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O-Zone: Sweet, naïve and innocent

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Mike from Palm Bay, FL:
I have never in all of my years seen such an overreaction to a preseason game than this one. It's sad, really. The Packers scored zero points . . . I guess their season is already over, too.
John: I understand the reaction. It makes perfect sense. Jaguars fans have seen bad offense for the past two years, and when they see three points scored in the preseason opener it's hard for them to imagine that they're not getting ready to see another year of bad offense. But try to remember that Maurice Jones-Drew, Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon were not in the game. Brad Meester wasn't, either. And try to remember that some of the players on whom the team is counting are young. Ace Sanders. Denard Robinson. They're rookies. That's young. Luke Joeckel is a rookie, too. He's going to make mistakes. The reaction from fans late Friday and early Saturday makes sense, but I still see an offense that's going to improve this season. Time could prove me wrong, but I see it improving.
Andy from Roswell, GA:
After actually watching the game, it wasn't nearly as bad as the stat lines suggested. It would also help to have the starting center, one or two of the starting wide receivers, the starting running back, etc. I was pretty impressed by the defense when it "mattered." Improvement needs to be made, but when was that not a concern for this year?
John: Never.
Matt from St. Mary's, GA:
The starting defensive line looked pretty good. It would be nice if that carries over and we finally have a pass rush again. The offense: not so much, but they have time to get those kinks worked out. I'd expect a better showing next week against the Jets.
John: If there was a positive Friday, it was indeed that. Coaches really wanted to look at the pass rush to see how that area looked entering the regular season. The Jaguars blitzed just twice for that reason – to see what they had up front. Early on, it looked better than many expected, and that was particularly true of defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. The line got push up the middle. It still needs to get better. Andre Branch still needs to improve and someone else needs to develop to get outside rush other than Jason Babin, but Friday absolutely was a good night for the front-line defensive line. Offensively, there are issues to work through. Working through them will be a little easier once Cecil Shorts III and Jones-Drew are playing. This is probably not a team that can be productive without its front-line players. Not yet, anyway.
Chris from Orlando and Section150:
Don't listen to the haters, John. #Moodachay still makes me giggle like a school girl.
John: Tee-hee.
George from Savannah:
It still seems as though Gabbert does not have the same command as Henne when the lights come on in the stadium. I don't think that five-yard dunks are going to score us any points this season.
John: I would agree that Henne looked a bit more in command Friday. I would also caution that Henne was working against a defense almost entirely made up of second-teamers while Gabbert was working against the Miami first team. I don't know that I saw Henne going downfield significantly more than Gabbert. I did think Henne outplayed Gabbert, but not significantly and I don't see him yet having the edge in the competition.
Ron from Orlando:
New season, but same check-down, inaccurate, uninspiring Gabbert. The entire offense doesn't have a chance to even be evaluated with him at the helm. Henne has to start for now. We can't go through another season watching this offense that looks exactly like last year's. It's awful seeing other NFL teams with backup quarterbacks considerably better than our starter. Caldwell should be on the phone checking availability on players like Cousins or Mallett, shouldn't he??
John: This was pretty much a theme from the majority of emailers, that Gabbert was horrible on Friday. I don't know that I saw quite the same game. I don't think Gabbert was great, particularly the first two drives, but to be fair, he also was under pressure on his first incomplete pass and had three drops. He did sail an incomplete pass to Mike Brown, but the interception was a drop by fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou. I'm not going to spend the entire day breaking down the reasons for Gabbert's struggles. Enough people already accuse me of Gabbert bias, but let's not overreact the other way, either.
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
They looked a little disconbogulated out there. Is that a word? It just seemed to me the best way to describe what I watched tonight.
John: It's not, but discombobulated is – and yeah, it did look sort of that at times Friday. That's not too unusual in a preseason opener.
Logan from Bell, FL:
I seem to be the only Jaguar fan that thinks this, but I don't think Gabbert played that bad. Shorts and Blackmon were out and there was no running game until after he left. He looked confident and avoided making bad decisions. I am not saying that Gabbert is definitely the answer at quarterback, but it is a bit absurd to judge him so harshly based on 10 passes in an opening preseason game.
John: You made the mistake of watching the game and trying to look at the performance objectively.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
Ok, honestly, I'm sick of people talking about trying to make football "safer." Would it be safer without kickoffs? Sure. It would also be safer without tackling. But heck, even then wide receivers are popping ACLs left and right without contact. Let's just stop playing football cause that would be the safest! Danger is inherent in the game people. Let the players play, and if you're really that worried about their lawyers, make them sign a waiver with their contracts.
John: There are many, many fans who agree with you. Don't hold your breath waiting for the league office to approach things your way. This league is concerned about player safety right now, and that's not changing, probably ever.
Tony from Perry AR:
Johnny Ohhhh!!!! I know it's just preseason, but come on, really?! I was hoping for a little more than that. Sigh....
John: The Jaguars were hoping for more, too, particularly early in the game. They will spend this week focused on cutting down turnovers and mistakes, and on getting consistency from an offense that couldn't find it on Friday.
Matt from Norfolk, VA:
Henne. Scott. Gabbert. Kafka.
John: No. No. No. Maybe.
Wayne from Section 148:
Could not setting the starting quarterback by the first preseason game limit the leadership and timing of the first team on opening day? I am worried about this and I hate it when someone keeps a secret from me.
John: It won't hurt leadership. The players seem to accept and respect both Henne and Gabbert, and would play for both of them. It could hurt timing a bit, but the Jaguars need to find out the right guy to start. If they get that decided in the next couple of weeks, they can work on timing after that.
Jeremy from Andover, KS:
Disappointing . . .
John: It's Week 1. Of the preseason.
Jim from Section 114 and Jacksonville:
What we got here is ... a failure to moodachay.
John: That was the case too often early on Saturday, though Gabbert got the offense going a bit before his interception and Henne had moments.
Malosi from Santa Clarita, CA:
How has Tyson Alualu looked at defensive end? On paper, it seems like the Jags should be much better at stopping the run with three starting linemen over 295 pounds.
John: Indeed it does, and the Jaguars certainly feel Alualu alongside Sen'Derrick Marks, Roy Miller and Kyle Love should be a good run-stopping unit. Jaguars coaches like Alualu at end in the 4-3 and Alualu certainly likes it there. Training is a time for such happiness. Now, it has to last into the preseason and regular season.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Not trying to get everyone riled up, but when Gabbert threads that needle, it's a pretty sight. I think most fans are afraid to trust in him because they're tired of seeing the "ooohs" and then he throws some " AWWWS." His on-point passes are amazing, but then he just as easily lays a goose egg. Question is, do people want Henne more because they know what they're going to get, or are people afraid of seeing glimpses of beauty from No. 11 and being let down when they demand perfection? You dig?
John: It's probably fear of being let down, but you know what, that's not really a central issue in this ongoing discussion. Whatever people want or fear from the quarterback position matters not a whit in comparison to what the coaches believe. This is an open competition at this point, but I don't get the sense that the coaches have a lack of trust in Gabbert. I think the coaches feel like if Gabbert wins the job that he can be put in the right system to succeed.
Mark from Archer, FL:
After reading the stats, Gabbert was 5 of 10 with three drops and an interception that I would not put on him. It is the nature of the game and the blame still goes to the quarterback, but I hope people can be logical and realize if even half of those four throws are caught then Gabbert is 7 for 10. I hope you do not get a ton of mail from people jumping the gun on Gabbert after one preseason game.
John: "I hope you do not get a ton of mail from people jumping the gun on Gabbert after one preseason game." Ah, Mark . . . sweet, naïve, innocent Mark . . .

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