EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The debut edition of the 2016 O-Zone Late Night. All right, enough with the intros.
Let's get to it …
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
I don't care how he practices if he plays games like that.
John: You're talking about Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles – and yeah, that's pretty much why the storyline of the last few weeks felt unnecessary in many ways. Much was made of Bortles not starting great in a scrimmage last week. Much also was made of some inconsistent training-camp practices. Bortles in two seasons with the Jaguars typically has been better in game action than practice – and judging from his 6-of-7 passing performance for 105 yards and no interceptions in two series against the Jets Thursday, that's still the case. Look, nothing matters too much about Bortles until the regular-season opener. That's when we'll starting finding out if he's truly a more efficient, improved quarterback. The first week and a half of training camp didn't prove he wasn't becoming that. The first two series Thursday doesn't prove he is becoming that. Still, yes … it was a far better sign to see him play as he did in the first two series than if he would have struggled. Thursday was just a start for Bortles and the Jaguars' offense, but it was a heck of a start.
Shane from Atlanta, GA:
Is it true? Did we lose the coin flip?? Is the season over???
John: I worried about that, too. It was dicey there, but they decided to play on.
Shane from Atlanta, GA:
Disregard. ... I've calmed down.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
Did Myles Jack look as fast in person as he did on television?
John: Jack, the Jaguars' second-round linebacker, looked impressive in extensive second-quarter playing time. He played with the second-team defense – as he has throughout training camp. He is still learning a lot about this defense, and the thought was he would play faster and faster as he gets more and more comfortable. It appears that thought was a good one.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Early impressions ... offence looks good defense still sucks.
John: This was the much-anticipated First Email of the Game. I can't say I was surprised it was from Jerell. I also can't say I was surprised at Jerell's first-half take. Welcome back, Jerell. #It'sfootballtime
Scott from Aurora, IL:
Fast enough start? All looks good on both sides, adjusting for preseason. ...
John: I couldn't agree more. I was skeptical that the Jaguars' offense would start fast Thursday – even as much as the unit talked about the need to do so in recent weeks. The offense hadn't looked great in the scrimmage last week and there were some not unexpected hiccups during the first week and a half of training camp. But Bortles looked efficient early Thursday and wide receiver Allen Robinson looked exactly as he has for the past week and a half – like a player ready to move to emerge as one of the NFL's elite players at his position. The running game was perhaps the best news for the Jaguars because it looked as if the addition of running back Chris Ivory is going to have the desired effect of making that area a threat – not just in the red zone, but when the team needs to run. It's early, but all of the above-mentioned occurrences are good signs. Really good signs.
Glenn from RIichmond Hill, GA:
O-man, watching the game tonight I saw some things that were extremely positive … and some things that still left me a little concerned. In the end, I feel like I'm watching a team that legitimately could be good, but it's still not a team that certainly will be good. Your thoughts?
John: The extreme positive were pretty much everything from the first-team offense. The concerns were a couple of things from the defense, but the early pressure/sack on 3rd-and-long by Yannick Ngakoue was absolutely a good sign. There was a lot more good than bad Thursday – and a lot on which to build. It was a better performance than I expected in the opener. We'll see where it goes from here.
Devin from Atlanta, GA:
Middle of the field, John ... long year ahead? I know it's only preseason, but Poz and Smith veterans of watching the ball sail right over their heads by now, I'd think.
John: It has happened too often in the past and it's something that has to get fixed. This O-Zone Late Night was filed immediately after the game, so it's difficult to know why two plays on the second defensive drive Thursday went for passes of 26 and 43 yards over the middle. It's difficult to know why the area remains an issue, but I expect Jack to play a lot on passing situations sooner rather than later – and I'd expect the defense in the middle of the field to improve then, too.