Let's get to it . . .
Trace from Jacksonville:
One thing that makes me less hopeful about the Raiders game than I might otherwise be is the Jags have never traveled West with much success (cf. 41-0 loss at Seattle a couple years ago). What can a team do to become better at traveling across the country?
John: If there was a secret formula for an East Coast team to play well out West, someone would bottle it and make a lot of money. The Jaguars are far from the only team to struggle crossing time zones, though their struggles have been more pronounced. Head Coach Mike Mularkey's approach is to have the team travel on Friday, thereby giving players all day Saturday to become acclimated to the time change. My understanding always has been that the body clock doesn't adjust in a day. But who knows? Maybe Mularkey is right. He's taking the approach because it's the one his former team, Atlanta Falcons, have taken. The Falcons were 5-0 on the West Coast in Mularkey's time there, 2008-2011.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
Ivan in Monday's Ozone pointed out the number of veterans on the 49ers and Giants, whereas we don't have as many. Perhaps a contributing factor for the Jaguars' on-field production could be the lack of talent that was present when Gene Smith took over as general manager? Building an NFL champion with a complete overhaul of the roster in just four years may seem easy, of course – I just don't know how people can come to that conclusion?!? If four years is enough to build champions then how come only the Colts, Patriots, and Steelers have made it from the AFC in the last decade?
John: You're right that it's rare to build a champion so quickly. The Colts, for example, didn't really become an annual contender until 2003, five years into Peyton Manning's career. That said, they did make the postseason in 1999 and 2000 with a largely rebuilt roster. That's the problem many fans understandably have with Smith and where the Jaguars are now. They want signs of progress. They want to contend. That's absolutely clear and it's absolutely something they should expect. There are 11 games remaining in the season, and I don't think anyone doubts that there needs to be growth and progress during that time.
Johnny from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What is your long-term assessment on Alualu at this point? I understand the knee issues causing some limitations this year but is the hope that he can fully recover and be the dominant defensive tackle he was drafted to be, or are we now thinking of him as just a solid run-playing defensive tackle?
John: I think Alualu has been significantly hurt because of the ongoing knee issue, and I think in order to fairly assess him, his career has to be seen in that light. Has he been worth the No. 10 overall selection? Because of the injury, it would be hard to argue that he has. Would he have been worth it without the injury? Considering he has played well far more often than not, there's a fairly good chance he would have been very, very good had he not been injured. I don't know what the future holds for him, but if he can fully recover, yes, Alualu can be dominant. Whether he will reach full health remains to be seen.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Up and down the league, rookie quarterbacks and second-year quarterbacks (and yes, even those in new systems) are tearing it up. Tannehill, RGIII, Luck, Dalton, etc. Only our pick, Gabbert, still has his head stuck in his butt looking like a moron out there. I am sick of this. We are all sick of this. We are not idiots. We have eyes in our heads. We see that the Jags are SPECIAL bad. Not just bad. They are SPECIAL bad. It's time to clean house and start from scratch.
John: I get the frustration. Everyone gets the frustration, and everyone knows that a lot of young quarterbacks have been putting up big numbers while Gabbert has not. And yes, fans are tired of it. I'd say five games into the season is too early to know for sure if the Jaguars are, as you put it, "special bad," but let's assume for the sake of argument you're right. When do you want to clean house? Now? Friday afternoon? Next week? Eleven games remain. This will play out how it plays out and if the Jaguars are indeed as bad as you think . . . well, one way or the other, we'll know for sure.
Austin from Ormond Beach, FL:
What is status on Daryl Smith? I haven't heard much about it in a while. ESPN says questionable. Your take?
John: I don't know that I have a "take." Daryl Smith practiced Monday, and Mularkey said if all goes according to plan, he will work more on Wednesday and more on Thursday. After that, a decision will be made about his status for Sunday.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
You answered my Battle to the Bottom question yesterday, but I'm not sure you understood it. I'm not trying to be a downer, I'm just trying to find some way to take pleasure from watching a bad team. Do you have a better way?
John: I understood. I can't stop you from taking pleasure in your way if the Jaguars lose, but my stance on this topic is players don't try to lose, and franchises shouldn't, either.
Brett from Ridgeland, MS:
These concussion symptoms with Session are concerning. This has gone on for a year now with no improvement. Personally, I feel he should call it quits for his own safety, but that decision is much easier said than done. I would love to have the guy on the field as he is a very good backer but the last thing I want to see is him come back, take a shot to the head and not get up. Do you think he is best served trying to come back or retiring given the situation?
John: I get a lot of emails on this topic, but the answer is generally the same and there isn't as much mystery to this as people seem to want to believe. Session wants to come back. That won't happen until his symptoms go away and he passes a concussion test. Until then, everyone waits.
Nick from Section 133 and St. Johns:
Okay John, since it's the bye week and I have nothing to complain about..... What's your favorite color?
John: Teal. No, wait. Now, within the confines of the O-Zone, it's officially and primarily black.
Scott from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Any word on how our special teams are doing this year? We have spent a lot of time discussing offense and defense but with the exception of Anger, how's the rest of our special teams performing?
John: It could be better. Mike Thomas is averaging 7.0 yards per punt return and it sounds as if the team will try Micheal Spurlock or Aaron Ross there Sunday. The kickoff returns also haven't been much of a threat, and there was the fake punt allowed against Cincinnati. It has been a difficult five weeks for just about every facet of the team, so the special teams are far from alone, but no question that area must improve as much as the offense and defense. Josh Scobee and Bryan Anger have both been pretty consistent, but more is needed.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
John, you can sure drive excuses down into the grave, but no matter how many times you tell us the absence of Daryl Smith is the reason for our poor rush defense AND poor pass defense, I'm not going to believe you. This is 90 percent on the defensive line for both rush defense and pressure on the passer... and 10 percent on the linebackers/db's (so about one percent on Daryl Smith).
John: I'm always fascinated by people who lash out at me writing "excuses" in the Ozone. People ask questions. I answer them, and try to provide some sort of insight or theory as to why certain things happen. Often these are based on conversations with people who know more than me – not a difficult thing, it is true – and often it's just drawing conclusions based on as close as I can get to reason. These are seen as excuses. OK, fine. Anyway, I've never said Daryl Smith is THE reason for the Jaguars' poor rush and pass defense. I've said it's a contributing factor. There is hardly ever ONE reason for anything in the NFL. It's 11 people playing with each other and everything's interrelated. Is there are a percentage on the defensive line? Sure, and it is a pretty big percentage, but to think not having Daryl Smith in the lineup isn't a big loss is incorrect.
Josh from Savannah, GA:
What a great Monday morning. I get to wake up and not be reading about a blowout and beat down of our young quarterback and the rest of our incompetent team. But, it is very short lived. I'll cheer my Jags on to the end, but this is gonna be a loooooooong year. Keep up the Shakespearean work.
John: I think it was Bill who said, "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." I know I'm a fool.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
I did not watch football this past weekend, but I did watch the space jump. Did you watch it? What would it take to get you to jump out of a capsule attached to a balloon 128,000 feet up in the sky?
John: Now, I am wise enough not to do that.
Let's get to it . . .
Trace from Jacksonville: