Despite losing to the Jets with a final score of 37-13, the Jacksonville Jaguars came away encouraged by arguably Blaine Gabbert’s most impressive performance as a pro. Gabbert looked sharp and played far and away his most efficient stretch of football over the course of the first quarter and a half.
Unfortunately, the Jaguars defense struggled throughout the night, particularly against the much maligned Mark Sanchez. Here are a couple observations from Saturday night.
- The quarterback competition is essentially over. Gabbert came out immediately with a gorgeous strike to Ace Sanders on his first play and he continued to make smart decisions throughout the night. There were plenty of designed swing passes and short routes, but Gabbert looked down the field and made accurate throws when he needed to.
- Chad Henne did his part in ending the quarterback debate by doing nothing of note besides a pretty terrible interception deep in his own territory. The passing game was completely non-existent after Gabbert left the game with a thumb injury as Henne, Matt Scott, and Mike Kafka could do nothing against the Jets’ second and third string defense.
- In typical “Because Jaguars” form, Gabbert left with a thumb injury during his best stretch of play in three years. Hopefully he can recover from this quickly so the Jaguars can go ahead and announce him as the starter for the regular season.
- Mark Sanchez came out on the opening drive and shredded the Jaguars’ secondary. Second round pick Jonathan Cyprien looked like he was playing in his first NFL game and needs to mature some before he can make a big impact. The lack of a pass rush was also concerning as Sanchez had entirely too much time to throw in that first drive.
- The first team defense settled down a bit after that first drive and they looked a little bit like the “bend but don’t break” unit from two years ago. Sanchez and the Jets were able to drive to the red zone in 3 of the next 4 drives but they were only able to come away with a field goal.
Overall the Jaguars played well during the first half – the half that matters during the preseason. The Jets defense actually has some good young players, particularly on the defensive line, so the performance of the first team offense is something to build on as the regular season approaches.
We’ll have more extensive analysis with some Pro Football Focus numbers coming up soon.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89