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O-Zone: Hammer away

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Keith from Palatka, FL

I didn't know what to expect from this team this year and I don't know how many games they will win, but this team has character and "true grit."

There were many storylines in the Jaguars' 27-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 regular-season opener at TIAA Bank Field Sunday. Quarterback Gardner Minshew II. Running back James Robinson. The wide receivers. The run defense as the game continued. Cornerback CJ Henderson. Kicker Josh Lambo good from 50. But the overriding theme was that the Jaguars very definitely overcame adversity to win. This was what Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone repeatedly said he liked about this team leading to the season. He believed this would be a team that put "team" first. He believed it would be a team that handled adversity well. The Jaguars looked bad early Sunday. The Colts looked as if they would pull away. The Jaguars trailed four times. They still won. They played better as the game continued and made clutch plays late. For a day at least, Marrone was right.

Dave from Los Angeles, CA

Well, that didn't look much like tanking...

The Jaguars never planned to tank this season. That was true of the coaching staff. It was true of the players. It was true of the front office. The Jaguars didn't release or trade players they believed were going to help them this season, particularly during training camp. The exception to this was defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who the team wanted to keep but whose discontent with the team unfortunately reached a point that it was unfixable. This has been mentioned in this space before. It perhaps is worth repeating today.

Aaron from Chehalis

John, How's THAT for tanking?!? Duuuuuvaaaaaal!!! Great first game, winning feels good! Go Jags!

I love winning, man. You know what I'm saying? It's like better than losing?

Daniel from Pace, FL

How about them undercats!!!!!! Decent run game. Young team. Excited to see if they can build off this. The quarterback pressure is a concern. What do you think? Was it a conservative play-calling for a game with no preseason or something we need to work on and who needs to step it up?

I think the Jaguars' pass rush got some decent pressure on Colts quarterback Philip Rivers when defensive end Josh Allen was in the game, though Allen couldn't quite get home for sacks. I think that's where Ngakoue definitely would have helped. I think rookie defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson eventually will help in this area. I also think it's important to remember that the Colts' offensive line is one of the NFL's best. This is a relatively young defensive line for the Jaguars, so it was going to be tough to get consistent pressure on a team with a line that good – and with a quarterback as good at getting the ball out and counteracting pressure as Rivers.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

You always hear that young teams have to learn how to win. How impressive is it that this team was able to close out this game against a veteran quarterback?


Mark from Archer, FL

John, All I can say is, "Wow.: CJ Henderson certainly looks like the real deal after his first game. He held Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton in check and got a crucial interception. He was making very solid tackles, which I know was the knock on him in the draft. Then he had the big pass break up to seal the game. I look forward to watching just how good he becomes through the season.

Jaguars rookie cornerback CJ Henderson had about as impressive an NFL debut as is possible for his position. His interception set up a tying touchdown and came when the Jaguars absolutely needed it. His late-game pass defensed indeed was against Hilton, the Colts' best receiver, and it indeed secured the victory. Perhaps most impressive was a sequence in the second quarter when Hilton beat Henderson one on play, after which Henderson had a pass breakup on the ensuing play. Henderson's interception came later in the series. Corners are going to get beat in the NFL, and Hilton won some plays Sunday. But Henderson responded. That's a good sign.

Pat from Duval

Love Shenault's game but Minshew would have thrown 20 for 20.

That's perhaps the most striking aspect of Sunday's game. Minshew went 19-for-20 and was very, very good in the regular-season opener. His one incomplete pass was one of his better throws of the game – a throw down the middle in crowded coverage that rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. should have caught. He was that close to 20 for 20. Remarkable.

Lucas from Riverside

John, Dede had somewhat of an off year last season with a few drops/injuries, but doesn't he have the intangibles to be a special slot wide receiver? I've always thought of him as legit. What is your take on the "healthy scratch" from the game? Are the Jags turned off on him for some recent issue or something?

Wide receiver Dede Westbrook indeed was a healthy scratch Sunday. He missed a lot of time in training camp, and the Jaguars appear to be pretty deep at receiver. DJ Chark Jr., Keelan Cole, Shenault, Chris Conley and Collin Johnson were active and ahead of Westbrook as of this week. I don't know that I'd read much more into it than that. At least not yet.

Jozy from Jacksonville

I don't want to overstep my bounds, but after watching defensive end Josh Allen's last few pressers combined with his size and play, he seems almost franchise savior status. Am I off base? Thanks O.

You are not overstepping your bounds. You are not off base. Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, has a very real chance to be the face of the franchise and the main building block for the future. He's that good. On and off the field.

Jacob from New York

John, that was a terrible performance. It makes me think they don't want the No. 1 overall pick.

Jason's got jokes.

Moshe from Mexico City, Mexico

Weeeee... we believe.... we believe in victory... we belive in victory, we believe in victory, we believe in victory. LOL

Good one, Moshe.

Micah from Chicago, IL

O-dizzle, for the first time in my life, I really have a quarterback.

Jacob's was meh. Moshe's was good. Micah's was better. A lot better.

Tom from St. Augustine, FL

Nice W by the Jags! Although it's only one game, the 2020 draft class showed very nicely today. Your thoughts?

The Jaguars in recent seasons have appeared to draft well. Allen. Chark. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor. All have "core" potential. Sunday perhaps was another glimpse into the future, with running back James Robinson, Henderson, Shenault, defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson and nose tackle DaVon Hamilton – all standing out. It's early for the 2020 rookie class, but that was a big-time start. And as of Week 1, this absolutely is starting to have the feel of a promising young roster.

Royce from Jacksonville

Mr. O. There is nothing wrong with winning, but the average rush by Colts runners were concerning. What say you?

I say the Jaguars' defense struggled early Sunday, and I say Jaguars linebacker Joe Schobert said it best when he spoke of the defense not having hit much in training camp and needing some time to adjust. The run defense improved dramatically late in the game. The Jaguars got a lot of stops they needed as the game continued. It was good enough and better late. That's a good start.

Robert from Sebring, FL

After the Colts scored their first touchdown, I put on a Paul Posluszny jersey hoping the Defense would emulate the passion and intensity of the Poz. I t worked! I guess I have to wear it the rest of the season.

So, one fer Poz?

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John: 3:15 of the first quarter is pretty early for the play of the game, but if Abry Jones doesn't make that play, we don't have the game we had. He changed the tone of that game.

Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones – along with safety Jarrod Wilson – stuffed Colts running back Nyheim Hines on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars 3 late in the first quarter. The play kept the Colts' lead at 7-0, and indeed changed the game's momentum. The Colts had dominated the game to that point. Had they scored a touchdown there, it would have been extremely difficult for the Jaguars to come back. Jones indeed changed the game.

Paulie from Duval

The past couple of months as a Jags fan have been tough. Then the excitement kicked in and the goal, for me, was to see young players playing well. Then today happened. The top three wide outs?! Undrafted RB?!?! O-line play! MINSHEW! CJ HENDERSON being the best defender. Look, chances are we aren't going to make big waves, but if they can show positive growth and development with all those picks, who knows. And you know what, maybe we can make waves! DUUUUUVAAAAAL. I'm hammered.

I think we'll close on that.