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Identifying the ups and downs for Jaguars midway through preseason

Posted: August 16, 2014 - 8:01pm  |  Updated: August 16, 2014 - 8:07pm
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne passes against the Bears during the first half in Chicago on Thursday.  AP
AP
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne passes against the Bears during the first half in Chicago on Thursday.

This time a year ago, the Jaguars had been outscored 64-16 during their 0-2 start to the preseason, their starting quarterback had a broken thumb and there was an alarming lack of depth.

When the Jaguars return to practice Sunday, three weeks before the regular season opener at Philadelphia, they should have a much brighter outlook halfway through their four-game exhibition schedule.

At 1-1, their starters — the ones who have been healthy enough to play — have outplayed their counterparts on Tampa Bay and Chicago. Come waiver wire time in two weeks, the roster could be adjusted, but not as much as last year, when seven players were added on Labor Day weekend.

A look at each unit:

OFFENSE

Reasons for optimism: Presumptive starting quarterback Chad Henne was 12-of-17 passing for 130 yards and one touchdown during his four-drive stint against Chicago and his actions at the line of scrimmage — directing traffic and running the hurry-up — showed his command of the offense. … Backup Blake Bortles has stacked two fine games together (combined 18 of 28, 277 yards) and fans and teammates alike should be excited to see him work with — and against — starters Friday night in Detroit. … Left tackle Luke Joeckel, in his first action since breaking his leg last October, hasn’t missed a practice and looked good in pass protection in both games. … Tight end Marcedes Lewis (three catches, 46 yards) was open throughout his stint against Chicago. … Running back Toby Gerhart returned from an 11-day absence (hip) to get six carries and one reception in the Bears game.

Reasons for concern: A combined two touchdowns in two games by top two units. … The Week 1 starting offensive line is far from being announced. Right tackle Austin Pasztor (broken right hand) is headed for surgery Tuesday and will be re-evaluated in a month. He’ll be replaced by Cam Bradfield, who was sluggish through the middle stage of camp. … At right guard and center, the end game is probably Brandon Linder and Mike Brewster getting the opening-week call, but Brewster is on a short leash. … Receivers Cecil Shorts (hamstring), Tandon Doss (ankle) and Allen Robinson (hamstring) haven’t practiced in August and will enter Week 1 with limited, if any, preseason snaps. … The running game has been slow to fire. When Henne or Bortles is the quarterback, the Jaguars have 38 rushes for 111 yards (2.9-yard average), not counting bad snaps or scrambles. Thirteen of those rushes were for no gain or lost yardage.

Final thoughts: We won’t see the projected starting offensive lineup until after the regular season starts, but at receiver, the Jaguars would like to get Shorts and Robinson some snaps against Detroit or Atlanta. As for the QB spot, there was a visible sense of relief amongst the Jaguars’ people when Henne moved the offense against Chicago.

 

DEFENSE

Reasons for optimism: The revamped defensive line has been as advertised against the run. When the starters (and some situational reserves) have played, Tampa Bay and Chicago have averaged 3.8 yards per carry, but that’s skewed — the Bears had three rushes of 11 yards apiece when the Jaguars were in a nickel defense (more room to run). The Jaguars have forced 13 rushes or 2 or fewer yards. … Up front, tackles Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller are attracting more blocking attention, freeing up the linebackers. … Starting “big” end Red Bryant hasn’t taken a day off from practice, surprising considering his veteran status. … Ryan Davis looks at home rushing from an interior line position. … Rookie end Chris Smith has flashed in practice and games. … At linebacker, it would be surprising if LaRoy Reynolds isn’t the Week 1 starting Otto. … Rookie linebacker Telvin Smith has a sack that forced an interception and a tipped pass that was intercepted. … The secondary is healthy now that Alan Ball is back.

Reasons for concern: The first-team defense had three enforced penalties — 5, 15 and 18 yards — vs. Chicago. … The line applied minimal pressure vs. the Bears. On the scoring drive he led, Jay Cutler had 3.75, 3.56, 3.79, 4.19 and 4.81 seconds to throw — way too much time for an established QB. … Signed specifically to play the Otto, Dekoda Watson has more sports hernia surgeries (two) than team practices (zero).

Final thoughts: The Jaguars are keeping their pressure packages under wraps — they pressured the Bears only one time the first half. But aside from Bortles, the most positive development so far has been the Jaguars’ rush defense.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Reasons for optimism: Kicker Josh Scobee is 3-of-3 on field goals and 2-of-2 on extra points and has been solid in practices. … Bryan Anger’s only punt against Chicago had a hang time of 4.97 seconds and pinned the Bears at their own 10 (51-yard kick). … The Jaguars’ kickoff coverage team (specifically Will Blackmon) forced a Chicago fumble that led to a touchdown. … The punt coverage team has allowed a combined 11 yards in five returns.

Reasons for concern: The Jaguars are keeping the punt return seat warm for Doss and, in a few months, maybe Ace Sanders. Blackmon is handling the duties for now.

Final thoughts: One of the few strengths last year was the coverage units. They seem ready to go, leaving punt returner as the only unsolved issue.

Comments (7)

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revivedteal
700
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revivedteal 08/17/14 - 08:25 pm
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Premium Member
It's August. .... MJD may

It's August. ....

MJD may indeed win the preseason touches title....seeing that starting RBS rarely go for more than a few plays and since it's the "preseason" they practice certain timing and blocking schemes rather than worrying about the success of the play. Hip looked good and showed great burst on several runs....then called it a night.

Could you imagine the preseason analysis we would get if someone ever gave a certain ex qb a preseason shot at 3rd string?

California Jaguar
323
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California Jaguar 08/17/14 - 11:24 am
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Premium Member
SOS, I know you have been a

SOS, I know you have been a motivational speaker, and a titan of industry so terms like "data sets" and "sampling sizes" and "bias in statistical analysis" should be second nature to you. MJD had one great pass play that made his yards per touch look pretty good. Break down his rushing stats, after his long of 8 he had five rushes for four yards total. Pretty impressive running huh??? I am also smart enough to know that MJD is a good back and that over the course of a whole season he will probably be a 1000 plus yard back. The bottom line is I liked MJD a lot and thought he was a warrior. I would have loved for him to stick with the Jags, but not for the money he wanted. I have issue with your constant bashing of Caldwell who in SOS crazy world should have acquiesced to MJD's contract demands and signed Tim Tebow to be our QB. Show me one NFL team that has a 33 year old running back making 3.5 million dollars??? S You can't because no GM in the league is that inept. Just root for the Jags.... Is that so hard to do? Why do you constantly have to bash every decision the office makes?

Jag Cynic DeVille
2419
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Jag Cynic DeVille 08/17/14 - 11:12 am
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@Californiadreamer: Did you

@Californiadreamer: Did you not understand: 7 touches, which includes the 22 yard catch and run, which was his ONLY target, which when added to the 12 yds rushing is 34 yards on 7 touches, INCLUDING bad snaps and scrambles!

Now, post Toby's stats. 7 touches: 27 yards which includes an 8 yd reception. ( had he the speed it may have been a 22 yard rec. like MJDs ).
TG more durable, MJD 2 games preseason, TG 1/2 game (per light duty comment). Also, why didn't he stay in on 3rd downs to block and show the Bear D more (ability to gain yards running)???

Enjoy your last season commenting here, that wager was like taking an errant throw from Henne to the endzone! EZ!

California Jaguar
323
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California Jaguar 08/17/14 - 10:29 am
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Premium Member
Oakland Rushing

Oakland Rushing

CAR YDS AVG TD LG
D. McFadden 8 27 3.4 1 8
K. Sheets 5 27 5.4 0 8
R. Streater 1 13 13.0 0 13
L. Murray 2 13 6.5 0 8
M. Jones-Drew 6 12 2.0 0 8
J. Olawale 1 4 4.0 0 4
M. McGloin 1 3 3.0 0 3
D. Carr 1 -1 -1.0 0 -1
Team 25 98 3.9 1 13

California Jaguar
323
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California Jaguar 08/17/14 - 10:19 am
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Premium Member
@SOS MJD also said he would

@SOS MJD also said he would only grace us with his talents if we gave him a four year deal at 3.5 million a year. I know you live in a fantasy world SOS, but if you really think MJD was worth that price you are a bigger moron than I thought.

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