JACKSONVILLE – Considering the state of the inbox, we are implementing Look Ahead Wednesday this week. 'Tis a rare thing, a Preseason Look Ahead Wednesday, but alas … 'tis a necessary thing.
Thus, 'tis the last day to talk Bengals.
Let's get to it …
Geoff from Virginia Beach, VA:
Sir Zone of O, what was with taking the ones out at halftime Sunday? As bad as they were in the first half, weren't halftime adjustments part of the plan with the all-important third preseason game? I would like to have seen one drive after half to try to end on a positive note. If they were terrible again, no harm because they were bad in the first, too. The only thing I can think of is they were avoiding unnecessary injuries, which is OK too.
John: I, too was surprised the Jaguars pulled their starters at halftime Sunday. It wasn't wanting the offense to end on a positive note as much as I thought for certain Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley would give the starters a chance to adjust at halftime and play a series early in the third quarter. That indeed is typically a big part of the third preseason game. Bradley said afterward the starters had reached the number of plays the team wanted them to play in the first half – and therefore the decision was made to take them out of the game. It was a bit unusual, but the flip side is no one wanted to see a starter hurt early in the third quarter. If that was avoided, so much the better … I suppose.
Jordan from Joplin:
People gotta chill.
John: True that.
Matt from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
As bad as it looked Sunday there were still plenty of positives: I thought Blake Bortles looked like a smarter quarterback than last season. He was pressured all night and found ways to get rid of the ball. No picks all preseason might not mean much, but I'd be surprised if Blake's interception total doesn't decrease noticeably.
John: You make a good point that I hadn't considered much until Monday. It's true Bortles was under pressure Sunday, and he didn't have his best game of the preseason. But he didn't force balls or have any of the hold-your-breath throws he had last season. Sunday's game absolutely raised concerns. The Bengals looked better than the Jaguars on the lines of scrimmage too often. There were too many penalties. The Jaguars didn't run well or stop the run well. But the long-term key to this franchise remains Bortles' development. Overall, that remains an enormous preseason positive.
Zach from Ocala, FL:
Please stop justifying reasons for our losses. Like seriously … it's okay to say we lost because we played bad! In essence, you lose because you play bad. You don't lose because the other team is better. You play good, you win. No reasons, no excuses, no more hype. Half the reason the fan base is so enraged is because of the false hope you provide the fans.
John: You're right. It's on me – half of it, anyway.
Scott from Jacksonville:
So how do you think Kelvin Beachum played at left tackle Sunday night?
John: Beachum appeared to play fine Sunday. He pass-protected well and showed no visible effects of missing the first two preseason games. Most importantly he showed no effects of the torn anterior cruciate ligament that kept him out of the final 10 games last season. Beachum's ability wasn't much of a question entering the season. He had played left tackle at a very good level in Pittsburgh, which made the mystery entering training camp whether or not Luke Joeckel could match Beachum's level. Joeckel played well in the first two preseason games at left tackle before struggling at left guard Sunday. Still, it appears Beachum will start at left tackle this season and that Joeckel will start at guard. Opine on that as you see fit.
Wayne from Atlanta, GA:
Can I just say that the commercial with Shad Khan lip-syncing to Home Sweet Home by the stadium pools is awesome! It's great to see an owner that can cut loose like that. As much as I respect Wayne Weaver and what he did for Jax, picking his replacement might have been his best move since getting the franchise.
John: You're right.
Patrick from Yulee, FL:
What is the thinking behind not signing a proven veteran quarterback for insurance? Seems like every successful team has at least one.
John: My first thought was, "Does it seem that way? Really?" My second was, "Chad Henne is as much a Proven Veteran as most backup quarterbacks in the NFL." My third thought was, "Hey, people are going to want Henne released no matter what I write or say …" I forget my fourth thought, and I may not have had one. I have limitations, believe it or not.
Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
"I'll pass this on to the people who oversee such things on this free website." Sometimes it is OK to say thank you for constructive criticism that is polite and intended to be helpful.
John: Yeah, but where's the fun in that?
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
I just got 50 percent off my pizza order from Papa Johns. I love pizza.
John: You go, girl.
Royce from Jacksonville:
Clearly, Mr. O, Coach Gus believes that starting older, less-talented guys over Myles Jack is best for the team at this point in time, am I wrong?
John: You are not wrong. The Jaguars indeed believe that right now starting more experienced players over Jack is best for the team. That's because Jack essentially is a month into his NFL career – and he's playing a position that's more difficult to learn and requires more field awareness than many other defensive positions. Remember, too, when you say "right now" that means "right now" and not the regular season.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
All this talk about having interior defensive line depth is pure nonsense if they can't stop the run without Roy Miller. Even last week versus the Bucs, when the defense played somewhat better, they were vulnerable to runs up the gut. I understand that there will be a drop-off when the second rotation guys are in, but we are in serious trouble if we can't do a better job of clogging the middle without him.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
A lot of people are upset about how the ones played on Sunday. It's worth remembering they were playing a Super-Bowl caliber team with many rookies and young players. I don't think it was realistic to expect them to "win" against the Bengals' first team. Whatever happens this year, a slow start when facing great teams is probably to be expected with so many young players – especially the offensive line, which has several players playing new positions. Perhaps after a few weeks, they can learn to be better against elite competition. But I don't think it was realistic to expect them to look great at this time.
John: People have panicked over the game against the Bengals in a way that matches or exceeds the reaction to many Jaguars regular-season losses over the last few years. I understand there was buildup. I understand there was excitement. And I understand the Jaguars played poorly. But guess what? While the Jaguars are a talented team, they remain a young team. On Sunday they were playing a team with an experienced, talented core that has been to the playoffs five consecutive seasons. If the Jaguars and Bengals played in the regular season, a Jaguars victory would be an upset. I believe this team will be improved this season, but I believe it will take a few ugly losses. That's what young, ascending teams do. It doesn't make them OK, but it also means they're not necessarily season-defining disasters. That's particularly true when they occur during the preseason.
Greg from Feeakville:
Where you playing bongo drums for warmup band at ELO concert last night? If not you have a twin.
John: Yes, that was me.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
What is it going to take to make the Jaguars perform consistently well against all teams, playoff caliber or not? Does it mean that someone other than Gus Bradley will have to be the head coach? Or does the young team just need to mature and develop chemistry over time?
John: The first thing to remember is few teams in NFL history ever have performed well against every opponent throughout the course of an entire season. While inconsistency ultimately is the responsibility of the head coach, many head coaches whose teams achieve consistency coincidentally are blessed with a core of experienced players. That final element remains the biggest factor. The Jaguars are not as young and inexperienced as they were in recent seasons, but they are by no means an experienced, mature roster. Until they gain experience and maturity, consistency likely will remain elusive. And remember: few teams – if any – have achieved true full consistency.