Next-day O-Zone. A lot of anger and a little understanding.
Let's get to it . . .
Mike from Blacksburg, VA:
As I was watching the game, I told the people watching that we're just waiting for the team to "click," for lack of a better word. There were some drives where we looked closer to clicking than others. When do you think the drives where it clicks start to outnumber drives that look like the Jags are stuck in neutral?
John: This is one of those questions that produces an answer people don't like. It could be a few weeks, or it could be next season. It's going to be a matter of Gabbert getting consistent enough and the offensive line blocking consistently enough and the receivers playing well enough and all of that happening together. And remember: even when it happens, there will be games where it's frustrating. The Steelers are playing pretty well offensively. Do you think their fans are happy about the second half?
Allie from Garfield, NJ:
Is a team allowed to decline a false start penalty?
John: Yes, but I can't think of a reason why you would.
Nick from Jacksonville:
I must say that I was impressed with the way the defense played in the second half and I have been even more impressed with MJD this season. Now if only we could put all the positives together for 60 minutes, I bet we wouldn't be that bad. BTW, Gabbert threw no picks for the second week. I saw some things that I liked.
John: I did, too, particularly the interceptions part. I've seen rookie quarterbacks who look like they can't get out of their own way, and rookie quarterbacks who couldn't stop throwing interceptions in bunches. Gabbert has four touchdown passes and two interceptions. Considering the state of the receivers right now, and considering Gabbert has gone against two blitz-oriented defenses, there indeed are positive signs.
James from Jacksonville:
The Jags predictably lost yesterday because Gabbert kept getting sacked. It was frustrating to tune in and hear that the Jags were starting two rookies on the offensive line because we were starting two rookies on the offensive line two years ago and they were supposed to be the future. I know injuries are part of the game, but it is just depressing when it's both of the young offensive tackles. . . . While Alualu appears to be a blue- chip player, his presence is adversarial and inconsistent with plans to switch to a 3-4. That change is what eventually needs to happen. Three-four defenses have been the winning formula since 2002. Green Bay was in a similar situation when they made the switch. The two instances in recent history when a team without a 3-4 played a team with a 3-4 defense in the Super Bowl and were victorious they had a quarterback named Manning.
John: It was frustrating that the tackles weren't available Sunday, but as you said, I don't know how you predict or prevent injuries. If I could, I'd make a lot of money for an NFL team. As for your thoughts on the 3-4 defense, the 4-3 or 3-4 debate has been ongoing for a long time and is cyclical in nature. Put good defensive players in any scheme and you have a good defense. Alualu's presence is not a hindrance.
Sandy from Jacksonville:
It may sound weird, but I am getting optimistic about next season. The Steelers, Bengals, and Panthers losses were all games we lost at the end. Another year of Gabbert and we may have won all three games.
John: Your outlook, while positive, is not shared by everyone. That's understandable. A lot of things have conspired to produce 1-5 and for those looking closely, it's apparent that there are elements in place for this team to win consistently soon. There are also elements that obviously need to get fixed. The team is not far off and I continue to believe that the foundation is in place. How soon things turn around will depend on how quickly a few things – the acquisition of a big-time pass rusher and improvement at receiver among them – happen.
John from Jacksonville:
I know you don't like to post questions regarding coaching, but can you please give us insight as to how many calls you get for Del Rio being fired? Drafting Gabbert will not launch us into the future nearly as effectively as getting rid of that man will.
John: As you might expect, considering the 1-5 start, we get many such emails. I don't mind posting the question because anyone associated with the NFL understands that such issues are part of the game. It's just not something I'm sure anyone can answer.
Tracey from Atlanta:
How long will you support Gene Smith as GM? He reminds me a lot of Matt Millen, who was well-respected by his peers but kept drafting bad players. The owner stuck by Millen for years and when he finally fired him the Lions started winning. Gene has been the head scout-GM for eight years and we have been rebuilding almost all of those eight years. What makes you think he will be a good long-term GM?
John: I'll support Smith until I see something that makes me think he's not a good general manager. I don't judge a general manager by picking apart and grading every single draft pick, although picking players is obviously critical to the job. I judge a general manager on whether he has the vision, patience and belief system to build a roster capable of producing long-term success. Smith has gone about things the right way and has picked players at the right positions at the correct time. You're going to have hits and misses in the draft and free agency, but do things the right way and your percentages go up. If your percentages go up in the long run that will produce success. That's not a popular answer at 1-5, but that's my answer to the question you asked. As for the Millen comparison, I don't see it. Not even close.
Dustin from Jacksonville:
So what's the deal with Kampman?
John: The deal is he played about as much as was expected Sunday. I always hesitate to judge off the view from the press box, but it did not appear that he had much of an impact, and didn't appear as if he had much burst. Reviewing the coaches' tape sometimes reveals something different. We'll see.
Glenn from Orange Park, FL:
I'm sure you won't answer this, but here's a shot anyway. You and the organization love to discount the fans' opinions as uneducated and impulsive, yet many of us have called since last year for the offensive line to be fixed. People can say all they want about the wide receiving group, but the fact is that Blaine is struggling with the same issue that David struggled with ALL year last year-constantly under pressure and being smashed into the turf. I guess our young quarterback is going to have to suffer a serious injury before anyone in the Jaguars organization takes steps to fix what might be the worst offensive line in the NFL.
John: I'm on the cusp of banning questions that begin "I'm sure you won't answer this," but for today, here goes: I don't discount the fans opinions, but at the same time there's little debate – at least to me – that fans are impulsive and don't know the details of building a team the way those who build teams do. That's not insulting the fans. It's just common sense. The offensive line has not been dominant but I can certainly say I've seen lines worse this season. They allowed five sacks Sunday playing with a rookie free agent left tackle. That's still not acceptable, but I'm also not sure the line is in need of a major overhaul.
Nick from St. Paul, MN:
Do you think Britton and Monroe starting would have made all the difference? And even though playoffs this year look very unlikely, Peyton Manning went what, 3-13 his first year? That worked out okay.
John: They would have helped. The Steelers still would have gotten pressure. It's what they do. Yes, the Colts went 3-13 in Manning's rookie season. That's not to say you have to lose big before winning big, but very often it happens that way.
Ron from Guttenberg:
I have seen plenty of improvement each game, but there are two verbs I want the Jaguars to do better: Catch the ball (defense and offense) and block the line. I know this is on many of the players' minds. If the Jags could capitalize on some turnover opportunities (easy picks), their record and morale would be a lot different.
John: Yep. Gotta catch and gotta block. Basic stuff. Usually when you do it you play good offense.
Stanley from Bakersfield, CA:
John's inbox: Rashean Mathis is garbage, our receivers are terrible, fire JDR and Gene Smith, we need to stop drafting small-school players, Gabbert made some great throws but also some rookie mistakes, too many running plays were called, too many passing plays were called, and why does the defense look so overwhelmed and undermanned? This team has made too many good plays to keep losing...they will win before the bye week.
John: That's it. I'm changing my password.