ATLANTA, Ga. – Game–day O-Zone, Preseason Week 4.
Let's get to it …
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Teams typically sit starters in Week 4 of the preseason. But obviously we are not a typical team in that typical teams don't have consistently horrible records year after year for seven-plus seasons. So, does that mean we will start our starters Thursday? It's not like an injury to our quarterback or offensive line would matter at this point. I mean, we don't want anyone to get hurt ever, but replacing an inept starter with an inept backup doesn't exactly mean we get better or worse. Terrible is terrible no matter which way you look at it.
John: That's the cynic's view, and I understand many see the Jaguars only through the evil, fiery eyes of the cynic these days. The Jaguars in recent years have earned being seen that way. But remember: the people running the Jaguars can't and don't see things that way. They can and do make decisions based on this team – and they must make those decisions assuming front-line players are the ones that give the team the best chance to win. With that in mind, I don't expect to see quarterback Blake Bortles play Thursday, just as I don't expect to see players that the team sees as rock-solid starters playing Thursday. That means I see there being a chance of seeing Luke Bowanko and Patrick Omameh at left guard, and maybe a few players the team would like to see get some reps. Beyond that, I expect you're going to see a lot of backups and reserves getting a lot of playing time.
Ryan Age 8 from Jacksonville:
Can you say "Hi" to Blake Bortles for me? I'm a Jags fan!
Jeff from Keystone Heights, FL:
I'll tell you why there is at least some importance to the "fans-trusting-the-front-office" question. Next draft, when the front office selects a quarterback that is not the majority consensus No. 1 quarterback available fans will remember the most recent apparent failure and not trust that the new guy is THE guy. If they don't trust it, they won't run out and buy jerseys, they won't flock to the ticket office to buy or renew season tickets, the boo-birds will sound upon the very first errant toss and so on. Trust matters. Maybe a tiny bit. But it still matters.
John: This is in response to a question earlier this week about fans trusting the front office. A front office can't build trust by selecting players and making moves "fans like." It's this way for many reasons, not the least of which is that fans – just like regular, normal people – like a variety of things and have a wide range of opinions. That makes it impossible to make decisions based on those opinions. Trust in a front office, therefore, is and always will be built by winning. That was the answer the other day. It's not going to change.
Renee from Jacksonville:
When you play a game, including football, don't you play to win? When listening to the radio, reading about the Jags, etc., one of the prevailing thoughts about who should be the Jags' quarterback is that he should be safe and won't turn the ball over ... that's playing not to lose. Aren't we supposed to win lunch???? Go Jags!
John: Yes, the Jaguars want to win lunch, dinner, breakfast and the race to the soft-serve machine. And I'm a big believer that you can't play quarterback effectively in the NFL if interception fear is foremost in your mind. At the same time, considering the damage done by turnovers from the quarterback position in recent seasons, it's not hard to see why minimizing them is an emphasis this season.
Dodak from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I was at Publix the other day and ran into Brad Allen. We had a chat for a few minutes and I had a strange feeling there was something off about him. Later on, as I was strolling by the meat section, I noticed Brad in the corner of the dairy section stuffing sushi rolls into his mouth faster than my ex-wife at a buffet. I was surprised to see him stuff the empty sushi container in the trash and promptly walk out of the store without paying. I say play the kid. He needs a second contract!
John: That was Sexton.
Robert from Jacksonville:
I was hanging out with Brad (Allen, of course) the other night, and the conversation got deep. Brad says to me, "Life is like throwin' a football, man. You aim it, toss it, watch it spiral and spiral and spiral, and then hope whoever catches it goes for a touchdown, man." Brad explained that it's all about helping other people cross that goal line, and this is where you find happiness. I freaked out and got the heck out of there as quickly as possible, and as I was driving off, probably two blocks from Brad's house, a football landed on my passenger side seat. Dude, I still get chills talking about it.
John: That was Shadrick.
Daniel Since Day 1 from Jacksonville:
I understand why you rest your experienced star players, but the Jags only have maybe half a dozen players that shouldn't play at all in Preseason Game 4. The team needs to play, because they really are not very good. Blake Bortles and the offensive line deserve a half, at least. Rest Marcedes Lewis and A-Rob, and maybe some offensive players nursing injuries, but no one else on offense shouldn't be playing because they might get hurt. If they play they might get better... that would be cool and I'd sure like it.
John: I've gotten more than a few emails along these lines, and I sense a lot of people are missing some points here. First, the final week of the preseason is largely about evaluating the bottom spots on the roster. Second, the idea of holding front-line players out to prevent injuries and encourage fresh legs isn't just for elite players. It's to protect a team's roster and ensure the team as a whole is as fresh as possible entering the regular season. It's not just to prevent major, high-profile injuries that cause players to miss games and/or seasons. It's to lessen the wear-and-tear minor hurts/aches that all players accumulate during training camp and the regular season. Plus, players realistically aren't going to get that much better playing a series or two in the fourth preseason game. Far better to have your team healthy and close to 100 percent physically than to play 95 percent of your players in Preseason Week 4.
Frankie from London, UK:
Hindsight of course is a wonderful thing, but Mr. Oehser. Would you (in hindsight) have made more of an effort to retain Luke Joeckel?
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Just read that Cleveland traded a former first-round draft pick, offensive lineman Cam Erving, to the Chiefs for a fifth-round pick. Should this give us hope there is possible help out there to upgrade our offensive line?
John: Sure, but not much. If you're waiting for offensive line – or any part of your team – to take a major step forward from waiver-wire cuts you're going to wait a long time.
Chris from Houston, TX:
Big O: What a difference a week makes? Last week, my biggest concern was wondering how Blake would play in our season opener against Houston. This week, after enduring Harvey and all the destruction caused by this tropical storm, Bortles is now the least of my concerns. Don't get me wrong: I still would like my Jags to shock the world and beat the Texans on September 10. I will be in attendance getting heckled like I am at every Jags game in Houston. Whether the good guys win or lose, it isn't a catastrophic event. But damn: it would feel real good walking out of NRG in teal after a Jags W! Go Jags! #HoustonStrong #PrayforHouston
John: Well said.
Matt from Fernandiersailtna Beach, FL:
With what you've seen, what can we expect from tight end Michael Rivera? Do you think he leads the tight ends unit with offensive production? I was excited when we signed him this offseason as he had a couple nice seasons with the Raiders.
John: Rivera is a bit of a dilemma for the Jaguars entering the weekend. He has yet to play in the preseason because of an injury and yet they signed him for a reason – that he is a versatile player who can catch and block and give the position a balance it otherwise lacks. My sense is the Jaguars will keep him on the active roster, but when you don't play in the preseason it's not always an easy decision.
Donald from Orange Park, FL:
"The downside with pursuing a younger veteran is there is still the unknown factor that you get with a rookie." Can't help but think of Rob Johnson.
John: And too many others to count.