JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mark from Ponte Vedra and Section 215:
In (insert name of General Manager or Coach here) We Trust. That is, until they don't win – and at that point we will turn on them like rabid dogs.
John: Yes, that's pretty much where we are right now. That's what happens when you're 1-9 in the second season of a build. And that makes sense. It's the job of fans to hate 1-9 and be frustrated and angry, and it's the job of fans to vent to senior writers. It's also the job of fans to turn on management. At the same time, it's the job of management to keep doing its job the best it can. In this case, it's the job of management to understand that the process is moving in the right direction even when many others can't see that. It's also the job of management to stay strong, committed and diligent in the face of questioning and criticism. In this case, I don't see that being a problem.
Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX:
With players taking time to refocus during the bye week I am curious to know what a senior writer does? Are you flipping through a thesaurus and dictionary to improve your vocabulary/wit or is that an area that is addressed more in the offseason?
John: What's a thsruraus?
David from Ormond Beach, FL:
It amazes me how your inbox was flooded early in the year to play Blake Bortles. Now, after not even a full season under his belt, the noise is growing louder to draft another quarterback? David Caldwell was pretty open and honest when he first came aboard about the depth of this rebuild. Can we at least give all of our young players a full season to judge them without cutting them and starting over? That template has not been working out well for us in the past.
John: You write from a place of reason and logic, which often understandably is not the domain of many fans. I indeed vividly remember the inbox circa August 2014. Remember? Ah yes … the overriding theme was, "Play the Kid!! Let Him Learn! We Can Live With the Results No Matter What! As Long as He is Learning!!" Things change fast in the NFL, and now it's easy for people to forget that Caldwell and Gus Bradley stated quite clearly and quite often that Bortles wasn't ready to play at a high level this season – and, as you mentioned, Caldwell also stated that this was a rebuild of very, very deep proportion. Starting from scratch takes time, and during that time, you're going to get noise and buzz and unrest on a very high level. Such is life in professional sports.
Miguel from Oviedo, FL:
Hey, O-man … so the other day I was playing Madden 15 (awesome game, btw) and decided to play as the Jags with the accurate-to-last-week roster on the highest difficulty level. I now have a (limited) understanding of what Bortles is going through playing with so many rookies and having a below-average offensive line. It was a complete nightmare; there was absolutely no time to throw downfield. I did not get intercepted as much, but only because of how many times I had to throw the ball away instead of making a risky throw. I hope he keeps his chin up; things will get better.
John: After the loss to the Dallas Cowboys in London, I indeed wondered where the winding, whimsical road of the inbox would lead during the bye week I admit I didn't expect it to lead to Sanity by Madden, but hey … wherever you go, there you are.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
With us having such a young roster, will we have more surprises this offseason than usual with a player being released we thought or heard had potential? Usually, time vets that out, but having many positions filled with first-contract players I could see some released quicker than we might expect.
John: It's impossible to answer your question, because I don't really know what players you consider to have potential. I don't anticipate a slew of young players selected or signed in the last two offseasons to be released in the offseason. There are veteran players such as cornerback Alan Ball, wide receiver Cecil Shorts III and defensive tackle Roy Miller whose contracts are up after this season, and the future of those players will be news. That's in no way to say the roster will be status quo. I don't anticipate that at all. And I would expect roster competition to perhaps bump some familiar names from the roster in training camp next year. But I don't anticipate February and March – the weeks leading to the start of the new league year – to feature a purge of shocking "young player" releases.
Blues Man from St. Augustine, FL:
"Jason" recently referred to you as an "idiot." So, do you prefer being "The Village Idiot," "The Team Idiot," or just "The Idiot?" Also, this week the national media has said the words "improving" and "we're seeing progress" are now just hollow words, and it's time to shut up and prove it. I tend to agree. There comes a point when words are used so much that they become meaningless. What say you?
John: If I weren't such an idiot, I could probably think of an answer to this question.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I feel a lot of the criticism of Bortles is unjustified due to the receivers he has. They are all decent sideline-type guys with the exception of Allen Robinson. We need the big guy across the middle who is tough and can break tackles. Justin Blackmon and Amari Cooper type. Do you agree?
John: Justin Blackmon and Amari Cooper would help a lot of receiving corps, but the biggest issue with the current Jaguars receiving corps – as well as with Bortles – is that most are rookies learning the NFL. Experience and an offseason or two can radically change results at those two positions.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
I'm young-ish and I watch the Jags as entertainment mostly. I say this only to provide context for my question. All jokes aside... was Boselli really that good?
John: Yes. He really, really was.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Hey O, in reviewing the past 10 games on the offensive side, I feel quarterback play can't be entirely blamed for the lack of production. We have three rookies starting on the offensive line and three rookie receivers. Maybe the rookies are struggling to adjust to the speed of the NFL. As a result, we are giving Bortles less time to throw than other NFL quarterbacks, and because of this, deeper routes can't develop. What are your thoughts?
John: I think good luck getting anyone to buy that theory, because I sure haven't had much success.
John from Jacksonville:
John, I'm getting frustrated with this talk about signing free agents. Please explain to me why it's a "crap shoot at best" if you choose to sign a really good player coming out of his rookie contract with another team. How is that any different than re-signing a player with the same kind of credentials who played with the Jaguars?
John: I'm sorry you're frustrated; frustration can be … well, frustrating. It's a crapshoot because history says it's a crapshoot. Free agency is also a crapshoot because you are usually getting a player who wasn't wanted by his former team for some reason, and for that reason it's hard to truly get "really good players coming out of their rookie contracts." It's different than re-signing your own player because when you re-sign your own player you're signing a player who you know. You know his strengths, weaknesses, injury history, etc. You also have seen him fit into your system whereas when you sign a free agent you're projecting how he'll fit into your system, much the same way you're projecting with a rookie. So, maybe it's not quite a crapshoot, but it sure isn't any sort of guaranteed way to build a roster.
Ralph from Jacksonville:
John, I consider myself a hardcore fan with season tickets paid for with hard-earned money. I have never been to the pool – or in the Bud Zone, for that matter. I actually watch the games. I don't find your position regarding the team idiotic nor do I think you are a shill for the team. I read your columns daily and you often make me laugh out loud. I agree with most (not all) of your thoughts regarding Gus, Dave and the direction of the team. I see it as getting better but I, too, understand the fans' frustration we are not winning more. I am convinced the team is headed in the right direction. My question is this: What is wrong with me? Should I seek counseling? Wait. Let me shout that: WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
John: I'm sorry, Ralph. At this point, you're beyond help.
O-Zone: On your own
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mark from Ponte Vedra and Section 215: