JACKSONVILLE – Looking ahead at the bye.
Let's get to it …
Justin from South Florida:
Just a thought: Dede Westbrook's return, coupled with Blake Bortles trending "up" – along with what we already have – is going to make this a very, very tough team to beat. Expect an even better team in the last nine games than we saw in the first seven - barring injury. Every team has weaknesses, and I don't really see anyone this team can't beat if they show up and play the way they're capable.
John: You're right. If the Jaguars play smart, efficient and get a lead, it will be very tough for any team to beat them. The pass defense/pass rush has proven through seven games it is that good, and the running game – especially if running back Leonard Fournette remains healthy – is that capable of protecting and extending a lead. Then again, the opposite also is true. If the Jaguars commit early turnovers or penalties – and if the special teams give away points as they did against the Rams – this team is capable of losing to any team; it has struggled in run defense and doesn't seem built to be a quick-strike, come-from-behind offense. The Jaguars have played the way they need to play four times and have been close to playing that way in two of three losses. They seem to be doing things right more often than not. That's a good sign.
Sebastian from Orlando, FL:
Do you think no matter how well Blake Bortles plays we are gonna draft a quarterback in the top three rounds of the draft next April?
John: Yeah, probably.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
It's been so long since the Jags were in contention that I forgot how huge being 2-1 in the division is. This is fun.
John: Yeah, definitely.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
Is it too early to talk about Calais Campbell in the Pride of the Jaguars?
John: Yeah, probably – though Campbell increasingly seems like the rare player who can sign with a team later in his career as a free agent and dramatically reshape that organization. His statistics and performance alone are enough to make that the case, but if you add leadership and locker-room presence his impact has been extraordinary. It's possibly his signing last offseason could be remembered as a turning-point moment for the franchise. Pride of the Jaguars? That feels early, but …
Steve from Jacksonville:
Poz was noticeably absent from the box score in Week 7 versus the Colts. Has the play of Myles Jack and the other linebackers evolved to where the coaching staff hoped it would be before the season began?
John: Jack and Telvin Smith are playing at a high level, particularly against the pass. But that doesn't have anything to do with Paul Posluszny's playing time or impact on the box score. When the Jaguars are in nickel situations, cornerback Aaron Colvin is going to be on the field as the fifth defensive back and Posluszny will be out. When the Jaguars are in base situations, Posluszny will be on the field and Colvin will be out. That's going to be determined less by how the linebackers are playing than what opponents are doing offensively.
Don from Macclenny, FL:
O-Zone, the Jaguars next game is in November. When was the last time this team played a truly meaningful game in November?
Jim from Jacksonville:
O-man, what are the rules for players during a bye week? Do they get the week off or couple days and back to practice?
John: Players by rule get the bye weekend and two days around that bye weekend off. Many teams opt to take the two days before the weekend, and that's what the Jaguars are doing. They will be off beginning Thursday and return to practice Monday to begin preparing for Cincinnati the following Sunday.
Jesse from Marlboro, NJ:
What do you think the team's reasoning would be for keeping Chris Ivory as the No. 2 behind Leonard Fournette over T.J. Yeldon? I think Yeldon is the far superior back. Better at pass pro, better at receiving, much better vision and patience. Ivory seems to get the ball and run right into the back of one of his offensive linemen. Yeldon is also much younger, and cheaper. Let T.J. play!
John: Well, one fer Yeldon, but the better back between Yeldon and Ivory is more preference and opinion than hard fact. Ivory is a power back – similar to Fournette but obviously not in that league. Yeldon indeed is more patient with an emphasis on vision. I do think Yeldon's performance will have coaches consider using him at times as a complement to Fournette, but they also like the idea of having two pound-the-defense backs to wear down defenses.
John from Edmonton:
All criticisms and compliments of this team aside, this season so far has been fun. The fans needed some fun.
John: Winning is cool. Fans seem to like it.
Joey from Athens, GA:
O-Man, it was refreshing to see Blake Bortles throw some great passes. What I've been worried about since the preseason though is that the coaching staff will think he is good enough to keep as QB1 for next season, but he is bad enough to where he is inconsistent with the passing game and keeps turning the ball over too much.
John: I'm sorry you're worried. Worrying can be … well, worrisome. Though I get more than a few emails a week about this topic, I don't know that there's much about which to fret. There's no negative to Bortles playing as well as he possible can this season, and remember: he has played well enough for the team to win four games and to have had a very good chance to win two more. Success can come with this formula. After the season, the team can figure out what to do to add to the formula to find more moving forward. Maybe that will mean a change at quarterback and maybe not. It seems the odds favor a change, but we'll see.
Gene from Jacksonville:
The only unanswered question about our defensive line is this: are Campbell, Jackson, Ngakoue, Fowler and Jones better than Barksdale, Ketchum, Donahoo, Wyse and Barnett?
John: Similar to Bird versus Magic, this indeed is a question for the ages.
Antony from Columbia, SC:
I know many Jags fans see Ramsey as the best player on the defense, but Calais Campbell is better. The guy can play every position on the D-Line. He leads the league in sacks, and he's on pace to get 23 sacks on the season. One fer Calais?
John: Campbell is really good. He's playing at a high level. His importance to the team on and off the field is beyond question. He probably is as important to the defense as Ramsey, but to say he is better than Ramsey? That's tough. Ramsey's a different beast, an elite talent – possibly a Canton guy. But hey … one fer Campbell. No doubt.
Ryan from Fremont, OH:
The Giants call, and offer a second round pick for Yeldon. Do you do it?
John: Sure, why not?
Nick from Kingsland, GA:
John, how do you see the Jacksonville secondary matching up against AJ Green? Do you think Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye will stick to their respective sides of the field, or do you see Ramsey following Green around for the day? I'm not a fan of the size advantage Green has over Bouye, but on the other hand Bouye has proven capable of holding his own. This will be a fun match up to watch. Hopefully I have enough bourbon to get me through the bye!
John: This answer will depend on the situation. The Jaguars this season are playing a mix of zone and man-to-man coverage, with perhaps a bit more zone than they have played in the past. When they have played man, Ramsey typically has followed the best receiver all over the field. I would expect him to shadow Green in a similar fashion. What's significant isn't as much that Ramsey is shadowing the opponent's top receiver; it's that you don't really notice when he's not doing that. Bouye is playing that well – and indeed the entire secondary is playing that well. They're that good.
Chad from Everbank:
JO, I love you man. Not in the type of way that I want to date you. You've got too many issues for me to handle, and my wife wouldn't appreciate that competition. Rather, I love you because I can always count on you for a laugh. Thanks for all that you do. Thanks for always being here. Thanks for always being honest. We've seen how you handled our team on the down cycle of things. Here's hoping that changes and we can see what the inbox, and your reactions, are when the team is on the up-cycle. Here's to wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas.
John: The bye is coming at a good time.