JACKSONVILLE – Sometimes, I underestimate people's ability to overreact. Other times, I underestimate people's ability to panic.
Then, the NFL preseason comes and then I remember.
Let's get to it …
Tommy from the 904
A lot to like, though you will be talking people off the edge. The future is bright, but the offensive line must protect and the Savior mustn't hold the ball quite so long. But the sky isn't falling. Everybody relax and enjoy the process. It's game one of the preseason. Your thoughts?
I led this O-Zone with this email because it was one of the few I received Saturday night/early Sunday morning that included the phrase "a lot to like." But it's absolutely true that the "sky isn't falling" after the Jaguars' 23-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the 2021 preseason opener at TIAA Bank Field Saturday. No, the Jaguars did not look particularly good offensively early – and head coach Urban Meyer was displeased with 85 yards total offense in the first half. He also really didn't like the early offensive tempo. Probably the biggest area of concern for observers was three sacks allowed by the Jaguars on the first three series. But while that indeed was troubling, rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence correctly said at least one of the sacks could be attributed to him holding the ball too long in the pocket. And Lawrence without question will improve on that front – and help the offensive line. The Jaguars looked a little better defensively, particularly against the run – and particularly on some standout plays by cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and CJ Henderson. The reality is this: This team was 1-15 last season – and while the Jaguars added many key pieces in the offseason, very much including Lawrence, turning the team into a contender will be a process. It wasn't going to happen in one half of one preseason game. The biggest takeaway from Saturday is that while he held the ball too long a couple of times, Lawrence is going to be good. Really good. Probably sooner than a lot of rookies. That alone should be enough to keep the sky from falling.
Aaron from Jax
O, are we disappointed by the performance? Hard to tell, but considering that Cleveland sat everyone, what should we expect moving forward?
Yes, it was disappointing. Meyer appeared disappointed afterward, particularly with the offensive production in the first half. The Jaguars wanted to look better Saturday. But I don't know that it was all that surprising. This is a young team. With a first-year head coach. And new coordinators. And a new quarterback. And new players – rookies and veterans – all over the roster. All that newness and all that youth was probably not going to work together seamlessly immediately. What should you expect moving forward? Improvement? Dramatic, rapid improvement? That's what Meyer will expect.
Daniel from Jersey
O-man, I was excited, but my wife thought it was "more of the same." How do I convince her things will be fine?
Tell her to watch the quarterback. Closely.
Paul from Jacksonville
I know it's early, but it looks like the one-year plan may take a couple of years to implement.
It is early – as in, one preseason game. The concerning thing was the Browns played a lot of reserves and the Jaguars played a lot of starters – and that is indeed a concern. The thing to remember about the Jaguars is this: Nearly everything – coaching, players, schemes, etc. – is new. The regular season is a month away. I never believed the Jaguars were a likely postseason team this season and I don't believe that after the first preseason game. But can they be dramatically improved from 1-15? Yes. Did I see things from Lawrence Saturday that make me think he's going to be good as a rookie? Yes. That doesn't mean they're a playoff team this season. It does mean people should feel a lot better about this team as the season continues than they have in past seasons.
Jerell from Columbia, SC
John, I wanted to come away encouraged but I must say I am a little discouraged! Sigh….
Give it a few weeks, Jerell. The quarterback's going to be good. That's a start. A real start.
Chandler from AZ
Meyer saying there's competition between Gardner Minshew II and Trevor … that's cute. Trevor's team all the way!!! Even Beathard looked better than Minshew.
Lawrence was selected No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft for a reason. He has looked like the best quarterback in camp, and it was unsurprising he started Saturday. Coaches like players, even highly publicized rookies, to earn starting positions. I can't imagine Lawrence won't start the opener. I imagine Meyer will announce it when he wants to announce it, but I don't know that there's a huge rush.
Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ
Well, that looked like a team that went 1-15 last year.
In some ways, maybe. But in a very important way – the quarterback who started the game – it did not look at all like a team that went 1-15 or one that will do so again.
David from EC
James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville
I'm sure this got the most talk Saturday, but I want to throw in my two cents worth. Seems like for three years now, the Jaguars' offensive line is a work in progress. Hope Trevor can make it till they finally jell.
The Jaguars stuck with the offensive line this past offseason when many observers believed they needed to upgrade the tackle position. The team believed the line was better than many observers believed. Saturday wasn't a great start on that front. All the pressures weren't on that unit, but it still wasn't a great start. This will remain a topic. Stay tuned.
Cortez the Killer from Campeche Bay, Mexico
Hey, Ozone. Don't sweat it, Johnny Boy. The biggest improvement ALWAYS happens after the first preseason game, right?
I'm not sweating anything. Saturday doesn't particularly change how I feel about this team. I believe it will be improved. I believe Lawrence will be good and give the team real hope for the future. I don't know that that means a winning record or a playoff push.
Wade from Westside
Not panicking, but this team needs a LOT of work before the season starts.
Jordan from Mandarin
The best player I saw on offense tonight was Walker Little. He was dominating at left tackle. I would love to see him get some reps with the first team.
Mike from St. Augustine, FL
John - Will the Jags ever have a defense capable of diagnosing and covering a screen?
This was a problem Saturday. Two screens by the Browns made the defense look particularly bad. Meyer went so far as to say, "It was like we never saw a screen before." Defensive end Josh Allen said he didn't believe it would be a difficult fix. Whatever the difficult, I expect Meyer to make it a priority. Quickly.
Nick from St. Augustine, FL
Well Logan Cooke looked ready.
He's a good 'un.
Logan from Wichita, KS
Gardner Minshew II needs to be QB1 until the O-Line can protect Golden Arm. Rather have a good decade than be looking for a new quarterback three years when Lawrence can't even walk onto the field without hearing footsteps.
The line must play better than it did on at least one play in front of Lawrence Saturday. He also must get the ball out quicker, which I expect he will. Either way, the Jaguars don't need to start someone over Lawrence with the idea of protecting him. The whole idea of quarterbacks "hearing footsteps" or "getting gun-shy" or whatever … I'm not big on it. Guys who can play the position can stand in the pocket with presence and awareness; guys who can't, don't. Lawrence is going to be fine. He's smart and aware and he'll figure out how to move in the pocket to help himself and his offensive line. If he's the best, he should play. I suspect he will play.
Jacob from New York, NY
Trevor Lawrence was not injured. This was a successful preseason game, was it not?
In that sense, yes.
Scott from Jax
Do you think Lawrence is holding the ball too long? It seems that me that he is going to get killed if he doesn't make quicker decisions.
Yes, Lawrence held the ball too long several times on the two series he played Saturday. He must make quicker decisions – for his own sake, for the offense's sake and for the offensive line's sake. He was well aware of this afterward, and it was a major topic in his postgame media availability. This was his first NFL game. That means this is the first time he has had to figure out how long he can hold the ball against professional defenders. Lawrence is said to be a quick learner. He'll learn quickly on this front.