JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jesse from Gun Barrel, TX:
Blake is a rookie; he will make mistakes. Blake is a rookie; he will make mistakes. This is a young team; they will make mistakes. This is a young team; they will make mistakes. How many times must we hear this? We see it every Sunday on the football field. Every time they get close, they shoot themselves in the foot. They can't finish when in the red zone. They can't score points.
John: It appears you have a pretty good grasp of the situation. You evidently are watching closely. You also have a pretty good grasp of how the NFL works. Young teams with rookies at skill positions indeed make mistakes. They indeed struggle in the red zone. They indeed struggle to score points. The very real positive in this – as I'm sure you also know – is that the Jaguars' offense is moving the ball. The offense is converting third downs. It's producing yards. For a young team, that's the first step. The next step is finishing. The next step is being better in the red zone. As for how many times you must hear all of these things … I don't know, perhaps until the quarterback and most of the offensive players aren't rookies anymore.
Steve from Denver, CO:
O, can we get more pictures of the Roar in their Halloween outfits? Just sayin'
John: Wait. What?
Rameses from Norfolk, VA:
Telvin Smith is the most intriguing player on this roster in my opinion. He offers an interesting blend of athleticism and aggressiveness that seems to fit our scheme. Moving forward, do you see him as a major part in this defense or simply a complimentary defender?
John: There's a very good chance Telvin Smith will be a major part of the defense going forward. You want to be careful not to put too much on him too soon, because he is a rookie, but his development through eight games has been very encouraging. For a rookie to make the impact plays he has made is impressive. He has done it in fits and starts, but that's OK. The important thing is he has done it. The next step is consistency and that's where maturity and experience come into the equation.
Dwayne from Jacksonville:
"This is also my method when tipping in restaurants. People fake it well, but deep down they love it." By now you should know not to believe everything Shadrick tells you.
John: Offered without comment …
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Why in the world wouldn't the Jaguars re-sign Alan Ball? A biceps injury isn't career-ending and has no impact on his quickness, speed and mental aptitude - all of which are important to playing this position. You can never have too many good cornerbacks on the roster! He's a keeper unless he just demands an outrageous amount of money. Make sense?
John: No doubt. At the same time, the Jaguars now will be starting Demetrius McCray and Dwayne Gratz at cornerback the rest of the season barring something unforeseen. Aaron Colvin almost certainly will be playing nickel soon – if not in London against Dallas, then shortly after the bye. It stands to reason Jeremy Harris will get repetitions at some point this season. Those are four players with potential selected in the past two drafts, and ideally you want the core of your roster to be young, rising, drafted players.
Seth from Prosper, TX:
Can you regale us O-Zoners with stories of grandeur from the past so we might have some perspective? I know we're in the middle of a losing season, but I feel like we're witnessing the start of something epic.
John: I always hesitate to cite something historic and say, "Here's what happened before, so here's why the Jaguars will be successful …" Every team has its own circumstance in its own time and there are so many moving parts that it's hard to duplicate the past. One situation from the past does come to mind, though. In 1996, the Jaguars spent the first 11 games losing close games with the offense at times struggling with turnovers and finishing. One game in particular, a loss at St. Louis when the Jaguars dramatically outgained the Rams only to have turnovers change the game, comes to mind. This year's Jaguars team is going through something similar. That's not to say the 2014 Jaguars are going to the AFC Championship Game, but there seem to be some parallels.
Ross from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Has Sen'Derrick been playing at a Pro Bowl level? Hopefully, he's getting national recognition, despite playing in Jacksonville.
John: Sen'Derrick Marks indeed has been playing at or near a Pro Bowl level. The reality is he probably hasn't gotten the recognition his play merits. That's probably more because of 1-7 than Jacksonville.
Jesse from Duval:
How 'bout some love for the defense. It has played great the last four games even with the injuries. That said, since Ball is on injured reserve, how do you see Aaron Colvin contributing since he is now allowed to practice? Will we place him on the active roster with the hope he can start toward the end of the year?
John: Sure, love, love, love … as far as Colvin goes, it appears he may be activated for the Dallas game next Sunday. It also appears he will play the nickel with Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray at the corners. That probably will be the scenario for the short term. How it will play out with those three remains to be seen, but if by the end of the season that trio is showing signs of being front-line players than the Jaguars are in good shape at the spot.
Stebo from Section 150 via Duval County:
I struggle to understand how 1-7 is NOT better than 0-8 ... We are better at the halfway point than last year and our record shows it. The people wanted a new quarterback and we got one. The people wanted a better offensive line and we got one. The people wanted better receivers and we got them, too. I think most of us agree that some shoring-up of the defense is coming this offseason (probably an understatement)... In fact, that too has already begun. What am I missing about the rebuild that I should be angry about?
John: What you are seeing are facts, but you have to be watching closely to see them. You also have to be willing to see that improvement can occur even without a dramatic improvement in the short-term record. The positive is the things you're seeing are things that should show up over time, which means they are things that could lead to the improvement in record everyone wants.
Andy from Shifnall, OH:
When you said the Otto position needs "attributes such as size, strength and stoutness against the run" it made me wonder if this was a position Poz could play in the future? Or are there other attributes needed, which he doesn't have?
John: It's hard to see Posluszny in the Otto. He's a middle linebacker and probably a bit too big – and perhaps not fast enough – to play the Otto. He also isn't the edge pass rusher needed to rush from the Otto position.
Harvey from Austin, TX:
Why do people ask questions that can be clearly answered on the schedule link of the Jaguars home page?
John: Life is full of mystery.
Richard from Lincoln, RI:
Why was last week's London game played at 9:30 AM EST, but the Jags/Dallas game will be on at 1PM EST?
John: The NFL wanted to try one game this season at the earlier time to see if it would work. It seemed quite popular, and it seems like something the league could do if it schedules more London games.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
It's starting to look entirely possible Paul Posluszny has played his last snap as a Jaguar. It may be too early to state that, but if Jeremiah George can be an effective two-down run stopper, then Posluszny's days seem numbered. Thomas and Smith seem like a strong future pair of nickel linebackers with their athleticism and nose for the ball. Speaking of Ball, it seems he might not be back either if McCray keeps his course and Gratz plays to the potential he showed in the preseason. Am I crazy and looking too far ahead? Or are those both possibilities (and Shorts if Blackmon is reinstated)?
John: My, my, my … we certainly are in a big hurry to overhaul the roster these days, aren't we? Something to keep in mind is this team is very, very young – phenomenally so at some spots. This is OK, because it builds for the future. At the same time, there's no law that says you can't have any veteran players on a growing team. I don't know what the future holds for Posluszny, Ball or even Shorts. There certainly is no guarantee any will return. If the linebacker corps and cornerbacks play well, then the Posluszny and Ball may not return, though Blackmon's really doesn't have that much to do with Shorts. And finally … this is no knock on George, but maybe he should play a snap on defense before we anoint him a long-term starter.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
How about giving credit to the 'Fins secondary for Blake Bortles' picks? Those guys are fast. The Jaguars have played some good teams this year and Blake has done great minus the mistakes. If you want to talk interceptions, how about Brunell in the championship games? They happen! The mailbag video was funny! Blake has breakout game Jags win big!
John: You go, girl.
O-Zone: All fired up
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jesse from Gun Barrel, TX: