LONDON, England – Game-day O-Zone from Wembley Stadium …
Let's get to it …
Matt from Bradford, England:
Hi, John. I'm actually very encouraged by Blake Bortles and think the comparisons to a rookie Peyton Manning now look more valid in that he's still throwing too many picks but is moving the ball well enough and throwing enough touchdowns to suggest he could be very good. Of course, he probably never will reach the level of Manning, but the good news is he could still be a good or very good franchise quarterback without doing so. What say you?
John: Because of the inherent unfairness, I never spent too much time comparing Bortles' rookie season to that of Manning, although I understood why people did. Quarterbacks – all players, really – develop at their own paces. Manning began to show significant improvement late in his 1998 rookie season, by the end of which it was pretty clear he was going to be good. That came after he struggled mightily with interceptions for a stretch early that season. Bortles struggled pretty much his entire rookie season, and did so with much younger players around him than Manning had as a rookie. By the end of his rookie season, Bortles absolutely was showing some late-game moxie and leadership, but still needed a lot of developing. We are seeing signs of that development, though he still has a long way to go. I agree on one front: Bortles absolutely has shown that he has a good chance to be at the least a very good quarterback. Perhaps he can be better than that, but being very good is a very good start.
Arianna from Green Cove Springs, FL:
You've been mixing the teal Kool-Aid quite strong of late.
John: Just answerin' questions, Arianna. Just answerin' questions.
Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Fans would be a huge factor in Shad Khan's decision after this season. He would definitely take emotion/fan reaction into account, especially when there's just going to be 30,000 or 40,000 people – if not less – showing up at the 'Bank. When the product on the field stays the way it is – like garbage – I guarantee you that stadium will be less full on Sundays from here on out. That's not a threat, O; we're just sick and tired of this dumpster fire that they keep putting on the field.
John: I don't discount the fans' emotions and I don't discount fans being sick and tired. I also don't doubt that there may be people not show up on Sundays to watch a team that is still struggling. Such is the nature of professional sports. I do disagree with your conviction that all of that will be a factor in Khan's decision when determining the future of Gus Bradley and David Caldwell. That would surprise me to the point of being stunned.
Sean from Hoboken, NJ:
Do you believe this team goes into every week expecting to win?
Cathy from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Do you have any insight on the status of Tyler Shatley's injury? We never hear about it, and I'm hoping he will be available soon to replace Zane Beadles.
John: You don't hear much about Shatley's injury because as far as I know, Shatley's not injured. That's not to say he doesn't have a bump or a bruise, but he hasn't been on the injury report, which means an injury shouldn't be preventing him from playing.
J-School from Dallas, TX:
Did Demetrius McCray kick the Bradleys' dog or something? Rub eye black around the rim of Gus' coffee mug? Wrap Gus' car in plastic? Why is he stuck in the dime even after House's benching?
John: Dwayne Gratz has played better.
Brian from New Hampshire:
Surprised by House being benched. Is it possible we could see him at free safety at any point – at least until Sample is back? House's best games in Green Bay were at free safety. I don't think it should be a permanent move as he was playing well for the most part at corner.
John: I, too, would be surprised if House not starting is permanent. The Jaguars think he has talent enough to be a really good player for a long time. And they were encouraged by a lot of the things he did while he was shadowing DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Evans in recent weeks. He also had a couple of very fundamental errors in the fourth quarter against Houston, and the Jaguars hope he responds by not making those errors and being more consistent. I doubt you'll see him at free safety except in an emergency, though. I expect his demotion to be temporary and for the Jaguars to need House at corner in a reserve role in the meantime.
Bill from Hammock, FL:
There has been a lot of discussion on different areas breaking down in the first six games. The one most critical, I believe, is the lack of a pass rush. If the opposing quarterback was bothered more the secondary would improve, the turnovers would be more abundant and the all-important momentum would improve. I realize our personnel are pretty much set for this year. You have said it and why wouldn't we blitz more and create more pressure? If opposing quarterbacks can set back untouched, we have no chance.
John: I think you'll see that change this week. Indications are it will. We'll see.
Cliff from Orange Park, FL:
John, you stated Khan had no ties to Jacksonville when he started his significant investment here. But didn't he actually get a large part of his start in the auto business installing bumpers on imports here?
John: Yes, but when I sad "ties" I meant he didn't live here and had no major financial/business interest here at the time.
Kamal from San Francisco, CA:
I think I understand Gus Bradley's and Bob Babich's defensive scheme: Stop the run on first and second down with the big end and OTTO and rush the passer on third downs. Given our struggles this year in generating pressure, does it still make sense to only have one true pass-rushing defensive end on the field for 80 percent of plays, as opposed to having two defensive ends like most teams? Less than 20 percent of plays are third downs, and it seems like having two true defensive ends would double the opportunities for sacks and pressure, especially on early downs.
John: The issue you address is a real one, and it speaks to the dependence of the Bradley defense on the Leo pass rusher. The defensive philosophy is very much stop-the-run-first, and that makes it the responsibility of the Leo rusher to create enough pressure on early downs. The Jaguars created the Otto position in part to address the issue you discuss. That player is supposed to be a good run defender with some pass-rushing skills. Dan Skuta fits that role pretty well. In your scenario, you theoretically would put Andre Branch or Ryan Davis or Chris Clemons at the other end opposite the Leo … that's fine in theory, but it also weakens you pretty substantially against the run.
Richard from Taiwan:
Because the Jags decided to travel to London later in the week, does this mean they have less time to interact with London fans compared to previous years when they left for London earlier in the week?
Jared from Banning, CA:
Eight and 30 looks pretty bad no matter how you swing it. I understand that we know this was supposed to be a rough rebuild, but 22 of the 30 losses have been by 10 or more and quite a few are blowout losses, including this season. You would think by year 2.5 we may not be a seven-win team but at least compete at a higher level.
John: I understand the ease of citing 8-30 as an indictment of Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, General Manager David Caldwell and the current regime – and because the idea is to win games in the NFL, all games count. At the same time, to cite 4-12 in 2013 and even part of 3-13 as evidence that Bradley in particular isn't doing a good job is to use more than a touch of revisionist history. When the Jaguars started this build, they absolutely knew it was going to take two years to get to where they were consistently competitive – and that they would start being more competitive by Year 3. So far, being competitive in Year 3 hasn't yielded wins, but it has yielded five games in which the Jaguars had a chance in the fourth quarter. That's not good enough, and the last three games have been particularly frustrating.
Adam from Section:
The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of calling any game – played anywhere in the world – a "home game." But why stop with London? Surely, we can call our games in Indy, Houston, and Nashville "home" games too? Heck, next year we could be the first team in NFL history to play 16 "home" games in a season.
John: You could, but you would be incorrect.