JACKSONVILLE – This is the O-Zone Late Night intro.
If it were the regular season, it would be a few sentences – maybe more. But the Jaguars held 40 players out of the preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons Thursday with no starters and a few front-line players playing.
So, consider this truncated intro my version of holding out the starters. If Head Coach Doug Marrone can focus on being fresh for the regular season, why can't I?
Let's get to it…
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
I'm worried about Gardner Minshew II. Are we really going into the regular season with him as the backup?
Stay tuned. Minshew improved during the last three preseason games. He showed good poise while playing behind reserve linemen that struggled to protect him and while playing with reserve wide receivers who often struggled to catch catchable passes. He overall this preseason played better than I expected considering he was a rookie sixth-round selection, and his field awareness and gutsiness – and leadership is as advertised. It would have been interesting to see Minshew work with the first-team offense around him; it's conceivable he could manage the game and keep the Jaguars in games with an effective running game and a standout defense. The Jaguars could have the former and definitely have the latter. That said, Minshew didn't lead the Jaguars to a touchdown drive in the preseason and he didn't dazzle. Whatever the circumstances, he hardly took the position by the throat and made it his own. I don't believe they will be panicky and desperate to find a backup to replace him this weekend. But if a clear upgrade is available …
Jon from Southampton, UK
Has there ever been a backup quarterback who has not thrown a TD in preseason? #gardner
Of course. #thisisthe100thyearoftheNFL
Bradley from Oceanside, CA
The Jags are the most penalized team in the NFL over the last three years. I have noticed that penalties are often devastating in the course of a game. This problem seems correctable. Are the Jags putting a priority on this issue for 2019?
James from Clay County
I'm worried about Minshew and this offense, zone. This has to be bring John DeFilippo into question.
Here's why I'm not worried about Minshew or offensive coordinator DeFilippo: because I don't know what to think about them yet. The Jaguars' offensive line that played much of the preseason was porous at worst and borderline at best, so I don't know that we can judge Minshew or what DeFilippo was trying to do. But here's the thing about the offensive line that played much of the preseason: Most of those players aren't going to be playing for this team in the regular season; many won't be on the team during the regular season. The starting offensive line played two series against the Dolphins – four if you count the two series after left tackle Cam Robinson left the game. The group fared pretty well during that game, and I see no reason it won't fare OK during the regular season. If that's the case, then we can get a good idea about DeFilippo's offense. Remember, too: there's little-to-no game-planning in the preseason. Worry about the schemes once the regular season begins. Not before.
David from Maplewood, NJ
Zone: If circumstances were different, if Minshew was third-string and placed on the practice squad, would any other team come after him? I can't even imagine a scenario where another team would come after him.
I doubt Minshew would be pursued heavily in that scenario, but I don't know that that's unusual for a late-round rookie quarterback. Now, if you're asking if that's ideal for a backup quarterback …
Darren from Fort Worth, TX
I get that Bryan hasn't lived up to being drafted in the first round, but all these people talking about cutting him are ridiculous. You don't give up on a first-round pick after one year.
And the Jaguars won't. Bryan looked good on a couple of second-quarter series Thursday and had a sack in the second quarter. He also had a couple of plays early that he looked like he was struggling. That pretty much has been Bryan's mode of operation this preseason. He will be on the team this season and he deserves to be on the team – and he still must develop.
Jon from Southampton, UK
Why am I watching this John? Why?
This was the much-anticipated, oft-ballyooed, sometimes-disappointing First Email of the Game. This one wasn't disappointing – and in fact, it was a darned good question. I didn't have an answer. On to the regular season.