JACKSONVILLE – Happy Halloween. Wallace from Jacksonville:
While a 2-5 record at the bye isn't great, it is encouraging to note that the Jaguars could have won all but one of the first seven games. The team is competing better than it has in quite a few years. Hopefully, during the last nine games of this season the team will be able to "make those handful of plays" that often decide the outcome of NFL contests. The team is improved, but there's more improvement needed. Sound like a fair assessment?
John: Absolutely, and since we're at Saturday of the bye week, we'll take this time to sort of reset just where the Jaguars are as the midway point of the season approaches. As you note, they have had a realistic opportunity to win six of their first seven games in the fourth quarter. As you also note, it has been a long time since they played that well consistently. And all of that is progress. The Jaguars have turned those opportunities and that progress into victories just twice. That's why they're 2-5 instead of leading the AFC South as one of the NFL's Surprise Teams of 2015. Still, they are one game out of first place in the division with nine games remaining, which means "it's all out there in front of them," as "they" say. But the main objective for this team needs to be continuing the improvement/development that has taken place. Do that, close out some games and let the rest take care of itself.
Chris from Jacksonville:
I've never been a big fan of becoming conservative after opening a big lead by being aggressive. If you're beating them by being aggressive, why change? We finally start forcing turnovers in the first half and then decide to go back to being conservative?
John: We probably should be past Buffalo and on to looking ahead by now, but it's the bye week, so what the heck …. As for being less aggressive with a big lead, this is issue has irritated fans probably since football began – or at least since teams started getting big leads. I get that it's irritating and befuddling when a defense gives up points in prevent defense. I also know that if a team gives up easy touchdowns being aggressive fans are going to wonder why in the world their team was blitzing so much with a huge lead.
Chris from Niagara Falls, Canada:
Hi, Ozone. The way Blake Bortles plays and the chances he takes make me believe he will never be a game manager. If the light goes on upstairs over time he can be the next Eli Manning. If he doesn't, he could be the next Josh Freeman. Fair assessment?
John: That's probably not far off. I've said since Bortles began playing as a rookie that he always likely will throw more interceptions than is ideal because of his aggressiveness. But watching him this season I'm not quite as sure of that anymore. He has thrown four pick-sixes this season, but he is on pace to have nearly a 2:1 touchdown interception ratio in his second season. There's no reason to think as he gains experience that he can't improve on that and reduce the interceptions.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
You know who else was fast on his feet, maybe a touch overconfident, but coolheaded and clutch all the time and made a lot of boneheaded plays (Thus often having to get his team back up the field because of said boneheaded plays) ? Brett Favre … and the more and more I see from Blake, the more and more I see a lot Bret Favre in the kid … and last I checked that wouldn't be a bad thing.
John: No, it wouldn't.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
If you look at our remaining schedule, there are teams we will play that are also struggling – five of the games are against opponents with the same or worse win-loss record as the Jags! For better or for worse, the AFC South is still up for grabs.
Jeff from Anaheim, CA:
Of the Jaguars' nine remaining games, five are against teams currently in the bottom five of the AFC …. seems like the team could be in a position to get into the playoff mix come December.
John: Slow down, Jeff … slow down … but yeah.
Terrence from Laurel, MD:
Dave Caldwell has done a great job considering he inherited a team that had only one first-round pick (Marcedes Lewis) remaining on the team since 2006. A near-decade of bad drafting results in bad play. If Blake continues his rise, is it safe to say that Caldwell could be known as the best general manager in Jaguars history? No other Jags GM has successfully drafted and developed a quarterback in the 20 years of existence.
John: Well, Caldwell actually inherited a team with five first-round selections: Lewis, Eugene Monroe (2009), Tyson Alualu (2010), Blaine Gabbert (2011) and Justin Blackmon (2012). But your point is well-taken – that there was a long, long way to go when Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley took over. As far as Caldwell being the best general manager in franchise history if Bortles develops … well, I think even Caldwell would want this team to get a few more victories before we start compiling best-ever lists.
Thomas from Jacksonville:
A WEEK OFF!!! Are you kidding me? What has this team done to deserve a day off? That is one of the reasons they suck. They don't prepare. This is why they look like the keystone clowns. With helmets to match. Damn! Damn!
John: So, you're saying you're for the day off thing, right?
Chad from Duval:
If Marqise Lee is unable to play after the bye, should the team start treating him like Justin Blackmon? It's great if he's here, but they aren't making any plans to rely on him? You've repeatedly stated it's allowed to have more than one good player at any position. Granted, Lee takes up a roster spot, whereas Blackmon doesn't. The worst outcome would be having multiple guys that can run down the field really, really fast. Would it be that bad to have a receiver corps so deep that it's feared?
John: I don't think we're at that stage with Marqise Lee. Remember, this is not a case where Lee missed his entire rookie season – or even most of it. He's having an issue this year with a hamstring and there's no reason to think that has to linger forever. Now, that doesn't mean the Jaguars won't draft a wide receiver next offseason, but it's certainly more luxury than necessity.
Mike from Elberton, GA:
Remember that time the Jags decided to hire a new offensive coordinator after Bortles' rookie year and from the 32nd-ranked offense in the league no less? How'd that work out?
John: Not bad, so far.
Gary from Jacksonville:
Did Marrone get promoted to offensive coordinator?
John: No, Greg Olson is the Jaguars' offensive coordinator. Doug Marrone is the assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach.
Paul from Gainesville, FL:
Dear John, the way it's looking now, a team that can go 7-9 may be able to win the AFC South: 5-4 or bust, baby.
Damon from Rockville, IN:
Dave Caldwell's biggest fan here: Inform him that I suggest we call Carolina and ask them if they're interested in giving up Ted Ginn Jr. and a late-round pick in exchange for our very own Allen Hurns. Thanks, John!
John: I'll definitely suggest that to Caldwell. Sometimes I run into him at lunch. He likes a good laugh around that time of day.
Ron from Tallahassee, FL:
Have you seen the "Bold Gold" uniforms the Jaguars will wear for Thursday Night Football? Are they cool? Do you like them?
John: I've seen essentially what others have seen – that the Jaguars will wear a "Bold Gold" for Thursday Night Football. From what I've seen … yeah, they do look cool. And yeah, I like them.
Abe from Fairfield, CT:
During your years with the Colts, who was your favorite player to interview?
John: Reggie Wayne, with Bob Sanders a close second.
Taylor from Jacksonville:
Hey John, I was just wondering how legitimate the trade rumors for Alex Mack and Joe Haden are? Do you think it is a real possibility? I think it would be a smart move especially with the health of our offensive line and our depth at corner …
John: The "rumor" was part of a story on NFL.com in which the writer said he would like to see the Jaguars trade their 2016 first-round selection for Browns center Alex Mack and cornerback Joe Haden. The writer also listed several other trades he would like to see. Maybe some of them will come to fruition. I wouldn't count on it.
Jon from Salt Lake City, FL:
John, just wanted to say thanks for all your coverage of the Jaguars. It enhances my experience as a fan. I know it is your job and all, but you do a nice job and wanted to say thanks.
John: Thanks Uncle Jon.
O-Zone: Family ties
JACKSONVILLE – Happy Halloween. Wallace from Jacksonville: