JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ben from Section 236:
John, earlier in the year you said Blake Bortles playing well would make us forget about the Raiders' selections, which means the Jets will serve as a great barometer/litmus test this week. With the bye last week we had time to watch Khalil Mack be the force draft pundits predicted, Amari Cooper growing in to one of the top receivers in the league, and Derek Carr doing whatever he wanted against that same top-ranked Jets defense we will see on Sunday. So, would your prediction be that Blake makes us forget about those guys, or that Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie does in fact owe Dave at least a Christmas card with a note of gratitude for not making those picks?
John: I'll preface my answer by saying one game is rarely an accurate NFL litmus test, but considering some fans these days seem a bit "Raiders-obsessed," I'll answer the question. My prediction? If the Jaguars lose Sunday, many readers will think Bortles is a flat-out bust, that David Caldwell is a raving idiot and that the current incarnation of the Raiders is on its way to being the greatest franchise of all-time. If the Jaguars win, many readers will giddily talk playoffs and begin ordering the "B" and the "L" for Bortles' Pride of the Jaguars ceremony. Look, I get that people are going to compare the Jaguars' selections over the past few years to those of the Raiders. My point remains the same: if Bortles is the long-term answer – and to a lesser degree, if Dante Fowler Jr. is a big-time pass rusher – then the Jaguars drafted fine and people following the Jaguars won't much care about the Raiders.
Ryan from Detroit, MI:
Halfway through the year and Blake has thrown for more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than Andrew Luck. Do we have the best quarterback in the division?
John: How'd the Raiders do?
Mark from Waverly, IA:
Personally, I'd prefer Marqise Lee go on injured reserve to ensure he is fully healed for next season. It doesn't appear as if he's going to play this week. Say he starts practicing next week: he'll still be limited (at best) for the Baltimore game. Of course he wants to play, but rushing back to the field could just lead to worse future injury. I'd rather have a healthy Lee next year than an injured Lee on the field for, maybe, six games. Especially, considering Greene is due back right around the time Lee (might) be back.
John: If the Jaguars thought sitting Lee for the remainder of this season would ensure his full health next season, the Jaguars undoubtedly would sit Lee. Even if he aggravates the hamstring again in the final week of this season, that would leave him three and a half months until the start of the offseason program to heal. My guess is the Jaguars will have Lee try to go sometime in the next week or so – in time for him to play the final six or so games if healthy. If he can't go full speed or is injured at that point, I imagine they would shut him down for the season.
Charles form Midlothian, VA:
After visiting London this year (when the Jags weren't in town) is there any way to get a heads up on WHEN we will play there next year? I'm thinking the third weekend in October is the set weekend, or something like that. Airfare being what it is, the more advance notice the better. Some of us like to plan ahead.
John: The date for the London game next season hasn't been set. I imagine we'll know well in advance of the NFL schedule coming out in March.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I am not complaining. Could you go back to 2014's draft and briefly go over the reasons Dave and Gus selected Blake over Bridgewater and Carr?
John: They thought his mobility, size, ability to make plays from the pocket, ability to extend plays and ability to win over the long term was significantly better than any other quarterback in the draft.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
If the coaches and staff know Andrew Luck is hurt why not sit him to allow him to heal? He is not winning you games and you have the risk of a more serious injury.
John: I don't cover the Colts and don't have any idea if Luck is actually hurt – or what their coaches and staff know or don't know. I do know Luck has shown over the course of his career to be an elite quarterback and when you have an elite quarterback you generally assume that you have a better chance to win when he plays than when he doesn't.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
I have been a Jaguars fan since inception and I am very patient and loyal. However, I am tired of hearing that Gus doesn't want the team to think about winning or playoffs. I'm sorry John, but there is nothing you can say to defend this philosophy. It has been tested and it doesn't work. The game is played to win and winning needs to be the main focus. Ask any successful coach.
John: OK, I'll ask Pete Carroll. Or Nick Saban.
Dave from Duval:
Marqise Lee has done nothing since he was drafted to indicate the Jags made a good decision. Even when he has been on the field he's been inconsistent.
John: Your e-mail is bold, confident and concise even if not completely accurate. Lee caught 37 passes for 422 yards and a touchdown as a rookie, catching 26 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown over the final six games. That six-game stretch figures to about for 69 receptions for 749 yards and a couple of touchdowns over a 16-game season. That was pretty much in line with what Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns did as rookies. Lee also had four receptions of 30 more yards in that span. Was he inconsistent as a rookie? Yes, but he also showed tangible evidence that if healthy he is a playmaker.
Cliff from Orange Park, FL:
I sense a tone change. We have heard "Just go out and compete and get better every day" for a couple of years. Now, it seems while that is still a theme, players and coaches are saying, "We are better and the division title is there for the taking." One field goal from sole possession of first place. Are we seeing something here?
John: There's probably a reality change more than a tone change. Head Coach Gus Bradley's daily mantra and focus is daily competition and improvement. His belief is if a team focuses on that, then winning will take care of itself once the team improves to the point of being good enough to win. Now that the Jaguars have competed in most games this season – and especially now that the AFC South has allowed the Jaguars to be in the division race – the topics of winning and the postseason naturally come up more.
Esko from Pistohiekka Beach:
Before reading Tuesday's O-Zone I had thought the coolest things to come out from the early/mid 80's were W.A.S.P's music videos, Knight Rider and Peer Günt's first three albums. But that Asia. Wow man, just wow!
John: You must have read Tuesday's O-Zone in the heat of the moment.
Chris from Palatka, FL:
Don't know if this question will make it into the rotation before the Jets game or not, but here it is. With the Jets having two very capable cornerbacks, this game is set up perfectly for No. 80. Don't you think? This is why he's here. They can't guard 'em all.
John: I think you might see cornerback Darrelle Revis on Julius Thomas from time to time Sunday, but for the most part … yes if Revis is locked up on either Allen Robinson or Allen Hurns this is the sort of situation where a tight end such as Thomas should be a huge factor.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
The anger over injuries isn't real anger - it is an expression of frustration over not winning for several years. As a fan base, we've been longing for playmakers and it seems like whenever we draft or sign someone who brings us hope - they get injured: most recently Luke Joeckel, Dante Fowler Jr., Julius Thomas, Marqise Lee, etc. We want them to recover completely but we are "fanning" and want to win now.
John: Whew. For a minute there I thought all the people calling for Marqise Lee to be released, placed on injured reserve and forced into a tearful public apology were actually … you know … angry.
Jenny from Pensacola, FL:
It's time to get rid of Marqise Lee. I played soccer and softball all through school and played through many hamstring injuries. The only difference is I wasn't getting paid millions of dollars. I am sick of hearing about his hamstring. He just isn't tough enough to play the game and mark my words, he will not have any success at the NFL level. Ever. And I had high hopes for him.
John: Well, at least you're not angry.
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ben from Section 236: