Let's get to it . . .
Ross from Jacksonville:
John, help me out. We are just four games into a new season, with an entirely new coaching staff, new offensive playbook, basically a rookie quarterback in his second year, a new set of receivers and an injury list on the offensive line. Did I miss anything? Why are we supposed to be a playoff team right now?
John: You know, when I read your email it sort of reset things for me. You're right. Very, very right. This is a young team, and the coaching staff indeed is new. And the biggest truth is four games doesn't define a season. Because Gene Smith has been picking players for four years fans are in an uproar because this season hasn't started out better, but I said all offseason that the team – particularly the offense – could easily start slow. No question that has happened. Mike Mularkey's experience is that if you can get something positive to happen this sort of start can turn. The Jaguars believe in what they're doing. It's time for them to get something to validate that belief.
Mike from Jagsonville:
O'Dewd! What's the story on Freddy T. and the front office?
John: I've gotten this question a few times in the last couple of weeks and more than once from you, it's safe to say. The story is there isn't really a story. Taylor shadowed the front office in training camp to see if scouting was something he might want to do. It wasn't a case of Taylor wanting to be a Jaguars scout in the short term. Someday Taylor might work in that capacity for the Jaguars or some other NFL team, but I haven't gotten a feeling he necessarily wants that yet.
Jake from Spokane, WA:
Britton has been a prime example of why the Jaguars choose quality character and demand it from their players. There was no "internal controversy" that they were going to give Brewster a look this week. Britton handled the situation maturely. Even though Mularkey mentioned he didn't work harder because his work level was already at maximum, I think anyone who wants to keep their job will find a way to improve. It makes me satisfied with the direction of the team in a huge way.
John: You're right that how Britton handled the situation was a mature approach, and you're right that there was no internal controversy. I doubt Britton was thrilled with being removed from the game Sunday, but he also is one of the most honest, real players I've ever covered. I've never gotten the feeling he has felt entitled to anything based on where he was drafted. When the team moved him from tackle he wasn't thrilled, certainly, but he honestly just wants to play. He'll get another chance Sunday and he should. Sure, he struggled Sunday, but he's never struggled like that. He deserves a chance to show Sunday's struggles were about the ankle, and the guess here is he'll improve.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
I keep hearing things like, "Focus on what they do well" or "Even improve what they're doing well." What is it that they're doing well as a team? I hear players are playing good... Eugene Monroe nearing elite status... the offensive line, though, is getting torched. Derek Cox at a high level although the secondary is like Swiss cheese. Paul Posluszny... but the linebackers getting no tackles for loss. Tyson and Terrence strong in the middle, but we give up 100 yards rushing like it's nothing. If we're focusing on what we're doing good... exactly what is that besides the running game when we're not two scores behind?
John: It hasn't been good this season. More weeks than not so far, it has been bad. But to say no one's playing well is just wrong. Monroe isplaying well. So is Cox. Anyone can see it. Posluszny will get better when Daryl Smith comes back, but he's been pretty good anyway. Alualu has played the run well; Knighton, generally speaking, has not played as well. There are 53 players on a team, Jeff. It's possible for some to play well and others to struggle enough to still have a tough stretch.
Sean from Miami, FL:
Is Blaine Gabbert your kid because you make up more excuses for him than anyone? He can't consistently throw over 200 yards per game and he is very inaccurate. The kid needs to sit the bench and learn from a real starter, Henne, if the Jags even care about winning.
John: Blaine Gabbert is not my kid, for which he can be thankful. He has enough to deal with. He doesn't need that.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Are the recent roster changes an indication that the Jaguars are in desperation mode? After four years of roster rebuilding I find it surprising that the Jaguars are moving practice squad players to the active roster. What has Gene Smith been doing for four years if he is still reaching for players?
John: The Jaguars released a defensive end who was barely playing and an offensive tackle who also was barely playing. Teams move players off the practice squad all the time. This was not a commentary on the building process under Gene Smith.
Jason from New Richmond, WI:
After watching the Cardinals' offense I feel much better about the Jaguars. The Cardinals' tackles made Guy Whimper look like Tony Boselli and that is why you don't go five wide every play!
John: That's exactly the reason.
JD from Belfast, North Ireland:
I haven't heard much said this year about our safeties. What's the general feeling about the starters and the rotated backups?
John: The starters, Dawan Landry and Dwight Lowery, are good. They make the defense better. The backups aren't as good as the starters, and there's a bit of a drop-off there. Not huge, but a bit.
Phil from Woodmere, NY:
In response to Sal from El Paso, benching Britton would be the most encouraging thing I've seen since the Tom Coughlin days. One thing that has always bothered me about this team is that it seems people get handed starting roles due to draft position or contract status, and we keep hoping things will work out. I can name more than a few examples. When they don't pan out, not only do we have a huge hole to fill, but it's a hole at a position that we hadn't addressed in years, because we assume it had been fixed by the draft pick or free agent. What ends up happening is we have problems at specific positions for many years (QB, DE, WR, S, RT). I want to see people get benched when they don't perform. Let someone else have a shot, and maybe they will perform. You find football players where you find football players.
John: I agree with you that in football, players should get benched when they don't perform. I'd say that with a caveat, though: I don't necessarily think you have to make it a permanent move. Specifically, the Jaguars did bench Britton at halftime Sunday, but evidence suggests at least some of the problem on Sunday was Britton returning from an ankle injury. He had an awful game, but he never had played that poorly before. So, if it was the ankle and you keep him benched if healthy, you could be benching the player who gives you the best chance to win. Now, if he plays as he did Sunday? Absolutely keep him on the bench. But I imagine at some point you'll see Britton back in the lineup and there's nothing wrong with that if he earns it.
Marjorie from Jacksonville:
O-Man, Big Bird or Cookie Monster?
John: Mr. Snuffleupagus
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
I just wanted to add to your answer about how long it took Reggie Wayne and the learning curve for wide receiver. Wayne also had Peyton throwing him and the all world Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark taking all the pressure off – and it still took him three years. So give Justin some time before throw him under the bus. And just a throw in for you, Anger has gotten better every week.
John: Clark actually wasn't there until Wayne's third year, but your point is correct. I agree that Blackmon will need time. Now, within that is the fact that Wayne worked and improved consistently, and that has to come from within. You can't assume a player will do that, but if Blackmon does, he should improve. For the record, four weeks into the season isn't even remotely enough time to judge a receiver. It's a blip on his career radar.
Chip from Key West, FL:
Does your wife ever ask you how your day was at work after a game? If so what do you tell her and what does she say to you?
John: I tell her to stop asking me questions and get me a beer, never with the desired result.
Let's get to it . . .
Ross from Jacksonville: