JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Bruce from Gotham:
Blake Bortles has three games where he has passed for over 300 yards. In those three games, he has six interceptions. Do the Jaguars need to teach him to be more of a "game manager" to reduce mistakes, or will that change his style and cause more problems?
John: A game manager? Bortles? I certainly hope not. When I think of game managers, I think of quarterbacks who can't win from the pocket, can't make special plays and need an exceptionally high level of talent around them to have a chance to win. I don't see Bortles' ceiling that low. Bortles absolutely must smooth out the rough edges, and I envision him doing that with time. But he absolutely does not need to become a game manager. He needs to remain aggressive, keep his eyes downfield, continue pushing the ball downfield and continue gaining experience. The first three traits are what give him a chance to be special, and the experience should help him be more consistent.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
Knights of the Round table with a square table … pool side not by the pool … you guys should do a few good minutes with Telvin Smith and then have Poz on there and see if anyone notices.
John: You may be on to something. I'll bounce it off the fellas.
Thomas from Jacksonville:
How many days we taking off this week? This staff's lack of preparation is inexcusable. With only a handful of days in an entire year to train, this team shouldn't take a damn minute off.
John: Your anger, though heartfelt, is misplaced. As is the norm around the NFL, the Jaguars' coaches began game-planning Monday, and kept doing it Tuesday. Also as is the norm around the NFL, players had Tuesday off – that's the day off NFL rules mandate they take – and they practiced Wednesday. They also will practice Thursday and Friday. They'll travel to Baltimore Saturday and play Sunday – so long as all of that's OK with you.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
Even if Dante Fowler Jr. was healthy and a beast, wouldn't teams just double him and leave us with three linemen who can't get to the quarterback? Do you think the defensive line is a group that could get a complete overhaul in the offseason?
John: A complete overhaul? Absolutely not. Defensive Jared Odrick and defensive tackle Roy Miller have played well on the strong side of the defensive line, and Sen'Derrick Marks is a very good three-technique defensive tackle who should be better when fully healthy next season. I expect the Jaguars will add at least one Leo pass rusher – perhaps two in addition to Fowler – to play in passing situations next season, but I don't expect a major overhaul on the defensive line.
Daniel from Windsor Heights, IA:
No question the Jags' offense is better. It's night and day from the past two years. Is it safe to say that the 2016 offseason will focus heavily on improving the two lines? Both have been disappointing.
John: We covered the defensive line in the previous question, but the same is true of the offensive line. I imagine we'll see A.J. Cann and Brandon Linder at guard next season, and the Jaguars think those two players will make that position a strength. A decision will have to be made about center, where Stefen Wisniewski is on a one-year contract. But as is the case with the defensive line, I don't expect a dramatic overhaul.
Ralph from Jacksonville:
John, I get fans gonna fan. We all do it. But do jerks gotta jerk? Why do some people feel it necessary to be jerks in challenging your opinions or what the Jags are doing? Using "logic" to be a jerk still means you are a jerk.
John: Yeah, well …
Mike from Elberton, GA:
Let's see, our quarterback throws for 381 yards in a close regulation game against the No. 3-ranked defense with Revis Island on it. We have what are becoming two stud receivers. And T.J. Yeldon seems to be the real deal as well. The future of the offense looks bright. What I don't get is the defense. We have greatly improved in yards allowed (from the back of the pack to the middle), but we are still giving up too many points. Do you have an explanation for that anomaly, O-Man? Is it our special teams killing our defense with bad field position?
John: The defense has been hurt by turnovers on offense and by special teams play. Both have helped lead to too many short fields. The inability to create turnovers has hurt the defense, too, and that has been caused at least somewhat by the lack of ability to pressure the passer with four linemen. But this defense hasn't been awful every game. Yes, there was the 51-point game against New England and the 38-point game against Tampa Bay, but remember: the defense allowed just 13 of the 20 points in the opener against Carolina, held Miami to 20 points and did a good job against the Jets despite the Jets being given a lot of short fields. The unit also held the Colts to 19 points, held the Texans to 24 points offensively and held the Bills to 20 points offensively. Those aren't all great games in there, but neither has every game been a train wreck defensively.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Caldwell has to be worried about the developments in San Francisco. Gabbert beat a really good team. All the while the team he built can only beat teams with coaches that get fired shortly after, or called out by their own players for bad scheming. If Gabbert continues to win, Dave is gone ...
John: When I saw where you were going with this one, I chuckled. I was glad I finished. I needed a good belly laugh.
Bobby from Doboy Island, GA:
Dave has done a really good job getting talent on this team. The only place he seems to miss, though, is some of these free agents. I always thought it was understood you never pay big for free agents leaving a team with a great quarterback play. No matter the position, quarterback playing well makes everyone on the offense look a lot better than they probably are. Beadles hasn't been as good as the money would indicate. And Thomas hasn't done anything to indicate he'll be any different.
John: You always, always, always, always overpay when partaking in front-line free agency. Even when free agents work out, you have overpaid. As for the Jaguars' forays into free agency under Caldwell, I would say overall they have worked out better than I expected. Julius Thomas hasn't done much yet, but three-and-a-half-or-so healthy games isn't enough of a sample size to write the guy off. Beadles doesn't appear to be a long-term guy and he has struggled at times, but when the Jaguars signed him they were trying to get better somehow, some way on the offensive line and there wasn't much of a thought that he would be a Pro Bowl-type player. The other front-line free agents this season – Jermey Parnell, Jared Odrick, Dan Skuta, Davon House – appear to have a chance to be good starters for the foreseeable future and they have improved the overall talent level of the roster. That's what they wanted from those players.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
John, I take particular issue with Adam's statement yesterday. He's questioning how finding ways to lose is not put squarely on the coach … Let us stop and consider that two years ago we didn't need to find ways to lose; we had that skill "mastered." From what I've seen so far we've only been blown out in one game this season. As you noted (many, many times) it looks like we're working on finding ways to win. Why shouldn't Bradley and Caldwell get credit for that?
John: That's certainly the other way to see this season. I'm not sure there's a right or a wrong way, though because I try to focus on the long term, I see it more your way.
Tommy from Pensacola, FL:
John, there's no secret the Jags have to play better defensively, particularly against the pass. Just this year, the Jags give up a big play or first down 45 percent of the time on third down. Which is slightly worse than last year's rate of 42 percent. That's pretty disheartening. Gotta get off the field.
John: Gotta affect the quarterback.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
In response to Craig from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL: You're telling me 60.67 grade is acceptable? You've been drinking too much MEDIOCRE Kool Aid that Bradley's been serving since Day One. Hope your kid doesn't read O-Zone or you're okay about your kid being mediocre as well.
John: I never said 60.67 was acceptable. I did say it wasn't always an "F." As far as my kid reading the O-Zone … well, I worry about a lot of things, but I don't worry about that.
O-Zone: No worries
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Bruce from Gotham: