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Winning creates attitude

Let's get to it . . . Dave from Jacksonville and Section 410:
I can't stand the questions about big-name free agents, but I feel the Jags are incredibly slow at tight end. This is one position where you can create mismatches – too fast for linebackers, too big for safeties or corners. Zach Miller was that, but I understood the cut due to his injuries and the need to make the 53-man roster. If he gets healthy is there a chance of picking him up again because the team needs speed?
John: There is a chance Zach Miller could be resigned if he is healthy. This likely will anger fans who feel the Jaguars should move on because of Miller's injury history, but there would be nothing wrong with re-signing Miller if they also address the position by other means. That way, if he can stay healthy, he can play; if he can't, you have another option. As far as the Jaguars being slow at the position, overall, yes, the team could get faster there. In some capacity that's almost certainly a priority in the offseason.
Dane from Jacksonville:
During the postgame show this week, Marco Coleman and Cole Pepper spoke about the linebackers needing to step up their game. I didn't realize the linebackers were playing poorly. In fact, at first glance, I thought Russell Allen appeared to play pretty well. Help me out here: what are some things that suggest strong linebacker play?
John: The primary thing you're looking for is linebackers filling their gaps correctly in run support. That has been a problem at times this season. The Jaguars' linebacker corps is supposed to be Daryl Smith, Paul Posluszny and Clint Session. When two of those guys aren't in the lineup, it's not as good. It's particularly true when Daryl Smith isn't in the lineup. He matters.
Talha from Piscataway, NJ:
The Jags were ranked in the bottom tier in a rank of best fans in NFL. I ain't buyin it. We need to step our game up!
John: I'd argue anyone saying the Jaguars don't have good fans. I'd say the fan base is tired of losing, and when you've lost for an extended period that can wear on a fan base. But there's no question that when this franchise wins, the support has been rabid and will be again. There's nothing in this team's history to indicate otherwise.
Terry from Jacksonville:
In the last five years, I don't remember a Jaguars offensive line good at pass blocking, receivers making an impact or a quarterback with a high quarterback rating (well once maybe). Mike Mularkey has to build a passing attack from scratch. Maybe I am wrong, but I see the progress and also know it takes time. See if you can stand by me on this one... Mike Mularkey is doing a good job but still has a big job left to do. He didn't create this mess but he is dealing with it.
John: There's some truth to that. Effective passing is not ingrained in the Jaguars' psyche at this point. They have traditionally in recent seasons been a better run-blocking than pass-blocking line, and the receivers overall have struggled in recent seasons. It wasn't like that would turn around completely in five games, expectations of some to the contrary. I wrote often in the offseason that the Jaguars' offense would struggle early, but to be honest, I didn't expect this. I expected the performance against Minnesota to be the norm – a few effective drives, some struggling and overall signs of improvement. We'll see if the offense can get back to that after the bye week.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
I got it out of my system. I threw a temper tantrum like an overly emotional teenage girl. I started cursing the day the Jaguars were awarded to Jacksonville. I lamented my peculiar affinity with the Jaguars, and even fasted from football news for four days! Yet here I am once again reading your mediocre humor-infused column asking you to say something positive. It doesn't even have to be football-related, John – just give me hope!
John: Giving you hope isn't a problem. The hope is that two lines can start playing a bit better, and that the defense as a whole will start playing the run a little better. If you do that, you can rush the passer a little better and be in more games. After that, the offensive line needs to build on the improvement it showed last week. After that, the receivers need to get a little better. After that, Gabbert needs to turn his flashes into consistency. Do all of those things, and you never know what can happen week to week in the NFL.
Rick from Tampa, FL:
I agree with you to not give up on the team. but I personally wouldn't be shocked if they went 1-15 and the reason is that they are ranked 32 offensively and 30th defensively. What say you sir?
John: I'd be shocked if they go 1-15.
Jeff from Section 106:
Herb Brooks – Miracle – greatest sports speech ever given. Got us to the Gold Medal game and thump them Ruskies – your 7th or 8th grade status notwithstanding – you should have at least referenced it.
John: I was in the ninth grade and I'll reference what I choose.
Todd from St. Augustine and Section 413:
Since this is the bye week, I have a hypothetical question. We have a long list of Free Agents in 2013 (Meester, Jennings, Mathis, Cox, Knighton, Britton, Middleton, Selvie, Smith, Estes, Jones, and Parmele), I don't think I missed anyone, but I could have. My question is if the season ended now in your eyes who are the keepers and who do you let go? I know this tough because we still have the 2013 draft to consider but that's why it's hypothetical.
John: As you noted, it's really early and the answer will be determined by how the rest of the season plays out. If Cox stays healthy and plays close to the level he has played this season, the Jaguars almost certainly will pursue him in free agency. Meester and Mathis would seem to be guys who could return for shortened contracts based on their age. The rest of the season likely will determine the team's interest in pursuing the others. When you're 1-4, there are few locks.
Bill from Jacksonville:
Gabbert had by far his best game in Week 1 against Minnesota, when teams didn't have tape to study the "new" Jags offense. Teams now know the offense Bratkowski is calling, and that the offense lacks talent. Isn't it a big concern, that the more teams see of the Jags, the worse the Jags play?
John: Absolutely. I've always subscribed to the belief that you need to get a five- or six-game sample to see what a team truly is, particularly offensively. We're on the verge of that number. If there isn't improvement in the next game or two – in other words, getting back to the sort of production we saw in Minnesota – then it's a trend, and not a good one.
John from Jacksonville:
A sportscaster said on last night's local news that the 49ers will be playing a home game in England against the Jags. I've also heard the same game is a home game for the Jags. Was that a faux pas on the sportscaster or can both teams play a home game at the same time? In my opinion they should both be away games if anything.
John: The game is the Jaguars' home game.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Coughlin also said to our buddy, Vic, who was walking down the hall and smiling, "What are you smiling for? This is professional football and we don't smile around here!" Coughlin liked that edge in people. He didn't want anyone to feel comfortable around here and those guys played like it. We haven't had a team that just walks on the field and says (in their actions), "We're gonna kick your ass!" That's what I want. Even in '96 they had that attitude before they pulled off that great run. I haven't seen that since the day he left. Even JDR's days nobody was "worried" about playing us. Stop the dancing in the end zone before the game and come out with some friggin attitude. Our D-Line has no reason to be dancing right now. POST THAT!
John: I covered that '96 team, and I'm telling you that while they may have had a bit of an edge it wasn't like it was a team that just came out and said, "We're going to beat you in a street fight." It wasn't what I think of as an "edge "team. It was a good team and the teams that followed it were good as well, but this whole idea that Coughlin's teams won because of their locker room mentality – that's just not quite accurate. And the Jaguars of that era absolutely emphasized character. That's a lot of where Gene Smith built his football philosophies. Winning usually creates attitude in the NFL, not so much the other way around.

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