JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
Do you think enough was accomplished in the passing game last week that the Jets will have to respect the pass and not load the box every play? If so, could this be the game that Leonard Fournette really breaks out?
John: I think teams probably will load the box against the Jaguars as long as the Jaguars scheme offensively as they have in the first three weeks of the season. This Jaguars team clearly believes in Fournette and Chris Ivory as the focal points of the offense; I doubt the Jaguars stray far from that no matter how many defenders coordinators put in the box. But even if that wasn't the case, one game wouldn't likely be enough for coordinators to dramatically change their defensive approach against the Jaguars. Quarterback Blake Bortles had a nice game Sunday – the best of his career to date. He will have to show he's that guy on a consistent basis before coordinators design defenses to defend him, particularly if those schemes make life easier for Fournette. As for Fournette "breaking out," that's going to happen at some point. He's too talented with too much breakaway ability for it not to happen. And yes … the more defenses have to account for Bortles, the more likely it will happen.
Rob from Duval:
Heard we had the best point differential in the league … nice.
John: It is nice, isn't it?
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I'm very encouraged about the Jags so far, especially the defense. I keep hearing this week that the Jags will easily beat the Jets. I hope the team doesn't fall into that trap. I'm sure the Dolphins felt the same way.
John: I've heard the same concern a few times this week, but I've heard that only from outsiders. Coaches know better than to think Sunday's game against the Jets is remotely "easy." Players know better, too. What I've sensed this week is the Jaguars are focused on winning back-to-back games, something they haven't done with a winning record in nearly seven years. I might be a little more concerned on this front if the Jaguars hadn't just lost by three touchdowns to Tennessee a week after their one-sided Week 1 victory at Houston. This team is focused on proving it can win back-to-back games and proving it should be taken seriously. That focus doesn't guarantee they will win Sunday. The Jets won last week and have confidence. And it's far too early in the season for any team to think the season is over. Those factors make a roll-over victory unlikely. But if the Jets do win, I don't think it will be because the Jaguars "overlooked" anything. This feels like a focused team.
Rog from Duval:
I think Corey Grant has earned carries over T.J. Yeldon with his effectiveness and speed and Yeldon should remain a healthy scratch until needed. What do you think?
John: I think Grant pretty clearly has moved into a role as the Jaguars' third back and he has played that role the last two weeks. The "X" Factor here will be pass-blocking. Yeldon is good in that role and has value as a third-down back because of that. If the Jaguars in a given week believe a third-down package needs Yeldon's pass blocking, they'll use him – but likely not at the expense of having Grant active.
Dave from Jacksonville:
No question, just an observation. If you throw away the 2016 season altogether, this is pretty much what we were expecting/hoping for from Blake Bortles entering his third year as the Jaguars' starting quarterback. He has had two very efficient games and another that could be chalked up to "adjusting to life without AR15." Clearly the addition of Fournette has had an impact on the identity of this football team, but it still makes you wonder what might have been if these changes had been made a year prior.
John: That's fair. It's also worth noting that Bortles has been under offensive coordinator Nate Hackett for 10 games and he has thrown just three interceptions in the last seven of those games. It's a relatively small sample size and the memory of a two-interception game is still fresh in the mind, so it may be hard to accept that Bortles indeed is reducing his interceptions. But maybe …
Lol from Jagtown:
Why did u wear a pink shirt? Did you get beat up a lot as a kid?
John: I can get away with wearing a pink shirt because no one messes with the O-Zone. No one. Wait … that's wrong.
Chris from Mandarin:
What can I say? I'm a paranoid fan.
John: Clearly you can say "I'm a paranoid fan."
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
This question doesn't really have anything to do with the 2-1 Jags but more to do with the NFL. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2019. The Chargers and Rams both moved to L.A. within a year of deciding to move. I know that there is a lot of speculation that the Chargers' owner only moved to sell the team, but the Rams are a more permanent fixture in L.A. My question boil downs to why are the Raiders taking two years to move to Vegas when both L.A. teams moves in less than one?
John: The closest thing to an NFL stadium in or around Las Vegas is Sam Boyd Stadium, which seats 35,000 and is expandable to 40,000. The Rams are playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum, which seats 93,607 for football. As for the Chargers, who are playing in a 27,000-seat stadium … I can't adequately explain that. I'm not sure anyone can.
Brent from Clearwater, FL:
This is the week Fournette goes off. The Jets will show more respect toward our passing game and Lenny will take advantage: 125-plus yards and two touchdowns.
Jim from Orlando, FL:
If Jalen Ramsey continues to play at a high level the next few years, do you see him becoming the highest-paid defensive player when contract time comes around? Possibly, the highest-paid on offense or defense?
John: It's possible. Salaries tend to escalate as the salary cap goes up. That means the title of Highest-Paid Player at a respective position is often short-lived – though the former holders of that title typically can distract themselves from the emotional pain of losing the title by focusing instead on which Mercedes to drive that morning. Can Ramsey someday find himself so burdened? Sure, he's that kind of talent.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
John, two quick thoughts I would like your opinion on. If Bortles can put another game – maybe two – together hitting some downfield plays and not making critical errors, then I think you will see Fournette's per carry average get to four or better. You just can't stack the box if you're giving up big plays. And I think by season's end Calais Campbell could be the best free-agent signing in team history. He seems dominating on the field and – from what I have read – is exactly what you want in a team leader.
John: Two quick opinions on your thoughts. Yes, the better Bortles plays the more it will help Fournette. As for Campbell, he absolutely could end up being the best free-agent signing in team history. It's also not absurd to discuss cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive tackle Malik Jackson in the same vein. I've long been on record as not being big on building through free agency, but if the Jaguars' defense continues to look as good as it has looked thus far those three unrestricted free agents will be considered money wisely spent.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL:
John: I lived in San Diego during the Drew Brees era. He never lived up to expectations and was inconsistent. As a result the Chargers drafted Philip Rivers. The next year Brees played better, but then tore up his shoulder. They released him and the rest is history. Do you see any similarities between Brees and Bortles? Are the Jags going to draft a quarterback no matter how well Bortles plays this year?
John: Brees was a unique situation so I hesitate to compare Bortles to him; you're talking about one of the elite players to play the position. I see a few things in Bortles to like over the past few weeks, and I am particularly encouraged by his dramatic reduction in interceptions under coordinator Nathaniel Hackett: just three in the last seven games. Within that statistic could be the early seeds of what the Jaguars need at the position. As far as the Jaguars drafting a quarterback "no matter how well Bortles plays this season" … no, that's not the case. Thirteen games remain this season. How Bortles plays in them absolutely will determine what they do at quarterback next offseason.
Steve from Sunroom Couch:
John, since you'll be in New Jersey please try a slice of real pizza.
John: Absolutely. I'm hitting the Sbarro's as soon as I drop my bags in the room. #psyched #Eatin'prettyinJerseyCity
O-Zone: Eating pretty
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Josh from Pensacola, FL: