The Jacksonville Jaguars go into their third preseason game having settled the debate about who should start at quarterback. Aside from Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars have a handful of players who need to play well to secure a starting spot or even a spot on the roster. The Jaguars face Chip Kelly and a rejuvenated Michael Vick, so the defense will be put up to the test against a mobile quarterback in a very fitting system. Let’s discuss some of the players who will be challenged Saturday night.
Defensive End Tyson Alualu
Overdrafted or not, Tyson Alualu has been a disappointment since being taken 10th overall in the 2010 draft. He never lived up to the billing as a penetrating defensive tackle after Jack Del Rio handicapped his career with an ill-fated Oklahoma drill in his rookie season. Alualu seemed to have found new life this offseason at his new position – a defensive end in in Gus Bradley’s hybrid scheme. Alualu’s greatest asset is his active hands, but last week he contributed to a very poor defensive effort against the Jets. He had the second worst Pro Football Focus defensive grade (-3.3 overall) and most of that came from his poor rush defense. Alualu will be facing an athletic offensive line (see: Lane Johnson) that will move laterally on most running plays. Alualu is a lock to start the season, but he needs to start anchoring his side a little better.
Defensive End Andre Branch
Andre Branch has been a hot topic lately, mostly due to his lack of contribution to any extent at any position. Branch was drafted to the rush the passer but so far his claim to fame is overrunning the pocket when he bends around the offensive tackle. Branch can be seen several yards behind the quarterback on most plays because he can’t bend inside the tackle after his initial burst. Branch is losing playing time at an alarming rate and he could find himself out of a roster spot if he doesn’t show something this preseason.
Quarterback Matt Scott
Matt Scott had the lowest overall PFF grade on offense last week (-4.3) and he sure earned it with several near interceptions and no completions. Scott is going to see a lot more playing time with Blaine Gabbert out and he needs to show some competence if he wants any chance of making the final roster. Scott is essentially a lock to make the practice squad but he happens to be in a situation where the Jaguars want him to overtake Chad Henne and make his cap hit expendable. Keeping Henne is not ideal but it might be necessary if Scott continues to struggle to the extent he has so far in the preseason. An Eagles defense with a lot of holes should provide Scott an opportunity to make some plays.
- Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89