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Reporting for Duty

Post-game O-Zone. The inbox wasn't as angry as might be anticipated.

Must be the holiday season.

Let's get to it . . . Marion from Jacksonville:
You can say "Next Man Up" all you want to, but you cannot compete in the NFL like this, with so many replacement players. While you cannot blame anyone for injuries, you also cannot blame the rookie quarterback for struggling to connect with a brand-new receiver just signed off the street. Don't know why I am bothering to email you, knowing that you are receiving thousands of emails from disappointed--even embarrassed – fans. I warned my office-mates that if we got embarrassed on national TV that I might be late on arrival in the office on Friday. Now I am thinking about taking a "Sick Day," what do you think? 'Cause I really am sick at heart.
John: Go in. Be productive. Prop up the economy. Face the day. The Jaguars got beat, and injured or not, the Falcons would have been a tough task. But you're right: on that night, injuries played a factor. A huge factor. That's not where you want to be ever during the season. But that's where we are.
Chris from Athens, GA:
The game was miserable, on all sides... But I like that the team, including the offense didn't give up in the end and kept plugging away. Sure it was against second team, but they still continued to try and move the ball. I think that says a lot about the perseverance of this team. I thought that it was important for Gabbert and the offense to score in the game. It got away from them quickly, but it was good to see them come together in the end and score. Or maybe I'm just trying to be positive? Do you think there was anything positive to take away from this game? Or am I alone?
John: You're being positive, but you – like many this morning – you are being realistic. Anyone can see what has gone on late in the season, that a team that was known for fighting and scrapping this season has reached a point where it's overmatched against contending teams. That hurts, but it hasn't made them quit.
Joseph from Oviedo, FL:
A hobbling MJD makes me queasy in consideration of next season. Shouldn't we preserve our best player?
John: For what? He injured an ankle. He has two more games left. He wants to play. He missed two games at the end of last season when he was simply incapable of playing, but the injuries he has now don't threaten anything long-term. He loves to play. It's what makes him him. Let him do it.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Hey, wait, I haven't played yet. It is hard to win when you are having to use mostly second- and third-string players to keep your 11 men on the field. I sure hope that Gene and the new owner can fix this and not patch the problem this off season. I think it will take at least three more years to get to a playoff level.
John: Goodness no. The Jaguars need help in a few areas, and they need to get healthy. This is not a disastrous situation long-term, just a very difficult one to accept short-term.
Anthony from Tucson, AZ:
Blain can do better it is possible, is no longer the thought he had a lot of time to prove himself at least to show some potential. Times up we need to show him its not for sure next season by drafting a qb. Your thpughts?
John: I think I'm really confused.
Phil from Apopka, FL:
Are teams told about an opponent's injury/status during a game if the injury occurs in-game?
John: Yes. It is announced in the press box.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Shad Khan or Shahid Khan, I'm confused now, surely you wouldn't have misspelled your new boss's name. Better shape up or soon he will be misspelling your name on your paycheck as Tyler from Jacksonville.
John: His name is Shahid Khan and people refer to him as Shad. On the website, we will refer to him as Shahid, but on Twitter and in casual environments, it will be Shad.
Hunter from Duval, FL:
We're not friends anymore.
John: Then I'm returning your Christmas present.
Sonny from Ponte Vedra, FL:
What's going on with Deji Karim? He has been inactive the past few games but is not injured.
John: DuJuan Harris has been the backup running back and the kick returner and Karim has been inactive. That's what's up as clear as I can make it.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
After stinking up the joint on prime-time games, do you see the Jags getting any national spotlight games next season?
John: They almost certainly won't get three. It won't be because of the showing in those games, but the Jaguars can finish no better than 6-10 and that won't draw a lot of national attention.
Chuck from DeLand, FL :
Surely you agree that this time the O-Line did not pass block well.
John: No, it did not. That has happened before. Not as often as many believe, but of course it has happened.
Danny from Lexington, KY:
Just saying...I have a feeling about Gabbert, and it's a good one. It won't go away even after a game like Thursday. The potential is glaring. He just has to get there.
John: I don't disagree. I'm not going to spend a great deal of time on Gabbert this morning. Not because I don't want to talk about him, but because I just didn't see him as a major problem Thursday – and I don't think the story of his season changed much. He has to improve. There needs to be a better offensive play around him. The receivers need to improve. None of that is going to change before the off-season, and during that off-season Gabbert needs to get better. But he's young and has shown positive things regardless of what some fans want to believe. Gabbert wasn't great on Thursday. But he didn't get a chance to be. Will he be great in the future? We'll only know once what's going on around him gets really, really fixed.
Ben from Los Angeles, CA:
In spite of the end score, I've been impressed with how the defense has responded with all of the players on IR. Can't wait to see how everyone does after a whole offseason under a new coach/owner/mustache. Next season premiers with The Wrath of Khan!
John: We got a surprising number of emails along these lines. That's good. The reality is the new era is beginning, and there are two games left in what has become a difficult season. A restart is needed. One will happen soon. Then, things will move forward.
Trip from Jacksonville:
To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, Mr. Khan had me at "reporting for duty."
John: That was good stuff. Khan wants to embrace Jacksonville and he wants Jacksonville fans to embrace him and get excited about the team moving forward. Judging from the beginnings of things, that shouldn't be a problem.
Joey from Hays, KS:
Have you ever watched the microwave popping your popcorn? That's what I feel like watching Gabbert. I know it only takes two and a half minutes to pop the corn. But it feels like forever. Gabby needs to hurry up and pop.
John: Not a bad analogy. He's 22, and as I've said and will continue to say, time will tell. Only time. We don't know yet if he's going to be great. We don't know yet if he's going to be awful. We just don't know.
Brett from Ocoee, FL:
Thursday I heard and read that Gabbert made a lot of bad decisions and is interception prone. The interception last night was one of about four dropped passes. He didn't struggle when he threw the ball. He struggled when the pass rush got to him. The way I see it, that's not a big problem. Why not? Because pass rush isn't only effective on struggling rookies, it's effective on all NFL quarterbacks. That's why they do it. Are the media dying for a failure story or are they just too lazy for integrity?
John: I agree. I've been criticized for being too soft for Gabbert, and believe it or not, there are those who believe I've been too rough (I kid not). There have been times when he merited criticism this season and times when he didn't. I just didn't watch that game Thursday night, and see a game in which the storyline rose and fell on the quarterback.
Daniel from Atlanta, GA:
I just came home from the game in Atlanta. I was taking my fiancé to her first of hopefully many Jags games. That was a rough game, but you could see it coming. Seeing it in person and in real time, it's easy to see how hard it is to play quarterback in that situation. I don't know how many players I saw tonight are going to be on the roster next year. But on the bright side, my future wife had fun.
John: I'm glad she had fun. I really didn't.
Jens from Gainesville, FL:
Thank you. Keep up the good work.
John: Thanks, Mom.

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