Let's get to it . . .
Stan from Bakersfield, CA:
It seems to me the way the Jaguars start makes a big difference. In the three games they've started well, they've won two. In the games where the opposition scores early (e.g. first drive) the Jags are hard-pressed to ever really catch up. The Texans have a great offense; a first drive touchdown on "Battle Red Day" would not lend well for the game.
John: There's no question that slow starts have been a problem for the Jaguars, particularly defensively. The biggest reason is obvious: when an offense is struggling as that of the Jaguars is, a one-touchdown deficit is large and anything more than that seems insurmountable. So far, this is just not a team that has shown it can come back from an early deficit. That may change, but it has been an overriding issue thus far.
Brock from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Do you think the Jags can catch fire and string some wins together in the middle of the season as they have in the past few years? One great win is not going to sway my perspective of the season thus far, but a few more in a row may put us in position to do something special. Wadda ya think John?
John: That's absolutely the point in the season we have reached. There is optimism and joy this week among Jaguars followers and correctly so. If the Jaguars win this weekend, then they can go into the bye with a legitimate chance to win the AFC South with a strong start to the second half of the season. If not, catching the Texans will be very, very tough. But as I have said many times, as thrilling and uplifting as the victory over Baltimore may have been, many teams in the NFL can win one game. In order to contend for the postseason, you have to pile a few together. At least a few more than one.
John from Tallahassee, FL:
Greg Jones wears pads and a helmet because it is mandated by the league rules. Everyone else in the NFL wears pads and a helmet because of Greg Jones.
John: You have been heard.
Josiah from Fargo, ND:
I remember once upon a time where in the preseason we were talking that the offense would have to cover the defensive woes. And I also remember people were worrying about Mel Tucker simplifying the defense because then well you know, they couldn't have all those crazy blitzes and coverage patterns. Talk about doing a 180.
John: I also remember someone saying they thought defensive simplification was a good thing.
Walter from Yulee, FL:
I support Scobee waiting until after the season when he will have more leverage in negotiating his contract to drive up his price. But do you think the Jaguars appreciate him enough to pay him what he will surely attract in free agency? He most certainly deserves whatever he has coming to him; I just hope that the Jags learned from their mistake with Adam Podlesh. Although, Nick Harris is a monumental upgrade from Matt Turk, and I am glad we have him now. Do you think the personnel department looks at that situation anything like I, and probably most fans, do? Or is this just another situation where the fans just don't understand?
John: First off, I don't see Scobee waiting for the purpose of gaining leverage. If anything, he takes a risk waiting because there's no way to know how he will finish the season. The Jaguars appreciate Scobee very much and they take special teams very seriously. The decision to let Podlesh go wasn't nearly as damaging as the decision to sign Turk. The difference between great and good punters isn't always marked, but the difference between average and disastrous obviously is. Turk was a bad fit and a bit of an aberration, so you don't want to make a decision on Scobee based on that issue. That said, I don't get the idea there will be a whole lot of resistance on either side when it comes to Scobee. Contracts don't always get done during the season. That doesn't mean disaster.
Keenan from Jacksonville:
I'm sure there is a logical reason as to why. But why isn't Bradfield a part of the starting offensive line unit after the performance he had against the Steelers?
John: Eugene Monroe is healthy, and to respond to the chorus of "Yeah, buts," we'll receive off that answer, I'll say this again: the perception that Monroe should be replaced is incorrect. He's the best left tackle on the roster and the Jaguars are better with him on the field than without. Bradfield's performance in Pittsburgh was solid and gives the Jaguars a good situation of having reliable depth, but there's no reason to make a switch at left tackle. As for right tackle, Guy Whimper has played well most of the season, and Bradfield is significantly more comfortable at left tackle halfway through his rookie season than right.
John from Jacksonville:
I don't see any discussion on the number of fumbles by MJD (a couple of them key). These fumbles seem to get glossed over by everything else like receiver drops. Any insight on this?
John: What would you like to discuss? He fumbled three times, and had he not fumbled, the Jaguars likely are comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter. Sometimes running backs fumble. The football is not welded to their hands. Jones-Drew had fumbled 16 times in five and a half seasons before that, so he's not someone who you associate with having a fumbling problem. There's no thought in the organization that it's a long-term problem. Jones-Drew knows it can't happen and he beat himself up over it afterward. Without Jones-Drew's 105 yards against a Ravens defense that rarely lets an opponent establish the run, the Jaguars almost certainly don't win. I don't know that anyone glossed over it, but there isn't much to analyze. If he continues to fumble, it's a disturbing trend. Otherwise, it's an aberration.
Dennis from Radford, VA:
One thing I think people might be missing when they accuse the Colts of "Sucking for Luck" is that they may not even be aiming for him. Right now it seems possible that the Colts could have the first overall pick of the draft, and all indications point towards Manning being back and healthy next year. I think it's almost as frightening to think of the players they could put around Manning with the number of picks they would get from trading out of the first spot. If Manning has another 4-5 years left in him, having all those extra first round picks could be very dangerous for our division and around the league in general. Thoughts?
John: Your theory is correct, but you have to remember the Colts' history. In 1983, they drafted a franchise quarterback No. 1 overall (John Elway) and after trading him, the franchise struggled for much of the next decade and a half. In 1998, they drafted Manning and were one of the best teams in the NFL for most of the next 13 years. Without question they would benefit from multiple selections from such a trade, but if they have the chance to select Andrew Luck they almost certainly will take him. What that does to the dynamics of the franchise for the short-team is a different conversation, but I don't think they would pass on Luck. I'm very close to certain they would not.
Tim from Jacksonville:
How is this game any easier at all than Monday's game? I see it as a lot tougher. I went to bed three hours later than normal on Monday night and I can still feel it. All I did was sit in a seat and drive in traffic. The players also have to get on a plane, cross time zones and play against a team every bit as good as the Ravens in their house. I'm really down on our chances this week.
John: Gee, Tim, do you want to kick my dog, too? But you're right. This is a tougher test. You're traveling six days after a Monday night game and playing a team with a better offense and an improved defense. Don't get too down, and stay away from my dog, but it will be tough.
Joe from Tallahassee:
During a nerdy football debate with a friend, we came up with the three basic "great QB molds." 1) The Athlete: big, fast, great arm, etc. Not a brilliant field general but can use physical skills to get the job done like a Roethlisberger or Vick. 2) The System Man: a generally solid quarterback made great by playing for a long time in the same, well designed offensive system like a Brady or Brees. 3)The Field Reader: a quarterback of exceptional mental skill who does a great deal of study. He calls plays that take advantage of the defense's soft spots like Manning. Clearly, greatness requires competence in all areas but it seems like the greats really excel in one of these three areas. Do you agree with the above and if so, in which mold do you see Gabbert growing into?
John: To me, a quarterback who can read defenses, see the field, negotiate the pocket and deliver the ball has a chance to be great. If they can't see the field, they can be good, but not great. In your breakdown, I care very little about athleticism so long as he's athlete enough to avoid a rush. The system is nice, but Brady and Brees can read defenses very, very well. The Field Reader? Well, you how important that is. Gabbert can read the defenses, see the field and deliver the ball, so if he can get his pocket presence/footwork issues solved, he has a chance to be in that mold.
Chris from Tallahassee, FL:
In Gene we Trust? Should 2-5 teams really be praising their GM?
John: In this case, yes.
Stay away from my dog
Let's get to it . . .
Stan from Bakersfield, CA: