JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Brian from Neptune Beach, FL:
I understand the Jaguars made a run for Alex Mack in free agency. However, I'm still puzzled the only addition to the line was a mediocre guard in Zane Beadles. People knew this line would struggle and adding two rookies in the mid/later rounds of the draft, so far, has not been the answer. Is there any hope out there for a trade to get some better players? Or are we stuck with these guys?
John: First, when you build a team you have to build the entire roster – not just one area. The Jaguars made their offseason moves within that context. They're also building for the future – not just one season. The second part is important to remember because that's why they're taking a draft-and-develop approach and in general not trying to sign the highest-priced free agents available. Drafting-and-developing takes time and while we don't know yet how good Luke Joeckel, Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko will be there are indications those three will be around and starting for the foreseeable future. There also remains a feeling that those three young players will be good as they develop; they have, remember, a combined 12 starts. The team also remains confident in right tackle Austin Pasztor. As for Beadles, he hasn't been elite yet. I don't know that he's expected to be elite. He's expected along with Joeckel to help solidify that side of the line, and three games probably isn't enough of a sample size to know if it will happen or not. As for your final question, a trade isn't likely, but let's let the season play out before we determine if "being stuck with these guys" is a bad thing.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
Before the start of the season, one of those national writers or national websites that no one reads proclaimed Gus Bradley was on the hot seat for this season. We all laughed and called that crazy, but now that doesn't look too crazy... Is Gus on the hot seat?
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Do you find it troubling that Marqise Lee's injuries seem to have continued from his last couple years of college into his rookie year? Seems like he might be another CSIII.
John: Yes, Alex, I'll take Overreaction for 300 please … thank you. Look, Lee had a knee injury in his final year in college and he now has a hamstring injury. Those are unrelated injuries and not a sign of a trend. Cecil Shorts III has missed seven games over the last three seasons and it remains to be seen if the injuries are a long-term issue. He made it through Sunday's game with no aftereffects and that's a good sign. But no, I don't think we can yet say after one missed game that injuries are going to haunt Lee throughout his NFL career.
Ryan from Varnville, SC:
Now that Bortles is the starter do you think Fisch will try to dummy down the playbook or expand it?
John: I think it will stay pretty much the same, and as not only Bortles but the young receivers get more and more comfortable I think you'll see the playbook expand.
Steve from Jacksonville:
You have been saying all along that Bortles would start sooner than later. Was it just a 'gut feeling?' Or was it something else?
John: I was just sayin …
John from Jacksonville:
Is there any chance our defensive woes stem from scheme? We had trouble last year defensively and the reasons given were inexperience, people being out of place, etc. The same problems are occurring this season and I can't help but wonder if it's the scheme. Would you mind giving us some insight on which coverages we are running and if we are mixing in different types of coverages as opposed to running a Cover 3 every down? Thanks O-man!
John: The scheme is very similar to the one used in Seattle. I think the Seahawks play pretty good defense, but I'll Google it later to make sure. The Jaguars' defensive players aren't as good as those who play for Seattle. I'll Google that later, too, but I'm almost kinda, sorta sure on that one. Yes, the Jaguars are mixing coverages. They mixed them regularly against the Colts, playing man-to-man and a variety of zones. I watched the first drive with Jaguars Resident Film Guru Jeff Lageman Monday morning, and it was hard to find much fault in the defensive scheme. One player out of position on one play can lead to long gains. That's what Head Coach Gus Bradley said is happening far too often, and that's more what's going on than a problem with the schemes.
Bobby from Salt Lake City, UT:
So we saw a lot of Denard "Shoelace" Robinson in the game Sunday. Is it possible for him to take the starting job next week or are they trying to get the whole THUNDER and LIGHTNING thing going?
John: I doubt he'll start. I think he'll continue to get a lot of repetitions.
James from Orange Park, FL:
Aside of the fans, it feels like NOBODY is excited that Blake is taking over. The players seem indifferent, Gus didn't seem too thrilled, and I know you have some doubts. Starting Blake early may not have been the "plan," but he is truly the better option. And Henne is a class act all the way.
John: First: yes, Henne is classy. Second: I'm not sure how people around the Jaguars are supposed to act. They just lost their third consecutive game by 17 or more points. Are they supposed to high-five, hug and make viral YouTube celebration videos over a two-touchdown, two-interception performance with the game out of hand? The Jaguars certainly will play hard for Bortles, and they may well be a better team. But these players also know they're putting a rookie quarterback into a tough situation. They'll probably hold the banners and streamers until we get this going a little.
Michael from Fruit Cove, FL:
I like when Andre Branch dances. It means he got a sack. It wasn't that long ago we had just 14 sacks in an entire season while the defense let multiple quarterbacks break the single-game completion percentage record against us. Branch is on pace for more than 14 sacks by himself this year. I can deal with the stupid dance, even down 17, if it means were getting a pass rush.
John: Hey, one for the windmill! #windmill
Chad from Jacksonville:
When a player commits a penalty, are there any off-field consequences from the organization, other than fines for illegal hits by the NFL? Does the team fine the player when they commit offsides? Make him do wind-sprints? Do an interview with Boselli?
John: This is professional football. If a player commits too many penalties or hurts the team too much he no longer plays for that team. As far as spending time with Boselli, unfortunately that's just part of the deal for people around here. The number of penalties committed has nothing to do with it.
Mike from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Hi John! Just wanted to send in a comment that you can use to take up space in your column so you can limit the number of negative emails you have to post. Fans should do what I do: when I get sad watching Jags, I just pull up the "O-Zone", look at your picture and thank God I don't look like you; brings the smile back to my face.
John: Wait. What?
Marcus from Jacksonville:
It is absurd to say Gus Bradley is a terrible head coach at this point in his tenure with the Jags. One thing does concern me about the coaching staff is this is two years in a row they were flat-out wrong on which quarterback gave the team the best chance to win. Are they just unable evaluate talent at the quarterback position? I sure hope not because the future of the franchise is resting on the shoulders of a quarterback they picked.
John: I won't argue last season, though I would say that in the first year of the building process they needed to learn once and for all if they believed in Blaine Gabbert. They learned. As far as this year, there was a belief at the start of the season that Henne's experience and ability to get checks and calls made at the line of scrimmage trumped Bortles' natural ability and potential. It trumps it no more. If Bortles' ability/potential becomes production, I suspect we won't worry about the Jaguars' ability to evaluate quarterbacks much longer.
Matt from Jacksonville:
Bradley and Caldwell are getting ripped by some sports personalities for going away from their plan to sit Bortles after only two games. Do you feel like they lose any credibility with the players over this issue?
Etheric from Space:
I'm sorry John but throwing your franchise quarterback to the wolves behind a suspect offensive line is FOOLISH. That experiment didn't work out so well for the Jaguars last time. Jags should trade Henne late pick for Sanchez NOW! That way they can have a more up-tempo offense, Chip style.
John: Spend time and energy focusing on trading for Sanchez! … check. I'll pass it along.
O-Zone: A man with a plan
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Brian from Neptune Beach, FL: