JACKSONVILLE – Six and counting.
Let's get to it …
David from Section 222:
Zone, that might have been the most effective running game/offense I have seen from a Jaguars team in a long time, preseason or otherwise. The starting lines on both sides have inspired just a little optimism ... is that wrong? (and shout-out to the Patriots television crew for having the wrong logo ... smh)
John: The Jaguars' running game indeed was effective Thursday. The area wasn't mind-blowingly dominant, but it was more than good enough to inspire confidence. Considering the importance of continuity in the running game, it's fair to expect this group to improve with time. The biggest factor is the presence of rookie running back Leonard Fournette. He has looked like the real deal throughout training camp and he looked like the real deal Thursday. At some point, when a guy looks like the real deal often enough, you start to realize maybe he's … the real deal. So, no … it's not wrong to be a little optimistic. Just don't go overboard. It's only Preseason Week 1. (as far as the logo incident … yeah, well …)
Jim from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Bortles played OK Thursday? Piffle. Two of his receptions were thrown into double coverage, so he was one for five. Our best quarterbacks are sitting on the bench, in spite of what Doug Marrone says. Just saying.
James from Destin, FL:
John, um why is Blake Bortles not the third quarterback? His stats tonight say he should be. Chad Henne and Brandon Allen are both better. Come on, mannnnnn!
John: Bortles didn't play enough Thursday to draw major conclusions. He played two series and threw five passes. Short of throwing three or four interceptions in those passes, nothing he could have done Thursday would have proven he shouldn't be the Jaguars' starting quarterback.
Jessie from Kissimmee, FL:
John, if T.J. Yeldon continues to underwhelm, do you think he is gone?
John: Yeldon hasn't underwhelmed in practice, so no.
Dave from Glass Half Empty:
Zone, should we be concerned that our defense has so much trouble on third and long? I know it's just basic coverage, but shouldn't they at least stop one of those seam routes to the tight end?
John: I wouldn't be concerned with very much that happened defensively after halftime Thursday. A lot of those players won't be around for the regular season. I'd be optimistic about one particular thing I saw in the first half, though: the play of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. If he plays this season like he did early Thursday, that will help a lot on third and long; he got really good pressure early. Either way, I wouldn't panic over the pass defense just yet. Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and Aaron Colvin didn't play Thursday; neither did defensive end Calais Campbell. Those guys matter in this defense. A lot.
Clayton from Gambier, OH:
Not a question, just an observation: Leonard Fournette should carry the ball 23-plus times a game with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon being the complementary running backs.
John: I say 22, but OK.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Very impressed by Grant. He is definitely making a strong case for keeping him on the roster. What are your thoughts on Allen? Do you think his performance warrants having some movement on the depth chart?
John: I would be very surprised at this point if Corey Grant is not on the roster. His speed has shown up in practice and showed up Thursday, too. I think Brandon Allen had some good throws in the second half Thursday but I don't see him moving up the depth chart because of it. Bortles is the starting quarterback, and Chad Henne showed on Thursday why he's the backup.
Chris from Mandarin:
Are there certain questions journalists know they should not ask in a press conference? For example, I think we as fans would like to know directly from Blake Bortles why he cannot be consistent practice-in and practice-out, game-in and game-out. How would it go over if you or another reporter actually asked him why he is not consistent after putting so much of an emphasis on mechanics and decision-making?
John: Bortles actually is asked about accuracy and decision-making pretty consistently, particularly by those who cover the team locally – and he is as direct and as candid about areas he needs to improve as any quarterback I ever have covered. Has he been asked your question with that exact phrasing? Perhaps not. And would fans like the questions to be more confrontational, his press conferences more contentious? Perhaps. But Bortles is questioned pretty directly on a pretty consistent basis – and he is remarkably forthcoming when questioned more often than not. Also, there is an element of knowing what you're going to get from the question. What could Bortles say to answer why he isn't consistent? He doesn't know. If he did, he would be more consistent.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Is it safe to say that the joint practices with the Bucs will tell us a lot more about where the team is than the joint practices with the Patriots? Everyone has harped on the fact that there is a pretty wide chasm between the Jags and the Patriots, so hopefully seeing them against a team that is a little closer to their level will give us more hope, or at least more information.
John: Yes, I think that's safe to say.
Dave from Duval:
There. You said it! You want your backup to give you the best chance to win the game. Chad Henne's record is 18-35 as a starter. Henne is bad at what his main job. By your own reasoning. Yet, he's on our team doing just that. Once again, when Chad leaves the Jaguars organization, he will not be signed ever again to an NFL team.
John: I don't know when Henne will leave the Jaguars, though he – like all players – will leave some day. But if he were to be released after this season and chose to play again … once again, he absolutely would get the opportunity to be a backup somewhere. Quickly.
Emily from Richland, WA:
I'm curious as to why the Patriots agreed to practice with the Jaguars. I can see why the Jags wanted to practice with the Patriots, but why would the best in the league want to practice with a bottom-feeder? Why not pick a better team? Did Doug Marrone's hiring have a hand in that?
John: Dual practices typically involve teams who are playing one another in a preseason game – usually an early preseason game. The visiting team in this scenario travels to the opposing city, the teams typically practice together twice, then the teams play the game. The Jaguars played the Patriots in the preseason opener, so the schedule lent itself to the teams practicing against one another this past week.
Dave from Duval:
Let's don't forget about another stat that BB5 has led the NFL in since he was drafted: batted passes at the line. Why do you think his passes get batted or returned for touchdowns so much more than the average quarterback?
John: Batted passes are typically about either defensive players making good plays to get their hands in front of passes, offensive linemen not blocking correctly to keep defenders' hands occupied or quarterbacks not getting into proper position to throw through correct lanes. There usually is a lot of all three going on when a quarterback gets a lot of passes batted. As for the interceptions returned, one or two a season is fairly normal. Many more than that usually is about the quarterback making too many "uh-oh reads."
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
Is it correct to think that even if the offensive line doesn't improve over last season that Bortles should be better protected due to the fact we now have a fullback on the roster AND two large human beings as running backs in Ivory and Fournette? In your opinion, will we ever see Ivory and Fournette in the backfield together and if so, will this be to further protect the quarterback? Thanks and #DTWD
John: I don't know how much a fullback and big running backs will help protect Bortles; while it can't hurt, pass protection is more often the responsibility of the offensive line – and the quarterback knowing how to manage the pocket. I imagine you'll see the occasional formation with Fournette and Ivory in the same backfield, but I doubt you will see it often.
Ryan from Duville:
It has been about a year since I've visited the O-Zone. Much like our team, I can see not a whole lot has changed. Same optimistic fans dreaming of the day Bortles develops, or the same pessimistic fan complaining about how we are going to be awful and blah blah blah… Just more of the same. Just different people running the circus.
John: Okey-doke. See you in a year. We'll be here.