Game day. Home opener.
Let's get to it . . .
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
I'm sorry, but the injured reserve rule really makes me angry. Why can we not cut some dead weight in Week 8 and bring back a perfectly healthy Will Rackley? What's so wrong with that? I think at least one player could have been cut to make room for Rackley. This injured reserve rule is garbage. If a player is healthy again, you should be able to use him.
John: I have to say I've been thinking more and more the same thing. With the money teams invest in players it seems a bit silly to not be able to allot, say, four or five spots and allow player to be brought back when healthy. I know there are roster management reasons and there always is worry that some teams will get around the spirit of the rule somehow, but it just seems silly to have to lose a player for the season for an injury that is only keeping him out a month or two.
Scott from London, England:
Looks like Eugene Monroe is getting the credit he deserves for his performance last week. Brian Baldinger from the NFL Network said he is the best tackle to come out of his draft class. Do you think with the added national recognition that Eugene will get the Pro Bowl he deserves this year?
John: It's a start. Mentions such as the one from Baldinger can help with Pro Bowl recognition because it raises a player's profile. That's particularly true at non-statistical positions such as any offensive lineman. It is very common for a deserving offensive lineman to be overlooked for a year or two early in a career and equally common for a once-Pro Bowl level offensive lineman to be voted to the game a year or two past his prime. It's a flaw in the system because it takes a while for recognition to catch up with performance. The good news is for multi-year players it often evens out.
Mark from Mechanicsville, MD:
I am very worried about how our offensive line will hold up against the Texans and I feel like I am not the only one. Do you think Mularkey will have Marcedes or Greg Jones help out Whimper the majority of the game like he did with Monroe and Allen?
John: Mostly likely, though just to clarify, the Jaguars didn't help Monroe with Allen all that much.
Ed from West Palm Beach, FL:
Last year and now this year we have been riddled with injuries. The Jags are not able to be competitive or field a better team than our opponents. Does Gene ever prepare for this? Shouldn't the practice squad have a better stock of players? If so, why are our second- and third-stringers consistently outperformed when they play? Examples: Rutland, Middleton, Whimper.
John: It would be great if every reserve on the Jaguars were better than the starters for the opponent. And it would be great if the Jaguars' practice squad was stocked with Pro Bowl players. Of course, that's difficult because other teams can sign practice squad players, and it stands to reason those teams would sign Pro Bowl players if available. Second- or third-stringers are often outperformed by other teams' starters. I could list the many reasons for this, but it seems sort of obvious that the main one is that starters should be better than reserves. I would argue that for the most part the Jaguars' reserves played pretty well this preseason. The team won three preseason games and rallied to win two of them. That's not the only measure of the second- and third-team, but it would seem to indicate that the Jaguars are at least somewhere close to a par with a lot of teams in terms of depth.
Mark from Waverly:
We had a full offseason of the needs vs. BAP talk, and what the philosophy of this franchise is. If they don't get it by now, they never will. Come on, man! There's actual football being played. Do we really need to get into this again? Now?
John: I did it to make you angry.
Travis from Dayton, OH:
I'm not so much worried about our offense versus the Texans' defense. If you look back to last year, we were able to still fight (with a vanilla offensive game plan). And with this year's coaching staff, upgrade in playmakers, and development in Gabbert, this game will be a lot closer than many predict – albeit, if our offensive line hopes up, which is the key.
John: It's funny how things turn. You're right, though, I trust that the Jaguars' offense will be able to function against the Texans' defense. By function, I mean they should be able to drive the ball relatively consistently between the 30s. Last year at times, that didn't happen. If the Jaguars can do that, then it's up to Gabbert and the offense to make plays in the scoring zone. Doing that against an established, confident defense is often the most-difficult stage of growth for a young offense. I'm also curious to watch the defense against the Texans' offense. The Jaguars want to improve their tackling this week. That will be key against the Texans' running game. If the Jaguars can put the Texans in 3rd-and-long situations, they have a chance to slow the passing offense and get Houston off the field.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
With receivers having to control the ball all the way to the locker room after a catch in the end zone, it seems like a higher-percentage play would be to catch it two yards out and just fall forward to break the plane.
John: You're right on two fronts. One is that the receiver has to control the ball for less time in the end zone and with fewer requirements when he catches the ball in the field of play, then breaks the plane. There also is the argument that the officials – replacement and regular officials in this case – seem to understand the break-the-plane rule a bit better than the rules for when a receiver catches in the end zone. You don't see the call missed as much in the former scenario; in the latter, you often see confusion and what appear to be some errors.
John from Bainbridge, WA:
In response to Jonathan, I am both in the Navy and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. First, muscle pulls can be quite serious and take a while to heal. Second, and most important, is that the demands for an NFL player are very different than those for the military. Full-speed sprint and cuts are extremely demanding. Additionally, even the slightest hampering of ability puts a player at a significant disadvantage. I'm sure Cox gets around fine, but he'd get burned all day long on the field. An injured player is a liability on the field, not an asset.
John: Well, there you go, Jonathan.
Murray from Jacksonville:
"I'm looking for the sarcasm font here. I am. Please, please, please, PLEASE tell me there's a sarcasm font. Please?" Most Jag fans I feel have zero interest in Tebow. Seriously. The problem is that the Jaguars, no more than a few months back, were offering a fourth-round pick for him. So evidently somebody in the front office likes him at least a bit. What makes you think when (and yes I feel it's when, not if) he becomes available again, the Jags won't make another stab at it? I hope they don't, but I'm not as sure as you seem to be.
John: It wouldn't surprise me to see the Jaguars take another shot. Maybe they will. My quest for the sarcasm font stemmed more from the hope that that question wouldn't have come so soon.
Jake from Spokane, WA:
I am going to do you a favor come Monday, John-Boy. In the event the Jaguars beat the Texans Sunday, I will be keeping a notebook of everything every player does wrong, so that I can complain. How else can we keep you in shape dealing with the whiners like we had this week? Much love (And you're welcome).
John: Jake! Thank you! Because if you hadn't thought of this then no one else would have written me complaining about anything. Regards, John.
Shawn from Honolulu, HI:
Aloha, JO. I just wanted to tell all of the Jaguars.com staff from writers to video that our experience since your arrival has been drastically improved. I absolutely love the Friday Night Film Room and read your articles daily.
John: A quarterback gets too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they don't. Around jaguars.com, I will generally accept credit – deserved or not. Shoot, sometimes undeserved credit is the best kind. You usually don't have to work hard to get it, and that's never a bad thing. I'm tempted to leave it at that, but the reality is a lot of people deserve a lot of credit for the increased quality of jaguars.com in recent months: Senior VP of Communications Dan Edwards, Director of Public Relations Ryan Robinson, Communications Coordinator J.P. "Big Game" Shadrick and Videographer Patrick Kavanagh among them, along with Digital Media Producers Chris Burdett and John Cascio. Kavanagh's addition, in particular, has helped Lageman look good and me not look as ridiculous as I might otherwise.