Takeaways from Jaguars-Jets Game

Jags patch small

Cole and Sam’s post-game Podcast

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.

What’s Important Tonight for Jaguars vs. Dolphins

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.

NBA Game Coming Back to Jacksonville

NBA Jax scoreboard

by Cole Pepper

It took four years, but the NBA is coming back to Jacksonville.

The Orlando Magic will play the New Orleans Pelicans on October 9, 2013 at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. it’s the third time the Magic have played in Jacksonville and first in five years.

In 2008, the Magic and Miami Heat played an exhibition game. The following year, the Heat faced the Atlanta Hawks. Those games had some star power, even in the pre-Lebron James era for Miami. Dwayne Wade and Dwight Howard were the featured players n 2008, and in 2009, there was some local flavor with former Gator Al Horford on the Hawks and Udonis Haslem on the Heat.

This game will feature substantially less star power considering that Eric Gordon and Tobias Harris were the leading scorers for the two teams (if you don’t know who was on which team, don’t feel bad).

Will the next Magic star get this as a signing bonus?

However, the Magic hold the #2 pick in the NBA draft and could select a more recognizable name (albeit in a weaker draft). Kansas freshman Ben McLemore and Michigan’s Trey Burke have both been mentioned as possible selections for the Magic.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, as he reminded us today, dreams big and he “can see an NBA team in Jacksonville’s future.”

That remains to be seen. This game is also not much of a draw for visitors. What it does, it continue to show the nation that Jacksonville is a sporting event friendly city.

“It’s going to showcase that Jacksonville is a destination for sports and entertainment,” Mayor Brown said. “This also allows us to diversify our portfolio.”Mayor NBA quote

By portfolio, the Mayor means the variety of sporting events that have come to Jacksonville in his administration. That would include everything from the college basketball game on the Navy ship to International soccer matches to much smaller events.

Tickets for the NBA preseason game, which will be the pre-season opener for both teams, are on sale at the Arena ticket office, online at JaxEvents.com or on Ticketmaster. Prices range from $15-$250 for courtside seats. VIP opportunities are also available via the City of Jacksonville Sports & Entertainment office at (904) 630-3697.