The Jacksonville Jaguars faced off against the Chicago Bears in their second preseason game of the 2014 season on Thursday night, and the narrative from the game was starkly different from that of their week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Against the Bucs, the first team offense struggled in all aspects of the game, and the first team defense was dominant. Against the Bears, the first team offense actually managed to move the ball fairly well with Chad Henne at the helm.
One of my big takeaways was the involvement of second round pick Marqise Lee. After not showing up in the box score in week 1, Lee piled up 27 yards on 4 receptions with a touchdown. He was used mainly on short routes with opportunities to run after the catch, but Lee still show some promise as a route runner and a guy who can make catches in traffic. After being called out by the head coach, it was nice to see him come out and make an impact.
Another guy who was a focal point in the passing game was tight end Marcedes Lewis, and that was a sight for sore eyes given his involvement over the last few seasons. Lewis had 46 yards on 3 receptions, but he clearly was the first option on a handful of plays for Chad Henne.
Toby Gerhart made his first appearance for the Jaguars, and he was basically OK. He had a nice run for 18 yards, but he also got caught in the backfield a few times. He may have to work behind a questionable offensive line come week 1 of the regular season, so hopefully he can find ways to consistently gain yards regardless.
Defensively, the Jaguars started out strong with a 3-and-out on the first drive, but they wavered a bit when Jay Cutler got the ball again. On the next two drives, Cutler moved the ball down the field fairly well with the help of penalties on Andre Branch, Winston Guy, and Dwayne Gratz. Guy in particular had an inexcusable personal foul call, and that’s something he needs to work on going forward if he wants to earn the starting safety spot next to Johnathan Cyprien.
Of course the main event for the night is the performance of the quarterbacks, and Chad Henne did significantly better compared to week 1. Still, it’s hard to say if he did enough to hold off the calls for Bortles to get first team snaps. Henne finished 12/17 with 130 yards and a touchdown, while Bortles finished 11/17 with 160 yards and no TDs.
– Daniel Lago