O-Zoning from three time zones away.
Let's get to it . . .
Richard from London, Ontario, Canada:
I have told friends and anyone who will listen this is the week Justin Blackmon breaks out. I have even gone so far as to start him in my fantasy league this week. Considering coming off the bye week and talk of trying to get him the ball more, do you feel this might be the week this happens against the Raiders with Robinson out?
John: I always look at these sorts of questions a little differently, and while that frustrates readers a lot of the time, my view is based on experience of what usually happens in the NFL. What I'm getting at is for a rookie in the NFL, progress is often not about "breakout" games but about gradual improvement over the course of the season. The Jaguars have been trying to get Blackmon the ball and they will continue to do so. Over time, I expect that to mean him being more productive. You saw some of this against the Bears, when he had flashes of productivity. I'm not sure you're going to see those flashes suddenly translate into eight catches for 150 yards, but in time, I think you'll see more first downs and productive gains. I think that's true whatever Robinson's status.
Lee from Duval, FL:
How many more seasons would you invest in Blaine Gabbert, based on what you've seen so far?
John: I keep getting variations on this question, and while it's understandable, it seems I'm not making my answer clear enough. I don't believe the question is answerable at this point, because the season isn't over yet. In fact, it's not even a third over. I believe if Gabbert improves over the course of the final 11 games, then he has done enough to merit moving forward with him. If he doesn't show improvement, then it's harder to argue that he's going to be the guy. So far, there are a lot of unanswered questions. I would expect a lot of those questions to start being answered the rest of the season.
Matt from Tempe, AZ:
Has anyone ever questioned why Gabbert rarely throws the ball away? Watching the Seahawks versus the 49ers, I saw several times Wilson or Smith was in trouble and just threw the ball away. Having a 3rd-and-10 is better than getting sacked and staring at 3rd-and-18. Yet another sign for this "franchise" quarterback.
John: Not sure I agree with this one. Gabbert threw the ball away a lot as a rookie and partly as a result of that he usually was roundly criticized for being "scared" in the pocket. This season, he perhaps has been too quick to move to check downs, but I haven't gotten the sense that he's taking too many sacks. There have been times he has been sacked, of course, but a lot of times the protection has broken down strikingly quickly.
Rob from Moorpark, CA:
Best corner to ever play the game? Cover corner – Deion Sanders; overall,
John: Rod Woodson or Mel Blount.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
The Seahawks, the Texans, the Vikings, the Broncos, the 49ers and the Chargers – all pretty good football teams in the hunt. Statistically, they run the football more than they throw. The Bears are exactly at 50 percent running and 50 percent passing. The running game in the NFL is alive and well. So this is a passing league, huh?
Yash from Jacksonville:
What it the situation with Terrance Knighton? Is he not in the rotation of all of our rushmen?
John: Knighton indeed is in the defensive tackle rotation, and has been since the beginning of the season. He played very well in the regular-season opener, has not played as well since, and needs to play better. That's true of much of the defensive line.
Gary from Broken Arrow, OK:
I've heard that Gabbert needs to trust his line more. My question is, which line should he trust? The one that gives him time or the other one?
John: Your question has merit, because the Jaguars' offensive line through the first four games struggled and was a reason for the offense struggling. Part of the reason for that was Cameron Bradfield and Eben Britton were out Weeks 2 and 3 with ankle injuries. They returned in Week 4, and while Britton struggled that week, the line did a better job pass protecting the following week against Chicago. Offensive lines usually benefit from continuity, and the Jaguars' hope is that the group improves accordingly. That's the line Gabbert needs to trust a little more.
Brett from Ocoee, FL:
With Selvie and Chick getting healthier as well as Lane being back in, there is talk about rotating guys in and out to keep them fresh. There was talk of that in the first five games as well, but the backups played very few snaps. Does it sound like they are actually going to rotate them this time? Is it something that is less likely to happen if we get behind and the coaches want our best players on the field?
John: Ideally, the Jaguars always would rotate defensive linemen, both ends and tackles. Most teams prefer that approach, because it's very tough to rush the passer late in the game if your linemen have had too many repetitions through the course of the game. The Jaguars played Jeremy Mincey and Andre Branch most plays for the first three or four games and played Aaron Morgan sparingly. With Austen Lane available, they rotated more against Chicago. I'd expect George Selvie to play Sunday and with that, I'd expect the team to rotate the ends even more.
Sampson from Bronx, NY:
Enough of you, Johnny-O. I want to hear intern Garrett "Go Get 'Em" Petty's take on all this. Put him at the helm, let him get his sea legs.
John: Nope. Not interested. See, Wally Pipp.
Hill from Northridge, CA:
This might be a bit late, and I know there's a new sheriff in town these days, but when the Jaguars went to their new jerseys it was done so because the perception was the team had too much going on with the cat head and the clawing cat and all that and needed to simplify things and establish one true identity for the team. This was also done at the time new technology came out for jerseys, but since that time the Jaguars were to always wear teal at home. This year, I have noticed us wearing white at home as well as the black against the Bears. I didn't even know we had black jerseys - when the new jerseys came out a couple years ago we didn't even have black, because again, we were trying to establish a more clear identity. So, why are we wearing white and black at home instead of teal?
John: Because Shad Khan wanted black jerseys. New owner, new approach. His team, his call. Black is the primary color going forward.
John from Jacksonville:
Newton, RGIII, Weeden, Tannehill, Ponder, Luck. You can't even put Gabbert in that category – Henne, either. Can the Jaguars suck it up, put away the egos and get Garrard back in here? He might be able to salvage the season.
John: Why don't we just call Beuerlein, too?
Jordan from Jacksonville:
My observation of what separates the winning teams from the losing teams in the NFL is teammates clicking on the field. We seem to field 11 "individuals" concerned only with how they are doing. There seems to be no team chemistry on the offensive and defensive lines, in particular. Don't they want to play for each other and not just themselves?
John: When teams aren't playing well, a lot looks wrong. Football is a team sport, so when things look wrong it looks like they're not playing together. This isn't a matter of chemistry. It's a matter of not yet playing well.
Drew from Jacksonville:
In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys did the unthinkable: they traded the NFL's most dominant running back, Herschel Walker. The blockbuster deal gave them a handful of veterans and allowed them to eventually acquire Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson. You see where I am going with this. While I know MJD's mileage changes the dynamic and I don't trust our front office, if they made you GM tomorrow, would you think about it?
John: Well, of course I'd think about it. If someone offered a slew of draft picks and veteran players, I imagine the Jaguars would consider it, too. That trade was considered one of the worst and most-one-sided, franchise-damaging moves in NFL history. I'm not sure there are a whole lot of teams on hold with the Jaguars trying to make a similar offer.
Brian from Jacksonville and Section 230:
Has anyone ever told you you bare a striking resemblance to Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory?
John: I make it a rule never to bare anything in public. Too much risk of rioting.