Takeaways from the Jagaurs Preseason Opener

P1 SenDerrick Marks Rush
photo by Bobby King

Click here for a photo gallery from the game

by Cole Pepper
August 9, 2013

The Jaguars lost their preseason opener to the Dolphins 27-3, failing to score a touchdown. Here are the key takaways from Friday night’s game:

Gabbert vs. Henne: Gabbert played the first quarter, completing 5 of 10 passes for 19 yards and an interception. The interception was on a hard throw off the hands of fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou. Henne played the second quarter and finished 8/11 for 87 yards but had two passes knocked down in a row, stalling a drive. In short, neither quarterback did anything to win the job much less anyone’s confidence.

“We had one good drive and we were a little inconsistent early,” Gabbert admitted. “We got some different looks from them and that’s good for all the guys. You can go back tomorrow and really evaluate what we’re doing and what works.”

Protection-Luke Joeckel got beat once by Cameron Wake, but all in all, pretty good protection for the first team line that was working without Brad Meester, who sat and Mike Brewster started at center.

Pass Rush-Sen’Derrick Marks flashed. He recorded one sack and hurried the quarterback to other times. The Jaguars first and second teams did pressure the Miami quarterbacks, but only recorded the one sack. The eye test tells me that the pass pressure that was better in the scrimmage, continues to improve. “That was big for me,” Marks said of the sack. “I know I am one of the new additions to the defense and I want to be a leader…I think I did that tonight.”

Did wide receivers step up? Mike Brown and Ace Sanders both dropped passes from Gabbert. To be honest, the guy who made more plays in the passing game was Marcedes Lewis, who had two catches for first downs. Its clear that this team is going to be better when Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon are in there. “It’s the preseason so we are still trying to sharpen things up,” Lewis said.

Deep coverage-This is an area of concern for three reasons. First, the Jaguars are young in the defensive backfield, second, they’re playing more press coverage. And finally, because Chris Prosinski is playing deep safety. He is filling in for Johnathan Cyprien as the rookie heals from a hamstring pull. Prosinski never turned around on Miami’s first touchdown.

Play of the Game: For the Jaguars, it was rookie Dwayne Gratz’s interception of Matt Moore’s pass in the second quarter. Gratz had close tight coverage, and Moore made a mad throw right to him.

Star of the Game:Marks. He was the most active player on the defensive front for either team in the first three quarters. Things got a little ragged after that, as is usually the case in the 4th quarter of preseason games.

What’s Important Tonight for Jaguars vs. Dolphins

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Brad Meester and the rest of the Jaguars starting offensive line will work with both Chad Henne and the starter Blaine Gabbert tonight. (photo by Bobby King)

by Cole Pepper
August 9, 2013

The Jaguars open the preseason tonight against the Miami Dolphins. Here are the eight most important things to watch:

  1. 1s vs. 1s-Final scores of preseason games are meaningless. However, it can be valuable to keep an eye on how the first team does against the opponents first team. Often, the score is not indicitave of how things went. You must use your eyes.
  2. Offensive Line-Regardless of who is under center, the Jaguars line must do a better job of pass protection. In camp, there have been signs that protection will be improved. There was a decent amount of pressure in last Saturday’s scrimmage, so we’ll keep an eye on how the first team line especially holds up against Miami’s pass rush. That being said, don’t expect to see much in the way of exotic pressures from the Dolphins, even though this is their second preseason game, having played last week in the Hall of Fame game against the Cowboys.
  3. Quarterbacks-This is certainly the top story line of camp, but its looking more an more like it will be Blaine Gabbert. Not because he’s been spectacular, he just been pretty good, maybe a step better than Chad Henne. I believe, as most do, that Henne would have to substantially outplay Gabbert to get the starting job. That being said, if he performs in games, Henne will be given the chance. Gabbert starts, but both will play behind the starting offensive line.
  4. Which receiver steps up? Justin Blackmon (groin) and Cecil Shorts (calf) will not play. That means that there will be plenty of opportunities for the likes of Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Jordan Shipley, Mohamed Massaquoi, Toney Clemons, et al to flash. So far, Sanders and Brown have been the best of that bunch. How many receivers will the Jaguars keep? Probably six, but one or two of those spots may be determined by the ability to contribute on special teams.
  5. Pass Rush-Can someone other than Jason Babin get to the quarterback? Gus Bradley said this week that he wouldn’t blitz much, if at all in this first game. He’s looking for defensive linemen to win one on one battles.
  6. Deep Coverage-Particularly when Mike Wallace is in there, how will the Jaguars hold up? Gus Bradley’s defense features a lot more press coverage than the Jaguars have run in the past which is a risk-reward approach. They risk giving up a big play deep, but the reward is that it could lead to sacks if the coverage is tight early in the play.
  7. Returns-Its tough to simulate the adrenaline rush of the return game when you aren’t going to be tackled. Its always interesting to see who can handle kicks and punts in this first preseason game.
  8. Gus Bradley’s demeanor-I sensed a little bit of tightness for the first time from Bradley on Thursday. He’s never been a head coach and this will be his first game in that role. Will his energy and enthusiasm remain? I suspect so, but it will be worth watching to see how he behaves on the sideline.