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Pressing the mute button

Let's get to it . . . Michael from Jacksonville:
I'm sure you're getting a lot of negative emails in your inbox this week (and rightfully so), so I'll give you one positive: Cecil Shorts. Is it just me or does he look like the long-lost playmaker the team has been searching for that was last spotted in 2005?
John: He has looked good. I'm not ready to say he's Jimmy Smith, because when Jimmy Smith was in his prime he was among the NFL's best receivers. But Shorts is making plays on a pretty regular basis and that's not something that happened last season. Shorts must keep progressing, but right now he has the look of a long-term contributor.
Samuel from Ecija, Spain:
Reading from all kinds of sources – journalists and comment monkeys alike – everyone is so focused on the pass. Our running game is killing us! We need to be able to get some dependable yardage when the score is tight, so that we're not forced to throw an unbalanced amount when/if the other team starts scoring. Please John, tell me I'm not crazy.
John: You're not crazy, and in fact, you're pretty darned sane. You don't have to run for 150 yards a game in the NFL, but you do need to have the threat of the run and you need to be able to run effectively enough to be in good down-and-distance. Being in third-and-manageable can be the difference between ineffective offense and being consistent. The Jaguars haven't been able to run consistently for the last five games, and that has hurt their chances to get the season going in the right direction.
Ken from Jacksonville:
I hate to say it, but 1-15 is looking like a very real possibility.
John: It is if they play like they have the last two games.
Josh from Dayton, OH:
I saw so many good things Thursday, yet so many devastating mistakes. I'm not sure what the problem is. I want to think we're just a year away from this talent all coming together and playing with fewer mistakes. That would be the difference. But after so many years of hoping for that, I'm just not convinced it'll actually happen.
John: I read and reread this email and thought about it a while, and I realized that the reason it was intriguing is it encompasses what is difficult about judging talent and a team. You're exactly right in that there were good things at times about Thursday's game, and weirdly, there have been some good things about the season. When you see those things, you get a good feeling about the direction of the franchise. Unfortunately, you look at the big picture and see a team that's not competitive at home and that it's 1-8 and those good feelings fade quickly. You pile on the years of frustration, and that's when it becomes easy to doubt. That's when you have to decide whether to stay the course or change and that's why owners have to make what are often very difficult decisions.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
O-Man, did the coach seem testy in his postgame to you??
John: Mike Mularkey seemed irritated. He seemed unhappy. He seemed annoyed. He's 1-8. He's supposed to be what . . . giggles and grins?
Chris from Columbus, GA:
The Jags have played good teams on the road as well and have been far more competitive in those games. Fans are angry because the Jags keep losing, but we are equally angry because they are competitive on the road and not at home. Fans are angry and they should be.
John: What's going on at home is not only mysterious it's about as bad as it could possibly be. That doesn't make you less angry, I'm sure, but it's how it is.
Gabriel from Sioux Falls, SD:
O-Man, you have a bad habit of referencing the preseason and comparing it to regular season football. Starting caliber players don't play a significant amount of time and if they do they most certainly do not operate within regular game plays or schemes. Stop it! Rashad is not an NFL caliber RB. Stats prove it. Play proves it. Put it to rest please.
John: I appreciate your input on my habits. You and my wife should get together and compare notes.
Brent from Ormond Beach, FL:
An owner asking for patience plus a horrible football team plus empty seats in the stadium plus local blackouts equals the Los Angeles Jaguars in a few years. If that's what the owner really wants then it's a beautiful plan and it's working. I know it's working because I don't plan on renewing my four season tickets next year unless something is done to make me think this will get better. Staying the course with this bunch (coaches, players and GM) is not the answer.
John: I'm trying to recall when Shad Khan asked the fans to be patient, and I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about Los Angeles except to say one has nothing to do with the other. There's a big picture here. Khan is in his first season as the owner. He didn't buy the Jaguars to move them or to lose. He didn't even really buy them to make money. Khan has a very successful auto parts business that makes an awful lot of money. The Jaguars aren't paying his mortgage and they're not gassing up the yacht. What Khan wants to do is win, but he's also an engineer at heart and his experience is that to be successful, you must put the right process in place and you must make measured decisions based on the long-term, not the short-term. Khan isn't a stupid man. If something's not successful he will work to find something that is, but to think that Khan has some plan to lose and then move is an irrational, emotional theory that simply isn't based in reality.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Has anyone brought up the number of training camp practices that were cancelled due to the unusual rainy weather we had in August?
John: One person has.
Brian from Orange Park and Section 141:
Can a coach still challenge a scoring play now that there is an "automatic booth review"? I thought that coaches aren't able to challenge the scoring plays that get the booth review anymore but I've seen a lot of fan comments wondering why Mularkey lost his cool instead of challenging the Luck touchdown at the goal line.
John: Mularkey lost his cool and drew the penalty because the play had been reviewed – and because in his opinion, the play had been ruled incorrectly. At that point, nothing was going to change it. And no, coaches cannot challenge scoring plays, but all scoring plays are automatically reviewed by the replay official.
Miguel from Section 145 and Jacksonville:
This team is worse than last year's team?! I didn't see that coming. I do see the improvement in some areas but they can't seem to put it all together. The record doesn't lie.
John: No, it doesn't, and that's what's surprising the players and coaches right now. They didn't see it coming, either, and as you said, there is improvement in spots. There are things that happen that make you think progress is happening, but it hasn't yielded victories or even much in the way of points so it's hard to take much solace in it. The Jaguars have yet to, as you say, "put it all together," and it's dramatically understating the obvious to say that in that area, time is quickly expiring.
Peter from Maribor, Slovenia:
Being a fan of a really bad team isn't easy. It's not only that others are making remarks at your expense, even you have second thoughts. It could be so easy to say 'I give up on this team' and start cheering for good teams but a real fan doesn't do that. This organization has gone under my skin and I will not attempt to scratch it out. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. All in.
John: You are a true fan. It's appreciated.
Jim from Greenville, SC:
Mr. Khan's interview took all my hope for the forseeable future. His admission that we are well over the cap means we cannot add players in free agency and will been unable to resign our own players who perform. We are destined to worsen for several more years. Tell me where any hope exists, O-racle.
John: That's not what Khan's statement about the salary cap meant, and it wasn't an "admission." The Jaguars spent over the cap this past season in real money, but they will have room to roll over into next year's cap. Because the cap is now flat, you have to be smart in free agency. If you wanted to have cap room this off-season, you couldn't overspend this last offseason. I expect the Jaguars to be active in free agency next off-season; I don't expect them to be foolish, and that's a good thing.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
Watched the game with no sound. Here are my observations... The Colts weren't more emotional, they were better. Our receivers are not crisp. Even when they make completions, they're flailing. Rashad Jennings is not the Blaine - 50/50. Half good, half rushed and erratic.
John: More people should watch with the sound off.

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