Preseason Halftime – Review
By Jason Love
It’s the halfway point of the preseason schedule. The Jaguars have lost one and won one. The loss can be attributed to the fact that the Jaguars bottom 33% weren’t as good and/or as well prepared as the Patriots third stringers. Luckily for the Jaguars, the games won’t be played by those players. The win showed great promise on defense. Besides one blown play for the first stringers, the defense was great. That’s it for the obvious stuff, let’s get into the other observations.
What we know
- Aaron Kampman, Eben Britton and Maurice Jones-Drew are sorely missed. The Jaguars have yet to tally a sack, but the thought is Kampman should remedy that situation, drawing double teams and forcing the quarterback out of the pocket. Eben Britton not being in the lineup hurts. How much so, we don’t really know yet, but the offensive line is in a state of flux and needs to sort itself out in order to begin the process of learning to work together. The offense just doesn’t click without MoJo in the backfield, although Rashad Jennings does a pretty good job in his stead. MoJo should open up the passing game even more, by forcing opposing defenses to play with an extra man in the box.
- The linebacking corp has been upgraded. Against the Patriots, the Jaguars forced the ball to be coughed up three times in only a few series. All of the plays involved a FA acquisition. Against the Falcons, the defense didn’t allow anything substantial until the one botched communication, which happens when the two players involved have only been with the team for 2-3 weeks.
- Cecil Shorts could really be something. The kid has hands and ability and doesn’t seem to be phased by the speed of the NFL. He’s fighting for the number three spot right now and seems to have it on lock down.
What’s still unanswered
- Who will the starting safety be alongside Landry? Could it be Greene, Prosinski or Carey? Word was Prosinski was in the lead until his injury. Greene seems to be in the lead for the spot now.
- How long will the injured Jags be out and who will take their place in the meantime? What if Britton is out for an extended period, do the Jaguars start Whimper or Baldridge? Do they kick one of the FA signees to the outside? My guess? Moll probably starts until Britton is healthy. Jennings for MoJo and DE by committee for Kampman.
- Will the passing game ever gain traction and be consistent? Can the wide receivers ever become more consistent? Yes, think of it this way, the offensive line is in a constant state of flux, limiting pocket time to an ever changing QB carousel. Timing is an issue which will only get better. As soon as the offensive line gels and the quarterback plays with his receivers more (rather than sharing first team practice reps) and works on his timing, the passing game will get better. Add that to an up to speed Marcedes Lewis and a *hopefully* healthy MoJo and the offense should be fine.
What to expect going forward
- Expect the pass rush to improve. Why? Matt Roth has been in the system a week. Kampman hasn’t played a snap. The back seven haven’t played more than a half together. It will get better.
- Expect the offensive line to get better. Currently the Jags have been shuffling people in and out of the line, trying to figure out who is gonna stick. It looks as if Monroe could be the only lock on the line currently. The rest of the line is up for grabs. If Meester falters, Spitz or Nwaneri could take his place. If on of them shifts to the center, the other will have to fill in the guard spot being vacated. Rackley seems to be pushing heavily for a starting gig and just might have it. The tackle position is up for grabs between Moll, Whimper and Baldridge
- Expect the passing game to improve. A static QB, a running game that includes both Jones-Drew and Jennings, a receiving corp that’ll include Lewis and the oft-injured Zach Miller and finally receivers who I think will benefit from increased playing time (Dillard, Shorts).
- Expect more turnovers by the defense. Clint Session seems to bring the thump, Daryl Smith is always good and having basically two strong safeties in the back end will lead to more forced fumbles. Also, if the DL can get the pressure going on a more consistent basis, the corners should be able to play more aggressively and attempt to get more interceptions.