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A tough, tough day

Posted Nov 28, 2011

The inbox grows angrier by the week, and it’s pretty close to All Blaine Gabbert all the time today. Oh, well.

Let’s get to it . . .

Biff from Jacksonville:
I would like a Monday that is honest and objective. No subjective rants. No statements of hope or belief. There are the MJDs and Poslusznys and then there are the JDRs and Marcedes. WR/TE drops, mechanic failures and horrible throws by the QB and once again bad game management to end the game. The coaching staff has not shown they can learn and adapt. Gabbert is still making the same mistakes every week. The receiving corps is similarly inept. My tone is far from angry, John. I am calm. All I am asking is that we quit pretending this is getting better. When fans and those who analyze have to go to granular evaluation ("well he stepped into that throw" or "Lewis showed his value on that catch") there are problems. We are not just a playmaking WR away from being competitive. At this point, if Trent Richardson is available I'd like Gene to draft him just so MJD doesn't have a short career. In your opinion: how many years, how many coaches and how many positions do we need to fill to be good again?
John: I appreciate the calm approach, and you are right. It’s not just a play-making receiver. The entire passing offense must improve, and that doesn’t appear likely to happen until the entire situation is addressed in the off-season. What changes will be made is not certain, but clearly the approach must change: a foundation must be established in terms of route running, mechanics/presence at quarterback must improve, Marcedes Lewis must get back to what he was last season and the overall scheme must be addressed. Again, I don’t know the details of how that will happen, but in some capacity, it clearly must. I will stop short of saying that the Jaguars aren’t close, though. Just about everything about this team was solid except the passing offense until injuries hit the defense in recent weeks. But without question the approach to passing offense has to improve. It’s in a shambles and it has brought the season down with it.
Judson from Jacksonville:
Is it possible that Blaine looks worse in person than on TV? I guess I am a bit miffed on why he looks so bad throwing the ball. Yes, the O-line was bad and once again plenty of drops, but he is no where near ready to be a winning quarterback in this league. Disappointing once again.
John: It is disappointing. All I can say with Gabbert is this: Yes, Sunday was a bad game. He looked bad. As I have written often and will continue to write: it’s going to be into next season before it is possible to accurately judge whether or not he can be a franchise guy. There’s too much going wrong to judge this season. Also, in fairness, when the Jaguars drafted him it was with the idea he would sit this season and play next season. If he struggles like this after an off-season with direction and coaching, then it’s trouble. Until then, it’s frustrating, but it’s still wait and see.
James from Orange Park, FL:
I am usually slow to question decision making handled by the coaching staff, but I staunchly disagree with the decision to bench Gabbert for McCown. I did not see a reason for the change as Gabbert's receivers were getting no separation (again!) and on wide-open passes, drops continue to be an issue. In my opinion, McCown did not give us a better chance to win in this situation. What gives?
John: Del Rio said he made the decision to give the offense a spark. It was Del Rio’s decision and his alone. I agree with you that Gabbert wasn’t getting much help, and in this case was under a lot of pressure – real pressure – by a defense that rushed the passer well on Sunday. I don’t know that I would have pulled him, but that’s mainly because I believe that when you went with Gabbert early in the season, you made a decision he was your guy for better or worse. How much there was to be gained from pulling Gabbert in that situation? Of that, I’m not sure.
Dave from Allentown, PA:
Which of these guys do you believe will be in a Jaguars jersey next season - Rashean Mathis, Dwight Lowery, Matt Roth, Jeremy Mincey? Now which of these guys do you believe will not be in a Jaguars jersey: Jason Hill, Jarrett Dillard, Cecil Shorts, Marcedes Lewis? Please don't say all, because that will not make the fans happy.
John: I don’t care that much about making the fans happy with this answer. I’m not sure that’s possible today, anyway. I believe the Jaguars would like to have all of the defensive players – Mathis, Lowery, Roth and Mincey – back. The question in those cases becomes if the sides can agree to a price. If I had to guess, I’d say Lowery and Mincey are probably back, with the others less certain. As for the offensive players, Lewis and Shorts certainly will be back. They are signed to contracts that began this season. Lewis has struggled as a receiver, but is still significantly better than any tight end on the roster, and no one inside the organization is nearly down on Shorts as the fans are. Dillard is a maybe and I’d be surprised if Hill is back.
Miguel from Mexico City, Mexico:
Funny is funny and this offense is not funny.
John: Well, that was funny . . .
Chris from Jacksonville:
Boy, that was fun.
John: . . . as was that.
Ben from Jacksonville:
Pretty soon, if not already, Gabbert will lose the support of his teammates. Football is a tough sport and if the QB continues to be timid in the pocket, his mates won't want him in there.
John: We’re a long way from that.
Stephen from St. Augustine, FL:
Will you address my concerns with clock management now, John?
John: It hasn’t been good most of the year. Not sure that anyone has seen it differently, and I believe it has been stated here on more than one occasion. I don’t know that clock management was as much of an issue Sunday as some do, though. The Jaguars were on the Houston 40 with 1:16 remaining and had a timeout. That’s really plenty of time. You could have made the argument that the Jaguars should have taken a timeout before McCown threw incomplete on 4th-and-2, but the team knew the defensive look it would get and had the right play called. As has been the case too often this season, the play didn’t get made, but in this case it wasn’t a case of anyone not knowing what was going on.
Darren from Jacksonville:
How do you post two questions from the same reader when i had a LeFevor question that said basically the same thing you did for Aaron from Chehalis, you O-zone column is worst than our pass defense. Now I have been heard
John: Probably because I didn’t want to clean up your email yesterday, either. And by the way, the Jaguars’ pass defense is pretty good.
Jason from Tallahassee:
Jones-Drew mentioned that even though there is no post-season to play for, “If you’re not playing for this team, you’re playing for the next team. There’s always something you’re playing for." Is he playing for the next team? I wouldn't blame him if he left when his contract is up. I would be happy for him, because he is wrecking his body for nothing here. I wish he had some results to show for his hard work.
John: No. Jones-Drew is not playing for his next team. All he meant was that there should never be a problem with motivation in the NFL because all players know they are not just playing for their team, but playing to put their abilities on tape in the event they are released from their current team. It wasn’t specific to Jones-Drew, but more of a general statement.
Donny from Heathrow, FL:
I couldn't always tell at the game who was supposed to block this Conner Barwin guy (never heard of him). Apparently no one could! Four sacks....are you kidding me?
John: I don’t think you were the only one with the issue of which you spoke.
Nick from New York, NY:
It's just difficult to believe the Jaguars' passing offense could actually regress. Very disheartening.
John: I’ll close with this email in part because it mimics a few previous emails I posted and many that I didn’t. It was a tough day Sunday, and Gabbert indeed appeared at times to take a step back. People have accused me of defending Gabbert too much in recent weeks, and others have agreed that he has shown signs of improvement. On this day, a day after his first benching, I’ll close by saying again that this is a process and that all is not as it initially seems. Gabbert struggled, and there’s no way yet to know if he is going to develop into a franchise quarterback. But in the shape the Jaguars are in offensively overall, it’s just far, far, far too early judge either way. That’s not an answer people like on a morning like this, but it’s the right answer, frustrating though it may be.

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