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This ain't easy

Let's get it . . . Tom from Orlando, FL:
I know they were playing for the win, but on 4th-and-long from around midfield, you punt. You always punt. Better to play for the tie or hope for a turnover than give a team that has moved the ball at will a short field.
John: This has gotten a lot more discussion and play than I anticipated. The Jaguars were 1-8, playing against a team that was 8-1. They had played their guts out for nearly five quarters, and Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey wanted to reward that with a victory. Had the Jaguars punted and tied, there would have been a chorus of people criticizing that and asking why he didn't have the guts to play for the victory. Whatever decision you make, it's the right one if you win and the wrong one if you don't. It's an adage as old as the NFL, and it's true.
Mike from Jacksonville:
First of all, don't tell us how great the Jags played Sunday. It still comes down to the same thing every week. It is always too little, too late. Do you believe that Gabbert should remain the quarterback of this team? It sure looks like Henne is a lot better quarterback.
John: First of all, don't come in here with orders. Second, the offense did play very well and the defense did not play well at all. Henne indeed looked like the better quarterback Sunday. Until then, he hadn't. I get that there will be a groundswell of support for Henne this week. I don't know that the decision will be as clear-cut as many believe.
David from Maplewood, NJ:
Seriously, explain to us how Gabbert is a better quarterback than Henne again. Just curious if reality has changed your viewpoint at all. We lost because a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead was squandered. The offense did more than enough to win. Frankly, I don't even care - we are 1-9. I'm much more interested in seeing what Henne can do the rest of the year to determine if we need to go quarterback because what I have seen indicates that we may not – his name is Henne.
John: David, I'm not sure the reason for the snide tone. There's no question Henne looked very good Sunday, and as I wrote Sunday, he had the best game of any Jaguars quarterback the last two seasons. That wasn't the case before Sunday. One game doesn't necessarily make one player better than the other. For argument's sake, Henne now has had one really, really good game for this team and one pretty bad one. Just as it wasn't time to cut Henne (as many, many fans wanted) after Oakland, I don't know that the Jaguars need to declare Henne the franchise quarterback yet, either.
Brett from Ocoee, FL:
Henne is a decent quarterback, but his numbers were very inflated by phenomenal receiver play. Shorts broke a tackle and made another defender miss to turn a five-yard pass into a 67-yard touchdown. Blackmon broke tackles to turn a 31-yard pass into an 81-yard touchdown. That's 112 yards after catch in just two plays. I don't mean to take away credit from Henne, but let's not lose sight of how hard the receivers played in this game. Very impressive.
John: That's the other side of the Start Henne Now argument. The receivers may have played their best game of the season, and Gabbert may well have benefitted from such a performance. On the other hand, Henne has to get credit for putting receivers in position to make plays. And the debate continues. . .
Alex from San Francisco, CA:
Mularkey is an idiot. When it's 4th-and-10 and you haven't done anything for three straight plays you either try the 64-yard field goal for the win and the record, or you punt. Scobee has a huge leg and was 3-for-3 on the day; instead we try throwing it into triple coverage with the game on the line. Mularkey needs to go.
John: Mularkey needs to go? After they play the best team in the AFC even for 73 minutes? Again, this was just the beginning of emails along this thread and I just don't get it. You're criticizing him for not trying a 64-yard field goal, which if unsuccessful – and the odds are very high that it would be unsuccessful – would have given the Texans even better field position. Or the Jaguars should have punted, and essentially played for the tie. The Jaguars had converted third and long earlier in overtime. If time hadn't been running out in overtime, I maybe get the point, but this was a 1-8 team. It was OK to play for the victory.
Joe from Jacksonville:
Maybe Gene did find some talent. Maybe you were right all along, "wait to let them develop."
John: It's truly amazing how much better your talent looks when your quarterback is playing well. The offensive line looks better, and the receivers do, too. The running back looks better, and even a defense that allows far too many yards can keep a team in games by being clutch and making plays at the right time. This is not a day for celebrating, though, and Smith will be the first to tell you that.
Brooks from Jacksonville:
I can't do this much longer. How does this happen? You're telling me Henne throws four touchdowns, Blackmon has 236 yards and the defense gets three turnovers, one of them in OT, and the Jags still lose? I just don't understand. They just can't seem to get it done when it counts. I was one of the fans who went numb with all this losing and thought it couldn't get any worse; it's worse.
John: Well, giving up 640 yards hurt. Allowing 92 offensive plays and 39 first downs didn't help, either. But I didn't see that game as more numbing and painful than the others. I saw Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts play well, particularly Blackmon. If he is figuring it out, that's a good thing.
Ryan from Boynton Beach, FL:
Parmele looked like he could be the new backup running back for the Jaguars; Jennings has not been able to do anything since he got the starting job. Will we see this switch next week?
John: I certainly don't know why not.
Stan from Jacksonville:
As much as it pains me to say this Henne has earned a chance to start next week.
John: It doesn't pain me at all. He certainly played well enough to start, and whether he will or not, is the main story of the week. That doesn't mean he'll start. There is a lot of gray to this story. If I had to guess, I'd say Henne starts with the idea of letting Gabbert get fully healthy, but that is purely a guess. It will be an interesting week around EverBank on that front.
Tim from St. Petersburg, FL:
As usual, I'm confused. The NFL is supposed to review scoring plays. How about the Blackmon play? On the field they ruled it incomplete, but the refs could have been wrong. Why was that not reviewed? Also, on the same play, he caught it put two feet down, slid his shin on the ground (third-point contact) and then landed on the ground. He had control for three points of contact; why is that not a touchdown?
John: Confusion over this issue is common. As was the case with the Cecil Shorts reception/incompletion against the Colts, it has nothing to do with points of contact. Rather, the receiver must maintain possession all the way to the ground – essentially, until he stops or starts a motion that's not part of the catch and fall. It's counterintuitive if you have followed the NFL for years, but that's the rule.
Sandro from El Paso, TX:
Woah, did not see that coming John. What was unleashed on the field as our quarterback today? That could not have been Henne; he was horrible against Oakland. Boy has this season just become more confusing.
John: I was surprised, but not shocked. I believe I had written after Oakland that if Henne had had to start the following week he would be better. It stood to reason he wouldn't play that poorly again; the guy had, after all, started a lot of games for the Dolphins and hadn't been that bad. That's not to say he wasn't bad against Oakland. He certainly was, but it wasn't a shock that he played well. Now, to say anyone expected 354 yards and four touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 defense . . .
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Great game. It looked like the defense ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. Too much time on the field will do that to just about any defense. I guess that the QB controversy now begins?
John: Yes, on the quarterback question. There's no way to avoid it now, although there's no guarantee that Henne will follow up Sunday's game with that sort of performance. As far as the defense, I can't really say that it was a matter of running out of gas in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars allowed 640 yards of offense. Six hundred and forty yards isn't running out of gas. It's starting on an empty tank and coughing and being bone dry out of oil.
Donnie from Jacksonville:
They're killin me. They're reeeeeeally killin' me.
John: One and nine ain't easy. Never said it was.

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