O-Zone: Missing out

JACKSONVILLE – Here’s hoping people realize the preseason is preseason, and here’s hoping people don’t overreact to the Jaguars’ preseason-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens Thursday.

Here’s knowing that won’t happen.

Let’s get to it …

Captain Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL

The offensive nonperformance of the Jags Thursday was embarrassing. It is an indictment of the organization to play so poorly ... the general manager for drafting or signing these players, the coaches for not developing these players and the players for their lack of performance. Does it make you question the ability of this staff to compete when they do play the regulars? It does me.

This promises to be a common theme in this O-Zone. That’s understandable. The Jaguars lost to the Ravens, 29-0, in Baltimore Thursday night and the offense was ineffective throughout. Such games frustrate fans and prompt words such as “indictment” and “embarrassing.” This makes sense because a score was kept and there was an opponent, but remember: While this was a “game,” the Jaguars essentially approached it like a practice – one in which they held out nearly all of their best players. So, when you ask if the game makes me question the ability of the staff to compete when the regulars play, the answer is easy: No. Not at all. Most players who played for the Jaguars Thursday won’t start in the regular season. Many will never make an NFL roster. It wasn’t an indictment on anything. It was a preseason game in which the Jaguars’ backups played much of the first half against another team’s starters. Do the Jaguars have concerns at backup quarterback and other areas of depth? Yes. That’s the big takeaway from that game, and Head Coach Doug Marrone said as much. But an indictment of the organization? Hardly.

Ken from Jacksonville

Well, we made SportsCenter's Top Ten list. Unfortunately, it was for our quarterback nearly getting killed.

OK?

Gary from Fleming Island

Did the starters get dominated so badly in the practices that the coaches didn't want them to be embarrassed in a real game?

I’ll assume you are trying to be clever. Maybe not. Either way, the Jaguars’ starters have been playing fine in practice throughout 2019 Training Camp. The idea behind not playing them Thursday was to prevent injury, have them ready for the regular season and to get the backups needed playing time.

Jon from Ocala, FL

Hi O, did Thursday night look like if the best college football team played an NFL team?

No. It looked like a team playing its reserves and third-team players in effort to be healthy entering the season and to find out about its depth. Remember: As poorly as the Jaguars played, the Ravens scored just one offensive touchdown Thursday. If the best college football team played an NFL team, there would be far more offensive touchdowns scored – as in, pretty much as many as the NFL team wanted to score.

Howard from Homestead, FL

I’m trying to decide whether to spend my hard-earned money on the preseason game against the Dolphins. I get that starters are skipping games one and four, but will starters appear less in the other two?

I anticipate the starters playing the first half against the Dolphins. That’s typical for Preseason Week 3, because teams like using that week and game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. While teams are leaning towards playing starters less and less during the preseason, I don’t anticipate that Week 3 norm changing for the Jaguars. At least not this preseason.

Bentley from Boulder, CO

It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the … oh, shoot. Great O: No matter how many starters we sat, no matter how much a lifesaver new quarterback Nick Foles is supposed to be when he plays, there is no justification for not being able to muster up even a garbage-time field goal in preseason. The Jags Drive Time radio show — you, Brian, and Ashlyn — could have scored in that fourth quarter against the Ravens.

I don’t know how to “justify” things. What I do know is the Jaguars didn’t just sit Foles against the Ravens Thursday. They sat just about every front-line player on offense and defense – outside of a few young players. I will say this to readers concerned about the loss: Yes, if the Jaguars put those same players on the field for 16 regular-season games, they will be in trouble. If they play without their core players, without their entire defense, without pretty much their entire offensive line, their receiving corps, their running backs and their starting quarterback … then, yes, it’s going to be a rough season. As for your final point, Brian and I couldn’t have scored in the fourth quarter, but Ashlyn is said to be accurate from 35 yards in.

Jess from Glen Carbon, FL

How soon we forget. Your responses to the numerous O-Zone questions concerning the 29-0 loss to the Ravens conveyed that we shouldn't be concerned about the loss because most of the starters didn't play in the game. The team started 3-1 last season, then suffered injuries to most of the offensive line and went 2-11 the rest of the way. If there are multiple injuries to the o-line again this year and the Jags have to play their backups, we're going to watch them lose a lot of games.

You could insert the name of just about any NFL team where you wrote “Jags” in your last sentence and have the sentence be just as true. NFL offensive line depth in general is a myth. Few teams have it, and the ones that do don’t have it very long.

Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL

Zone: If nothing else, the product of that exercise has presumably reduced the likelihood of inflated expectations for the season. Looking forward to seeing the 1s. Go Jags!

OK.

Jon from Manchester, NH

I'm trying not to let the game Thursday kill my hope for the season, but I have this feeling of impending doom that we are a few key injuries (Foles, specifically) away from our season taking a turn for the worst. Am I overreacting?

Certainly not. If Foles and a bunch of the other players who missed Thursday’s game are injured for a long period, the Jaguars are in trouble. Few NFL teams can withstand the loss of their quarterback and multiple core players and expect to have a winning record. It’s just how it is.

William from Savannah, GA

O-Man: When I read about the starters sitting out the Thursday night game, I anticipated that the game could be really ugly. So rather than watch the game I switched over to ESPN8, the Ocho, to watch events like the slippery stairs competition. I actually had a blast watching that stupid stuff. Based on the reaction of your readers to the game, I know for certain I made the right decision.

Good call.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, the way I see it is that we all got a good look at how we are NOT going to look the season as most of those players will not make the team. If that is what we are NOT going to have, then what’s the point of complaining about it?

I haven’t the foggiest.

Keven from the Mean Streets of Jax

I know the preseason is not about wins, but about player evaluation. Was there really anything to gain watching our third team get beaten badly and outclassed on every play? Preseason Game 1 was hard to watch.

There was a lot to be gained for the coaching staff. They’re trying to figure out who will be the depth and who will make the bottom of the roster. But yes … it was hard to watch.

Jeff from Jacksonville

Thursday night’s Jags game looked a lot like it did the last time they had a new offensive coordinator? Maybe they will get their game going better next week.

Are they going to play their starting quarterback? Offensive line? Running back? Wide receivers?

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

OK, so according to Head Coach Doug Marrone, the philosophy of not playing your first team is to (a) safeguard your core players against injury and (b) get a more in-depth look at your second/third team players. I get that. But while this might be a trend, it is not universal. Baltimore played their first team. We’ll shortly see what the rest of the league does. Is it reasonable to think that the teams who play their starters the most in the preseason will be the most prepared for the regular season?

Not necessarily. The Los Angeles Rams played almost no starters in the preseason a year ago. They made the Super Bowl.

Logan from Wichita, KS

When is the first preseason game? I feel like I missed something ... or did I?

You didn’t.

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