Jacksonville Jaguars preseason: What we learned
By David Levin
The Jacksonville Jaguars preseason is over without much excitement. Next week the team hosts Kansas City with the hope of erasing a dismal month of football.
It was hard to sit there and watch in person as a Jacksonville Jaguars once again lost a preseason football game, this time falling to the Atlanta Falcons, 31-12 at TIAA Bank Field on Thursday night.
In doing so, Jacksonville did something it’s never done before, losing all four of their preseason games. The loss is just part of the lack of offensive production this team has had in the past month. And for everything that was made about signing a franchise quarterback Nick Foles and adding John DeFilippo to run the offensive show, I’m left to worry about whether depth on this team can sustain while veterans deal with potential injuries.
With the changes made to the team’s practice schedule, and the lack of playing time given to the veterans and starters, is the new formula good enough to help Jacksonville get back to the playoffs in 2019?
As one sports talk radio show host here in town said, there is still a question about what kind of offense DeFillippo is going to run here in town.
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Honestly, for those of us who expect Jacksonville to return to the playoffs this coming season, the preseason left us feeling a little empty. Here are three things we learned from this experience.
Nick Foles cannot get hurt – Of course, this the NFL and players get injuries. None would be more significant to the Jaguars than quarterback Nick Foles. The franchise signal-caller is being counted on this lead this team back to the playoffs. As I see it, getting them to respectability would do this franchise just as well.
As of writing this piece, Gardner Minshew is the team’s backup quarterback. The rookie looked sluggish in the loss Thursday night. He has had his moments but hasn’t been as productive as many had thought. Turning the keys to the offense over to him should Foles go down would be problematic.
I do believe the Jaguars scour the waiver wire or see which veteran might be available as insurance. It will be interesting to see if any quarterback who is released by an NFL team has ties to DeFilippo in the past.
Taven Bryan needs to improve – There is no other way to say this. Taven Bryan must prove this season he is a better football player or the constant questions about whether he is a solid NFL player will continue.
Bryan played better in the second quarter on Thursday night and finished the game with three tackles and a sack. He needs to learn more discipline and use his natural talent to get inside the interior offensive line to the quarterback.
The Jaguars released Datone Jones, which I thought was a mistake as he clearly played better than the former first-round draft pick. But as we know, this is a business that deals with money. The Jaguars have a lot invested in Bryan’s rookie deal. It’s too early to give up on him.
Ryquell Armstead could be a nice surprise at running back – The rookie out of Temple battled injuries this offseason, but in the final preseason game, Ryquell Armstead looked healthy and strong in running the football.
Armstead, a fifth-round pick out of Temple in April, also caught the football and looks to have a more bullish approach to running with the football. He could also help in the passing game in short-yardage situations.
It’s possible he will get more touches as the season progresses and eventually becomes the backup back to Leonard Fournette.