The so important 3rd rd preseason game is over and I have a good and a bad news. The good news: The Jaguars finally won a game, the 1st since last December against Houston. The bad news: there were too many disturbing things in this game which concerns me. I still did not receive clear answers for every question we had before this game. For example what will happen at guard and safety?
Let’s review some quick thoughts about the game. The best new development is that without Maurice Drew; and (most of the time) Marcedes Lewis (who is injured; but is ok according to Jack Del Rio); this team has a lot of offensive fire power. The receiver core looks more than average, especially if we compared what the Jaguars had in the same area 2-3 years ago. Mike Sims-Walker, Jarett Dillard, Mike Thomas, Rashad Jennings, Brock Bolen, Montell Owens, Zach Miller and John Matthews are all capable to make plays for this team. John Matthews with his fantastic 27 yard long TD catch made a strong push for the final roster in my opinion. I don’t know at this point, who is in bigger danger because of him; Underwood or Williamson; but if we count that factor; that Gene Smith wants this team to be young as possible; Troy Williamson can worry about his roster spot more then Underwood.
And what can we say to the fullback situation? Brock Bolen and Montell Owens carried the ball plenty of times and both played with the 1st team a lot. Meanwhile Greg Jones was used –again- only to be a blocking FB. I think more and more, if Gene Smith can get a quality safety from him, he will be traded away. Once again high salary (3;5 million $) can be a factor why a proven veteran might leave Jacksonville. I think Brock Bolen just showed too much to take him to the practice squad this preseason. I don’t know what will be Gene’s decision about this but I hope, if he decides that the Jaguars and Greg Jones part ways, the move will be much better executed then what we saw in John Henderson’s case. Let’s not forget; Greg Jones is still one of the best blocking FB in the NFL. He has value and I would not let him go lower then a 3rd-4th round pick for example. So Gene; please be smart whatever is you plan to do with Greg.
Another area where I think the Jaguars will be good or even great is the DT spot. Knighton fought with 2 offensive linemen all the time; and still he could push the QB and can’t be moved from his position. Tyson Alualu had an okay night; he is collecting experience now. And Tampa’s running game went nowhere with Cadillac Williams. So stopping the run was accomplished this time. Jacob Cutrera had a sack; and I think the young UDFA rookie LB is making the case for himself to be this team’s 6th LB. Overall I liked the all-backup LB unit in this game. Next to Russell Allen; Tony Gilbert and Rod Wilson saw plenty of time but I think they competed with each other and I think Gilbert has a better shot to be this team’s 5th LB. Cutrera is clearly ahead of Kyle Bosworth but I expect that both battles will have a final round next Thursday against the Falcons. But now I stick with my predictions and I estimate that Gilbert and Cutrera making this team.
One brighter spot was the special teams as a whole. Scotty McGee can return kicks if needed. Adam Podlesh is all of sudden looking good. Josh Scobee has not missed a FG once again. The kickoff and punt return coverage is excellent. Ross Prunell can be proud; this unit is really special.