FOXBORO, Mass. – Streak Day 2,358.
Many of you have read many. Some have read some. A few have read all. Whatever category fits you, enjoy Sunday.
You earned it. It's here. #DTWD #Moodachay
Let's get to it …
Joseph from Middleburg, FL:
The Jaguars as many things do in this area gets their support from a region of several counties in addition to playing a London home game. Does the Jaguar organization consider the fact a Duval chant fails to encompass a fan base that lives just as much if not more out of Duval than in?
John: This has been much-discussed over the years, but we can review. First, to your question: Yes, the organization understand its fan base is not entirely from Duval County; you might actually be shocked to learn that relatively intelligent people work here who are capable of reading a map and interpreting what the map means. I am not one of these people, but a guy the other day pointed to a few at lunch. I waved and received no response. As far as the "Duval" chant itself goes, I fear you're seeing it backward. Far from failing to encompass the entire fan base it actually encourages all fans to come together as one. The chant was not introduced to the fans by the team. It started organically from the fan base and has grown steadily in popularity. And chanting "Duval" is not about chanting where a fan lives; in fact, a great many of the people who enjoy chanting Duval do not live in Duval County. It actually has nothing to do with where a fan lives. It's about where many of the fans grew up, but more than that it's about where the team is from. It's about identifying with where the team is located, and it's also about identifying with the us-against-them mentality the team and many of its fans have embraced. It's not about a county as much as it's about a mindset, an attitude and a feeling of being part of something. Besides … it's fun to say. Have you ever tried it? If not, try it now. Duuuuvalllll! No, you can do better. Duuuuuuuuuuuvaaaaaaaaalllll! See? Fun! Another thing: while the team indeed has embraced the chant in more of an official capacity of late, I don't think it would matter much if it didn't. Fans like it. Players like it. It has become something that links the players and the fans. If the team didn't embrace it, I don't think fans would stop chanting it. I don't think the players would stop, either. And I wouldn't want them to stop chanting it. My advice? If you don't like it, don't chant it. But try it. You might actually find you enjoy it. Duuuuuuuuvaaaaaaaallll!!!
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I've been one to never bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. I think if you wanted to design a defense to stop Brady, you would want a defensive line good enough to get consistent pressure with the front four, you would want athletic linebackers, and you would want two Pro Bowl corners and a good nickel corner. What do you think about this matchup?
John: That's what every defense wants, but as far as the matchup Sunday … I like it.
Nick from Palatka, FL:
Mr. Zone … I heard from somewhere that when the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII that Eli Manning's season stats that season were actually worse than Blake Bortles' this year and that he just performed well when it mattered. Is this what we're seeing now? Will there be a Helmet Catch to seal the victory Sunday? #DTWD
John: The tone of this question amused me. Perhaps it was the use of the word "actually—" as if people would be shocked to learn that any quarterback in the history of football could possibly have had worse statistics than Bortles this season. News alert: Bortles was not bad this season. He simply was not. He completed 60 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions, and he did so behind an offensive line that was not consistent in pass protection – and with a receiving corps that for much of the season was a fourth-year veteran (Marqise Lee) and a slew of rookies and first-year players. Had a different quarterback had Bortles' season, that quarterback would have been lauded for gutting his team to the playoffs despite a mountain of difficult circumstances. Bortles beat the Seattle Seahawks, remember, by throwing touchdown passes to a pair of rookies – Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook – who had not been major factors in the Jaguars' offense at the beginning of the season. But to answer your question – Bortles' statistics this season indeed were better than Manning's in 2007. Manning threw 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions that season, completing just over 56 percent of his passes. That doesn't make Bortles better or worse than Manning, but it does further illustrate the fact that Bortles played better this season than many of his ill-informed detractors want to accept.
Paul from DUUVALL!:
With talk about this being one of the best defenses of all time, and the general comparisons to the Ravens or in some cases even the '85 Bears, for the Jags' defense to get mentioned in that category they absolutely have to win Sunday. But would those defenses have been as effective in today's NFL? The rules are so much more slanted toward the offense now than in, say, 1985.
