Let's get to it . . .
Patrick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
When can we start to blame Gene Smith for this poor team? We should have drafted A.J. Green in the first round and then picked the quarterback in the second round. Gabbert dosen't have that young exciting receiver to throw to. Nobody besides Jones-Drew would be considered elite on this offense.
John: The Bengals took Green No. 4 overall. The Jaguars moved up to get Gabbert at No. 10. Smith is the first to take blame when it's merited, but there was no way the Jaguars should have given up what it would have taken to get Green.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
What's the upside this week? Defense played decent, but can't get off the field on third down. Besides a blown coverage, we can't score touchdowns on offense. As much as I read on here about how promising the Jaguars young team is, I think I've finally come to the conclusion that we're just not a very good football team. Perhaps one of the worst in the entire NFL ... and it hurts.
John: No, the Jaguars are not good right now. Good teams don't lose four of five games. Now, can they be good? That's a different question. Yes, they can be. I don't agree on the defense, though. The Jaguars could have been better on third down, but they allowed one second-half touchdown drive – a 23-yarder. Those guys played well Sunday.
Al from Fruit Cove, FL:
After the 2007 season, the Jags gave Garrard and Del Rio big, long-term contracts. Those moves may have both been foolish. I fear now that we've done it again with Marcedes Lewis, and I just wonder if a more hungry version of that player might have held on to that ball in the end zone yesterday (and made a few other catches that he's missed this year). What say you?
John: Lewis should have caught the pass. I do believe that and he said that. I do not believe him not being "hungry" had anything to do with it. I haven't been around Lewis that long, but everything I've seen or heard from him is he's a guy who cares about being as good as he can possibly be.
Dave from Lighthouse Point, FL:
Right now, I'm most concerned with the development of Gabbert. I've seen some improvement but I've noticed some bad habits that bother me. First, he's throwing way too many passes flat-footed/off his back foot. Favre could get away with this but Gabbert can't. Also when he makes his five- and seven-step drop, he doesn't seem to be in control of his body, he's not smooth and this causes inconsistent throws, high and low. What are your thoughts?
John: He's not perfect, and the inconsistencies you noted are ones on which he will have to work. That's the process. I wouldn't be concerned. I would guess those are the areas he'll improve, and if he's going to be the quarterback many believe he will be, I'd guess you'll see some pretty dramatic strides. Remember when we talked about patience with the young player? This is what that means.
Shane from Callahan, FL:
Remember before the season started we talked about the Jags being a better team but it was very possible they could have a worse record than last season? Is this the reality? Or is there really some underlying problem that's deeper than just not jelling together and finishing? Give me an honest insider answer please! Thanks John!
John: I thought about this answer quite a bit. When teams are struggling, people desperately want answers and they understandably want to lay blame. In the Jaguars' case, the difference between 1-4 and 3-2 is simple and doesn't need an insider answer. The offense is struggling to score points – mainly because of uncertainty and inexperience at the quarterback position and a lack of elite-level production at the wide receiver position – and when you struggle to score points your margin for error is every low. Because of the low margin for error, they have been in close games against Carolina and Cincinnati. At the end of each game, errors and fundamental mistakes in the second half cost the Jaguars pretty dearly. The Jaguars aren't an elite team. I think we all knew that going in. But the difference between being competitive and what they are now is pretty small – but big enough.
Shane from Jacksonville:
Another game goes by and I am still waiting to see something from Shorts. I want to see him as a receiver, not as a returner. We need to put someone else back there to return punts! Karim needs to step it up as well or find someone else that will. With the exception of Scobee, our special teams is kinda painful to watch...
Brad from Jacksonville:
With the obvious busts we've had with first-round wide receivers in the last decade I find it very hard to believe Gene Smith will take one high in the draft despite the obvious need for one. With that being said I don't think reaching to find value from small schools is necessarily the way to go either. We must take BAP regardless of if it is Luck.
