O-Zone: Finding his form

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Dave from Atlantic Beach, FL

I know it’s only a preseason game, and I know it’s only our backups and reserves. But DAMN!

This is an understandable, fair reaction to the Jaguars’ 29-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens Thursday night in the 2019 preseason opener. From listening to Head Coach Doug Marrone afterward, it seems there were one or two times during the game that he also might have been thinking – or saying – “DAMN!” The main thing to remember about Thursday’s loss was that – as you mention – few starters or core players played for the Jaguars. They held out 30 players, which is in keeping with the approach throughout 2019 Jaguars Training Camp of focusing on player health and regular-season availability. That’s a wise, long-term approach that doesn’t make for a good short-term look. When you don’t play front-line players in the NFL and your opponent does, you’re usually going to be on the wrong end of a one-sided score. Still, the performance in the second half – particularly in the third quarter – was concerning. The Jaguars made up no ground, and they appeared to play with little energy. Marrone focused afterward on the Jaguars’ depth and it was easy to understand why. Still, it’s important to remember that most of the players playing in the second half won’t be on the team. So, some perspective?

Johnny from Jacksonville

I knew it wasn’t all Blake’s fault!

The starters didn’t play!

Don from Macclenny, FL

That was ugly. Any chance we can pick up an NFL-caliber backup quarterback on the street somewhere? It does not appear that we have one on the team.

I got no sense from Marrone following the game that acquiring a veteran backup quarterback is a consideration. The job appears to be rookie sixth-round selection Gardner Minshew’s to lose. True: his performance Thursday didn’t inspire confidence. Then again, little going on around him inspired confidence. Minshew’s arm strength was a concern before the draft, and it appeared to be an issue Thursday, but it’s too early to give up on him after just one game.

Mike from St. Augustine, FL

Ninety sucks. He’s so bad. Watched him all night. So bad. At the risk of being one those guys who says, “Look what you could have had” …. Just look what we could had had. Ninety sucks. Bad.

So, one not fer Taven I guess.

Tony from St. Louis, MO

Do the jags 2018 1st round pick still on the team? Is he hurt? If he is still on the team and not hurt, has he made 1 play or flashed at all?

I sifted through your effort, and I am proud to say I discerned that you likely were asking if the Jaguars’ first-round selection from 2018 – defensive tackle Taven Bryan – is still on the team. Indeed he is. He had a couple of plays Thursday where he stood out. He still needs to do more.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

The preseason championship dream is gone.

RIP.

David from Maplewood, NJ

Well, that sucked! Yeah, I know it’s preseason and blah, blah, blah. It was preseason for them as well, if I’m not mistaken. What a great tone-setter.

Yes, it was also preseason for the Ravens Thursday – but unlike the Jaguars, the Ravens didn’t choose to keep essentially all starters out of the game. I wouldn’t worry about Thursday setting any tone because the preseason is so much different than the regular season. But maybe it heightened some reserves’ awareness they must perform at a higher level to compete for a starting position – or to even make the team.

Tom from Shanghai, China

It's Preseason Game 1 with every projected starter scratched. I know it's not a big deal. But our second- and third-string getting whooped like they stole something is still not a good thing, right?

How your second- and third-string isn’t as important as how your starters play, but neither is it unimportant. What is kind of unimportant is how players that won’t be on the team play, and there was some stuff going on in the second half Sunday that wasn’t, well … all that critical.

Jgarfn28 from Rio Rancho, NM

What the Jack!! Really, the NFL Network runs reruns of their openers before they BURY the Jags-Ravens at 3 a.m. Mountain time?????

There goes the NFL hatin’ on the Ravens again.

Steven from Duval

Why not give the starters more work in Week 1 of the preseason? If there are injuries, they have more time to recover?

The Jaguars are trying to avoid the type of major, season-ending injury that robbed them of wide receiver Marqise Lee in the preseason last year and of wide receiver Allen Robinson on the first series of the 2017 regular season. They’re also trying to have an overall plan to maximize health during the regular season, particularly during a three-games-in-17-day stretch early in the season. It’s a plan that’s understandable considering the injury mess that was last season. We’ll see if it works.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, is having the worst backup quarterback situation in the league behind a starter with very legitimate durability concerns a good way to go in to the season?

It’s not ideal. Jaguars starting quarterback Nick Foles needs to stay healthy. No doubt about it.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Don't NFL teams have to "hit" on players like Yannick Ngakoue in order to compensate for all the misses they will experience in the draft where they have overpaid a player based on the field performance?

NFL teams must hit on as many players as possible in the draft in whatever round because no team hits on all selections in any round – including the first. It’s a percentage game with hits and misses, but sure … if you miss in a lot of first round selections you must hit in the later rounds.

Princefigs from Jacksonville

I'm sure you're inundated with emails with fans jumping off the proverbial bridge over us being beaten by 29 points. But, I think the fan base needs to take a step back and realize that the Jaguars were playing for the vast majority of the game a bunch of people who are going to be insurance salesmen next month. Let's wait until the regular season starts before we all declare this season over with.

Why wait? Panicking is more fun.

Paul from Nantucket, MA

Yo, Zone. With all due respect and props to former Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, I find myself wondering ... with all the mounting injuries at linebacker and the prospect of penciling in a rookie in his place, what is his situation? I know: it’s of a personal nature, but something still seems very weird with it. Team Captain, Pro Bowl player that was just awarded a huge contract extension a couple seasons ago, on a team in flux with newer players looking for contract extensions and not exactly full of Pro Bowlers. Don't you think the fans that pay to see the games should know at least something? Or are fans just supposed to not worry about it... as it is his own situation, just let him deal with it and keep on rooting for the team? Perplexing.

Smith’s situation indeed is perplexing, and fans understandably are going to wonder exactly why he has chosen to step away from the game. I imagine he will speak publicly about the situation at some time, though I don’t know when that will happen. Until then, his personal situation will remain just that.

Sean from Jacksonville

Be prepared for the “Same old Jags”… “Coaching was horrible” … “The entire season is sunk.” I rather enjoy watching the naysayers. Nay?

Sure.

Don from Norfolk, VA

The Jaguars looked unprepared (sloppy play/excessive penalties) when compared to the Ravens team play on Thursday night. Do you think that some of this can be attributed to the “Club Med” Training Camp this year.

The whole Club Med training camp thing is overblown. The Jaguars are practicing hard. They’re practicing for basically as long as they have in the past, with the major difference perhaps one or two fewer padded practices. I think how the Jaguars played Thursday has far less to do with how they’re practicing than with the fact they held 30 players – and most of their best ones – out of the game. I’m not sure you need to look much deeper than that to explain the performance.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

That was pathetic this team has absolutely no depth and Taven Bryan let me be the first on record to say he is a bust and if he was pick in rounds 4 or later would be a candidate to be cut in his second year. One more thing jags better get to trading for a back up QB because they have none right now. Doug did the right thing in hiding the starters he knows outside of that the roster is trash.

Preseason opener … midseason form.

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