FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – We're heading home later this morning.
Now, there will be two where for as long I can remember there have been three.
Will it be easy? No. Is it time? Yeah.
Let's get to it … William from Jacksonville:
O-Man: This looks like a confident team; it doesn't at all resemble teams of the past few years. If we can avoid the injuries, this will be a team that has a good chance to finish north of 8-8. That said, we may still need some depth at tackle and linebacker, but this team looks more like a team that will be in every game well into the fourth quarter this year. My eyes tell me the rebuild is on track.
John: Your eyes agree with what a lot of people have been seeing and saying throughout the offseason and training camp – that the Jaguars do look significantly improved. I'm conservative by nature, so naturally I'm hesitant to predict a plus-.500 record from a team that went 3-13 last season. But the roster looks stronger than last season; Friday looked a lot more solid in a lot of areas. That's not to say this is a team that's ready to reel off six- and seven-game winning streaks. That's not to say the roster is mature yet. There are still strides to be made. But is it on track? At this point, that's not a ridiculous statement.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
I usually like to read the box score after every game as a way to keep track of individual players and team performances. Nevertheless, preseason stats are mostly meaningless. Can anything be learned from the number of snaps individuals played during a preseason contest? Specifically, in regards to their roster security?
John: As with most things in this crazy thing we call life, this is a matter of perspective, circumstance and context. Taken by itself, preseason playing time means little. If a player plays 15 plays in the first half with the starters in a preseason game, it's a pretty good indication the coaches consider him a front-line player who's going to play a key role with the offense or defense. If he's playing 35 second-half plays, that may be an indication that the coaches want a really good look at the player – or it could be that he's a bottom-of-the-roster guy who needs to impress at some point in the next few games. Probably the best indication of roster security for non-starters is special teams playing time. If a guy is running with a lot of the first-team special teams units in preseason he's probably going to make the team.
Zenith from Islamabad, Pakistan:
Hey, Big O! If positional competition is perceived as a tie, or the staff is split on a guy, does the younger and cheaper player win out? Or does a team prefer a veteran? We were aiming the discussion more at starter competition. Thanks!
John: Younger and cheaper typically wins out, though this is a theoretical question because realistically there are very few positional ties.
Jason from North Pole, AK:
I have heard cases for both players in the O-Zone but if you HAD to choose between Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor which would you induct into the Hall of Fame? Why?
John: This isn't an easy any answer for me, because I think highly of both as players. I thought Boselli was the best left tackle in a golden era of left tackles and I consider him one of the best ever to play the position. Taylor was great – and I don't use that word lightly. I also consider him absolutely a Hall-of-Fame-caliber back, but it's hard for me to say he was the best runner of his era. So, as much as it pains me on a personal level, I suppose I must say Boselli, though I know Boselli would agree with me wholeheartedly that Taylor is a far more likeable, respectable sort.
Robert from Plainfield, NJ:
You know what would be cool? Get you a round table, BUT rename the video segment "Jags of the SQUARE Table!!" Get it? See what I did there? That would be some hilarious hijinks for sure!
John: You are hilarious.
James from Jacksonville:
Tyler Shatley. I've been reading up on this kid and I must say I'm impressed with his resume. It seems he could play DE, TE, FB and possibly LB along with his current guard position. Will we see him in the starting lineup at some point and what position do you think he will play?
John: Shatley has performed well enough in a versatile enough role – fullback and interior offensive line – to have given himself a very good chance to be on the roster. I doubt he'll start this season, though there are people around the Jaguars who feel he has a chance to make a push. I think he'll play guard, but he has performed very well at center.
Randy from #DTWD:
I'd rather have co-starters than holes. If our backups are named Lee, Beadles, Bowanko, Paztor, D-Rob, Harbor, Henne, Gratz, Evans, Branch, Davis, Alualu, Bennett and Hood, that's what I call depth.
John: It's a lot better depth than this team had two seasons ago. No doubt about that.
Jeremy from South Korea:
What players do you see as being genuinely special on this team? As in multiple Pro Bowls or flirting with the Pro Bowl kind of special. Because that's what this team needs. We need a few special players/players on each side of the ball that really catch your attention when they play.
John: There's no question that's what this team needs. Julius Thomas obviously can be such a player. Allen Robinson, T.J. Yeldon and Marqise Lee have the ability offensively and Aaron Colvin and Telvin Smith have the ability defensively. It's unlikely all will become Pro Bowl selections, but those are players with potential.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
TOBY! TOBY! TOBY! Would you please convey my sentiments to Mr. Gerhart? After all of the bad-mouthing pointed his way for the last year, I thought he could use some positive feedback.
John: I think he earned that sort of feedback Friday, and I'm sure it's special for him to know you took time to capitalize his name AND add exclamation points. But here's the thing: the Jaguars have been pretty sure throughout the offseason that Gerhart could play that way. They thought that before they signed him last offseason and they saw glimpses of it late last season, but sure … TOBY, TOBY, TOBY!! Or something like that.
Jonathan from Section 122:
Since you missed the game I decided to have a little fun. I snuck into your office during halftime and put one of your things in the toilet Seinfeld style. I'm not gonna say what it was.
John: Would that be a problem?
Andrew from Jacksonville:
I had some initial questions about the Parnell signing, but I like what I saw against Pittsburgh. The run blocking on his side was stout and on one draw play during their second series, he was simulating a pass block and from an almost flat-footed position, popped his rusher so hard in the chest the guy fell down immediately. I like the meanness he brings to the O-line.
John: Whenever there's a new free-agent signed, there are a lot of eyes on him – and sometimes people behind those eyes have differing opinions of what they see. With very, very few exceptions the eyes on Parnell since he joined the Jaguars have liked what they have seen.
John from Oehserville:
What do you think of Josh Evans as a player? Cause I believe he is better than Sergio Brown.
John: Well, name and town aside, this certainly isn't from me. I like Evans, but from what I've seen so far, it would be hard to put him ahead of Sergio Brown. That's certainly not the Jaguars' intention right now.
Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
If you had to sum up how Bortles looked in one word, what would it be?
Darrick from Jacksonville:
Julius Thomas going down on our second offensive play is the type of thing that used to take the air out of our team. The 2015 Jaguars didn't even seem to blink. It was next man up, let's go. Truly impressive. My hope meter is riding high.
John: Your hope meter should be in good shape. I'd hesitate to sum up the team's entire approach based on the happenings of the first quarter/half of the first preseason game. But there is a confident, surging feeling on this team right now. A lot of it is because there's belief in the quarterback and a lot of it is the overall direction. You're right that it's not about one player or one injury, and while Friday's performance isn't remotely everything, it sure wasn't a bad sign.
TomD from Jacksonville:
Congratulations on your son entering college. And HUGE Congrats to you and your wife for getting him there. It's one of your life's major milestones. One you will always remember.
John: From the looks of things, I'll always be paying for it, too.