NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Game-day O-Zone.
Let's get to it … Christina from St. Augustine, FL and Section 213:
It's nice that Cecil Shorts III is coming back, but I have absolutely no confidence he won't pull his hammy again this game. It's tough as a fan to think that maybe you may have a veteran who can help out the rookies, but just be waiting for the other shoe to drop and him not be available.
John: Your feelings regarding Shorts are understandable, and you know who understands as well as anyone? Shorts. Look, everyone's waiting and seeing on this. Shorts. The Jaguars. The fans. His hamstring issues have been frustrating for everyone, but remember: no one cares as much as he does. He's living it. Every day. Every hour. Shorts said this week he believes he is healthy and he ran well in practice this week. He has felt that way before and reinjured the hamstring. It's frustrating to fans and even more frustrating to Shorts. Will that frustration end? We won't know until he plays for a while without injury. Stay tuned.
Rick from Callaway, FL:
So, now he is injured. The first five games he hasn't shown anything so let's say he is now injured and can't go. What has changed from the first five games? Oh, that is right: he hasn't played that well so now the injury is serious. OK, I was born yesterday and eat up the … oh, it's getting deep.
John: You have the boldness of someone very knowledgeable about this situation. Go with that. Bold is good. It gives people confidence even when not merited.
Paul from Jacksonville:
Anyone who looks at Blake Bortles and sees a bust isn't seeing what's really happening on the field. No, we're not supposed to be excited about the picks, but it's clearly evident that Bortles possesses the potential to be a truly special quarterback in this league. With some experience and an improved pool of talent surrounding him, we should be in for some very fun times.
John: That absolutely could be the case. I believe pretty strongly that Bortles is destined to be very good. He has every trait you want in a young quarterback with a bright future, and the interceptions he's throwing now don't bother me one iota. The caveat there is he must learn from those mistakes and reduce the interceptions. That may not happen this week. It may not happen this month. In fact, odds are that he won't reduce the interceptions significantly this season. And that's OK. Those things take time, knowledge, perspective, increased talent around him, etc., etc. All those things can be learned. What is tougher to learn is the ability Bortles has to remain calm under pressure, to keep his eyes downfield, to buy time in the pocket and make good reads more often than not. Those are the gold standard traits that allow for greatness. Those traits don't guarantee elite status, but they sure make it attainable.
Steve from Shreveport, LA:
Jake would have cut Peyton Manning after his first year. I am not saying that Bortles is Peyton Manning, but Peyton had 28 interceptions in his first year. That's almost two per game. Almost every top quarterback averaged at least one per game early on. I say we wait more than three games to declare him a bust.
John: Without question.
Job from Trinidad and Tobago:
Any thoughts as to why Gratz isn't in consideration at right cornerback? He played there in college and I wouldn't say Ball has been great, especially in press man coverage.
John: I wouldn't say anyone in the Jaguars' secondary has been great – in any coverage, really. Gratz isn't in consideration at right corner because he struggled at times at left corner before his injury and hasn't played as well as Ball or Demetrius McCray. When that changes, he'll get more consideration.
Brandon from Pueblo, CO:
Is Blake Bortles really the answer for the team's offense? If so, does that mean we will be seeing the playoffs soon?
John: I believe so. What's your definition of, "Soon?"
Rob from Jacksonville:
So yes … I saw open receivers running down the field. I know Blake is new and I happen to think he will be great. Love the runs … worried about not sliding gracefully. But hey, he is a rookie. What would be the best way to "push the ball downfield" a little more … with the understanding he will make mistakes? Real fans know he has to learn still. Also noting maybe our receiver corps is not the most fleet afoot in the league. How many games before we see his true potential? I think this week could be great against the mini's, I mean Titans.
John: I don't know what everything in your email meant, although I'm sure you did. What intrigued me was you wanting to know how many "games" before we see his true potential. I fear you may have an unrealistic timeframe. Some people know that I covered Peyton Manning for 10 years in Indianapolis. That was the prime of his career and I don't know that he reached his full potential until maybe 2009 and 2010. That was Year 12 and 13 of a career that's ongoing. That's not to say Bortles won't be good until Year 12, but to say that he'll always be growing if he is to be a great quarterback. As to when you'll see results and efficiency and victories … I'd say the Jaguars will grow to that, but I'd also say we're two games into this process. It won't happen overnight.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
John, when I said McCray's "insurgence," I was speaking about his rebellion against the idea of him being a backup leading to his uprising in the depth chart. I'm sorry you were confused about some actually rebellion he may be leading on the team … that is just silly....
John: Well, you're right … I was being silly.
Clay from Riverside:
Is there a chance that a sound strategy, like "build through the draft," can be taken too far? I have heard that even in a good draft you should not expect more then three-to-four solid players, so that would mean six-to-seven years to build a 22-man roster, right?
John: Your theory is based on the assumption that most teams have 22 solid players. That's usually not true, with most teams built around far fewer core players than that. The first step is getting a quarterback and starting to build a core around that quarterback. Once that happens, you can start seeing improvement fairly quickly. But yes, it can take four or five years to draft a roster that's approaching full maturity.
Brandon from Louisville, KY:
Why does it seem that Jaguar fans are always so quick to abandon the team? I have seen improvement in this team the last couple weeks and feel we are taking steps in the right direction. What will it take for everyone to calm down and see how this plays out in the future?
Greg from Jacksonville:
Do you think Blake Bortles can turn this franchise around?
John: I think he can certainly be the start.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
I am sure many fans are not in a position to purchase season tickets at the risk of not getting a return on their investment. There seems to be an approach from the organization that is expecting that supporting the team is a civic duty. The city and fans have stood up time after time to show that this city has a wonderful fan base. So why doesn't the team step up and do their part and realize that they are a significant problem in the local revenue problem that Mark Lamping seems to discuss on a very regular basis?
John: Mark Lamping has said on numerous occasions that the organization cannot and will not take an approach that supporting the team is a civic duty. Quite the opposite, in fact. He has stated often that the team must provide a product on the field and in the stands on game day that earns the support of the fan base. Your email seems to imply – and if I'm wrong, forgive me – that the team's record in recent seasons and this season is proof that the team is not willing to "step up and do their part." Again, I assure you that the football decision-makers make every decision based on building a sustainable winner. The record, it is true, doesn't show it, but that's the objective.
Tim from San Dimas:
O man ... my girl is fed up with me not giving up as a Jags fan. She's crazy about making me disown my team. She seems on the verge of wanting me to leave if I continue to be a Jags homer. What am I to do? I used to love watching the games. My buddies and me ... cold beer... forever hopeful...and win or lose... well ... I still had my girl ... There will definitely be a hole in my heart... When I kick her out... Go Jags!