JACKSONVILLE – It's Monday. Six days remain until the regular-season opener. That has to mean something, doesn't it? Oh, yes. It's football season. Game week. The 2016 regular season has arrived at long, long last.
Let's get to it …
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Hey John, been awhile. A few things I'm pretty concerned about. The first: Jason Myers is not the answer and if this staff lets us roll into the season with him it will cost us games. The second is pass rush off the edge: Gus' insistence on sticking with his system versus building a system suited to the talent of his players seems dumb because it's OK to have edge rush and not just from the stupid Leo. The third is Paul Posluszny is a liability in coverage. The game against the Bengals proved that, and I'm so, so sick of it. Get him off the field. Hell, get him off the team. The starting linebackers should be Pullard, Jack, Smith. I'll take Telvin's "mistakes" if it also means getting all that speed. I think we can win nine games this year with this roster ... if it's managed better. That's a big if.
John: Well, Doom, you certainly touched on some hot-button points. I get the concern over Myers at kicker, and while the team remains confident in him, he certainly has done little to inspire confidence among fans. He made his preseason extra points and missed field goals from 57 and 49 yards in the preseason finale. There's nothing in there necessarily to get a guy cut, but he must prove early in the season he can be consistent and reliable. As far as pass rush, Leos Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. will be on the field at the same time on a lot on passing situations – and while some fans don't like the scheme, they're certainly not changing it on September 5. When it comes to Posluszny … well, I anticipate this is going to be a season-long theme. People see the occasional plays when Posluszny gets beat in coverage and assume that makes him a liability. He's not remotely a liability and the belief here is the defense is better with him on the field than without. Your final thought – on Telvin Smith's mistakes versus his speed … that's a storyline that seems to be overwhelming all else right now. I suppose the good news is that Myles Jack seems to be talented enough to make this an issue. That is good news, right? Right?
Cornell from Santa Maria:
This question I am sure has been asked before. The teams are now down to 53 players. Then I see only 46 can suit up games. What is the role of the seven players that don't suit up for games?
John: The main role of inactive players on game day is … well, they have no role, really. The reason the league has the rule to deactivate seven players – a group that varies by the week – is an effort to have teams on an equal playing field on game day. Teams usually have a few injured players, so if you mandate seven players as inactive there's a good chance both teams will enter the game with an equal number of healthy players.
Carl from Section 115:
Hey O, if we head into this regular season and not put our best three linebackers – Telvin, Poz, and Jack in that order – on the field I for one will welcome a speedy coaching change. Say what you will about real or perceived coverage issues, Telvin was the best linebacker on the field last year and is the current emotional leader of the defense. It seems you feel differently O, or did I misread you?
John: I don't know that I feel particularly strongly either way on this issue. I get that fans love Telvin Smith's playmaking ability and he certainly brings strengths to a defense. I also get that the Jaguars need to get Jack on the field, and that they need to do that without taking Posluszny off of it. That gets you down to determining if Jack can play the strong side of the defense. Right now, that doesn't appear to be the direction they're going.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
Gene Smith always struck me as someone who thought he was the smartest guy in the room - hence all those small-school picks. I don't get that feeling from David Caldwell, thankfully, but I do think this year's final roster cuts show he might have underestimated the likelihood that some of his cuts would get picked up off waivers. There's some strong young talent the team said goodbye to, and I'm hoping there won't be too many regrets if the production of those players exceeds the production of those players Caldwell kept.
John: Well, that's always the risk when you release a player – that the players released will be more productive than the players you keep. I suppose that comes with the terrain of an improving roster. When more and more good players don't make your roster the chances increase that there will be … wait for it … more and more good players not making your roster.
If the Jags can get pressure on Aaron Rodgers they have a chance to win. However, if they let one of the best quarterbacks in the league sit there and find an open man, the Jags will be destroyed. Let's hope they can be disruptive and perhaps while they are in the pile one of our guys will recommend to Rodgers he shaves that horrific mustache.
John: The Jaguars' pass rush has been a focus all offseason. It wasn't great in preseason. The assumption has been that the pass rush will improve when the Jaguars bring different pressures and more complex looks in the regular season – things they didn't do much during preseason. That assumption needs to be correct or the defense could struggle – and not just against Green Bay Sunday.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington:
You make the call almighty Mr. Zone. What's the max distance we trot out Jason Myers for the field goal? Say … fourth and long from the 40? Fourth and short from the 35 do we go for the kick or grind it out with another offensive play? inquiring minds want to know.
John: Considering his length, I'd trot Myers out there anywhere 56 or 57 yards or closer. His history is that converting long field goals isn't his problem.
Adam from Leicester, UK:
Hello, John … people are really struggling with Jack at weak-side linebacker. I'm a big Telvin Smith fan but are people forgetting just a few short weeks ago – against the Jets, I believe, Telvin jumped the underneath route twice on back-to-back plays allowing good chunk pass plays right over his head. I want Telvin and Jack on the field at the same time, too. With their speed it could be pretty damn good. Jack is forcing his way into the lineup whatever, but if Telvin can't play disciplined the move is obvious.
John: I have nothing to add to this.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
So, we're already saying next year, huh? Can't tell you how disheartening that is. Stay with it Jaguar fans, we're going to be good in seasons to come. Keep buying in folks, we're getting there in the year 2022. Just wait! It shouldn't take ten freaking years, man. Something has to give THIS year. Five wins and I and a lot of folks will be done. We need some proof. I don't know why you don't see that. These fans deserve some payback. They've been loyal as hell.
John: Ah, Alan … I suppose your referencing a recent O-Zone question/answer in which I made the apparent mistake of saying I believed the Jaguars were going to be good in seasons to come. I've never questioned fans' loyalty – and I never said the Jaguars couldn't or wouldn't win this year. I believe they do have a chance to win more than they lose this season. I simply stated that I believe this team is building and will be very, very good over the course of the next few years. I also stated that I don't know exactly what the early stages of this season will hold. I stated that because this is still a team coming together with a developing quarterback, a lot of young players and a lot of youth. I can't control the fans needing payback. I can say how I feel about the Jaguars' development and how I see their future.
Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
Do I remember you saying that you believe the Jags could win eight games this season? I read the power rankings today and that's just exactly what is forecasted for the Jags. How smart do you feel?
John: Stephen, I think I speak for my friend Alan from St. Johns that I seem to get dumber and less tolerable by the day.