JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday. At last.
Let's get to it...
Colton from Emporia, KS:
No more Myers!!! Let's just hope Lambo doesn't go miss his first field goal.
John: You won't see exclamation points – or capital letters – often from me when a player is released, and you won't see them regarding the Jaguars' release Tuesday of kicker Jason Myers. It's fine for fans to feel how they feel, but I take no joy or find no excitement when a player is cut or waived. Regarding Myers, his struggles Sunday were concerning not as much because of the two 54-yard misses, but because he also seemed shaky when missing from 41 yards before getting a second chance because of a penalty. It's a tough position in a tough sport. There's no guarantee Josh Lambo will be an improvement; if there were such a guarantee, the Jaguars would already have made the move. Stay tuned.
YesPlease from Duval:
The Jaguars should take a chance on either Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens. At LEAST bring them in for a workout, see how much they have left. Never mind they are 39 and 43, respectively. They say they still can play.
John: I get emails like this sometimes. #signRice #ormaybeMaynard #whynothutson?
Dmitri from Denver, CO:
O-Zone, I know our linebackers are one of the fastest combos in the NFL. But when it comes to size, they're lacking. Do you think this is hurting our run defense?
John: It doesn't help. It also doesn't help that the defensive line – particularly the interior – has struggled against the run in a couple of games. Teams at times are beating the Jaguars up front by getting linemen out of gaps, and cutting back. There also have been times when the Jaguars are in nickel that it appears the linebackers have overrun plays. It's a group issue, as usually is the case with the run game. It's something that needs to get fixed. This is a very good defense at times, particularly when it is chasing and rushing the passer. But as defensive tackle Malik Jackson said Monday, the defense needs to earn the right to rush the passer. You do that by stopping the run on early downs.
Greg from Atlanta, GA:
I know it's still pretty early in the season, but for the Jaguars to realistically have a chance at the division do you consider Sunday's game against the Colts as an almost must-win game? It's away but the Colts will be without Andrew Luck – and it seems like if we are going to win the division at 8-8 or 9-7, we will need to win the division tiebreakers and hope the Texans and Titans continue to struggle with their injuries.
John: Sunday's game at Indianapolis is huge because this team needs to go into the bye week 4-3 as opposed to 3-4. A victory also would give the Jaguars a 2-0 record in the division on the road. I can't call it a "must-win" game, because I've been doing this long enough to know NFL November/December football is unpredictable. Also, if the Jaguars lose, the season is not over. I see the South being decided in the final two months, and I see the winner being the team that can string together four or five victories in a six- or seven-game stretch. To do that the Jaguars need to figure out a couple of major areas – i.e., getting enough going in the passing game that teams respect it, and stopping the run well enough to be able to rush the passer more often. Still, a victory would be huge Sunday – and it absolutely would set this team up for a very interesting second half of the season.
SeriouslyWTH from Jacksonville:
Why do the Jags have trouble winning games at home? It makes no sense. Why don't they just play the rest of their games on the road?
John: This does actually make sense. We're dealing with a pretty small sample size in terms of the Jaguars being competitive either home or away. Since Doug Marrone took over as head coach late last season, they are 1-2 at EverBank Field, 2-2 on the road and 1-0 in London. Before that, they were frankly pretty bad wherever they played for a long time. The Jaguars this season have lost two games at EverBank Field – to the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams. Both teams lead their divisions. I wouldn't be surprised if both teams contend for the postseason. As the Jaguars improve, they will improve at home. I don't see this being a long-term "thing."
Jon from Montgomery, AL:
When is Dede Westbrook expected to come back and start practicing? He did well in the preseason – granted, against second- and third-stringers. Are the Jaguars hoping he can make a big impact on the passing game?
John: Rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook has been on injured reserve since Week 1 after undergoing core muscle surgery. He will be eligible under NFL rules to return to practice next week – if he indeed is cleared to return at that time. Because next week is a bye week, it's more likely that he would return to practice the following week. As for Westbrook's potential impact, the belief is he can have one. The good news for the Jaguars? That impact doesn't have to be huge to matter. Even a small improvement in the downfield passing game right now would matter a great deal.
Steve from Fernandina Beach, FL:
John, who is 10th on the team in tackles? I'll give you a hint. He was the leading tackler the past two years. For a team that has trouble stopping the run … whaddup wit dat?
John: I assume you're referring to Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who indeed is 10th on the team in tackles after being second the past two seasons. Posluszny is coming off the field in nickel situations this season and has fewer tackle opportunities as a result. The Jets were effective running on the Jaguars' nickel formations in Week 4; while the Rams appeared to have success with that approach Sunday, the Jaguars also struggled to stop the run in base situations with Posluszny on the field. I do believe teams at times this season will take the tact of trying to run on the Jaguars in nickel situations. It's a tricky fix for the Jaguars because you want the speed of Telvin Smith and Myles Jack on the field in nickel situations to defend the pass. Stay tuned.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
It seems no mistakes and solid football = win. Early mistakes and not recovering from them = loss. That's probably true for most the NFL; seems we have a harder time than most recovering though.
John: That is the Jaguars right now. And yes, they have a harder time recovering from early mistakes and coming back from a deficit than most teams. When you struggle to make plays downfield in the passing game, that's your reality.
Sandro from El Paso, TX:
In your opinion, how bad are the Jaguars wide outs? There are consistently eight men in the box leaving the wide outs with man-to-man. We went from having a Pro Bowl wide out to not having a Top 50 maybe even 100 wide receiver.
John: I wrote and said often in the offseason we needed to see more from these receivers this season to determine if it was indeed the strong, deep core that observers believed it to be. What we have seen this season indicates it was neither overly strong nor deep. Your question goes directly to the root of a major issue for this team: teams indeed are leaving cornerbacks one-on-one with Jaguars wide receivers. The Rams did so on Sunday, essentially playing a six-down-linemen, two-linebacker set – a goal-line defense, essentially – much of the game. That's taking the "make-the-passing-game-beat-us" approach to a phenomenal extreme. The Jaguars need to figure a way to combat such an approach on all levels – i.e., getting the pass rush blocked, beating the coverage and finally completing the pass – or what we saw Sunday is going to become the norm rather than the extreme.
Mason from Palm Bay, FL:
Noticed you called Leonard Fournette elite after six games, but six games isn't enough of a sample size for us to know that Deshaun Watson is good. But hey, that's none of my business. sips tea
John: The running back and quarterback positions are different. Coordinators will game plan for Watson, and the way defenses defend Watson will change dramatically in the final 10 games of the season. It will also change next season, and at some point Watson will have to prove he can win from the pocket consistently against many different approaches. Perhaps he will do this. It appears he has a good chance to do so. But there is a long way to go. Remember, there were people who thought Bortles was on his way to elite following the 2015 season. Dislikes tea … sips bourbon … doesn't wince