JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Zac from Kings Island:
With all your wisdom and your access to the team you never saw 0-3, LOL.
John: I actually don't pretend to have all that much wisdom – but no, I truly didn't believe this team would start the season 0-3. I don't think I was alone in thinking that. I thought the Jaguars had a real chance to be 2-2 coming out of London, and I thought that being .500 at that point would give them a chance to have the sort of season many expected. Considering the Jaguars have been in two games in the fourth quarter – and considering they were outplaying their opponent in some ways during both of those fourth quarters – I frankly am surprised they're in fact 0-3. So, I was wrong. Again. So, here we are.
Tony from Jacksonville:
Where's Dante Fowler? You had uncharacteristically high praise for him in the offseason and basically said he's going to be a star. I've barely heard his name other than a horrible penalty that lost us the game. We still can't get pressure on the quarterback. They seem to have all the time in the world.
John: I guess this goes back to me not pretending to have all that much wisdom. I indeed thought Fowler would make more of an impact through three games. He looked very good during the offseason, and appeared to have every chance to make an immediate impact. So far it appears he needs to continue to develop better pass rush moves. That's a common need for young pass rushers, and there's no reason to think Fowler won't do it. He does have two sacks this season, and seems to be playing a bit better in the last couple of weeks. Either way, Fowler's season thus far has been more defined by penalties than by pressure. That's something that must change.
Jeff from Anaheim, CA:
I DARE YOU (Caps for emphasis) to post this optimistic thought amid the clouds of darkness ... find a way to win next week, regroup in the bye week and not a long shot to win the next two of three against winnable opponents in Chicago, Oakland and Tennessee and you're back at .500 and in the conversation again.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
I am frustrated, too, but can we keep in mind that the Jags could just as easily be 2-1? We are still a young team and that youth is causing us to lose close games. For example, the offside penalty that gave the Ravens three points at the end of the half was on Dante Fowler Jr. who was making his third career start. At some point this offseason the hype train progressed from improvement to playoff expectations when it shouldn't have. As much as it is hard to be patient, time is still necessary.
Ryan from Apopka, FL:
I am hoping the Ravens game is the start of the shift for our defense and they start to play like we hoped they would. On the other side, this is where I am concerned. The offense was supposed to be our stronger side and carry us through the first half of the season. Six first downs in the first half, three possessions starting on their half of the field and only three points. But most of all, no KILLER instinct to put that game away.
John: I'm not a big "killer-instinct" guy, mainly because my experience is that good teams that are playing well often have a killer instinct and teams that are struggling do not. But yes, the offense struggled mightily on Sunday – and that has become a point of major concern. The slow starts from last season have continued, and so have the interceptions and the inefficiency. The defense and special teams provided ample opportunity to win Sunday and the offense failed to take advantage of the opportunity. As for the defense, that frankly was a better performance than I expected early in the season. It does appear the unit has a chance to become a strength quickly. That's a good sign from a game that otherwise provided few good feelings for this franchise.
Bill from Folkston, GA:
I asked this question a couple of weeks ago, but maybe my wording wasn't clear enough. Our offense seems to be set for runs, screen passes and long down-the-field passes, very few of the shorter 5-to-10-yard variety. Bortles said in his comments himself that he was holding the ball, waiting for someone to get open further down the field. Is this a situation where he is looking for longer passes and not taking what is in front of him? Or is it the plays themselves that are called? Sure seems like feast or famine and mostly famine these days.
John: The Jaguars' offense has been feast or famine really since the beginning of last season. It feasted a lot last season and put up some big statistics. But it struggled last season for consistency and those struggles have continued this season. It's hard to know if it's play-calling, in-play decision-making or – more likely – a combination of the two, but Bortles' accuracy and efficiency on shorter and intermediate routes need to improve. It's difficult to be a consistent offense when you live and die by the big play, and that difficulty is playing itself out early this season.
Gaetano from San Diego, CA:
John, is the O-Line capable or are they terrible? Only Cam and Dalton have been sacked more than Bortles, but their running backs still seem to manage more yards per carry. I feel like we've been waiting too long for this O-Line to come together.
John: The line for the most part has pass-blocked OK this season. That includes Sunday. Bortles was sacked four times on Sunday, but he moved into at least two of the sacks and should have thrown the ball away on an at least one other. His pocket awareness on those sorts of plays must improve. As for the run blocking … it hasn't been what the Jaguars hoped it would be this season. Some of that on Sunday might be attributed to having two players starting their first game, but it has been an issue all season. No question about that.
DisGUSt. And you said Bortles looks better than last season. How do those words taste now?
John: They taste fine, because he did look better than last season – early in the preseason. He has not looked very good at all during the regular season, particularly in the last two games.
Charles from Midlothian, VA and Sec 35:
Quarterbacks are only as good as the separation their wide receivers can get. If the offensive line lets too much pressure through and doesn't give the quarterback time and the wide receivers can't get open fast enough your quarterback will be forced to "make things happen." So there may be a reason he didn't look so good the last three games. That's what I see. Am I wrong?
John: You're probably not completely wrong. Football by its nature is a game of moving parts, so when trying to pinpoint "what's wrong" in situations there are usually many things. There were certainly plays Sunday when receivers weren't open, and there were plays when the offensive line struggled in pass protection. Those things happen, but for the most part those areas appeared to play well enough to win. Bortles missed some pretty makeable throws, but those things happen, too. The pocket awareness at game's end and not getting rid of the ball and taking an avoidable sack – those are the things that can't happen and fixing those things need to be Priority One.
Perry form Orange Park, FL:
You said, "When you don't win in the NFL the coach gets blamed." But for half of Bradley's tenure that hasn't been true. The state of the roster has been blamed for his losing seasons, not his ability as a coach. Do you believe there is ever a time to move on from a head coach? Are there certain signs you look for to evaluate the performance of a coach?
John: You're right that Bradley wasn't overly blamed for the record the first two seasons because the state of the roster correctly was blamed for the inability to win consistently. I wrote entering this season that we would get a better idea of Bradley as a head coach this season. The lack of discipline in some key situations has been a concern; there have been too many avoidable penalties that have been costly this season. There also has been more frustration voiced by players during and after losses this season than past seasons. Those are things you don't want see as a head coach. But those are comparatively small things – and they haven't been things that have defined the organization in Bradley's first three seasons. The overall evaluation this season indeed will be victories and losses because after three seasons of building that must be the case.
Scott from Daytona Beach:
You may want to change your look ahead Wednesday to look ahead Monday.
John: Fair point.
O-Zone: Change the date
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Zac from Kings Island: