JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.
Let's get to it …
Rob from Middleburg, FL:
Why do people want to declare Dante Fowler Jr. a bust after his rookie year? Look at Vic Beasley for Atlanta; he had 4.5 sacks last year and people were yelling bust. This year he's in the Pro Bowl.
John: People want to declare Fowler a bust for the same reason people often declare high-profile, early-drafted pass rushers busts after rookie seasons that don't feature a lot of sacks: because people expect big-time results even though history tells us many pass rushers take time to begin registering big numbers. Pass rushing is a combination of athleticism and technique; even the greatest often need time to learn the latter. Fowler was in his second season this season, but he indeed was essentially a rookie. He needs to hone his pass-rush skills. He needs to become more technically sound. He needs to use his hands better and develop better moves. He needs to learn counter moves. He must do these things, because he can't be productive in the NFL solely on phenomenal athleticism and a high motor. If he doesn't work at his game and learn these things, then it's indeed entirely possible he will continue to struggle. But there's also no reason he can't develop these things; if he does, he can be elite. His potential and skill set is that good.
Pete from Ponte Vedra, FL:
The bookstores are full of self-help books noting that anxiety is the result of a lack of preparation and organization. So, all of this talk about playing freer and without pressing without Gus Bradley does in fact mean to me that it was a coach problem more than anything. So, stop snickering at everyone who says it was the coaching. Being likable does not make you a great coach.
John: OK. (Tee, hee).
Ray from North Augusta, SC:
A lot of fans are now pulling for Doug Marrone to be the permanent coach. That's fine, but I have an issue with him because he has had two years to develop the offensive line and they are – in my opinion – the weakest link!
John: The Jaguars allowed 71 sacks in 2014. They allowed 51 last season. They have allowed 32 this season. The Jaguars' offensive line is not a dominant run-blocking unit, but if you believe that the performance of the line is solely a coaching issue and nothing to do with the players, then the coaching of the pass-blocking at least appears to be improved.
Chris from London, England:
Hey O, please confirm the Jags were never going to lose Sunday as the game was on Saturday and not because you have magical mystical powers. Too many people seem to be missing this.
John: Me knowing that there was no way the Jaguars were going to lose Sunday had nothing to do with my mystical powers.
Travis from High Springs, FL:
Hi John, I've read recently that the Jaguars could be interviewing Tom Coughlin not just for the head-coaching position, but possibly a position in the front office – head of football operations. What exactly would he be doing in that position? Isn't the general manager the head of football operations? Could you please clarify the difference?
John: The Jaguars indeed reportedly will interview Tom Coughlin, and reports are it could be for the head-coaching position or a different position. It's impossible to know Coughlin's exact role until he is hired – if indeed that happens. An NFL owner can structure a front office as he sees fit. There have been cases when a general manager has run the football operations and there have been times a club president has overseen operations allowing a general manager control of the draft. There have been other times when a club president has run the whole show with power over the draft and personnel decisions. Bottom line: we won't know the structure of the Jaguars' front office or the roles within it until Owner Shad Khan decides how it will look.
Ray from Palatka, FL:
Hey John, if the way we played Saturday was how we played all the time, what do you think our most glaring position of need would be for Caldwell to address other than head coach? My personal opinion would be running back, especially with No. 5 pick.
John: If the Jaguars played all the time as they did Saturday, they wouldn't have nearly as many needs as they do now. But considering the team struggled to run Saturday … sure, running back would seem like the biggest need. I still wouldn't take it No. 5 overall, though. I would rather have another pass rusher there, or another wide receiver, or another defensive tackle, or another cornerback, or another …
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
Are you ever wrong? Can you ever say, I missed it? The fans were right and you can't admit it. It was a terribly coached team. It was obvious, but you can't blame your buddy, Gus. It really is a slap in a face to those who read this every day.
John: I'm wrong a lot. I've missed things a lot. And there's no doubt the Jaguars played far better Saturday under Doug Marrone than they had under Gus Bradley in the first 14 games. And it indeed is reasonable to say something was missing under Bradley. Had the message stopped getting through? Could Bradley have had a harder edge? Perhaps. Whatever the reason, my thoughts on coaching have nothing to do with me being buddies with anyone. I wasn't buddies with Bradley. And while I do believe that Marrone did a nice job Saturday – and that he needs to be considered for the head-coaching position – that won't make us buddies, either. No one I ever have covered has been my buddy – and the more I think about it, I have very few buddies. Except you, Alan. You are my buddy. My bestest buddy. Ever. You and me … buddies 'til we die. #BTWD
Adam from Brisbane, Australia:
Is Jalen Ramsey already the best corner in Jaguars history?
John: Ramsey probably has played at a higher level in the last three or four games than any corner in franchise history, so if you assume he always will play like that … yes.
Anthony from Columbia, SC:
I believe that some who are emphasizing that Bortles isn't the only one that had their best game Saturday don't quite understand the effect a hot quarterback has on a game. It's not a coincidence that Dante Fowler Jr. looks much improved as a pass rusher when his team is leading the entire game. It's also not a coincidence that Jalen Ramsey gets his first pick-six late in the game when he knows Tennessee has to throw the ball. Having a hot quarterback often puts you ahead on the scoreboard, which allows the defense to get more sacks and interceptions because players know the opposing team has to pass. O, it's always quarterbacking.
John: But if it's always quarterbacking then how is it always coaching?
Chris from Mandarin:
Hey, O-Zone … you know how I know Fred Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame? He used to convert third-and-20s regularly. What is your favorite memory of Fred, as a player?
John: Tampa Bay, 1998. Taylor ran for a 70-yard touchdown with 2:52 remaining to give the Jaguars a 29-24 victory in what is still the best game I've ever covered at EverBank Field. Taylor calls that his favorite NFL moment, and he loves telling the story of the game. I like hearing Taylor tell the story, so that ranks No. 1 with me.
Zeleznoc from Jacksonville:
Nice to hear Sheldon Day's name, even though one time was for a penalty. As I recall, following draft comments on him were extremely positive and many wondered how/why he dropped and regarded the pick as a big win for Jags. Has he been on the field much before Saturday's game? Don't recall seeing him or hearing his name.
John: Day has been on the field regularly in a reserve role and the Jaguars are high on him. He is having the sort of season that is common for rookies: a lot of flashes and some inconsistency. He looks like a good selection and he looks like he's going to get a lot better quickly.
Steve from Section 215:
If I'm the coach and we win, it's always coaching. If we lose, it's never coaching – even if we win and lose on back-to-back Sundays (or Saturdays).
John: No, Steve. It's always coaching in the NFL. (Tee hee)
Greg Section 122 and Jacksonville:
So, it has been a couple of days and it is tough to say this: You were right, O-Man – and I was wrong. You kept saying the Jags would win at least one more game after I kept disagreeing with you. I lost the faith and you proved to me that you can never lose the faith. My apologies for ever doubting your infinite wisdom. Happy Holidays!!!
John: No worries.