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O-Zone: Oh, Wonderful Ohio

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Tanner from Salt Lake City, UT:
I want nothing more for this team than for Blaine Gabbert to be the "guy." I don't want to make excuses for him, but honestly, he was thrown into a bad situation as a rookie, was injured most of his second season, and we've hardly seen him this season. It just seems like the kid hasn't had good luck, and maybe with some stability and a supportive coaching staff, he could be an effective NFL quarterback. Am I being too optimistic?
John: Maybe, maybe not – and there is, of course, no more important question facing the Jaguars right now. Your view certainly is not a consensus among observers and fans, but that doesn't mean it's not correct. Jaguars Head Coach Bradley talked optimistically about Gabbert Monday, focusing on the need for Gabbert to play with more freedom and to relax upon his return to the starting lineup Sunday. That may have some merit. There's no question the rest of the season is critical to Gabbert's future with the Jaguars. There's also no question Bradley is trying to figure a way for him to have success. How all of that comes together is a critical area to watch in the coming weeks.
Alex from Albany, OR:
When are the coaches going to realize that Denard Robinson needs a chance at quarterback? We have the worst quarterback situation in the league. Why do we have a Heisman candidate for quarterback returning kicks?
John: You can spend all the time you would like waiting for this, and you can spend time asking questions about it. This doesn't change the fact that it's not happening.
David from Jacksonville:
Is Justin Blackmon still allowed to practice with the team while on suspension, or can he just not be at the games? If yes, how has he looked in practice?
John: He has not been able to practice. He will return to practice next week.
Tim from Geoge-Si, South Korea:
I asked this question on the radio after the last game and got some interesting answers, but I would like yours: You are the head coach. After three devastating losses as such, what do you do to motivate your players, the fans and your bosses? How to you express yourself in a way to convince everyone that things are actually moving forward?
John: This isn't a difficult question. I'd say pretty much exactly what Gus Bradley said on Sunday and Monday.
Todd from Detroit, MI:
Can we all agree to stop using the term "rebuilding?" We as fans are setting the bar too low and giving the team a free pass for stinking. We are the only team in the NFL that isn't competitive. Can't take it. You know something is wrong when Sunday replaces Monday as the worst day of the week.
John: Considering the reaction of the fans in recent days, I do wonder about your definition of a "free pass."
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
I have been talking to fellow fans. We keep coming back to the question of, "How does Shad Khan hold this fan base together if we go another 2-14? 1-15? 0-16?" I know you don't like to talk about the future and stuff but this really is a serious issue. I don't know if this fan base will keep supporting the same message, even if it is from a new general manager/head coach team.
John: I don't mind talking about the future, and your question is a valid one. Khan didn't go into this offseason/season blind. With making the decision to build through the draft and to part ways with familiar veterans for low-priced, short-contract free agents, Khan along with Caldwell and Bradley knew that there could be tough times at the beginning. Could those tough times mean a season with a bad record? It's too early to say that for sure, but it's possible. If that happens, yes, the fan base would be angry this season. That's the short-term issue. The long-term issue is building a team that can have sustainable success. If that happens, the short-term ramifications would be worth the wait.
Smittybuilt11 from Jacksonville:
Dude pops a high-speed wheelie to the front of my house and stops with a front-wheel stand and graceful landing back on two wheels. Silver Surfer looking biker dude flips up his dark, black visor, slides his black wraparound sunglasses down his nose, scans the area like some kind of Terminator, winks at us and says MoodachayBaby! With a flip of his visor he accelerates away! #shadricksighting
John: Well, yes.
Matthew from Clermont, FL:
How will Coach Bradley and GM Caldwell get an evaluation of Gabbert in the weeks to come with this poor quality play from the interior of the offensive line? Is it too rhetorical to ask how a Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jim Kelly or Troy Aikman would perform with a line like this?
John: Few quarterbacks would have performed well in the circumstance, but let's not spend all week hammering one position group. As a group, the offense hasn't played well. The line must provide more protection, and when given opportunities, quarterbacks must make better throws. Wide receivers must make more plays. A good place to start is getting the running game going. That would help the quarterbacks, and help the team be in better down-and-distance situations. Couple that with getting Marcedes Lewis and Justin Blackmon back in the coming weeks, and you might have a chance to get out of this funk.
Verne from Des Moines, IA:
Are you beginning to see why having a rookie secondary is a bad thing??
John: You seem to be implying me or someone else around the Jaguars didn't know that having rookies in the secondary wouldn't mean watching them struggle and watching them make rookie mistakes. The Jaguars' decision-makers – the ranks of which I am understandably and thankfully not included – very much understood this. A couple of thoughts on this: One, these players are young players who will get better with experience; two, there's not a whole lot of evidence to suggest there wouldn't have been injuries – and the subsequent young, inexperienced, learning lineup – had the Jaguars retained many of the defensive backs from last season.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
As much pain as I have had "trying" to watch a complete Jaguar game, I can say I have found it funny how every week Jeremy Ebert gets signed for a day and Jacques McClendon gets cut every Saturday before game day. Things like this are a prime example of a team that is "building."
John: Except that they're not. Signing and releasing wide receiver Jeremy Ebert and guard Jacques McClendon on a rotating basis the last couple of weeks is a classic example of what NFL teams do each week to manage rosters as game day approaches. The Jaguars have had Ebert on the practice squad each week and signed him to the active roster before the game because they were down numbers at wide receivers because of injury. They have needed to release a player to make room for Ebert, and because they were relatively healthy on the offensive line, McClendon was the logical choice to be off the roster for a short time. This is quite common around the NFL, and has nothing to do with where the Jaguars are or aren't in the building process.
Joel from Jacksonville:
Over the last several years, you (and your predecessor) have had emails from irate fans that said fire everybody and start over? Well, this is what you get. At the end of the day, the product will probably pretty good, sooner if our quarterback is better than just good.
John: Yup.
Bill from Jacksonville:
As far as the Jaguars' salary cap position, do you see Caldwell spending money in the offseason or do you think he'll strictly build from the draft?
John: I imagine the Jaguars will pursue free agents for longer contracts and bigger money than they did this past offseason. I doubt you'll see a wild spending-spree, and it won't be at the expense of the draft, but they almost certainly will spend.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Do you know if Jedd Fisch is a 'script-the-first-offensive-series' coach or does he go off of feel alone to start things off? If he is the latter, maybe switching it up and scripting out the first series or two would help to get off to a better start offensively.
John: Fisch went over this recently. He does have a plan to start the game, but it's not precisely a script in the pure sense. It's a plan of the first few series of plays, a plan that varies based on down-and-distance situations. He doesn't, for example, call the same play on second-and-17 from the Jaguars 5 as he would on second-and-1 from the 46.
Gilbert from Dayton, Ohio:
I don't know if it is because I'm from Ohio, and maybe we breed thicker-skinned fans here, but I don't get people who claim to be fans who can't take heat from people over who they root for. Let coworkers, neighbors, media pundits, and any other yahoo say what they want about the Jags, but every NFL team has had a rough patch. We will get through this and who cares what THEY think!
John: #StandUnited, and congratulations on being from Ohio. It sounds like you and everyone else there are thick-skinned and fantastic!

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