JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Stephen from Jacksonville:
John, you say that the defense has been solid. That seems to be the prevailing opinion this year. How do you reconcile that with the fact that we've allowed the most points and third-most yards in the league this year?
John: I'm not big on "reconciling" and I'm also not a believer that statistics tell every story. I am big on trying to write what I think is correct – and what's correct is the defense this season for the most part has been pretty much what was expected or hoped. In Year Two of this process, the hope was that the defense would be good enough to keep the team in games while a young offense improved. Well, in the majority of games the defense has played winning football or close to it. I'd say that's happened about seven times, which – again – is about what I thought reasonable through 11 games. The unit particularly struggled from halftime of the Philadelphia game through the loss to the Colts in Week 3. Since then the defense hasn't been perfect but it has played good to very good more often than not.
Chris from Mandarin, FL:
Wouldn't it make sense to run an up-tempo offense as a philosophy immediately following any turnover and take more time following an opponent scoring drive or punt? It seems like this and any two-minute situation at the end of a half is the right time to do it.
John: I like this approach, and I like running up-tempo as much as possible. At the same time, I'm not the defensive coordinator and I'm not the head coach who has to deal with the reality that when you don't get first downs playing up-tempo your defense is back on the field really, really fast. That can wear a defense out in a hurry, even after a turnover.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
The offensive line seems to be having trouble picking up blitzes; Is there anything the coaching staff can do "to coach 'em up" during the season? It also seems that Blake Bortles isn't sensing pressure early enough to elude the rush like he was earlier in the season. What's up with that? Moving in a collapsing pocket to buy enough time to make the throw is a skill shared by all successful NFL quarterbacks. Are the coaches concerned that Blake seems to be regressing in this area?
John: I'll agree the line is struggling to pick up blitzes. Some of that is on the linemen and some it is on Bortles to get the line into correct protections. As far as sensing pressure, I didn't get the sense watching video from last Sunday that Bortles didn't sense it, though I did get a sense a lot of times it was on him way too fast to do much about it.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
While the Jaguars' improvements are measured in baby steps and the rest of the league is improving by giant steps; is that really improving? The distance between the Jaguars and the rest of the league is getting wider. That does not show well for this organization.
John: I tend to try to avoid getting overly argumentative, but in this case we disagree on the premise of your question. I understand the frustration and understand 1-10 isn't good enough. Everybody around the Jaguars gets that. They also get that one victory through 11 games ain't gonna cut it next season. But the fact is, the Jaguars have improved compared to last season. Last season, remember, the team rarely competed against contending teams, and certainly had scarce few occasions when they outplayed them. This season, the Jaguars have beaten a contending team (Cleveland), had games when they outplayed contending teams for significant stretches (Philadelphia and Miami) and had several other games when they competed for long stretches defensively (Indianapolis, Pittsburgh) against very good offensive teams. The Jaguars aren't taking the final steps toward beating teams as quickly as would be ideal, but they're not getting further away from it. Again, that's not to say it's adequate, but to say that the distance is getting wider between the Jaguars and the rest of the league is simply not accurate.
Brian from New Hampshire:
In your honest opinion, John, do you think this team has a leader? Someone like Brady, Peyton, Brees, Ray Lewis? Someone that will pull you aside and tell you to do your job? Feels the team is just too laid back. I want to see that fire, that angry, that passion. All the top teams have those types of players right now it does not look like the Jaguars have it.
John: I don't care much about showing "fire, anger and passion." Leadership can come in different packages, but no, while the Jaguars have leaders, they do not have them on the level of the players you mentioned. To be a leader like that you also have to have the credibility that comes from years of success, of "having done it on the field." The Jaguars as a group are too young for that and don't yet have that level of player. I agree that it's lacking, and I agree that it would be great if the Jaguars had one. I'll also tell you there are players who could be that eventually, but you rarely, rarely see it from first- or second-year players.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington:
I think this rookie group has the potential to be one of the best in franchise history (bold statement). Along that vein, how do you see defensive end Chris Smith progressing in the future? (crystal ball business).
John: I agree this rookie group has a chance to be very good. We'll give it a year or two to judge the accuracy of that belief. As for Smith, he has progressed nicely this season. His role could be reduced this week with the return of Andre Branch, but he certainly has shown enough that his development is worth watching.
Herbert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevablez:
Knowing what we know now, if Blake Bortles comes out of the draft this year instead of last year do you think Dave Caldwell still takes him?
Bobby from Salt Lake City, UT:
Aaron Colvin looked great in his first game back. Pretty much shut down Reggie Wayne and only gave up one big pass on the sideline; he was in great position, but it was an amazing pass. He also would have had a Pick-Six on a certain play, but Andrew Luck was hit while throwing the ball. On the other hand, Dwayne Gratz looked horrible for a third time in a row. Is there any chance Colvin takes over as the starting corner some and Gratz moves to nickel? I think they should give him a chance.
John: First, let's keep in perspective just how "bad" Gratz looked Sunday. He was the trailing defender on T.Y. Hilton's long touchdown, but the coverage called for safety help from Johnathan Cyprien, and Cyprien didn't provide that help. I'm not going to say that Gratz has played as well as I expected this season, but it's not fair to add that to his list of negatives. As for Colvin taking over as the starting corner it wouldn't surprise me if that happened. It would surprise me if it happened this week.
Duran from Rapid City, SD:
Fans deserve better, but they won't get it. Maybe this Shad Khan fellow is more about trying to make $$ than build a successful football organization.
John: Fans do deserve better, and people here work every day to give them better. Khan is about building a successful organization, which is what he's working to do. It doesn't happen overnight, and from where the Jaguars began, it doesn't happen in a year and a half. But can it happen in time? Yes, it can.
Cole from Orlando, FL:
People have been very critical of Jedd Fisch's play-calling and Blake Bortles' decision making, but I think it's fair to say both of these things would be considerably better if the O-line was consistent in giving Bortles a little more time. That being said, am I so far off track to think that maybe the offensive line will have a better game against the Giants, giving Blake more time and Jedd more flexibility?
John: You'd certainly hope it would.
Larry from Jacksonville:
When the quarterback is being pressured in the pocket, why not design more passing attempts with him rolling out; given him extra time to find an open receiver or tuck the ball and run for positive yards?
John: I imagine you'll see some of that going forward. I also imagine if blitzes aren't picked up better you won't see significantly better results.
Duval Doom from Section 217:
For Tezcatlipoca's sake! Don't let O'Halloran hear you talking that way about Blackmon!
John: Yea, Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union isn't as big on Justin Blackmon's talent as I am. It seems we disagree on this, and that's OK. We do agree that Gene Frenette is one of the premiere newspaper-writing talents of our generation, and that's what really matters.
Jimmicane from Cardiff, CA:
No Andrew Luck-level quarterbacks in this draft? Have you ever watched Jameis Winston play? Seriously, go watch a game.
John: I have watched, and I do think Winston has a chance to be really good. I don't think he's Andrew Luck level. I guess we disagree on this. How do you feel about Gene?
O-Zone: In agreement
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Stephen from Jacksonville: