JACKSONVILLE – Adjusting back to Eastern Time …
Let's get to it …
Doug from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Memo to fellow Jag fans ... we won the freakin' game and made several big-time plays. A win away from EverBank Field is always a good thing. We're a missed field goal away from being tied for the division lead. WE CLOSED OUT THE GAME with a W. Enjoy the moment … right, John?
John: Good memo, and it touches on an interesting phenomenon: that a faction of fans are upset early this week about the Jaguars winning – or perhaps more accurately, about how they won. The Jaguars indeed won Sunday, and they won because they made big plays at the end on offense and on defense. They did it by overcoming a significant amount of adversity. They did it with a big-time, game-winning drive with young, core players making really big plays. They also did it with a big defensive stop. No, it was not aesthetically pleasing during the second half. And absolutely the team still has the same issues it had entering the Buffalo game. This wasn't a great team yet entering the game and it's still not a great team. But it's a team that figured out a way to win Sunday when it easily could have lost. It's a team that's 2-5 at the bye with four other games decided in the fourth quarter. This team wasn't close to that either of the last two seasons, so enjoy the moment? Yes, and maybe – just maybe -- even feel a bit more optimistic about the future, too.
Sebastian from Poland:
John, watching the game I noticed a full stadium. However, I did not notice the fans getting really loud for defensive stands or on third down, etc. ... Am I simply wrong or do you think people simply don't understand/care about this particular game enough and treat it as more of a spectacle? Thanks.
John: A portion of London fans indeed view a game at Wembley as a spectacle, and as a chance to see an NFL team – any team – up close. This is made clear by jerseys of pretty much every team being worn on game days. There also is still a novelty element, with some fans not completely sure for whom to root or just when to cheer. At the same time, I sensed a stronger pro-Jaguars feel during this game than the first two Jaguars games at Wembley, with fans seeming to boo when the Bills faced big third downs. It's not yet 84,000 all going nuts for the Jaguars, but it appears to be moving in the right direction. Three years in, that's a good start.
Joel from Jacksonville:
I have been reading and listening. People do know we won this game, right? Watch a lot of other games and you will see that silly is the norm unless you are one of the three or four elite teams. Boy, we are a tough fan base.
John: Sure, people know the Jaguars won, but the reaction immediately after Sunday's game – while extreme and rather curious – also was understandable. A lot of the same issues that have plagued this team throughout the season showed up again in the second half. A pick-six. A blown coverage. Costly, silly penalties. And then there was the frustrating inability to pick up one yard on four tries from the one-yard line. I perhaps would have mixed in something other than Toby Gerhart to the right, up the middle and to the left, but the Jaguars decided after getting first-and-goal at the 1 that it was four-down territory. At that point, if you take the approach of, 'If we can't get one yard on four runs we deserve to lose' … well, I'm an old-school guy and I don't mind that approach. But I digress, which is unfair because your point is a correct one. Close, weird games are the norm for all but the elite teams and the Jaguars aren't an elite team yet. They're a more competitive one than recent seasons and they're one that's still struggling to close games. On Sunday, they were a team that responded to adversity with a big drive and a big stop. That's a good way to win a silly game. #Sillyisthenorm
Ryan from Durham, NC:
Since we should be getting some players back from injury after the bye, do you think James Sample gets inserted in the starting lineup to bolster the secondary? And do you think we move on from Toby Gerhart in the offseason?
John: The Jaguars are actually pretty healthy, though I would expect the team to be even closer to full health after the bye. Sample, tight end Clay Harbor and wide receiver Marqise Lee were the only injured inactives Sunday, and considering the season to date, that's a short list. I'd be very surprised if Lee and Harbor aren't practicing after the bye, and my gut is Sample should return soon, too. When the latter happens, I don't think it will be long until he is starting. He has the look of a big-time player. As for Gerhart, he has one more year remaining on his contract at $3 million a season. Do the Jaguars want him at that price as a backup? I doubt it at this stage, but we'll see.
Jeff from Rutland, MA:
Has A-Rob made any claims of a missed pass interference call on the play where Blake threw a pick-six? I saw him on the ground, but couldn't tell if it was PI or if he just fell.
John: There definitely was contact on the play and pass interference definitely could have been called. On the other hand, it wasn't a great throw by Blake Bortles and you could see why the official didn't pull the flag on a pass that looked that overthrown. It was one of those plays where the argument could be made that the contact caused the pass to be overthrown, but judgment is judgment and that call went against the Jaguars. They got a break later in the game on the pass interference involving Bryan Walters. The fates giveth and the fates taketh away.
Nimrod from Toronto, Ontario:
Hey John, a win is a win, but is it just me, or did the defense get complacent in the second half? Hardly saw any blitzing at all whereas in the first half we were savages. Why did we stop being aggressive? PS, shout out to Hurns and Robinson … Top one/two receivers.
John: Telvin Smith addressed this after the game, and said he felt the defense lost a little of its energy. There's human nature involved there, and there also is the element that the Jaguars don't have much experience playing with big leads. Also, second-half "letdowns" are common in the NFL because it's very hard to shut down offense for the entire game. But overall, I agree that the defense wasn't as aggressive. The "book" there is to play safer with a big lead because you won't want to give up quick touchdowns with a big lead, but given this defense's struggles to create pressure with four, that book may not be applicable this season.
Mike from Jackson de ville, FL:
Sorry, John, but I've never been less excited about a win. This team has serious issues and beating a team missing a host of its best players does little-to-nothing of showing growth and progress.
John: No need to apologize. The Jaguars certainly have the same issues coming out of the Buffalo victory going into it. I've said it often this season and continue to believe it: the Jaguars are a young, struggling team. They're better than the past two seasons and should be better in the future than they are now. They're probably not going to fix everything that ails them this season, and for that reason, they're going to be in a lot of games such as they were Sunday – i.e., close games that are decided in the fourth quarter. So far this season, they are 2-4 in those games. They could easily be 0-6 in those games and easily could be 4-2 or 5-1 in those games. That's a lot better than they were the past two seasons, but it's not good enough to be winning consistently. Stay tuned.
Robert from Van Nuys. CA:
Do I like the win? Yes. How we won? Heck no. SLOPPY, SLOPPY, SLOPPY. If it wasn't for that BS pass interference call we would have lost. Straight up being honest with you, O, my man. Am I a bad Jaguars fan?
John: The pass interference call was on third down, and there's no law against making a first down on fourth down, but I get your point – and I understand fans being concerned that the Jaguars didn't easily put that game away in the second half. Had Gerhart scored from the 1-yard line and linebacker Telvin Smith caught an interception on a pass defensed, we're probably talking a lot differently, but that's what the NFL usually is … a play here or a play there either way and conversations change, sometimes dramatically. As far as being a bad Jaguars fan … no, you're not. There's no such thing.