JACKSONVILLE – What an unforgettable, unbelievable day.
Words can't remotely describe what Hurricane Matthew did on Florida's coast Friday. Mostly as I write this Friday night, I suppose I am thankful.
I am thankful I bought the generator that currently hums on the back porch giving my family power and television. I am thankful we had comparatively little damage at O-Zone Manor. I am thankful the damage done around Duval appears mostly to property rather than lives.
I wrote this O-Zone in comparative safety from our house six or seven miles from the beach. I watched on television as first St. Augustine flooded, then Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach. I watched as trees fell and cut power around Jacksonville.
I wrote between fixing my fence, which had eight slats blown out by Matthew's winds. I wrote, too, between discovering a leak in my three-month-old roof and being upset for a fleeting moment before realizing that an infinitesimal leak indeed is infinitesimal in the frightening picture we witnessed on Friday afternoon.
By the time anyone reads this, Saturday will have dawned. We'll get a better idea of the damage the area sustained. For those of you returning to your homes Saturday, I sincerely wish you the best.
But yeah … Hurricane Matthew was indeed real.
What an unforgettable, unbelievable day.
Let's get to it …
James from Destin, FL:
John, is an act of nature going to break your streak? Kidding aside, everyone stay safe over there.
John: Writing this wasn't about a streak. It was about what else was I going to do while I watched the wind blow the trees behind my house sideways and while I watched Mike Buresh, Arielle Nixon and Co. knock it out of the park.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
During the entire preseason, Gus kept saying and you kept defending that the large amount of penalties were not a concern and that they would be "cleaned up." Now, four games into the season, the penalties are still mounting at an unacceptable rate and Gus is still claiming that they will be "cleaned up." If that is the case, what is Gus waiting for? It is said that every 100 yards in penalties equal to seven points for the opposition. Take away all of the penalties and we are 3-1. What a difference that would make! As you have often said, "they will be an issue until, well, they aren't."
Tom from Jacksonville:
Is a weatherman a journalist? Some of the Weather Channel reporters take more than a little liberty in sharing what is happening. Fail to tell people the parking lot he was in at Porpoise Point is part of the beach and is under water during high tide and a nor'easter. Funny as heck, but makes it hard for me to trust TWC reporters.
John: Considering the working conditions – and the lack of familiarity and public relations officials on hand to familiarize the reporters' surroundings – … well, I guess I'm willing to give Jim Cantore and the gang a pass on this one.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
Everyone seems to think the Raiders game is a game we should definitely win. Not exactly sure why.
John: Me, neither.
Grant from Fernandina Beach, FL:
It's hard to watch something other than the ball in a game. So, what do you think of our new guys: Kelvin Beachum and Tashaun Gipson? I watch Malik Jackson and I'm not very impressed being that he was our big-money guy. It's still early but still …
John: Kelvin Beachum has played well, particularly for a player coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Tashaun Gipson hasn't been tested all that much, but he's played OK and has an interception. Malik Jackson has played better by the week and played particularly well against the Colts. Amazingly enough, he is exceeding the expectations the team had when it signed him. If he plays anywhere close to as well the rest of the season as he played thus far … well, I don't know what "bargain" means when a guy's scheduled to make $90 million, but he's playing notably well.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Rushing the passer and running the ball against the Colts doesn't impress me. Is that really an indication things are better?
John: It's better than not being able to rush the passer and run the ball against the Colts.
Nico from Santa Barbara, CA:
Mr. Oehser, I know there was a discussion on the round table regarding the release point and/or mechanics of Blake Bortles. Many things attribute to success as an NFL quarterback, but I believe he can improve overall performance by being able to throw clean spirals on a more consistent basis. Maybe it just seems that way to me, your thoughts good sir. #805 DTWD!
John: Bortles' mechanics seem destined to be an ongoing issue. They have been an issue since he was drafted, and continue to be a topic. He's well aware of it, has discussed it often and has said it likely will be something on which he focuses throughout his career. So, this thing probably isn't going away. However, being an issue/topic doesn't mean it has to be a "problem" – and it doesn't mean he can't be successful. It likely means he always will need to focus on mechanics and it likely means he will need to make it an annual offseason priority. That's not unusual; most quarterbacks focus on mechanics in the offseason. As far as constantly clean spirals, I don't know that Bortles ever is going to be that guy – and that's OK. Many successful quarterbacks thrown less-than-perfect spirals. Bortles had enough success last season that he should be able to continue developing without throwing perfect spirals. We'll see.
Marc from US Assure Club:
I know we fans always complain about the officiating. However, these first four games all seem consistently (almost ridiculously) unbalanced against the Jaguars. I know we haven't played great, but I still believe we WOULD be 3-1 IF THE OFFICIATING WERE BALANCED! (See those caps, I'm serious) John, you are my voice of calm reason. Am I off base? Am I simply seeing these calls through teal tinted lenses?
John: Wow, you are SERIOUS!! REALLY SERIOUS!! I'm not big on breaking down the impact of officiating because I generally believe it evens out over the course of the season, but if you're asking if the Jaguars have gotten a few more questionable calls against them than for them this season … yeah, an argument could be made.
Steve from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Teams seem to throw at Davon House more than anybody in the secondary. Is there a statistic available which shows the total yards given up by House, INCLUDING PENALTIES? With Aaron Colvin coming back, and Prince Amukamara playing at a very high level, House to me looks like the weak link. You cannot still see Amukamara as a dime back, do you?
John: No. I think Amukamara and Jalen Ramsey soon will – or should – start at corner with Colvin at the nickel, and I think that's a remarkably improved cornerback situation compared to last season.
Kevin from Section 116 and Duval:
O Man, I've heard calls to have the Jags do another rebuild. While I can understand the firing of a coach due to wins and losses, I have a hard time reconciling the logic behind firing Dave Caldwell. From all I've seen he's done an excellent job while here. Can you see a valid reason for the Jags to part ways with our GM? I cannot.
John: Me, neither.
Les from Jacksonville:
I understand Colvin was playing good, but do you really think he should be ahead of Prince and House?
John: I don't think he'll be ahead of Amukamara his first week back, but it's not absurd to think that at some point this season Jalen Ramsey and Colvin could start with Colvin moving inside to the nickel and Amukamara playing outside on passing downs.
Jordon from Tampa, FL:
O-Zone, I grew up in Jacksonville and have been a fan of this team since 2003ish. That said, I gotta say, Bortles has brought more hope and excitement to this franchise than Leftwich/Garrard/Gabbert combined. The guy had bad games against the Chargers/Ravens and the Bortles "experiment" is suddenly "over." It's mean, John, just mean. Hopefully Sunday's performance will hush up the mean people. I suppose this isn't a real question, but don't you feel like the "BORTLES ISNT THE ANSWER" reaction is a wee bit unwarranted? #letsbenicetoBortles
John: First off, the good news about Bortles is he's absolutely mature enough to handle a little petty, premature meanness from media and fans. And the meanness does feel a bit premature. That being said, the way Bortles played in Weeks 2 and 3 were cause for legitimate concern. That was because a lot of the things that went wrong were issues that were concerning in the offseason. He played much better against the Colts last Sunday mainly because he reduced his turnovers from six in two games to zero. If he can be that low-turnover, play-smart guy, then yes … the meanness toward Bortles indeed was premature. If not …