JACKSONVILLE – It's game day – and game days are better than most other days.
Let's get to it …
Paul from Duval, FL:
I disagree that the roster is functional; look at the record. I played a fun game in my mind to come up with players that were safe and building blocks: our three wide receivers, maybe Yeldon, maybe Linder because people say he's good but honestly I don't know enough about offensive line play and from what I see, we can't run or pass – so I'm not sold. ... Jackson, Fowler and Yannick (they young), Telvin, Jack (he young), Colvin and Ramsey (our soon-to-be-best player). Otherwise, everyone else is in play to be replaced due to age, injury or level of play and I would love to have some of what you and Jason are drinking.
John: It's fine to disagree with me – and even with Jason, for that matter – and indeed everyone's entitled to his or her own thoughts. And there's no question the Jaguars aren't winning enough right now. Still, just because an NFL team is struggling doesn't mean all players on the roster are bad. As for your list, it contained by my count 12 players. All of them aren't core players, but if we're saying all are good, functional, building-block players ... well, that's actually a good start because most teams turn over multiple players each year. I would also suggest that Sheldon Day appears to be a player worth keeping, as are Tashaun Gipson, Prince Amukamara, A.J. Cann and very possibly Kelvin Beachum. Are there holes to be filled? Certainly. Is this an elite roster? No, but it's not a bad one and it's one with a lot of players who should still be improving. A major difference between this roster and many other rosters that are at .500 or better is that a lot of those rosters are getting consistent quarterback play. Consistent quarterback play can make that much of a difference, and the Jaguars simply have not gotten that enough this season. Because of that, it makes the entire roster look worse than otherwise would be the case. This is not a roster that needs a complete tear-down and rebuild. This is not a roster that is horrifically worse than any other in the NFL. This roster still needs a few impact players and some improvement, but I don't see that road being overly long. We'll see.
Coach QB from The Couch:
To my (very-untrained) eyes, Blake Bortles' feet are the biggest reason for poor throws. Can't speak to feet not pointing the right direction or anything technical like that. The wind-up certainly is contributing to late/batted balls, but the worst of his throws seem to me to be all arm. What do the Eyes of O see?
John: I don't pretend to be well-versed enough in quarterback mechanics to give an accurate blow-by-blow breakdown of Bortles' mechanics. I agree that Bortles' footwork seems unstable, and that he doesn't seem to throw from his legs all the time – but that's usually the case for a lot of quarterbacks' inaccuracies. When Bortles discusses his mechanics he most often talks about trying to tighten the motion and trying to get his feet and legs correct. Those are areas to watch.
Brandon from Athens, GA:
Do you think Tony Romo could be an option for the Jags in the offseason?
John: This has been a topic in the O-Zone in recent days. First, I have no idea if the Jaguars will be in the market for a veteran quarterback in the offseason. I've heard nothing to indicate that that would be the case, but with eight games remaining a lot can change on many fronts for the Jaguars between now and the offseason. There's also no guarantee Romo will be available.
Brian from New Hampshire:
I get the frustration with Blake. I do not understand people ready to give up on him. He has not flashed enough – I get that – but looking at the quarterback draft class … I can't say any of them will be any better than Blake, so giving up on him does not make sense yet.
John: It's not time to give up on Bortles. It is time for him to play more consistently. If he does, then a lot of this sort of talk will cease very quickly.
Cir-Ike Love from In the Heart of Jagland:
John, my questions are simple (in my mind). Winning coaches find what their team/players do best and incorporate a lot of that into their game plan. Why are we failing to accomplish this formula??? Is it because the team doesn't know or hasn't figured out what they do best??? Or is it because the team doesn't do anything best and what we see is what we get???
John: I don't know how simple the question is or isn't, but yeah – a big part of coaching is to take what players do best and have them do it. That has been the frustration for the Jaguars on offense this season – is finding what this team does well and establishing that as an identity. Greg Olson in retrospect couldn't find enough of it and Nathaniel Hackett seemed to find some more of it last week, particularly in the running game. I've said often in recent weeks that I think one of the most fascinating storylines for the rest of the Jaguars' season is to find out what Hackett believes Bortles does best. If he can find a few things and start to build on it, you could see a dramatic difference in the Jaguars' offense.
Eder from Mexico City, Mexico:
John, please make the Jaguars great again!
John: On it.
Daniel Since Day One from Jax:
In the discussions about whether or not Ramsey should cover one player for the whole game, doesn't it seem that a cornerback who studies that one player all week has a better chance of predicting their moves? As the game goes on, doesn't the cornerback have a better measure of their burst speed and how they might attack at the line or fake to try to get open?
John: Sure, that sort of study should help. The question when deciding whether to have a cornerback cover a receiver one on one the whole game isn't really one of preparation. Rather, it's whether or not that player is capable of handling the assignment and whether or not the approach is best for your defense. Sometimes, it makes more sense to have both of your cornerbacks defend a side of the field. In other cases, teams prefer to double the opponent's best wide receiver and have another corner take away the No. 2 wide receiver. As is often the case in the NFL, the approach often depends on the match-up.
Travis from High Springs, FL:
Hi John. This question doesn't have anything to do with the Jags' situation this season; I just don't know the answer and was hoping you could help. If a team wins all of its division games in a season but no other games and they finish 6-10 and another team in the same division wins no division games but goes 10-6, which team is declared the division champions and goes to the playoffs?
John: The team that goes 10-6 wins the division in your scenario. Division standings are based on overall records. The only time division records come into play is when there is a tie.
Josh from Harrisburg, PA:
So, Jose makes you a billionaire and you make yourself 6-2. What does Mrs. O have to say of these changes?
John: She's pretty fired up about the billionaire part. She even says she'll visit me from time to time.
Darius from New Milford, NJ:
So no one (including myself) wants to talk about how if the Jaguars win Sunday they are still in the race for the AFC South. It's understandable and downright ridiculous to even mention it. Considering how poorly the Jags have played, and how many times (countless) they have let us fans down, it's a given that they will fail, especially when it matters most. But you know what? The offseason is WAYYYY too long and the regular season is WAYYYY too short (especially when it CONSTANTLY ends by Week 9), to just give up and already look forward to next September. The long, strenuous offseason will fill us all full of hope and expectations, only to be shattered again by mid-October. So what am I gonna do? I'm gonna hold onto the hope and say that IF THE JAGUARS WIN SUNDAY WE ARE STILL IN THE RACE FOR THE AFC SOUTH. Likely/unlikely/crazy/whatever, it's a glimmer of hope that us fans can and should hold onto; it's the very least we deserve.