John: Those defenses would have been fine.
Dallas from Valdosta, GA:
I'll have to agree with Clay from Gibsonia. Just beat the Patriots. To me it would be bigger than winning the Super Bowl. I don't want to see the Jags lose to them again in the playoffs.
John: Beating the Patriots would not be bigger than winning the Super Bowl. Nothing in football is bigger than winning the Super Bowl. But you can't get to the Super Bowl without beating the Patriots, so for now yeah: Just beat the Patriots.
Kyle from Green Cove Springs, FL:
One thing we must do better defensively this week is tackle. We can't allow Patriot playmakers YAC.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
I got a feeling that Blake Bortles is going to have a game like he had against the Seahawks. The weather will be good. The offensive line is playing hot. Leonard Fournette might not be 100 percent. Bortles played well against the Steelers, but not as well as he played back in early December. I have a feeling he gets back to it this week.
John: I believe the Jaguars need this to be the case because I believe the Patriots will scheme to stop the running game and to stop Bortles from running. That means Bortles will have to be sharp in decision-making and accuracy. He has been sharp in those areas for the most part this season. We'll see if he can be that way again in the biggest game of his life.
David from Durban South Africa:
John: No doubt. #Moodachay. #DTWD.
Mike from Richmond, VA:
First off, I'm so proud of the Jags and what Dave and the team have put together but I sense the Joe Flacco effect happening with Blake Bortles if he somehow gets us to the Super Bowl. As well as he has played this season, I'm not sold on him being our quarterback of the future, but given how things go he might have played himself into a big deal and seasons of future stress for fans.
John: So, you're worried about the ramifications of Bortles winning a Super Bowl? #firstworldproblems
Joshua from Tucson, AZ:
John, what kind of defense do you see the Jags playing against the Patriots Sunday? I am thinking press man would work because the Patriots have quick-in-and-out-of-the-cut receivers. Would give the pass rush more time to get to Brady. Thoughts? Thanks for all the work you do.
John: I think you'll see some press man, but the Patriots' receivers may not be as big of a concern Sunday as the running backs and tight ends. I doubt the Patriots' wide receivers control the game against the Jaguars corners. The running backs out of the backfield are a different matter.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
John, as a professional journalist you are not supposed to be a fan of a particular team in order to stay unbiased and impartial. How do you manage that in a situation like this? You know the players, coaches and staff and I imagine you want them to succeed, so how do you separate wanting a team to win from being a fan of that team? Or is the "I'm-not-a-fan" thing just something that media guys say but on the inside they're just as crazy as the rest of us?
John: Of course I want the Jaguars to win Sunday. I never have said or indicated anything to the contrary. I want them to win because I like a lot of the players, coaches and front-office personnel, and I want them to win because I have seen this entire organization put hearts and souls into this for a long time. I also want them to win because I would love to see it for the readers of this website, the rest of the Jaguars' fans and this city. So, sure … if they win Sunday it will be emotional. It will be emotional, too, if they lose because it will be too bad to see this run get so close to the Super Bowl and fall short. I anticipate being able to handle the emotions and function in my job because I imagine me sobbing in a fetal position in the bowels of Gillette Stadium might "go viral." But sure, I'll feel the emotions. I am, after all, a human of real feelings. I am indeed a man. Not an impressive man, but a man nonetheless.
Mike from Row HH:
I've come to accept Blake is not a great quarterback and I don't know if he ever will be right now. I also accept, nay - I embrace – that he is my quarterback. He's more than a quarterback. He's a tough-as-nails, gritty football player that will do everything in his power to not let his teammates down. Bold prediction this week: Bortles will do something truly heroic that only a football player and not necessarily a quarterback can do. What's your bold prediction Sunday?
John: I think the Jaguars will win. That feels bold enough for now.