John: Don't let past mistakes create future mistakes. If there is an elite receiver available when the Jaguars select, I think they'll take one. The key is taking the right player.
Jimmie from Jacksonville:
In your opinion, what has caused Cecil Shorts to struggle besides the obvious "rookie" things and can it be fixed? I think it's somewhere between route running and the speed adjustment.
John: I'd say you're right.
Donnie from Palm City, FL:
I know the defense is playing much better statistically than last year but they didn't come up big when it mattered like the 3rd-and-17 touchdown pass and the two 4th and 6's the Bengals converted. Thoughts?
John: No defense "comes up big" every time it matters. Don't discount the countless other times they came up big – i.e., throughout the second half. You don't hold opposing offenses down every play of every game in this league. Offenses must score points.
Wayne from Jacksonville:
While 1-4 is not pretty, it's not CLOSE to over! There is so much football to be played and the No. 1 team in our division is not far ahead, with their star receiver hurt. From your perspective, do the players' spirits seem so down they may have lost the fight? Is there someone on the team still getting them fired up? I don't care what people say, this team can be good, and this season is far from lost.
John: The players absolutely have not lost the will to fight.
Stuart from Ottawa, Canada:
I disagree with your answer to Jake from Tulsa. You CAN run Maurice in every situation and you definitely SHOULD run him when you only need 2 yards. Just look at the film of his first TD.
John: And look at the seven-yard loss on 2nd-and-goal from the 2. Not a knock on Jones-Drew, but you can't just run every play, even when you're close to the goal line.
Adam from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
How can you consistently say that we will get a receiver in the draft? Why is it so farfetched to look at a trade? Free-agency is a bust at this point but they had plenty of chances to get a good receiver.
John: Teams don't trade away impact receivers. They also don't let them go in free agency.
Draa from St Augustine, FL:
What does losing in this way do to a rookie quarterback's head? Is there a risk of regression because of poor play by the team? Mentally it has to be tough for a young quarterback. Is it more so than any other position or are they all the same? What say you?
John: I say Gabbert is confident enough I don't worry about losing getting into his head. With a young quarterback, I worry about him losing confidence in his own ability if things go wrong individually, but I don't see that happening with Gabbert. I see him learning and progressing each week. That's what you want.
Allie from Garfield, NJ:
I'm a girl, too! You can't just respond to Bonnie once and think that's good enough! Anyway, with that in mind, I was wondering about the fumbled snap: If Blaine recovered it, would he be allowed to throw it forward and get the first down?
John: Yes, he could have. Of course, it was 20 yards back and considering the time it took to get to the ball, it would have been very difficult for the linemen to hold their blocks and not already be downfield.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Aside from talking about how we are going to be competitive next year, what do you want to see now from the offense? As has been said many times in this column, help is not on the way.
John: I want to see improvement, and this won't be a popular answer, but I saw some Sunday. I saw a rookie quarterback getting more comfortable and an offense that moved efficiently on the first drive. I'd like to see more second-half production. One second-half touchdown in five games is unacceptable.
Brian from Long Island, NY:
I agree with you that a top-end wide receiver should be addressed in the draft over free agency, and free-agent wide receivers typically don't pan out as expected, but is there a reason why? It would seem that a veteran wide receiver would be able to grasp a new playbook more easily than a rookie, so it would make sense to think a free-agent wide receiver could improve your team quicker than a drafted rookie.
John: There are many reasons. The biggest is the elite guys are hard to find, so they usually re-sign with their own teams. Teams also wind up overpaying for the non-elite guys, so it's hard to find a free-agent wide receiver who lives up to expectations. Think of it: if your team had Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, would you want them to get away?
Andy from Saint Johns, FL:
This year's Jaguars theme is "It's Go Time!" At 1-4, I want to know where we are going?
John: On Saturday, I'm going to Pittsburgh. On Friday, I'll either go out to dinner or sit on my back porch and weep.