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O-Zone: Unbridled enthusiasm

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Donny from Heathrow, FL:
When Toby Gerhart was horse-collared in the first game against the Eagles, I thought his season was over at first. While he returned from a foot injury (instead of a knee blowout), he clearly hasn't been the player we thought we were getting. D-Rob ran hard last Sunday, but he had some great holes to run through. What do you expect from Toby now that he's cleared to practice?
John: I expect I really don't know what to expect. Gerhart early this season certainly didn't look like the player the Jaguars expected, but he also didn't look like the player he was in training camp. It was easy to overlook the injury as a reason for that because people hate hearing injuries as reasons for players struggling. I suppose the best answer is I'm waiting and seeing. If you watch Gerhart's play in Minnesota, you see things that make you think he can be productive. He has missed two games to rest the foot, and it sounds as if he's close to being healthy, so we'll see what difference that makes.
Antoine from Laurel:
With Poz being out for the season, will he still be around the team and in the linebacker meetings?
John: Yes. Once he has his surgery, Posluszny said he plans to be around the team and in meetings.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
How much will the Jaguars have to spend on average each of the next two seasons in order to meet the four-year rolling cap minimum? How does that compare to the last two offseasons?
John: The best answer is probably, "The Jaguars don't have to spend as much as many might think." Because the Jaguars have had close to having the most cap space in the NFL the last two offseasons, there is a perception that the team has to spend at an epic level the next two offseasons to reach the four-year minimum. That's not entirely accurate. League rules require teams to spend to 89 percent of the salary cap over a four-year period. The Jaguars have to spend closer to the salary cap the next two offseasons to reach that, but they don't have to spend in excess. I imagine you'll see them pursue more high-profile, higher-priced veterans than the last two offseasons, but it won't be a mad-cap spending spree. That was sort of the plan all along, to build the roster through the draft early in this build, then supplement with free agents as the young players grew and as the needs grew more evident.
Dane from Jacksonville:
We fans just don't know how to react when our young franchise quarterback struggles. After all, we haven't had many young franchise quarterbacks to worry about throughout the years.
John: Point taken.
Me from Jacksonville:
Will the Jaguars make any significant trades (for draft picks) before the October 28th deadline as sellers, seeing that they're not going to the playoffs? If not, should they?
John: I don't see it this year. The Jaguars were able to get decent value for Eugene Monroe last season because Monroe was viewed as at least a starting-level left tackle who was not on the downside of his career. He also was healthy, in the final year of his contract and not a player the Jaguars wanted to retain. At first glance, the Jaguars don't have any players who fit that model quite so perfectly. We'll see how it plays out.
Glenn from Jacksonville Beach and Section 146:
Three, three, two and three … what are these numbers?? The number of picks Peyton Manning threw in his first four starts. Plus a lost fumble. He also only threw three touchdowns in those games. He should have been cut right, declared a bust? Maybe we can let Blake play a little before we call him a bust, people?
John: Yeah, maybe.
Chris from Mandarin:
Yes, Paul Pozluszny is out for the season, but let's try and have a little perspective. At 1-6, no player on the defense is so significant that it dramatically changes whether the team wins or not. Obviously, with or without him the team is basically out of playoff contention before midseason. Hopefully, the young guns can develop.
John: Well, yes. If you're worried about the Jaguars going to the Super Bowl, then there probably isn't an injury to any player that can be defined as critical. At the same time, if you're looking to get a better feel about where this team is and what it can be, then having the best players on the field sure doesn't hurt.
Timothy from Huntsville:
Poz out for the year; that is terrible. Andre Branch is out for six weeks, but at least he will be back for the playoffs!! #DTWD
John: #DTWD
Chris from Delray Beach, FL:
Quote: "The Jaguars are significantly improved because he is playing. He inspires confidence in teammates. He gives them a chance to win. He's a leader and he has the skills that elite quarterbacks possess." We've established all of the tangible and intangible things that set him above Chad, so how do the Jaguars prepare Chad to step in if Blake gets injured?
John: The same way any NFL team prepares a backup quarterback: by having him in meetings, at practice and involved in the game planning, and assuming he will prepare as if he's starting.
Sunil from Jacksonville:
Please tell Jerry from Jacksonville that the Germans did not bomb Pearl Harbor. Thanks!
John: And off we go …
James from Jacksonville:
Hey, O … so I went on a date with a girl and she told me to text her when I got home and I did and she never responded. Should I give up or text her again?
John: By all means text her until she responds, and if she doesn't respond immediately keep texting her. If she doesn't respond then, hang out in the parking lot at her work. Girls love this. (FWIW, she'll probably "act" as this behavior annoys her. Play through it.)
Scott from Aurora, IL:
I haven't seen this mentioned yet. The interception Bortles threw in the red zone was a bad decision, bad throw. That said, he kept his eyes downfield and made the decision to throw when he could have run. I'll take that quality over a quarterback who needs to be taught to throw over running any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Thoughts?
John: I think I couldn't agree more, and I think if I hadn't written this already I wish I had. You always want your quarterback moving in the pocket with the idea of looking to make a throw downfield as opposed to running with the idea of running. You make bigger plays more often with less injury risk in the NFL throwing than running. Also, you pay wide receivers to catch and run and you pay quarterbacks to throw to receivers. So, the instinct should be to throw the ball to the players who catch and run well. That's Bortles' instinct, and that's a huge reason he has such potential.
Greg from St. Johns, FL:
It's not how much we improve that matters, but how much we improve relative to the teams we play against. If only there was a way to determine how we're actually doing compared to the rest of the league... Any ideas?
John: Fortunately, there is. The way I do it – and maybe it's just me – is to see how a team was doing, say, last season in the first half of the season compared to, say, this season in the first half of the season. The Jaguars, for example, last season lost all of their games by double digits in the first half of the season. This season, they have a minus-5 point differential since Blake Bortles entered the lineup and have had a chance to win the last three games. They also beat a team with a winning record last Sunday, something they didn't do last season. So, by that method I would say the Jaguars have improved.
Roby from Manassas, VA:
Your answer to Levi about Aaron Colvin being fully recovered enough to play but he's not ready to play and not fully recovered was very confusing.
John: You're right. It was confusing. Colvin is ready to play in terms of his knee being healthy. Now, he has to get in football shape, which means he must practice and condition enough to play.
Mark from Green Bay, WI:
What happened to Hurns? He was the fantasy leagues "darling" after the first game, but he hasn't really done a lot since. Is it that he's being covered too well and can't get open?
John: That's part of it. Another part is he's a rookie and rookie wide receivers with rare, rare exceptions take time to be able to do consistently what Hurns did for a game.
Nicholas from Fort Hood, FL:
O-Man, I really like the unbridled enthusiasm you bring to the Jaguars, especially with the O-Zone mail bag. Was this behavior something you have been doing all of your career or is this a side of you that's never had the chance to come out? My favorite theme is your "sticking it to the man."
John: #Unbridledenthusiasm

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