JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Gamble from Washington, D.C.:
If the Jags are going to steal a win in Indy – and when was the last time that happened? – which individual players on both sides of the ball need to make the biggest impact?
John: The Jaguars last won in Indianapolis in 2012, and considering they won on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts III in the closing minutes the game seemed the very definition of stealing. Who needs to make an impact Sunday? Let's go with the obvious for now: Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and T.J. Yeldon on offense; Chris Clemons on defense.
Steve from Fleming Island, FL:
If you think this franchise is any better than it was when Bradley/Caldwell took over, then you are an idiot.
John: Fhflfl ff-aals sa; a; ah,;d;d;. ghghlgg ,, blaaaaggjhhhh!!!!
James from Palm Coast, FL:
OK, let's see …. Game One had drops and one really bad pass … Game Three, I agree with your assessment of the first half. I see the glass as half full. My question is how much of an impact has the new Collective Bargaining Agreement had on teams? Less practice time, less time to bring new players up to speed?
John: The new CBA has dramatically reduced practice time and padded repetitions. That was designed for player safety, but it probably hasn't helped the overall level of play – and there are those who say it has been particularly detrimental to offensive line play. Still, the rules do apply to every team. Do teams with elite quarterbacks that have had a core of players together a while have a bit of an edge over teams that are trying to find cohesion with new, young players? Very possibly. Is that the primary reason the Jaguars aren't undefeated? No.
Not Samwise not from the Shire:
Bortles has finally started 16 games … this is the official beginning of "Season 2" for him. As a fan, I'm going to stop defending him, saying he is young and those are "rookie" mistakes. I'm no longer going to accept an interception for a touchdown like the one he threw against Carolina. Is it fair to step up my expectations just because he has started a full 16 games? In the preseason, I saw him looking off safeties and drawing linebackers with his pumps. It seems he lost some of those traits when the season started. I'm expecting those to come back now and for him to outplay Carr and Bridgewater. ($manziel is useless)
John: You're entitled to expect anything you want. The reality is Bortles is still going to make mistakes, not only because he is still young but because he plays quarterback in the NFL. I once watched Peyton Manning throw six interceptions in a game and I once watched him throw an interception for a touchdown in an AFC Championship Game that eventually became one of the biggest moments of his career. Mistakes happen. I expect Bortles to continue improving, though. There's no question he needs to play better than he has thus far this season.
Rob from Orange Park, FL:
Allen Robinson was essentially carried out of bounds on the one catch. I guess I didn't think you could do that, but obviously I am wrong. What is the rule?
John: We'll slide back into look-back mode for this because I've gotten this question a few times this week. There once was a rule in the NFL that a receiver could not be "forced out." Under that rule, if an official determined that a receiver would have come down in bounds with the ball had he not been contacted by the defender, then the official could rule it a catch. In an effort to take judgement out of the situation, the NFL changed that rule in 2008. I liked the force-out rule; I also was not consulted.
Bruce from Jacksonville:
The NFL is a "week-to-week" league and most teams can throw a stinker game without any warning. It is a human, emotion-packed game, too – and that is on top of the physical challenges of playing better than the other guy even if you are hurting. There is nothing gained by coaches screaming, reaming, or otherwise going berserk to get players ready. Practice, repeat and get them ready. They have to get better. That sounds too simple to most fans, but that is what it is about: getting better. See where they are in Week 8 and Week 12 and then assess: Are they getting better?
John: What you have written is the reality of the situation, and what you have written is how this will play out. You did this by taking emotion out of the equation. Most fans do not, will not and should not take emotion out of the equation. Three games is a small sample size; six or seven games are a better sample size. Unemotionally, that is indeed when we'll have a decent idea about this season.
Joel from Boston, MA:
Here's Tom Brady on comparisons to his 2007 record-setting team: "It's like three games into the year. There is so much football left and there are so many things that can happen. We're not even a quarter of the way through the season, so it's way too early to think about anything." He also said, "As things shake out, late November and December, you're going to see what teams are made of." I thought this was relevant point. There were many reasons for the blowout this past week, but the truth is the season is in infancy. Let's give our players and team a few more games before we make any proclamations.
John: Very true. And as I've noted this week, NFL history indeed is full of examples of teams that have been blown out early in, late in or midway through seasons and fully recovered to make deep playoff runs and win Super Bowls. The problem is that the Jaguars have yet to prove that they can make that sort of run – and being blown out early doesn't exactly prove that you're good. It's something you have to overcome. You must respond and play well and win. The Jaguars must play better than they have in the past two seasons or even this season to do that. Can they do it? Yes. It is reasonable for people to be skeptical? Absolutely.
Rob from EverBank Field and Section 114:
The defense looks OK even with the secondary shuffle … dance, secondary, dance. The one question is can the Jaguars' offensive line protect Blake Bortles long enough to let the receiver or tight end routes develop and open those holes for our backs? What say you O-Man? I am actually a bit worried.
John: This is an issue for every NFL team – and it's always worth watching for a team that allowed 71 sacks the season before. But the Jaguars' offensive line for the most part has played stout and solid far more often than not this season. The unit is allowing fewer sacks, and although Bortles has been pressured at times this season, he has had far more time to throw than he did in most games last season. The run-blocking hasn't been on the level of the pass-blocking yet. One reason may be the two-game absence of left tackle Luke Joeckel, who has been a more consistent run-blocker than pass-blocker. Also, it takes more time for a line to come together and gel run-blocking than pass-blocking. The Jaguars have shown signs of getting the run game going this season. I expect them to be diligent in this area and to gradually have more success. That's often how it works with the running game.
Matt from Pueblo, CO:
I know the season is only 20 percent complete, but the passing game has shown improvement over 2014 so far. Bortles is on pace for 27 TDs, 16 INTs and nearly 4,000 yards. Fans weren't expecting Aaron Rodgers, were they? My main concern is his low completion percentage (under 54 percent). He's stuck in a group with Cutler, Newton, Luck, Mallett and Winston - basically the QBs struggling the most. Even without all the drops his completion percentage would be average at best. With 25 percent of starting quarterbacks completing 70 percent or more of their passes is this an area that has you worried yet?
John: It's certainly an area to watch. Bortles indeed has improved this season, though not at the rate necessary to be an elite-carry-your-team guy yet. But his accuracy does need to improve. I've never thought Bortles was going to be a guy who completed 26 of 30 passes in a game very often. His strengths are seeing the field, pocket presence and coolness under pressure late in games more than pinpoint accuracy. That being said, it does need to improve. No question.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Mr. Caldwell needs to seriously look at our couching philosophy, way too many injuries in training the past two years, which will put our team back at least another TWO years. I appreciate the effort, but all has been counterproductive for a very young team wanting so badly to please fans, family, and pendents.
John: Please address all couching questions to J.P. Shadrick. He's our man in this area.
O-Zone: From the couch
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Gamble from Washington, D.C.: