think the sample size is too small to judge our receivers as poorly as many have. John: You have been heard." Well, we got a good sample. Gabbert overthrew some, yes, but in the "much-need" plays, and fourth downs, and red zones, the ball was there, the receivers didn't catch the ball....Have I been heard?
John: You have. Over the course of the season, there have been too many drops. No question.
Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
Sixteen for 42!?!? I didn't actually get to see the game, but you did. So tell me... was it as bad as it sounds?
John: No. Very good first half. Very rough second half. He looked very good early and was more inaccurate in the second. It's growth. It's a process. It just is.
Harry from Jonesboro, AR:
I know as a journalist you understand the meaning of "If it bleeds, it leads." Is that why all the negativity in the letters these days? Or is there really no positive thinking left in Jags fans? My position is that with Garrard playing well below expectations and hence being released, and a rookie quarterback with no OTAs to develop him, this is the wrong year to evaluate Coach Del Rio, and to criticize GM Gene. Your thoughts? By the way, Garrard to the Colts would make some sense, but I contend they have written this season off, and now they're "playing" for the rights to draft Andrew Luck. What do you think, as a former Colts insider?
John: You can still evaluate coaches and personnel people in these circumstances, but you may evaluate each differently – and in this situation, that evaluation may not be all based on victories and losses. And to answer your question: no, I do not believe the Colts have not written off the season. NFL teams rarely do that, hard as it may be to believe.
Rob from London, UK:
This may sound sycophantic, but John, you're doing a fantastic job. Two things: one positive, one negative. The huge positive is that our defense is performing at a top 10 level. Hard to describe how much better than last year. The negative is that I feel Jack has taken us as far as he can, and it may be time for a change. Go Jags, go Gabbert, in Gene we trust.
John: I don't know what sycophantic means, but I think "you're doing a fantastic job" sounds very, very brilliant.
Dean from Rochester, NY:
A couple of things. I'm usually never one to question the play calling as I assume the people involved know a lot more than I do about these things, but instead of two failed fourth downs there could have been six points on field goals, and the final drive could have been for the tie. Also, why were the arrows by the yard markings pointing the wrong way on one side of the field?
John: You're right about the field goals, but at the time the Jaguars were being aggressive and going for the victory. And at the time of the first field goal, it did not appear overly likely the Jaguars would get in a position for three more scores. As for the errors, well, not everybody's perfect – as it turned out, even arrow-painters.
Paul from Rockledge, FL:
I loved the game plan today. Let's get in a shootout with a rookie QB against Drew Brees, and give the best player on our team minimal touches. Jags will never win with this brilliance.
John: The Jaguars were most imbalanced in the first half, and at halftime, they were within four points. In the second half, as they became more balanced, the offense actually seemed to get more inefficient. I absolutely believe you need balance, but in this case, I don't think the imbalance was quite the problem a lot of readers seem to believe.
Biff from Jacksonville:
Koetter was not pass-happy, as some radio callers noted. The Saints were begging the Jaguars to throw. The offense failed to execute when given opportunities. My question is whether it was the wide receivers, the quarterback or the offensive line that was the weakest link? From my seat in the stadium it was the receivers. Gabbert got progressively worse accuracy wise but the receivers seemed incapable of either getting open or making the catch. Did you see a different game?
John: I'd say you had a pretty good seat.
John from Elizabeth City:
Sometimes I hate being right. As a question why is it we can't seem to find balance I know the numbers say we ran and passed pretty even, but it doesn't seem fluid it seems the mix of pass and run is forced. We threw the ball a ton in the first half out of the shotgun. Then the second half we tried to run, run, run. Why can't we mix it up during a drive not by the half or quarter?
John: Balance is the goal and I think you'll see more balance as the coaches get more familiar with Gabbert's comfort level. It's also important to remember that sometimes play-calling is dictated by defenses.
Taylor from Ellicott City, FL:
To be straightforward, I think your analysis of the Jaguars' defense is slightly off, in that they are actually better than you give them credit for. From what I saw, between this game and Jets game the offense's inefficiency has consistently given the opposition short fields, which the Jags D has quite often limited to field goals. What do you think?
John: I stand by my analysis of the defense. I think it is better than last season, and think it gives the Jaguars a chance to be competitive against most offenses. I don't think it is elite, because I haven't seen that big-time disruptive pass rusher that can take control of a game at the absolute must-pressure moments. Also, it allowed more than 500 yards Sunday, so let's just say it's improved for now and leave it at that.
Jerell from Orangeburg , SC:
In your blog you said the Jags had a couple of chances in the red zone and didn't capitalize on them and that's the difference between a veteran and a rookie quarterback. I think you are completely wrong. The difference I saw was a team with superior offensive talent versus a team with a good young QB, RB, TE, suspect offensive line and no, no WRs. That's the difference in the red zone. The WR position is holding this team and play-calling back has nothing to do with Blaine.
John: You missed my point – and I'm not completely wrong. I said efficiency in the red zone was the difference between a rookie and a veteran. I was discussing rookie and veterans in general and not breaking down the Jaguars and Saints. Obviously, there were more differences between the teams than simply a veteran and rookie quarterback – if that was your point.
Rob from Mukwonago, WI:
What happened to playing the best 11 players on the roster? This team is built on MJD and Mr. Lewis yet we are lining up five wide receivers. I thought you could still throw the ball out of the I-form or single back formation?
John: You can, but I have no problem with multiple formations and personnel packages. Every player can't play every play and trying to best utilize talent isn't a bad thing.
Nick from Jacksonville:
Hey John can we fire our fan base and get some more rational fans who know more about football other than what happens in Gainesville, Athens, Tallahassee and Miami? I like what I am seeing overall from my team, our defense is keeping us in games against quality opponents, Gabbert is showing immense promise for a rookie quarterback who didn't have OTAs and mini camp to learn the playbook or practice anything. Sure we need some help with wide receivers and offensive line, they will get better as the season goes on and they all have time to gel. To me our fan base is more frustrating than the team or the coaches...... Like your predecessor used to say, Players not plays.
John: I was pleasantly surprised at the tone of the readers Monday. I got a lot of emails like this, and they actually outnumbered the angry, fire-everyone-cut-all-the-receivers emails. This isn't an easy process and fans are tired of mediocre seasons, but the signs Gabbert is showing is the overriding storyline this season. It's by far the most important happening of the season and if we're sitting here in December saying, "This Gabbert guy is the real deal," then the future is very, very bright.

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