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O-Zone: Looking ahead

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Glenn from Hope Mills, NC

John, I'm seeing a lot of immediate reactions from across the national media and other "observers." They all seem to think that what they saw Saturday was a, "jittery, scattershot Blake Bortles." Then there was the tweet, "Blake Bortles throws another embarrassing interception." ONLY PROBLEM IS, THAT'S NOT WHAT I saw at all. I saw a great defense across the way do their best to shut down the Jags offense. I didn't see a reason why we should've signed the guy across the way. Am I crazy, or did anyone else not see the 2015 version of BB5?

Breathe, Glenn. Saturday's one-interception game won't define Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles' 2018 season any more than Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins' 12-yard game will define his 2018 season. It was the preseason. You're not crazy. These were two good defenses. Oh – and if at all possible stop worrying about what national media and writers who cover other teams tweet about the Jaguars. I know a lot of those guys and ladies well. I like a lot of those guys and ladies. But they're also the same guys and ladies who incorrectly tweeted about Bortles being bad a lot last season, and a lot of those guys and ladies apparently didn't watch the Jaguars in the second half of last season – or the postseason. That's OK, I don't always watch teams those other guys and ladies cover, either. And I certainly don't care what most national observers tweet about the Jaguars.

Chris from Goodnight, TX

Holy moly. Do we have a left tackle problem? It is halfway through the second quarter and Cam Robinson has been whipped no fewer than four times.

Robinson struggled Saturday. His matchup, Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter, was admittedly a tough one, but a lot of the optimism about the Jaguars' offensive line assumes Robinson will improve from last season. That's a big priority the rest of the preseason.

Tony from the Land of Confusion

OK, I was completely and totally kidding last week, but Jaguars backup Cody Kessler did seem to be more accurate, made better decisions, and had better command of the offense Saturday than Bortles did. When both were against the Vikings twos, Kessler seemed to be showing more. Is there any sense that there's even the tiniest scintilla of a possibility that Kessler would be allowed to compete for the starting job?

Stop. Please?

Renee from Duval

O-man … clean tackle by Wilson. I know it's preseason for refs also. They need it. GO JAGS.

You're referring to a tackle made by Jaguars safety Jarrod Wilson in the fourth quarter that drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. I thought at first the referees called him for lowering his head to initiate the tackle, which I thought would have been an incorrect call. They called him for a hit on a defenseless receiver, which I also thought was the incorrect call.

Tom from Cardiff, Wales

Do you think that's how they're going to ref the helmet rule in the regular season? That first quarter was a chore to watch and it didn't seem to be the players' faults.

I don't know. I agree.

Wade from Where I Stay

These penalties? The helmet call against Bouye was bogus. The clean tackle in the fourth quarter was just a bad, bad call. If these penalties are called in the regular season it will cost aggressive, hard-hitting teams like the Jags harder than others.

I agree about the penalty on Wilson, but the call on cornerback A.J. Bouye earlier in the game is trickier. I absolutely agree that it would have been hard for Bouye to have avoided the penalty. I mentioned this to Bouye after the game, and he agreed – but said the official told him he got the penalty because he was lower than the ball carrier. Bouye said he will try to adjust in the future. I'm certain he will do just that, but I'm just as certain these penalties are going to get called even when players try to avoid them.

Marc from Oceanway

Can you explain the penalty on Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue after his sack? He didn't appear to taunt, so was it considered lewd?

You saw it. Did you think it was "G-rated?"

J. Hooks from Fleming Island, FL

They didn't look great, and they didn't look terrible. They just look "clunky." Am I wrong?

The Jaguars' defense looked great, which made the Vikings look "clunky." The Vikings' defense is pretty much the equivalent of the Jaguars' defense, which I have a sneaky suspicion may have been part of the season the Jaguars' offense looked "clunky."

Jordan from Lincoln, NE

The problem with this team is not Bortles! He performed fine against one of the league's best defenses. The problem with this team are the 10 first-half penalties.

The four in the second half didn't help, either.

Kevin from Jacksonville Beach, FL

No question, just a comment. They are taking the defense right out of the game. These calls are ridiculous. Go Jags!!

The league isn't doing it because it wants to take defense out of the game. It's doing it because it must do it to protect players. It's not ridiculous, but it's going to make this game frustrating for a while.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

On the defenseless receiver penalty in the fourth quarter, how can the wide receiver be defenseless when he caught the ball? He went in with his shoulder and made a great tackle. Last time I checked this is still tackle football and players are going to get hit.

Agreed.

Mark from Prescott, AZ

If not for the enormous amount of negative penalty yardage the Jaguars would have crushed the Vikings on the scoreboard. They seem to be out of sorts and have no focus. Why do you think this is?

I didn't think the Jaguars were an out-of-focus team Saturday. I thought it may have been a team that's been through a demanding training camp, and one that was the victim of some quick whistles and some tricky calls from referees still trying to figure out how to call some of the offseason rules changes.

Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL

The new uniforms have refined cool in the NFL. So cool!

Hey, one for the unis.

Chad from Yulee, FL

I'm looking forward to finding out what Jalen's thoughts are on the game with the Vikings. How long after his press availability do you think you'll have the story posted?

I usually post stories quickly. I try to post them quickly when Ramsey speaks, so I suppose I'll post the story the next time Ramsey speaks, you know … quickly.

Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL

I hope we meet this year's preseason practice opponent in the playoffs, too. See what I did there, O?

Well done.

Glenn from Chicago, IL

Why are so many grown people so crotchety about what players say or do?

Because even grown fans gonna fan – and because crotchety fans are going to be crotchety when they start fannin'.

Matt from Green Cove Springs, FL

What's the chances we could see Ronnie Harrison sooner rather than later in the starting lineup or at nickel? Based on what I'm hearing from practices, he could be this year's Yannick Ngakoue. That definitely would be nice.

I have gotten a version of this question often since the Jaguars selected safety Ronnie Harrison in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, draft and I imagine I'll get more after Harrison played well while starting for Tashaun Gipson Saturday. First, I don't expect Harrison to start over either Gipson or Barry Church this season. The Jaguars' safeties were a major reason the defense was as good as it was last season, and there is no reason to move either Church or Gipson out of the lineup. While the team certainly likes Harrison, and while I believe he probably will start next season, I can't imagine it happening this season unless one of the starters is injured. As for playing Harrison at nickel, the Jaguars signed D.J. Hayden as an unrestricted free agent to play nickel. Nothing has happened since March to change that, and that will be the defense against three wide-receiver sets. There is a chance we will see Harrison in a so-called "heavy" nickel package in which he is on the field at the same time as Church and Gipson, but that will be against certain base looks and I don't expect it to be the team's primary nickel package.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

OK, I know it is just preseason, but I came away thinking I don't remember seeing such an evenly matched opponent to the Jaguars as the Vikings are up and down the roster.

The Jaguars and Vikings are both talented. They're both well-coached. I expect both to be in the postseason. I suspect both could play in the Super Bowl.

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