JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jeremy from South Korea:
I'm not claiming the O Line is awesome but it's certainly a good sign you're not having to explain how it takes them a while to gel at this point in the preseason. Let's hope their play carries to the regular season, but so far they haven't been an issue for the Jaguars.
John: You're right, and honestly? I'm as surprised as anyone that the Jaguars' offensive line has played as well as it has during the first two preseason games. Not that I didn't believe Doug Marrone would make a difference. And not that I didn't think the unit would be improved. But I absolutely believed it would take time for the group to gel. The offensive line is usually a group that gets better with time and depends largely on continuity. That the Jaguars are already playing well in that area is a very good sign.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
You're not going to check....
John: Yeah, probably not.
Sea Bass from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What's the timetable with Arrelious Benn and his return? Seems like a costly injury to this receiving corps. He's got a skill set and build that fills a need or could have played a significant role.
John: I expect more information on this in the coming days. Benn sustained a broken collarbone against the Giants Saturday and is scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday. When asked on Sunday for thoughts on Benn returning, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said, "I wouldn't count on him for a while." Bradley also said the team hadn't discussed whether to place Benn on injured reserve. But you're right that it's a blow to the receiving corps. I don't know that Benn was going to be one of the top two or three receivers on this team this season, but he did appear likely to be a valuable reserve and special teams player.
Kyle from Clearwater, FL:
John, I'm a diehard Jags fan, but I would play for any team if they guaranteed me a million dollars. Do you, in your honest opinion, get the impression that our draft picks and free-agent signings feel like their careers are on a down slide because they're playing for the Jags?
John: Ha. No. Absolutely not.
Hebert from MidState Office Supply Accountz Receevable:
Are certain players guaranteed starting positions based on draft position, salary, and lack of experience at key positions? I'm thinking of Joeckel and Clemons, respectively.
John: No, players start because the coaches and organization believe it gives the team the best chance to win. The league is too competitive and the pressure to win is too real to do anything else.
Chris from San Marco:
Any truth to the report that the Jaguars will play a game in London until 2030? That's very convenient since the lease with the city is up that year...I'm not worried, though. Should I be worried? I'm not worried. Wait, what does it mean John?
John: This was a report in the London Times Friday, and while the report was certainly premature there's little question the Jaguars want to continue playing a home game per season in London. Owner Shad Khan and President Mark Lamping have been very clear about this, as echoed in a statement Friday by Khan's spokesman, Jim Woodcock: "There is no agreement, but discussions have been frequent and promising. Shad and the Jaguars have been clear that the London agreement has been extremely successful and essential to the local revenue streams and long-term viability of the franchise in Jacksonville, and that an extension of the current agreement would be welcomed …" What does it mean? It means the London initiative is working to the benefit of the Jaguars and Jacksonville and – as has been made pretty clear for a while now – a game in London each year is part of this team's landscape for the foreseeable future.
Danny from Fernandina Beach, FL:
John, I'm kinda worried that Fowler's injury will linger for years to come like Tyson's. What say you?
John: Well, with injuries and the human body nothing is ever 100 percent certain, but I wouldn't base any worry over Dante Fowler Jr. on Tyson Alualu. Fowler sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury while Alualu's injury was one that required micro-fracture surgery. While torn ACLs were once considered career-threatening, that's not the case nearly as often anymore – particularly for a young player. Micro-fracture surgeries often have far more lingering effects.
Josh from Macclenny, FL:
Does it scare anybody that we still have a nonexistent pass rush? Should we test whatever is left out there in free agency? I have nightmares John, nightmares of quarterbacks having hours to throw... HOURS!!!! What do we do?
John: I'm sorry about your nightmares, and the pass rush in the first two preseason games has been a bit of concern. One thing to remember is Chris Clemons and Sen'Derrick Marks haven't been in the lineup yet. It's probably not realistic to think the return of those two players is going to turn the pass rush into the 1985 Bears, but they did combine for 16.5 sacks last season, so their absence does kind of matter. Also, teams don't always show everything they're going to do in terms of blitzes and stunts in the preseason. The pass rush does need to improve, but the reality is the pass-rushing pickings are always pretty slim in free agency. That's particularly true in late August.
Doug from Jacksonville:
I would say my main concerns as a fan so far – keeping in mind I don't have film to watch or know what the Jags were working on in these game situations – are all on the defensive side of the ball. Opposing receivers getting open and no pressure applied to the quarterback is a dangerous combination. If not for some dropped passes the numbers would be worse.
John: I actually thought the coverage against the Giants Saturday was OK. Receivers tend to get open when little pressure is applied on the quarterback. Defenses can only cover so well for so long in professional football. At some point, the quarterback must be pressured or defenses will lose.
Cory from Madison, WI:
The Allen Hurns situation is somewhat frustrating. He's one of the best on the team at getting open and adjusting to make a catch, but there are too many drops from him right now. On a somewhat related note, I find it interesting Dave Caldwell didn't try to sign a bit more veteran talent at the position in free agency. They made a run at Randall Cobb, who admittedly is a special talent, but that also seems to imply that Caldwell wasn't feeling all that settled with the depth at the position. Makes me wonder why we didn't try to address it more.
John: Caldwell pursued Cobb, and when the Jaguars didn't sign him, they selected Rashad Greene in the draft. The goal in the offseason was to upgrade the slot receiver position. The Jaguars feel Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee are potentially a very good young trio -- particularly as outside receivers. The idea wasn't to bring in receivers; rather, it was to bring in receivers who could be an upgrade.
Mazi from Jacksonville:
Let's pull the trigger Jonny O. The Jags should trade for Bruce Irvin. Why not give it a try?
John: And give up what?
Sean from Candler, NC:
I'm not sure I have ever heard a quarterback be so brutally honest on how he played or what he has to work on. Does Blake not know he is allowed to use 'CoachSpeak' from time to time? Seriously, how he speaks and the honesty he is projecting is awesome for us the fans. I can only imagine his teammates love him for it and the work he puts in trying to fix it. I think we've got a good young player we will be watching for quite a while.
John: Bortles' candor is striking. He was unusually honest last season when discussing what he wanted to improve this offseason. When the offseason rolled around, he was even more candid. There were times I wondered if he was too honest as it gave the world – the part of it interested in the Jaguars and NFL quarterbacking, anyway – pretty much daily reign to pick him apart and analyze things that frankly we in the media/fandom, etc., probably don't know as much about as we like to think. But you know what? That's who Bortles is, and it's what he's about. He's easy to like. He seems very honest and humble – and I don't think there's any question his teammates respect him and love playing with him.
Doug from Duval:
I read you every day and appreciate all your work. I get optimistic every year but this is the most optimistic I've been in a few years. I think that we'll have some stars by year end. Only negative on my mind is Henne. That Kool-Aid needs a lot more sugar. Stay healthy, Blake.
John: So, you're uneasy at the thought of the backup quarterback playing and hoping like heck your starting quarterback doesn't get hurt. Welcome to the NFL, Doug.
O-Zone: Welcome to the NFL
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jeremy from South Korea: