JACKSONVILLE – Looking ahead on a Wednesday.
Let's get to it … Chase from Jacksonville:
A head coaching change is inevitable. If we're just talking about this one game, then coming out after halftime and playing like that is a coaching problem; he didn't have the guys ready. Our previous coach only got one season; you can't win two games two years in a row and expect to keep your job … it's just not feasible.
John: As is the case with many readers this time of year in this kind of season, you write with admirable boldness and confidence. And as is the case with a lot of readers, your stance is understandable. A 2-11 record is difficult to watch and difficult to understand, and many people believe a 2-11 record automatically means change. The problem with the boldness and confidence in this case is the stance is incorrect. A head coaching change isn't inevitable this offseason because there are reasons for the record – especially on offense – that override the record. If the record isn't significantly better next season … then, yeah, we'll be having this conversation at a pretty high volume. For now, it's best just to turn it down.
Joel from Jacksonville:
Is there any reason for the Jaguars to not cut Cecil Shorts III and sign a wide receiver from another team's practice squad? Clearly, Cecil is not getting better … in fact, he's getting worse. I hope Dave Caldwell goes out and lands a promising young talent who could develop into a key contributor for years to come. Considering Cecil's "development" under Jerry Sullivan's tutelage, it's best to just cut Cecil and move on.
John: Your input is appreciated, and we're not going to turn this week into an all Cut-Cecil-Shorts-III-All-The-Time session in the O-Zone. He had a lousy game Sunday. He dropped two passes he should have caught, and one that would have been a big play. He hasn't had a good year, and I'm as surprised by that as anyone. He was significantly better each of the last two seasons. At this stage, the odds appear to be against him returning. But he's not getting released before the end of the season, so it's probably time to turn the volume down on this one, too.
John from Boynton Beach, FL:
It feels like the lower the win total this year, the higher the pressure is on the team and staff to perform well right out of the gates next season. If the Jaguars start flat again and go 1-3 through the first four games next year...watch out!
John: The Jaguars need to win more games next season. I don't yet know what that number is, and there's only one person who knows that number. That's Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, and truthfully I don't know that he knows what that number is. But it needs to be significantly higher. As for what "significantly higher is," there's only one person who knows that number and … well, you get the idea.
James from Socorro, NM:
What's the difference between playing left guard and right guard?
John: One lines up on the left side of the center and the other lines up on the right side of the center. Or maybe it's the other way around.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Can we start a fund to get Gus to Dr. Bowden? What was he watching when he said the offensive line played well?
John: I thought the same thing at first. After re-watching the game and watching the tape you can see why the coaches said the line played better than before. It wasn't great. It wasn't dominant. But it certainly was better than the week before. Luke Joeckel, Zane Beadles and Luke Bowanko all played well-to-at-least-OK for the most part, and Brandon Linder appeared to play very well. Sam Young got beat a few times by J.J. Watt but that's what Watt does, and overall Young played OK. A huge issue for the line appears to be that teams believe – correctly – that they can blitz effectively, and troubles in blitz pickup appeared to account for much of the pressure Sunday. That can be on the quarterback or communication or a lot of things and it's hard to know exactly what those things are by simply viewing the film. Teams are also still able to stack the line of scrimmage against the run without fear of getting consistently beat in the passing game. That's what happens when you have a young quarterback, young receivers and veteran skill players who aren't making teams pay for that approach. That's where the Jaguars are now, but as we've said often here, it's not all the offensive line – even when it appears to be at first glance.
James from Yulee, FL:
I would really like to see this team make some tough decisions in the offseason, regardless of anything to do with capital. If that means cutting guys that were brought in or draft picks who just haven't showed enough signs of being a starter in this league … we have the money to have made mistakes, which is going to happen when you are starting from nothing. It's not a time to be stubborn. Most fans realize the task at hand. If players aren't cutting the mustard, it's time to move on.
John: The Jaguars won't be stubborn, and nothing that has happened in the last two years indicates that David Caldwell and Gus Bradley are unwilling to part ways with players who are underperforming. But a key part of developing a roster is "developing" that roster, and that means allowing players to develop. You can't keep starting things, blowing things up and restarting. You also don't just release draft picks who don't develop into starters. Some draft picks are depth and special teams players and to cut them is to start the process of trying to find players to replace them who don't know your system. There will be roster moves and changes in the offseason, but to think there will be mass overhauls of any position groups is almost certainly incorrect.
Taylor from Maryland:
Last offseason many observers were concerned about the offensive line; Dave Caldwell said he wasn't that worried about it .. Or something to that effect. What gives? Many of us saw this coming, yet our front office didn't? Our line was pretty porous last year as well.
John: I don't remember exactly what David Caldwell said about the offensive line or when he said it, but Caldwell did this past offseason pretty much overhaul the entire offensive line. The entire interior is new and Luke Joeckel is in his first full season as a starter. The holdover was right tackle Austin Pasztor. The Jaguars believe that the core of the current group is one around which they can build. Some observers believe a major overhaul is needed. Whatever side you believe, to imply the Jaguars didn't address the offensive line last offseason is pretty much categorically incorrect.
Robert from Moorpark, VA:
Does the defense miss Paul Posluszny or is he now an afterthought towards the future?
John: Yes, the defense misses Posluszny, and he's not an afterthought for the future.
Ben from Indianapolis, IN:
Was Jeremiah George still hurt Sunday? If healthy this week do you see him getting substantial playing time since he played so well against Cincinnati?
John: No. George did play well against Cincinnati, but the Jaguars for the most part like how the linebacker corps of Geno Hayes at Otto, J.T. Thomas in the middle and Telvin Smith on the weak side has played in the last three weeks.
Mike DiRocco from Jacksonville:
Who's John Oehser?
John: Who is this?
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
I know mechanics and footwork are important for NFL quarterbacks but sometimes I feel Blake is focusing too much on those areas and not enough on using his natural ability. When you're throwing a wide-receiver screen mechanics should be an afterthought. Maybe I shouldn't say an afterthought, but it's a quick pass much like a run play. Just hit him in the numbers! His mechanics should improve dramatically in the offseason but when I watch him play I feel like he's focusing too much on being "perfect." What do you think about that?
John: I think it's extremely difficult to accurately say what a person's thinking … because of, you know, the whole mind-reading thing and all. It's easier to say that mechanics and footwork are something that can and should come more naturally in time. Remember, this was an area Bortles knew needed work following the draft, and he worked on it. The mechanics got better for a while, and he has struggled some lately. There's no reason to think he can't work on it more in ensuing offseasons and improve accordingly. As they do, they will be more natural and he can play a bit looser, but don't underestimate the importance of mechanics on short passes and timing passes. They're as important there as on long passes.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Finally saw last week's mailbag. Not bad. Here's a tip: more Whitney, less O-Zone. Can I get a "I don't know what you're talking about?"
John: You could, but I have no idea what you're talking about.