by Cole Pepper
August 18, 2013
The Jaguars lost to the Jets 37-13, but the final score was not indicative of the improvement the first team showed, particularly on offense. Here are my takeaways from preseason game number two:
Gabbert vs. Henne-The quarterback battle is over. Gabbert, if healthy (more on that later), will certainly get the bulk of the snaps with the first team offense next Saturday when the Jaguars host the Eagles. While Gabbert shined against the Jets, Henne wasn’t nearly as effective, completing just four of ten passes and throwing an interception. Gabbert will be the starter, even if he isn’t as effective as he was against the Jets.
Offensive Stars Return-Both Maurice Jones-Drew (3 carries for 9 yards, 1 catch for 20 yards) and Justin Blackmon (4 receptions, 46 yards) made their preseason debuts. Both looked good. Jones-Drew, of course, is gearing up for the season opener, while Blackmon will have to sit out the first four games of the season, but it was a positive for the Jaguars to see both looking like legitimate weapons.
Protection-With Luke Joeckel sitting out the game with a hip injury and Marcedes Lewis a late scratch due to a calf strain, the pass protection was good enough. The run blocking was inconsistent, however. That will be an area that the offensive line will need to improve.
Pass Rush-Against the Jets first team, the Jaguars pass rush was not as impressive as what we saw last week. Jeremy Mincey recorded a sack in the second quarter, but that was an exception to the rule. Clearly, the Jaguars pass rush has the potential to be much better than last year, but so far, it has been inconsistent in the preseason.
Offensive Tempo-Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has been preaching an uptempo approach in camp, but that hasn’t been seen until Saturday night. The Jaguars first team offense (minus Joeckel, Lewis and Shorts), wasted little time getting in and out of the huddle and at times, Gabbert was calling plays at the line. He looked much more in control and the pace of play kept the Jets defense on their heels. If this is a sign of things to come, the Jaguars should be, at very least, a more exciting offense to watch this year.
Deep coverage-Both rookies Dwayne Gratz and Jonathan Cyprien were flagged and targeted by Mark Sanchez. This is going to happen at times this year. When you have rookies in the defensive backfield, even talented ones, they are going to struggle from time to time. Not to sink into coach-speak, but it truly is going to be
Play of the Game-When you don’t score a touchdown in your first preseason game, the first time hitting pay dirt matters. The Jaguars did that on their first drive when Gabbert found tight end Allen Reisner on a roll-out. Reisner took it in for the touchdown.
Star of the Game-Clearly, its Gabbert. After struggling last week, Gabbert completed 13 of 16 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Now the big question is, how bad is the injured thumb. X-rays came back negative for a break, but we’ll have to wait until later in the week to find out if Gabbert will be ready to play Saturday or if he’ll miss more substantial time.