Breaking down a preseason game isn’t the same as a regular season game – the final score is irrelevant. Projections about how the regular season might go are based on performances in the first and parts of the second quarter, while the rest of the game is used to evaluate backups and whether or not they can contribute in the regular season if they are called upon.
The preseason. AKA Jordan Palmer’s Super Bowl.
No evaluation was more important on Friday night for Jaguar fans than that of Blaine Gabbert. There were certainly some other storylines for the first preseason game and we’ll go over them here.
Blaine Gabbert looked good on the most important drive of any preseason game – the first. He was accurate and looked poised while marching (most of) the first team offense down the field, capping it off with a touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts III. Blaine only had one “chuck-and-duck” throw, but that was really a result of poor pass-protection.
- The offensive line is still a work in progress, which is to be expected when the starting lineup features your right tackle at left guard and a second-year undrafted player at right tackle. Of Blaine’s five incompletions, two were a result of bad line play and one was a ball that Cecil Shorts probably should have hauled in on a slant. The line did a good job run blocking for Rashad Jennings, but it looks like this particular unit needs more time together to get the protection scheme down.
- Speaking of Rashad Jennings, he looked terrific. He provided essentially what MJD provided to the offense last year – a solid 4-6 yards every carry to get the offense into a good spot for 2nd and 3rd downs. He didn’t get a chance to showcase one of his strengths – catching out of the backfield – but he showed enough for the Jaguars to maintain their stance on Jones-Drew’s contract.
- The first team defense, which had been dominant in training camp, was not as sharp as most expected. After dropping an interception on the opening drive and holding the Giants to a field goal after a turnover, the defense was completely screwed by a phantom “roughing the passer” call by the replacement referees that led to a Giants’ score. Most concerning was the overall lack of pressure on the quarterback during the first few drives. Remember though, this is all during the first preseason game where coaches don’t want to reveal their most effective schemes and blitzes. The Jaguars were mainly bringing pressure on a four-man front and didn’t really do anything too exotic.
On one of the few blitzes, Aaron Ross got called for a phantom “facemask.”
- Most of the Giants’ points came against the Jaguars’ second and third-team defenses. While some of those players won’t even make the roster, some will and some will be counted on to contribute when there are inevitably injuries (see: 2011). David Carr looked awfully good for a couple drives that led to Giant touchdowns.
Overall, it was a solid opening preseason game for the Jaguars, specifically on offense where they needed to improve significantly from last year. Once the Jags incorporate Justin Blackmon and Maurice Jones-Drew, the team should have enough weapons for Gabbert to work with. If the offensive line gains some stability over the next few weeks, the Jaguars will have a promising outlook to begin the 2012 season.