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Searching for answers

The Jaguars are 1-7. Anger is really the only appropriate emotion. My inbox is a very appropriate place this morning.

Let's get to it . . . Bill from Westfield, MA:
Good luck, John. Good luck.
John: Thanks, Bill. I think I'm going to need it.
Brad from Jacksonville:
Was Gabbert and the rest of the offense's production near the end of the game a good sign, or just a product of the Lions' protect defense? Or a little of both?
John: It was probably both. The offense did move pretty consistently through the second half, and if you had looked at that time in a vacuum you would have thought the offense looked pretty good. Still, the offense was so unproductive for the first half that it's difficult to look at the second half and try to draw the conclusion that there was progress. On the other hand, there were many times last year that the Jaguars struggled in the first half and never got anything going in the second half. I suppose you can find a little hope in that, but I'm not going to try too hard to convince anyone that there were a whole lot of positives Sunday.
Michael from Jacksonville:
This is simply unwatchable. Why does it take a three-score deficit before the playbook opens up? The entire first half of every game is run, run, pass, punt. THROW THE BALL! I think I can speak for most Jags fans now and say I honestly don't care about wins anymore this season. I just want to see Gabbert actually have a chance to throw when it's not third-and-a mile. We've been watching the same nightmare for a decade. It's getting to the point where I feel bad for Blaine; he's not even getting a chance to make a difference.
John: I wouldn't say the first half was all playcalling, just as I wouldn't say it was all Gabbert, or all the receivers, or all anything. It was just a bad performance all around – as evidenced by the offense running just 12 plays. It seemed in the first half that everyone involved with the Jaguars' offense was really concerned about the Lions' interior rush. The ball never went downfield, and it seemed there was a lot of blame to go around, quarterback included.
Jake from Tallahassee, FL:
STOP TALKING ABOUT THE PUNTER! NO ONE CARES! He's not going to help us win games! The offense scores points. Not punters! It's sad that you keep bringing him up as a bright spot on this very talent-deprived team!
John: I talked about Anger in the Play of the Game. Did you have anything better?
Sonny from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
So we trade Mike Thomas away for a draft pick but cut Brandon Marshall who was a draft pick this year. Please make sense out of this for us John. Thanks.
John: Mike Thomas wasn't producing this season, so the Jaguars tried to get a draft choice for him, which they did. Brandon Marshall wasn't playing as well as the other linebackers on the roster, so when they needed to make moves for other positions, they felt they could leave him free with the idea of possibly re-signing him.
Matt from Bloomington, IN:
Elite-level corners should not give up over 100 yards to any WR in the first half. I hope we don't pay him like one.
John: Derek Cox didn't play great Sunday. Not even close. But let's remember this is a guy who was limited all week with a bad back. I'm not ready to break the bank, but I'm also not ready to write him off.
Rick from Tampa, FL:
Please don't say Gabbert improved as during the first half and third quarter he was terrible and dink and dunk when receivers was open. What say your typical spin?
John: I say Gabbert struggled in the first half and third quarter.
Jonathan from Miami, FL:
I bet BAMA could beat us if we traded Mike Thomas to them five days before we played them.... How do you give your opponents such a strategic advantage??
John: I'm ready to accept a lot of theories about what happened Sunday. I don't know that Mike Thomas' knowledge of the Jaguars' offense is one of them.
Butch from Jacksonville:
I left the game prior to half time, out of frustration, and was wondering how can a head coach go a half season without throwing the challenge flag for questionable calls by the refs? There seems to be calls for the GM's head but the GM is not on the field and cannot throw the flag. If the head coach is not fighting for the team how can one expect the team to fight?
John: I assume you're referring to the first-half play on which Lions tight end Tony Scheffler caught a pass on the sidelines as he fell out of bounds. I admit that in the emotion of the moment I thought Mularkey should have challenged, but as the next play started, I saw a replay in the booth that indicated he made the catch. Coaches shouldn't throw the red flag on emotion. They should throw it when they get information from their assistants that a play likely will be overturned if challenged. I don't think that was the case on that play.
Donnie from Jacksonville:
They have clearly played their worst football at home. Not asking for an explanation. Just pointing out how hard it is for the home crowd to watch it.
John: I'm glad you're not asking for an explanation, because I don't know that there is one. You're right that this team has played its worst football at home, and remarkably, the statistics support your argument. The Jaguars this season have lost in overtime twice on the road, won on the road and lost by nine points on the road. All of those games were, by any definition, competitive. They have lost by at least 15 points in every home game. Baffling.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
In response to "development takes time," how long do you think it should take for a wide receiver to realize he needs to get both feet in bounds in the NFL? We got to see what a Top 5 receiver looks like Sunday ... that Calvin Johnson guy is pretty good.
John: Yes, Calvin Johnson is good. He's also in his sixth NFL season. None of which remotely excuses Blackmon for not getting his feet in bounds the last two weeks. I wrote off last week's incident of Blackmon not getting his second foot down as him going fast on a bang-bang play. Fool me once, as they say. Blackmon needs to get his feet down. He needs to catch the ball when thrown to him. He needs to make plays given a chance. He will get better in time, and he's going to struggle as a rookie – all receivers do – but he also needs to do the things we're talking about.
Sam from Jacksonville:
Well, we did a pretty good job on No. 71. He was not open all game.
John: If we couldn't laugh we'd cry, and I admit I laughed at that one.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Is it the coaches? Is it the GM? Is it the receivers? Is it Gabbert? Is it the O-line? Is it the defense? Is it overall talent? Is it bad decisions? Is it injuries? Is it the football Gods? WHAT IS IT, JOHN? It seems like whenever one facet of our game is strong, the rest of the organization finds a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
John: A lot of good questions. I wish I knew. When you're 1-7, it isn't any one thing and when you're competitive on the road and not competitive at home, it's hard to figure out just what is going on. I know the Jaguars didn't expect Sunday's result. I didn't, either. There's a lot going wrong, and although things are never as bad as they seem, when you're 1-7, that's hard to swallow.
Ryan from Clyde:
Why has it looked like we have just been manhandled all year? It looks like we're being pushed around and not winning one on one at all positions.
John: It looks like the Jaguars have been manhandled all year because at times they have been, particularly at home. And yes, in a lot of situations the Jaguars are not winning one on one. They are winning in other situations one on one, but when you're 1-7, it looks like you're losing more than you're winning.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Does Blaine Gabbert have enough upside to be a Top 10 quarterback in the league?
John: Yes.
Holger from London, United Kingdom:
Please don't tell me or anybody else who is reading your column that anything that happened with this offense in gargabe has been 'good' or a something to build on or anything else along those lines. The organization needs to question the way they evaluate talent, especially from a college level.
John: I assume you meant "garbage time," but don't worry: this morning is not a time for talking about the good or something to build on or anything else along those lines. As with any game, not everything was horrendous, but I'm not so dim as to spend time this morning pointing that out.
Miguel from Section 145 and Jacksonville:
What the . . .
John: Honestly, I have no idea.

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