Happy, happy inbox – and surprisingly quiet. Hmm, the Jaguars must have won.
Let's get to it . . .
Danny from Washington, DC:
I have a lot of questions going through my mind about this team. But I'll stick to this: with Blaine Gabbert out for the season, we have Chad Henne. You can't argue with the fact he has given us a better chance at winning, but how well will we do these last five games? We got the entire AFC East plus the Titans again. Give me a clear picture. Please.
John: I think the Jaguars have a really good chance to win more than they lose down the stretch. A lot of people will look at that as a bad thing, but that's because a lot of people are thinking about draft position. That's one way to look at it, but the Jaguars need to show what kind of team they can be with this head coach and this coaching staff. They need to use the last five games to show what kind of offensive line they have, what kind of wide receivers they have, what kind of quarterback they have, etc. If by the end of the regular season, you have a few more elements you can rely on and feel good about than you do right now, then the final five games have been productive.
Randy from Polangui, the Philippines:
The linebackers and defensive backfield are looking much better, but the pass rush is still lacking. An even greater need, as I see it, is improved pass protection. How would you feel about the top offensive tackle for our first draft pick, even if we can trade down for more picks?
John: The final five games of the season are going to provide a much clearer picture of draft-day strategy. A month ago, receiver was a concern. Either way, I don't see left tackle being the top need.
Ray from Jacksonville:
The so-called experts are sure Henne is not the Jaguars' answer because of his history with the Dolphins. However, how many picked Rich Gannon to be the Raiders' answer when he had his resurgence? Players mature and grow at their own pace. We may have found our guy. Thoughts.
John: I think we'll know more in six weeks than we do now.
Elder from Mexico City, Mexico:
Hello O-Man, I think the Jaguars are going to have the best couple of receivers together since Fitzgerald Boldin. What do you think?
John: I think Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon have looked like a pretty good tandem during the last two games. I think that leaves them a long way to go before they are Fitzgerald and Boldin, but I also think it makes them a lot better off than many expected before the season, or even last month.
James from Gainesville, FL:
We have a pretty decent offense when our quarterback is on. Given a decent quarterback, whoever he may be, could Shorts and Blackmon be our next Thunder and Lightning? I am seeing glimpses here of the awesome receiving capabilities easily on par with Smith and McCardell.
John: I think Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon have looked like a pretty good tandem during the last two games. I think that leaves them a long way to go before they are Thunder and Lightning, but I also think it makes them a lot better off than many expected before the season, or even last month.
Brad from Jacksonville:
No question. Saw your postgame report. Please fire your PR dude or dudette and be yourself. This pains me to say it, but be like Lageman. Your not a Blues Brother. Be your erudite self and all will be well ciao BW
John: Thanks, Brad. You're input is appreciated. JO
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Our O-line seems to be losing the battle of the trenches. Why? Poz is really good and Blackmon and Shorts are getting better. It was good to have Mathis back. He seemed to keep Locker looking away from him and still gets respect on the field from opposing QB. So, Big John, How did Henne look to you today?
John: The offensive line struggled Sunday. Why? A lot of it looked like miscommunication, but overall, the group still has struggled in pass protection too much. Yes, Mathis helped, and while he may have struggled at times early in the season, he's still a veteran who knows how to get himself in the correct position enough that he helps the defense. How did Henne look? Well, the Jaguars have looked significantly better offensively the last two games than they did before, so he looked just fine. He's not perfect, but he's showing what the offense can do and that the team may have a play-maker or two more than many previously thought.
Matt from Section 138:
We have something in Cecil Shorts III. What is his current contract status? Do you see the Jaguars locking him up for the long-term or is it still too early to tell?
John: E-e-e-e-e-asy there, big fella.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Our Mularkey/Bratkowski offense seems to rotate wide receivers in and out a lot. Is that a match-up thing? Fresh legs? Or what?
John: The scheme emphasizes keeping the defense off-balance and it never has been big on necessarily having one go-to guy or No. 1 receiver. It's more about match-ups and running plays for the strengths of certain receivers than anything else.
Forrest from Jacksonville:
"Had he thrown it, he would have been called for unsportsmanlike conduct." So instead he threw his headset and playsheet, and got called for unsportsmanlike conduct. C'mon, John. You even included it in your post-game story. Get it together, man!
John: C'mon, Forrest. We'll take time to look back when we should be looking ahead, but we'll do it fast. My point was that the plays being discussed were different – and they were. Schwartz challenged the play Thursday before it was reviewed, and as a result, drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that prevented the Lions from benefitting from a replay that clearly would have disallowed the touchdown. In Mularkey's situation against the Colts, the play already had been reviewed and Mularkey was arguing that the review had been incorrect. Had Mularkey gone wild and thrown the challenge flag milliseconds after the play – or even during it – then the situations would have been similar. I got it together, man! I'm tight!!!!!
Marjorie from Jacksonville:
I'm just registering a complaint that likely is petty. I detest the Gatorade product placement in the post-game press conferences. I have grown weary and overly sensitive to the American way of the continual sell. I wonder if I am the only one who builds resentment to the products showcased.
John: $orry, Marjorie. You may not be the only one, but it'$ probably here to $tay.
Steve from Jacksonville:
So, for all the ripping that many have been giving Gene Smith (including me), I'll give him this: He found two really good receivers. Agree?
John: I think Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon have looked like a . . . but seriously, you're right that Smith and the personnel department deserve credit for Shorts and Blackmon. That doesn't negate a 2-9 record and it doesn't mean there aren't holes. Mostly, I'd say it means we need to get to the end of the season before we pass judgment on where the team is right now. It seems the offense is functioning with Henne, which is allowing the Jaguars to be in games. That will allow the rest of the roster to be judged, and perhaps get a more accurate gauge of the talent level. What is the end game? What is the future? Those aren't questions to be answered in late November; rather, early January.
Chaz from St. Augustine, FL:
If you say it enough, you'll start to really believe it. Gabbert had plenty of opportunity to showcase his abilities and he showed very little. You guys can hang on to the very few glimpses if it makes you feel better, but he's been outplayed by his colleagues in the same draft. The "O-Zone" should be the "No-Spin Zone;" he's not your franchise quarterback, and if you believe he is then you've subjected yourself to mediocrity. Good luck with that.
John: I'll address this one Gabbert question today, because today is more about Chad Henne and the receivers and what went on Sunday. Yes, Gabbert had opportunities and compared to the other quarterbacks in his draft class and – even to Henne – he didn't fare as well. Few would argue otherwise. The point for allowing Gabbert to play for the first 10 games and for the 14 last season was he was a young quarterback with ability who needed seasoning. The question always was, "How long do you allow him to develop?" That's a difficult line, because losing stinks and when your quarterback is struggling, you're probably going to lose. How Gabbert's future plays out in Jacksonville remains to be seen. We're a couple of games into Henne's chance and he's played well. The offense looks better and the team is playing better. Does that mean Gabbert's struggles hurt the team before? Perhaps it does. Does that means that Gabbert can't develop and play well in the future? Not necessarily, no.
Mike from Fruit Cove, FL:
Winning. Feels. Good.
John: Better. Than. Losing.