INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Game-day O-Zone.
Let's get to it …
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
John, how do you stay so positive in the face of so much negative?
John: I don't actually see too, too much of what I write or say about the Jaguars as being positive or negative – and I really don't see (most) fans or readers as being all that negative when they ask questions or write the O-Zone. Fans are understandably frustrated by losing, and the Jaguars have lost for a long, long time. They vent sometimes, and sometimes they ask great questions. Sometimes they ask questions that aren't really answerable, and sometimes they get frustrated by answers that don't jive with their feelings or what they want to hear. All I really do is try to explain things the way they're happening. Positive, negative, delusional – whatever you call it, that's the objective.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Hey, John … I had a question, but I think I already know the answer. Should I ask it anyway?
John: I think you know the answer to this.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
Remember when David Caldwell was a genius for drafting Bortles with the fifth overall pick even though he's getting outplayed by the Raiders' second-round pick? I don't, either. Fans gonna fan, I guess.
John: Bortles was selected with the No. 3 overall selection, and because he was drafted the same year as Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel he always will be compared to those players. We're 19 games into their collective careers and Carr has played well for the last couple of games. I'll wait a few more to judge who's a genius and who's not. But hey … keep fanning.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Sometimes, as I read your column in the wee hours of morning, I hear something scurry through the walls of my home. This frightens me.
Josh from Eyota, MN:
I am disappointed JT will not be playing this weekend. I assumed the Jags were sandbagging on him, and expected a recovery in time for the game that mattered. Think we will see him next week?
John: The Jaguars aren't sandbagging with Julius Thomas. When he's cleared to play, I imagine it will be obvious early in the week. I doubt that will be next week. I'm guessing more along the lines of Houston in Week 6. We'll see.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Why not put Lee on injured reserve and let his body heal up? The guy has already cost the Jags a good player because he got hurt getting on the plane last week. The fact that he has talent makes it worse.
John: The Jaguars won't put Lee injured reserve because there are 13 games remaining in the regular season. If they can take a week or two – or however long it takes – and get Lee back for an extended period, then that's better than not having him at all. The fact that he has talent may or may not make anything worse, but it is why he's worth the risk and the wait.
Joe from San Antonio, TX:
For education purposes of column readers, when it comes to being in peak physical condition your rest days are JUST AS important as your workout days. If you do not properly rest your body, then you are only breaking it down without a chance for it to build back up. That also significantly increases chance of injury. There are a lot of things to complain about when it comes to being a fan; veteran days off are assuredly not one of them.
John: I can name a few readers who would disagree.
Joshua from Grand Island, NE:
The Ravens have Flacco and were 0-3. The Saints had Brees and are 0-3. The Lions have Stafford with Megatron and are 0-3. Da Bears have, well, da Bears are 0-3. I guess it really is a team game.
John: And the Broncos, Patriots and Packers are all 3-0 with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, so having a Guy sure doesn't hurt.
Andrew from Sampson:
How does a player who has had surgery get medical clearance? Is it through the surgeon who performed surgery or the Jags' medical staff? Also, when a player is injured, who is making the decision regarding how the injury is going to be treated: the player, the player's doctor or the Jaguars' medical staff? It seems that since it regards a player's career and therefore his livelihood the player should have final say on all. Understanding that there are contractual obligations and considerations that could come into play with whatever decision is made.
John: There are many parties involved in the medical treatment of a player. Team physicians sometimes perform surgery and sometimes they are performed by outside physicians. Whoever performs the surgery, physicians and trainers typically combine with the player to set up treatment and rehabilitation strategies. A player absolutely can get a second opinion, and he of course has a choice whether or not to play, but it's far more common for a player to want to play too early than to resist the chance to play.
Steven from Jacksonville:
Being this is the third year of the Gus Bradley/Dave Caldwell era, I have noticed injuries on the Jags just keep piling up season after season, game after game. I've thought about blaming the players, but I actually think it more proper to blame the conditioning coach. The slew of injuries are not major, season-ending injuries; they are conditioning injuries – calf hamstrings, strains to the ankles and knees. All could be avoidable with proper conditioning. Is it too much to ask for a little more from these coaches to stay on top of players to make sure they are in top physical form? It's tiresome to keep hearing this player is injured, this player is injured and new news today this player got injured. I'm not going to sit idly by anymore with this on my mind; like other fans, I would like some answers as to why our players are always injured. I would be okay with a list of injuries, but as I stated before this is the way it has been since the Gus Bradley/Dave Caldwell era began.
John: That's quite a call to action, and you certainly are no longer sitting idly by. Unfortunately, while your passion is admirable, it is misplaced. It's the NFL. Players get injured. "Knee and ankle" strains are not avoidable with conditioning. They are injuries that occur on every NFL team. But you're right that this is tiresome and no one's more tired of it than the trainers and doctors who spend every day, every week and every month year-round staying on top of these players to ensure they are in top physical form.
Robert from Amelia Island, FL:
If it's true that the Jags don't blitz much because they aren't good at blitzing, maybe we should have our cornerbacks up close enough to the line to at least block their opponent before they can start their routes? At least that would give the four defensive linemen a little more time to get to the quarterback and would not leave as many wide receivers and tight ends as wide open as they appear to be!
John: I never wrote that the Jaguars don't blitz much because they aren't good at blitzing, and I don't recall that being said. But you're right that the secondary needs to play closer to the line, and that there was too much cushion against New England. Bear in mind that cornerbacks aren't always going to play a yard off the ball. Different situations call for different coverages. But in general, I expect the secondary to be somewhat more aggressive Sunday.
Robert from Middleburg, FL:
Losing in the NFL (or any level of football for that matter) is a culture. It's a mindset. The exact same is true of winning. By and large, losing teams continue to lose year after year and the good teams just keep on winning. The Jaguars organization has developed a culture of losing. It settled in a long, long time ago, and when the Caldwell/Bradley regime was hired I was confident that they had the ability and the attitude to reverse that culture and get this team to a place where winning is not just desired, but expected. I'd be lying if I said that I'm not becoming less and less sure of that as the losses mount up. For me, these next few weeks are critical. These are all very winnable games, and I think the outcome will prove whether the Jaguars are indeed headed in the right direction.
John: I believe the next few weeks are critical, but I don't know that mindset and culture has had as much to do with the losing in recent seasons than the talent level, experience and lack of a franchise quarterback. You get experience, elite-level core players around a franchise quarterback and it's amazing how much your "culture" improves.