JACKSONVILLE – Stay safe.
Let's get to it …
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Okay, curious about your opinion on the return of JDR to EverBank. You think he might have this one circled as a grudge match? Could he hold any extra incentive to beat us due to his being fired? I know every coach wants to win every game, but rubbing it in the noses of your former employer seems tempting even for an NFL head coach.
John: Sure, the Raiders-Jaguars game on October 23 almost certainly will have a touch of extra emotion for Jack Del Rio. He will be asked during the week about returning to Jacksonville. I'm sure on some level memories will flood back when the Raiders' bus pulls up to EverBank Field. But as far as extra incentive and/or impact on the game … I doubt it. Remember, the vast majority of people with whom Del Rio worked are no longer with the organization. The only players left from his time are Marcedes Lewis and Tyson Alualu. Del Rio indeed was fired on the morning Shad Khan's ownership was announced, but a lot of things were going wrong and the firing seemed more a matter of time than any personal vendetta. Ownership has changed since Del Rio held the job and so has the general manager. In fact, there's very little that hasn't changed. If Del Rio held a grudge – and after five years I doubt that would be the case – there's not really anyone with the Jaguars against whom he would be holding it. His return will be a storyline that week, but I doubt it will be an overriding factor.
Richard from Orange Park, FL:
Now that we have had a few days to soak in the feeling of victory … back to work. The most obvious, simplistic thing I take away from this season thus far is the Jaguars are built to win now. We have the talent on both sides of the ball to compete, to overcome some obvious weaknesses when we have average quarterback play. Heading into the bye week what are the keys in your mind that the coaching staff needs to do to help Blake Bortles as far as the playbook, play calling, and his personal intangibles so we can continue to see what I feel is a direct correlation of no quarterback errors/turnovers and victories?
John: I believe this is the pressing question entering the final three quarters of the season. It's not remotely a coincidence that the Jaguars' lone victory came in the one game in which Bortles did not commit a turnover. If you take turnovers out of the equation in Weeks 1-3, the Jaguars would have had a very good chance to win the opener and almost certainly would have beaten Baltimore. In fact, if you take three first-half turnovers out of the equation against San Diego, even that one-sided loss would have looked far different. So that indeed is the main issue going forward: how do you structure the offense to allow Bortles to minimize mistakes and still make plays downfield? I imagine you'll see a lot more schemes to roll him out and to create the opportunity for him to run if the throws aren't there. I also imagine you'll see the Jaguars continue to emphasize the run. I don't know that you can take that approach all of the time because it's hard to have your entire passing offense based on rollouts and the quarterback moving around, but it's apparent the Jaguars need to have that as part of the approach in some capacity.
John from Section 102:
It is kinda sick to see people on some sites making merry over Luke Joeckel's injury. I for one am sad for him. A dream of his, of playing in the NFL, has been derailed again. He busted his butt coming back from injury before and he may again, but for now – again – it's over. Give the guy a break, people. He deserves to be treated with some respect. Just wanted to get that off my chest ...
John: I hadn't seen any merry-making over Joeckel's injury. I'm glad for that. I'm pathetic and sad enough on my own enough without having to read people taking those traits to higher levels.
Preston from Oakville, CT:
O-Man, people need to stop wanting Bortles to be the next Peyton Manning. He doesn't need to be. The best quarterback in Jaguars history made his name by just making plays. Mark Brunell may not have had the best mechanics (lefties always look worse than they actually are), but he was exciting to watch and he had that "it" factor. I think Bortles needs to make better decisions, but his style of play reminds me of old No. 8.
John: Bortles indeed must find his own way within his own skill set and become his own quarterback. I don't think the end game with Bortles will be that he is a precision, quick-read passer along the lines of Manning, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. If that ever happens, it appears a ways off. It appears he's going to need to make plays with his legs, make plays downfield and be effective in play action. Mostly he needs to channel whatever he did this past Sunday to not throw interceptions and to be aware in the pocket. If he's turnover free with limited mistakes, he can be an effective quarterback.
Mark from Archer, FL:
O-Man, I am getting very annoyed. I keep reading articles and everyone keeps saying the Texans have the best defense in our division. Personally, I think our defense is better. We have more sacks, more interceptions. We are not allowing many more yards a game. The points category is a little misleading because many times the other team was given point-blank range after a turnover. So, with both teams winning some stat matchups to me the final thing to consider is our defense is doing this with a lot of rookies and second-year players. When will our defense start getting respect?
John: The Texans have been playing pretty good defense for the better part of four or five seasons. The Jaguars have been playing decent defensive for the better part of four or five quarters. The respect will come, Mark. Just give it time. Oh, and the Jaguars need to win. That will help, too.
Will from Orlando, FL:
How much of a concern is Luke J. being on injured reserve? He was never great. but a man down is a man down.
John: It's a real concern for a couple of reasons. One is that he was the starting left guard. Another is that he was a very capable, proven experienced option as a backup left tackle. Throw in the fact that never was nearly as bad as many people believed – yeah, it's a concern. It's one the Jaguars should be able to overcome, but it's not ideal.
Kyle from Parsippany, NJ:
John, I think it's a little premature to start citing our defense as Top 10 against the pass based on these yardage statistics. I don't think they would look too good if you factored in penalty yardage. Let's give the defense a few more weeks before we anoint them.
Andrew from Sampson, FL:
Will the Jags game plan for the Bears for two weeks or try to clean up recurring problems? What is normal for bye week?
John: The Jaguars mostly self-scouted during the bye week and will pretty much be off Thursday through Sunday. They will then begin preparing to play the Chicago Bears next week as they would on a normal week.
Michael from Tupelo, MS:
Hi John, Luke Joeckel is on the injured reserve list for a second time in four seasons. Have we seen him play his last game as a Jaguar?
John: That remains to be seen. There obviously is a very good chance that Joeckel indeed has played his final game with the Jaguars. His contract expires after this season and he very likely will want a chance to play left tackle somewhere. That chance isn't likely to come in Jacksonville. At the same time, the injury could lead to at least a short-term return to Jacksonville for Joeckel. He needed to play well this season to enhance his value on the open market. If there isn't much of a market, a scenario in which he and the team agree to a short-term deal for Joeckel to play guard could be a possibility. That would give Joeckel a chance to play a full season and possibly enhance his value for the following offeason.
John from Jacksonville:
Bold prediction alert! Looking ahead at the schedules for the Jags and Texans, as well as the head-to head advantage we have with the Colts, the Jags will be in the division lead by the end of October. Isn't that quite a stark twist of events since starting 0-3 and predictions of doom?
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Everybody down that way stay safe. Hurricane Matthew looks really nasty and could bring many problems. I hope all of you guys down there are safe and we are praying for everyone in the path of this monster. Stay dry, buddy!
John: Well said.