Last day for Colts talk. LookAhead Wednesday's a comin'.
Let's get to it . . . Kevin from Section 106:
O-pastle, it seems while Gabbert's pocket presence is far better than last year, he still needs to work on touch and accuracy. Thoughts? Suggestions?
John: Yes, Gabbert's pocket presence is better. Yes, his touch and accuracy could improve. A lot of things could improve. As Mike Mularkey said Monday, while Gabbert can do things better, the protection could be better and the receivers could hold on to the ball better, too. People want this to happen overnight, but overall Gabbert has looked better than last season and he twice has made plays late in games to put the Jaguars ahead. That's a start.
Clay from Section 214:
If this season's game against last season's worst team in the NFL was tougher than either win against them last season, how are we supposed to see overall progress (not just absolutely, but relatively)?
John: That's a little out there for me, but I'm known for being slow on the uptake. Here's one approach: The Jaguars played the Vikings to overtime and should have won. On Sunday, the Vikings beat the 49ers, previously the No. 1 team in the oh-so-critical jaguars.com power rankings. Using something similar to your argument, I think I could make the case for the Jaguars being one of the best teams in the NFL.
Matt from Bloomington, IN:
During the Wheels Up video you guys talked about Shorts' touchdown as if being more aware would have led to a smarter decision of not taking the touchdown and kneeling so we could run out the clock and kick a field goal to win with no time left. I'm not sure everyone would agree with you. On the road, losing, your running back has already fumbled the ball once this half, and you still have to get the kick off cleanly. I say take the points when they're presented, every time. Is there something more to it or do we just fundamentally disagree? What do you think Coach Mularkey's take on it would be?
John: Well, we were sort of kidding on Wheels Up as much as anything. But there is a lot of merit to taking a knee in that situation. It's obviously not reasonable to expect Shorts to think about not scoring at the end of an 80-yard last-minute play. But in the NFL in the last minute, ideally you want to play percentages. In that situation, if he falls at the 1, the quarterback kneels and you run the clock down to four or five seconds. You then kick essentially an extra point. That gives you probably a 98 or 99 percent chance of winning. The Jaguars' chances of winning giving the Colts the ball with 45 seconds remaining were still very high, but less than 99 or 98 percent. Again, not critical of Shorts, just a philosophical discussion, but ideally you'd kneel and kick.
Jonathan from Orange Park, FL:
It's time to take the training wheels off Blaine Gabbert. The guy has the guts, talent and the arm to make it happen. If he can do it in the last seconds of the game why not let him do it throughout the game? The guy can really sling it and Cecil Shorts is becoming a playmaker for this team. You are right all along about this kid!!!
John: I've mentioned the need to let Gabbert throw more and on early downs, and I believe that time is coming. As much as I'm a proponent of that, at the same time a head coach and a staff has to do what's best within the context of a single game to win that game. The Jaguars scraped and clawed their way back into the game Sunday after a tough first half, and outscored the Colts 19-3 on a day during which the passing offense struggled most of the game for a variety of reasons. You do what it takes to win and worry about pretty later. The Jaguars did that, and now it's back to work to continue the development of the young quarterback and new offense.
Mark from High Springs:
I'm still seeing a lot of hate towards Gabbert. His critics say he won't amount to much, or worse that he's a bust. His draft selection is widely regarded as a 'reach.' Then starting his second year in the NFL, after playing poorly for three whole quarters, he manages to score a breathtaking go-ahead TD in the last seconds of the game - twice. Doesn't this remind you of someone?
John: Yeah, I admit I thought of the same comparison. Here's the significant difference between Tebow and Gabbert. Tebow pulled of amazing comebacks while struggling, but his mechanics are so unconventional that it's hard to imagine significant growth. Gabbert struggled statistically Sunday, but when you break down his motion and the physical tools he has them in a big way. That leads you to believe there could be a lot of success in the future for Gabbert. The work – and the accompanying ups and downs – will have to come first, but the tools are there.
Bob from Castle Harbor:
Is this Freddy T Induction weekend?
Pete from Queensbury, NY:
With 2:23 left in the game Sunday, on a 3rd and 10, Luck threw an incomplete pass, but there was a flag for offensive holding. Why did we take the penalty and make it 3rd and 20? Why not decline it and get them off the field?
John: This is really a six-one-way-half-dozen-the-other for a coach. Is it better to give a team a down to gain 10 yards or two downs for 20? There's a school of thought that says you push the other team back, and create more pressure on them to gain a big chunk. There's another that says give them fourth down and make them covert. If you fail either way, you get second-guessed. In the case of Sunday's game, Andrew Luck threw incomplete on third down and the Colts punted, but it might have made a different decision had they faced 4th-and-10 and not 4th-and-20.
Dane from Jacksonville:
Without a pass rush, I fear that no lead is safe with this team, especially in the final minutes of a game. It needs to improve.
John: Your fears are valid. You have to get pressure with a lead late in the game.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
What did you think of the three run-up-the-middle play calls in a row at the end? It seemed weak and way too conservative to me when the Colts had timeouts and field position in their favor.
John: I wasn't crazy about it, though I see Mike Mularkey's point. His point is that the percentages of converting 3rd-and-9 are about 25 percent, so you're better off running and forcing the opponent to burn a timeout. I would have liked to have seen more aggressiveness there, maybe on the early downs, but at the same time, the Jaguars had success running Maurice Jones-Drew. You can imagine the outcry had the Jaguars thrown incomplete twice and given the Colts the ball more quickly. Chaos, I tell ya. CHAOS!!!
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Are the shadows on the field at Indy as bad as they look on TV? On some parts of the field, it was almost impossible to see what was going on. Glad we only have to play there once a year.
John: Yes, they're that bad.
Kyle from St. Augustine, FL:
Are fans still angry about the punter being selected in the third round? Seems to me he was our best player Sunday and singlehandedly won the game for us by giving the Colts terrible field position with his monstrous punts.
John: Anger leads the AFC in net punting and punting average, and 14 of his 19 punts have been over 50 yards. I don't know of the fans are angry anymore, but the team sure likes the move.
Lee from Duval:
I'm thinkin' the Jaguars might want to start throwing the ball to Cecil Shorts prior to the last minute of the game.
John: I'm thinkin' your thinkin's not stinkin'.
Peter from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Do you still believe our running game will be fine without MJD?
John: Funny is funny, and that's funny. While I said throughout the offseason that the running game would be fine without Maurice Jones-Drew obviously it would be in trouble without him. Now, one of my points was that the offensive line can run block no matter who is in the backfield and that remains true, but with Rashad Jennings out, the team absolutely needs Jones-Drew.
Sean from San Bernadino, CA:
It seems Gabbert doesn't quite trust or feel 100 percent comfortable with this offensive line and wide receiver corps – well, not until it's the last minute of the game anyway. Your thoughts?
John: So far this season, the line has struggled at times and the wide receivers are dropping too many passes. Gabbert hasn't played perfectly, but trust is earned.
Amata from Marshall Islands:
Hey O-Man, why no love for Russell Allen? He led the team in tackles, although he did commit a penalty on the Luck scramble. Anyways, give him some love for making the most of the opportunity he's been given.
John: Russell, here's some love. I trust you're as uncomfortable as I am right now.