I'm posting the O-Zone early today. I have to prepare for a noon news conference that will address a lot of the speculation and reports out there about head coach Jack Del Rio. We'll address a lot of the speculation going forward, but for this morning, this is the O-Zone.
Obviously, it's going to be a pretty busy day around here.
Let's get to it . . . Matthew from London, England:
Gotta feel for Gabbert Sunday. He got beat up all day and on the one drive he got things going, Lewis let him down when he had the opportunity to get the touchdown. I think if that goes in, he may have had a better game as the Texans seemed to become more aggressive once they had the lead.
John: There is some credence to that argument. In that sense, the Texans game seemed to sum up the season for Gabbert and the entire team. Gabbert didn't play great by any stretch, and once again, we saw the obvious areas in which he needs to improve. At the same time, in the situations in which he did play well, the players around him made errors, which caused the whole day to look far worse for Gabbert. Instead of talking about a game in which Gabbert put together perhaps his best drive of the season and then tailed off, today we're just talking about what statistically and factually was indeed a difficult game. As I've said repeatedly, there's just too much going wrong everywhere offensively to get an accurate gauge on Gabbert's development. It feels like that won't happen until things get reset in the offseason.
Joe from St. Augustine:
Most of the focus from this loss will be on Blaine Gabbert and the offense – rightfully so. But, the special teams were lousy Sunday, too. With every week, it seems like the Jaguars find different ways to lose. Does the anemic offense magnify other aspects? Or is this a disturbing trend?
John: Yes, the offense magnifies other problems or more accurately, a productive offense helps minimize the effects when other things go wrong. The way the offense is playing, everything else must be perfect for the Jaguars to have a chance to win and that's a lot to ask. That said, the special teams didn't have their best game and that without question made it feel as if the Jaguars were playing uphill at times on Sunday. That has been the case too often this season.
Hogue from Richmond, VA:
In Games 1-5 (pre-Tebow) and stripping out return scores, Denver scored an average of 18 points and allowed an average of 27. In Games 6-11 on the same basis, Denver has scored an average of 17 points (one point worse) and allowed an average of 17 points (10 points better). The quarterback has not provided a spark (though I will give some credit for late-game heroics). Von Miller and the development of that defense has. I still can't see a passer that can't pass succeeding in the NFL long-term. His accuracy must improve, and I don't think that has happened YTD, or he will be a flash in the pan. Better to have a natural pocket passer in development.
John: I agree, although I can't with good conscience denigrate what Tebow has done. The NFL is about winning and in the short term, Tebow and the Broncos have done that. In the context of what they're doing, he is having success, although I'm with you: I don't believe it's the way to build a long-term championship contender.
Jason from Mims, FL:
I don't envy John Elway's predicament at the end of this season. Regardless of what anyone else thinks about Tim Tebow, the Broncos have to decide whether they will try to keep him in long term. Should they do it and he succeeds, no problems. Should they keep him, and teams figure him out, like they did Vince Young – then this has the potential to set the Broncos back as a team many, many years. I am so glad the Jaguars didn't take him.
John: This will be the last Tebow question for the day, but you're right. That is indeed the predicament. Maybe it will work out for the Broncos better than it did the Titans, but there is potential there for a real problem.
Eder from Mexico City, Mexico:
Jonh, the math possibilities are gone, what is next?
John: Spelling, apparently.
Chris from Athens, GA:
So, Gabbert was benched, but remains the starter. So now when he is playing against the Chargers, in the back of his head he must be concerned that any mistake will lead to his benching again. I don't see how this helps his confidence. Is Gabbert's future still bright? I hate seeing franchises give up so easily on players without giving them a fair shake. He was supposed to be a project, now thrown in sooner than expected people are ready to pull the plug. Hope the Jags understand what they got into when drafting him. What are your thoughts?
John: The danger of pulling him was exactly what you said – that the idea will be in the back of his mind moving forward. I think the chances of that hurting him long-term are minimal. He's a tough guy and seems confident. As far as the Jaguars knowing what they got into, they did. As for a lot of the fans . . .
Jason from Jacksonville:
Where is Mike Thomas? For all of the talk of Jason Hill, Jarett Dillard, Marcedes Lewis, there is seldom mention of his disappearance. It appeared in the Browns game that he stopped running on several routes and he and Gabbert had some heated conversation. He has 10 catches more than I have over the last five games. Why has he disappeared? He was the ONE receiver that was somewhat accomplished heading into this season and they are getting nothing out of him.
John: The whole passing offense is a mess. Thomas is not without blame, nor does he deserve more than anyone else. Again, we have reached the point where it is difficult to accurately assess the degree of blame to specific areas because so much is going so wrong in so many areas. Anyone involved with the passing game has had a difficult year.
John from Neptune Beach, FL:
I was at the game with seats on the upper west side, the coaches tape view. I watched the receivers, not Gabbert on every pass play. He simply had nowhere to throw. I noticed that the Jaguars receivers run very few routes between the numbers. Because the routes were run almost exclusively between the numbers and the sidelines, the Texans could essentially double-cover two receivers on a side with just three players. It would seem that at some point the opponent has to be forced to cover the entire field to open up some space to get free.
John: Sounds like you had good seats.
Norm from Dothan, AL:
I have much sympathy for MJD. All season he has had defenses stack the box with seven-to-nine players, and yet he still produces. If he had even an average offense to work with, he would blow the stats off the chart. How can he get the respect he so deserves while playing with the bottom-feeder NFL offense? MJD is the ultimate team player – humble, respectful and dedicated – I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Other offensive players should sit down with him and allow him to explain what professionalism is all about! Next time you see him, tell him I said thanks for being the person he is.
John: I will, although I understand he's out of the building today solving world hunger.
James from Lansdowne, PA:
Do you honestly see improvement in Gabbert's game? I'm looking for positive attributes, but I'm struggling to find any...
John: I wrote when Gabbert first took over as starter that there would be ups and downs, perhaps more downs than ups during the first season. I wrote this often enough that I received emails asking me to stop for a variety of reasons. The reason I wrote it was because this is how a young quarterback – particularly one thrust into the starting role ahead of schedule – develops. Yes, I saw improvement in the two games before Sunday. And yes, Sunday was a step back in a lot of ways. If the rest of the season is a series of steps back, while I would be concerned, it still wouldn't be time to write him off, because this season is not the end game for Gabbert. After an off-season and a reset if there is not progress next season in the overall passing offense, then absolutely, start the process of writing him off. But until then, it's just way too early.
Jay from Camp Lejeune, NC:
Well O-Dawg, the season hasn't gone as I'd like, but I still take comfort that this is a better football team than last year. We have a Top 5 defense this year compared to Bottom 5 last year, we have 3/5 of a young, outstanding line assembled (make it 4/5 if Britton can make it back) and Blaine is progressing as can be expected from a 22 y/o kid with only two years of college starting experience, no off season, and a horrendous receiving corps. My question is, is the light at the end of the tunnel hope or just a train bearing down on me?
John: It's a light, even though many fans are seeing the train today.