JACKSONVILLE – One day more.
Let's get to it …
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Is Tashaun Gipson more important to the defense than Roy Miller? Free-safety play and third downs were a huge issue last year, but that does not even occur if the Jaguars' defense can't stop the run. From what I have seen, we have big problems when our nose tackle is out – and not just on third down.
John: This is a good question – and I don't know that there's a clear answer. Gipson is really important to the defense because of his ability to take away the middle third of the field. The Jaguars haven't had a free safety with his instincts and ability to make game-turning plays in recent memory – and there's no question that has been a glaring absence. At the same time, there's no question Miller's value to the team is often overlooked. As the NFL has become more and more pass-oriented in recent seasons, many observers have decided that speed, athleticism and defending the pass are the end-all of NFL defense. Make no mistake: speed is important and you must defend the pass. But if you can't stop the run, you'll never get the opportunity to defend the pass. In the Jaguars' defense, stopping the run is an absolute priority and Miller has shown over the last season or so to be absolutely critical in that area. I suppose if I had to choose between the two I would choose Gipson as being the most critical to this defense this season … but I wouldn't feel real good entering a game without Miller.
Bobby from Doboy Island, GA:
If we can go 2-2 in the first four games of the season, I'll consider that a success.
John: Me too.
Ryan from Durham, NC:
All good teams put their best players on the field. If Myles Jack is one of our best three backers then you start him. I don't care if you have to change his position name from OTTO to blue dog crap to justify it!!!! Put him in the game for Pete's sake!!!
John: All good teams put players in the best positions to succeed when they are ready to do so. Myles Jack has worked at middle and weak-side linebacker in his short time with the Jaguars, and those are his two positons. I can't foresee him playing strong-side linebacker this season. When Jack is the best player – i.e., when he is ready – I am quite confident he will start for this team. When he is ready for a role in certain situations I am quite confident he will play in those situations. I don't anticipate the first scenario occurring Sunday. I do anticipate the second scenario occurring Sunday.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
The Packers will probably look at the Bengals preseason game and attack our weaknesses on the run. I hope since Todd Wash was that guy on the line last year that this will be a major priority. GO JAGS!
John: The Jaguars indeed were weak against the run against the Bengals in Preseason Week 3. They were not weak against the run most of last season. I anticipate the Jaguars will be much better against the run this season than they were against the Bengals, particularly in games when Miller and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny are playing.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
Where are all the people that said we needed to fire the entire training staff a few weeks ago when Marqise Lee tweaked a hammy? We probably have the healthiest roster in the league. Turns out these guys are pretty good at what they do and injuries really are luck.
Aaron from White Hall, AR:
Do general managers have to know the entire playbook so that they can properly evaluate the players? If so, kudos to them.
John: General managers don't have to know the playbook on the level players and coaches do. They do have to know the schemes and game plans on enough of a level to know players' assignments. That's a relatively deep level … so yeah … one fer general managers!
Kyle from Ohio:
If any of our players decide to disrespect this country, our flag and our veterans like Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe and now Brandon Marshall, David Caldwell better cut them immediately. I don't care if it is Blake Bortles, A-Rob, Allen Hurns, there better be zero tolerance for disrespecting this country that has given them opportunities to get rich playing a game. What do these rich folks know about oppression? Must be hard getting by with all of that money.
John: I have no idea what – if any – Jaguars players would kneel for the national anthem Sunday. I do know that they wouldn't be cut immediately for doing so.
Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Two extremes, but what would be more surprising, the Jags start 4-0 or 0-4?
John: The Jaguars are not favored to beat the Green Bay Packers Sunday, so that would technically make it a surprise if they won. It therefore would be more "surprising" if they started 4-0 than 0-4. I don't believe either scenario is likely.
Shane from Atlanta, GA:
Jaw injury? I'm assuming Odrick must've said something that upset Tinker ...
John: No. It wasn't that. That's because no one messes with the Tink.
Robert from Jacksonville:
Who should I start? Osweiler or Carr? Both have favorable matchups.
John: Osweiler. No … Carr. No, wait … Osweiler. No …. Carr … definitely Carr. No, wait …
Terry from Jacksonville:
When will Greg Olson have Julius Thomas part of the offense???
John: Julius Thomas caught five touchdown passes in 12 games last season. That translates to about seven or so over a 16-game season, so I assume you're not asking why Julius Thomas wasn't part of last season's offense. As for this season, the last I checked it starts Sunday and I have no reason to think Olson will have Thomas involved any less than he did last season.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
What film do coaches and players review to prepare for the first game of the season? Last season's film? Preseason film?
John: This is a dilemma for every NFL team entering every season. Coaches and players watch last season's games knowing that teams change dramatically from one season to the next in the NFL. They watch preseason games knowing that teams aren't showing much of what they'll do during the regular season. That's one reason regular-season openers often are weird, hard-to-predict games. They're simply the hardest games on the schedule for which to prepare.
Tym from the Southside:
Hey O-Zone, I hope the Jags' coaching staff is seeing something in this pass rush during practice. I understand you can't keep everyone, but cutting guys like Ryan Davis and Tyrone Holmes indicates they believe the pass rush will be fine. Ryan Davis was one of our better players at getting to the quarterback, albeit on the inside rush. The coaches didn't seem to want to continue using him in that way. I don't care if our players are having to fly through the air Polamalu-style over the center of offensive line to sack the quarterback, we need to create pressure and get there whether that be on the inside, outside, wherever. I hope the coaches don't get too caught up in their scheme of attempting to create pressure mainly on the outside when we don't have the players to do that. #PlayersNotScheme
John: I think it's safe to say the Jaguars' coaching staff believes the pass rush is going to be better in the regular season than it was during the preseason. One reason is that the defense did very little in terms of looks, schemes and blitzes during the preseason that will be anything close to what they will do in the regular season. Another is that pass rushing is different over the course of an entire game than it is in one or two series. I think the pass rush could struggle early this season and I believe it will improve as young players such as Dante Fowler Jr., Yannick Ngakoue and Sheldon Day get more comfortable at the NFL level. And while I understand fans' admiration for Davis, he wasn't going to have the interior role he had in the past. That's because the Jaguars believe they have upgraded their interior pass rush with players such as Malik Jackson and Day. Holmes? Well, he has been a bit of a hot-button topic this week, but releasing him last Saturday has nothing to do with Sunday's pass rush; he was not going to be active on this roster early had he made the team. As for the Jaguars' scheme Sunday, I can't tell you what it will be, but I can tell you that interior pressure is important for this defense. It's as important in many ways as edge pressure and it certainly won't be overlooked.
Mark from Maryland:
I got nothing … Go Jags!
John: Well put.