It’s pretty easy to focus on the good things in preseason. For the Jaguars, the good has been obvious and the not-so-good has been a little hidden. Quarterback Blake Bortles has be a big part of the good, again against the Lions producing points with the first team offense.
“I think it was a good outing for the offense,” Bortles said. “But definitely some things to look back at and learn from.”
Bortles completed 20 of 29 passes for 245 yards and a TD. He hit Rashad Greene for six points when he caught former Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis peeking into the backfield. Perhaps most important is that Bortles and the first team offense has scored eight times in 11 possessions during the preseason.
“I think everything is just slowing down,” Bortles said. “Getting more reps; feeling more comfortable. I think the new additions we’ve had through free agency and the draft have been huge. I think we’ve done some good stuff.”
For his first night as an NFL player, T.J. Yeldon was productive running and catching the ball. While he was a star at Alabama, Yeldon is the same player but is finding out the competition is bigger and faster. He scored in the second quarter on a reviewed carry up the middle and took a big hit at the line of scrimmage. Nonetheless, he looked like the guy the Jaguars are hoping he’ll be after spending a second round draft pick on him in April.
“It felt pretty good finally getting a chance to play after a couple of months having not been able to play since college,” Yeldon said after the game. It felt good. I got a little adjusted to the game speed. I have stuff to improve on, so I’m going to watch film and see what I can do to improve.”
“I thought that first offensive drive showcased some things,” Head Coach Gus Bradley said in his post-game press conference. “There was some adversity, but we fought back and different guys made plays. Marcedes, Hurns, Blake. It was very good by the offense.”
While they’re not playing with who they expect to be in the lineup through the season, the defense is still giving up what they call “explosive” plays too often. It wasn’t a good night for Aaron Colvin as he got beat deep on a Matt Stafford to Golden Tate 62-yard TD pass and then got caught inside instead of sealing the edge on third and short that lead to a 43 yard run.
“I think there was enough good things to build on defensively but we’ve just got to eliminate those. The defense knows that, they players feel it and we can get those things corrected, is my hope,” is how Gus talked about it after the game.
Bradley wants his team to play with one single-high safety, eight in the box and single coverage on the outside, stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. But if they get beat at the point of attack, or they don’t harass the quarterback, big plays are going to happen.
That’s what happened against the Lions and we’ve seen too often in the preseason. Some of that is incorporating Jared Odrick and Dan Skuta into the scheme or how Sen’Derrick Marks might fill the gap once he’s ready to play.
Next week’s final preseason game against the Washington Redskins will be a battle for roster spots with the starters resting and preparing for the opener against Carolina on September 13. That game will be live on Channel 4 at 7:30 with the pregame show at 7 pm.
Rosters must be cut to 75 players on Tuesday, September 1st, with the final cut to 53 coming Friday, September 4th.