Last day talking Raiders. Gosh, I miss it already.
Let's get to it . . .
I'm sure there will be plenty of teeth gnashed in your inbox, but I noticed something Sunday that gave me a more hopeful feeling - until Gabbert left, he was playing the best we've seen him play. He was going deep, he was going short when it made sense and he was stepping up and escaping the pocket while still looking downfield for his completion. When he was in the game the Jaguars were dominating, and when he left the game it was like someone flipped a switch and the team couldn't do anything at all. What's your feeling on Gabbert after Sunday?
John: I feel the same as I did last week – that we need to continue to see overall improvement over the final part of the season. You can’t grade the guy after every play, every quarter or every game, tempting though it may be. Gabbert looked really good for a quarter. It would have been great to see him build on that. We didn’t see that because he didn’t play in the second half and now we have one more piece in a complicated puzzle.
Stephen from Switzerland:
At this point the record is not what bothers me the most. What bothers me is it looked like finally Gabbert and the receivers were on the same page. Starting to get a rhythm. Then Gabbert gets injured and the first chance he gets to showcase that is gone. Henne's performance shows just how monumental that time together is as he was throwing to open air at times. I just hope he (Gabbert) gets another chance.
John: He will.
Keith from Jacksonville:
How much dead money would the Jags have to take a hit on if they cut everyone on the team except on offense Monroe and on defense Poz, Smith, Cox and Landry?
John: Way too much, obviously – enough that a team couldn’t function. And even if everyone on the roster aside from those players was terrible, you couldn’t field anything close to a competitive roster acquiring 48 new players. It just doesn’t work that way.
Ken from Jacksonville:
What was the five-hour plane ride home from Oakland like?
John: It was like, five hours.
Chris from Orlando, FL:
NFL players like tough NFL players. How do you think Gabbert would be viewed by his teammates when they find out he can practice Wednesday? They could have used him in a close game, but he sat the sideline until the coin flip. Players lost respect for players like this when I played football. He does lack toughness.
John: I’ve never been a good judge of other people’s toughness, I guess, but I admire your conviction. Gabbert was injured and tried to play through it. He actually returned to the game and was far less effective after the injury than before. I saw a guy take hits when throwing and try to play through an injury and not be able to do it. That strikes me as tough, but that’s just my opinion, and not being Gabbert I can’t say for sure what he was going through. Perhaps there are others who can.
Jim from the Villages, FL:
We found out how valuable Gabbert is. MJD is the star but Gabbert's the guy we can't do without. Agree?
John: With rare exceptions, things rise and fall on the quarterback.
Drew from Jacksonville:
I don't question Gabbert’s toughness all the time, but he does show timidness now and then. Am I the only one who saw it on the touchdown throw? Great recognition, but I know Gabbert has a better arm than that. Tell me if I'm wrong, but had he not thrown off his back foot and thrown into the pressure he would have hit Shorts in stride? It really didn't matter on that play, but I've seen it a few times in every game and it is something I think he needs to improve on quick, especially with the protection he is going to get all year.
John: Show me a quarterback who never protects himself and I’ll show you a quarterback who misses too much time to be my franchise quarterback.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
As Gabbert said, "We'll receive," I said "You've got to kick." What did you think of the overtime decision?
John: I think in the NFL you play offense when you get the ball in overtime.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
The penalty against Branch hurt Sunday. But, how can you call roughing the passer on that? His hand appeared to be up in the air to block a pass and came down against the helmet of Palmer while he's rushing the passer? There was no intention of roughing Palmer on that play. He's playing football. The competition committee is making it less and less fun to watch the NFL. You can't touch the quarterback above the shoulders. You can't touch the quarterback below the knees. You have refs calling roughing penalties on "love taps." It's just getting ridiculous. I know they are trying to remove judgment from the refs, but do you agree with the rules pertaining to the quarterback?
John: You pretty much answered the question. The whole idea of having any contact with the quarterback’s helmet be a penalty is to do exactly what you said – to eliminate as much judgment as possible with the hope of having officiating be as similar as possible in every game every week of the season. The negative is you get calls such as Sunday’s, when Branch really wasn’t doing anything unsportsmanlike, but under the old system what was a penalty and what wasn’t often varied widely. It probably evens out in the end, but I sort of preferred the old way where there was at least an effort to take intent into account.
Yash from Jacksonville:
This one hurts. Gabbert was on fire and was playing like the guy in Week 1. Our offense was moving and our defense looked good, really good. How can we get the bad taste out from this one?
John: Beat Green Bay.
Dave from Panama City Beach, FL:
The Carolina Panthers fired their general manager. Many Jags fans want Gene Smith fired. (I admit I'm one of them) What I don't understand is why now in the middle of a year? Are they hoping for some earth-shattering moves from a new GM before the trade deadline? I don't see the advantage.
John: Neither do I. I got a lot of emails applauding the Panthers for “sending a message,” but I fail to see the point in that. You don’t make changes to send messages. You make changes to make organizations better and increase your chances of winning. There’s a limit to what a general manager can do during the season, and if you want to make a change, there’s plenty of time either after the season or much, much later in the season.
Loftur from Reykjavic, Iceland:
I have never felt this way after watching a Jaguars game before. I was completely numb, I can't believe they lost that game after having a 14-point lead. A pretty good defensive effort with some turnovers forced and this is the end result. Obviously it hurt losing MJD and Gabbert, who was having a really good game when he got injured, but the offense was simply terrible, definitely the worst one in the league. I guess this will stop all of the bench Gabbert, start Henne questions you get. The Raiders are not a good team and not being able to beat them when holding a 14-point lead tells us all we need to know about this team and please don't blame this on the time-zone difference, that definitely wasn't the case in this game!
John: No, it wasn’t good. But who said anything about blaming the time-zone difference?
David from Maplewood, NJ:
John, I give, you win - we shouldn't be mad, disappointed, disgusted or embarrassed by what is clearly by a wide margin the worst team in the league (please don't dispute - it would really seem like pandering). To do so only causes stress. We should just sit and watch this train wreck without comment or passion. Great way to build a fan base.
John: I’m trying to recall when I wrote that you shouldn’t be mad, disappointed, disgusted or embarrassed, and while this argument might seem silly, I’m also not sure how disputing the Jaguars are the worst team in the NFL by a wide margin would be pandering. They lost on the road to Minnesota and Oakland in overtime. They beat Indianapolis. If there was a wide margin, those games wouldn’t have been close. No one wants to be in the business of Wanting to Not Be the Worst, and the Jaguars aren’t, either, but to think that anyone wants anyone to watch this without comment or passion is just way, way off.
Lee from Jacksonville:
You know what else we learned on Sunday? That Mike Harris
has a chance to be really, really good. Once he got into the game, Carson Palmer picked on him right away. Harris responded with two great plays in one drive alone. I'm not going as far as to say that Rashean Mathis
is done, but it is comforting to know that his replacement is already on the roster.
John: Good call. I wrote What We Learned around 2 a.m. on the plane Sunday night/Monday morning. I skipped mentioning Harris. I shouldn’t have. He looked good. He could be a bright spot.
Ray from Jacksonville:
I think I can sum it up: "^&*@$?>@(##%!"
John: Well put.