Jaguars vs. Falcons 10 Questions – Answered


  • 1.  The Jaguars are back in Jacksonville tonight – do the fans of the home team show up and do their part as the 12th Man?  The stadium was far from full, but looked comparable to the attendance seen at other teams’ preseason games. Fans that made it out to the game were happy to have football back at Everbank and were quite enthusiastic and about as sober as you’d expect for a Friday night game. 
  • 2.  Does David Garrard look healthy and can he command the offensive and move the ball down the field? He looked healthy, but he also looked like the same David Garrard we’ve always known – moments of brilliance and moments of complete mediocrity. With MJD and Rashad Jennings sidelined, he didn’t have much support from the run and had a fairly passing-centric gameplan. He took the Jags across midfield on the opening drive, completing 3 of 4 passes, before badly overthrowing Mike Thomas for an interception. The next drive was halted early after two runs and a bad fumble on a reverse to Cecil Short. On David’s final series, he drove the Jaguars offense inside Atlanta’s 10 yard line on a series of short and intermediate passes, with some being taken for nice gains after the catch.
  • 3.  Can our offensive tackles protect the edge and minimize DE’s John Abraham and Ray Edwards impact on the quarterback? Ray Edwards didn’t play and John Abraham had one QB hit, but both Jacksonville QB’s contended with plenty of pressure. Many are hopeful that with more time to gel, the offensive line will come together, but right now this appears to be the Jaguars’ primary concern heading into the season.
  • 4.  How much time does Blaine Gabbert get with the first team offense – does it feel like the coaches and player evaluators may be giving him the chance to earn the starting quarterback position? David commanded the first team for the first quarter and Blaine took the reigns for the second (minus a few players). It feels like the coaching staff wants to see Gabbert in as many “real” situations as possible and evaluate his effectiveness against first team NFL defenses while facing the stresses he’d be dealing with in a real game.
  • 5.  Can the Jaguars receivers gain more separation and make more plays to distinguish themselves than last week? The receivers looked more effective against the Falcons, especially former D-III player Cecil Shorts III, who looked the part in every way of a pro wide receiver. He’s not a big guy and doesn’t have “wow” skills, but his ease and fluidity make a powerful impression. He just looks like he belongs and it sounds like he’ll have a healthy role in this year’s offense.
  • 6.  Will Rashad Jennings continue to look like a capable backup to MJD with “potential starter” upside? Jennings did not play last night, due to the extreme cautiousness teams are taking with head injuries these days.
  • 7.  Deji Karim has been impacted by the NFL’s kickoff rule changes and Scotty McGee has not shown much of his assumed potential and is reportedly on the roster bubble. Will our return specialists be able to make an impact and help make the offense’s job easier this year? Karim only had one return, but again worked his magic and wove his way to the 37 yard line. You can see McGee fighting for his life out there to show something special, but had mostly lackluster returns except for one kickoff that he took out to the 38 yard line, but was more the result of good blocking, and a punt return where he ran close to a total of 150 yards and slipped the grasp of about everyone on the Falcons’ return team to advance the ball a net of 5 yards. At this point, there just hasn’t been enough to justify a roster spot and McGee will have to be consistently special in the remaining two games to avoid being cut.
  • 8. Will the Jaguars heavily-rotating defensive line be able to penetrate and make plays in the backfield and put Matt Ryan under duress? Yes! In a big development, the Jaguars D-line looked very dominant Friday night, consistently stuffing the running game behind the line or for very short gains and flushing Matt Ryan from the pocket and forcing him to make bad throws. It doesn’t show up in the statlines, but the Jags rushers made a significant impact on the Atlanta passing game.
  • 9. Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez are going to catch passes and move the chains – can the Jaguars’ secondary avoid being gouged by big passing plays? Roddy White had one catch for 13 yards, Julio Jones had two catches for 19 yards, and Tony Gonzalez did not suit up for the game. The defense did allow one big play – a short pass on a crossing route to Harry Douglas that was taken up field for a 76 yard touchdown. New Jaguars Drew Coleman and Paul Posluszny reported suffered a miscommunication on the day and from the looks of it, it appeared that the catch occurred as Douglas was moving out of Coleman’s coverage zone and into Posluszny’s. Though disappointing, these are the type of plays that will eliminated with further assimilation into the Jaguars system and awareness by the two newcomers involved. Minus the big play, the Jaguars did an excellent job of containing the Falcons’ weapons.
  • 10. The Jaguars have made much ado improving their run defense to improve the pass defense – can Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton block up the middle and allow our hard hitting linebackers and safeties to make plays on the ball? Alualu again looked fantastic and despite appearing a little sluggish (as to be expected with the extra weight and missed practice), Knighton still managed a solid performance. The Atlanta running game was hardly existent and the disruption caused by TnT (Terrance and Tyson – get used to it, folks) allowed the players around them to capitalize.

– Andrew Hofheimer