1. Don't panic, but don't let this one slide either
The Jaguars starters got their butts kicked by the Bengals starters. No, it's not what you would hope to see in the third and most important game of the preseason, but let's not blow this out of proportion. It was one bad half of football against a really well rounded Bengals team. Penalties and dumb mistakes doomed several drives to start the game, which made things way worse than they could have been. If this was a measuring stick game it clearly shows that the Jaguars must get better. The best teams don't make dumb mistakes that cost points on a regular basis, which is exactly what the Jaguars did in this one. Having said that, these same Jaguars looked amazing in the first two preseason games against two quality teams. They need to get back on track, cut down on the mental mistakes, and get ready for the Packers. There are a lot of similarities between this Bengals team and the Packers, who the Jaguars will host in their season opener on September 11th. Both teams have lots of talent on both sides of the ball and both teams have made the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. The Jaguars will need to put this one behind them and make sure they are mentally ready to play come week one of the regular season, or they'll be in a world of trouble against one of the most efficient QB's in NFL history.
2. Penalties, Penalties, Penalties
11 penalties for 65 yards is unacceptable, especially when one of them negates a touchdown. This is becoming a common theme for the Jaguars this preseason and something clearly needs to be done. Whether it's coaching or players needing to be more accountable, somethings has got to give. If the Jaguars play careless football in the regular season then they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
3. The left guard position shouldn't be a huge concern
The narrative after the game last night is that Luke Joeckel was terrible at left guard against the All-Pro Geno Atkins. In truth Joeckel did a lot of good things at guard. He didn't give up a ton of pressure (after the first drive) and actually made a couple of impact blocks. The offensive line as a whole was pretty good in pass protection and didn't give up a sack the whole night. If you look around the web today or listen to the radio you'll hear a lot of negative talk about Joeckel, but I encourage you to go back and watch him on every play at left guard in this game. You'll see a player that does some really nice things, not the dumpster fire that you're hearing about from the media today. He had two negative plays on the first drive, one in which he was pancaked by Atkins and another in which he was just beat by the same player. Aside from those two plays Joeckel actually looked like a decent player at guard. Joeckel may never be the guy we would have hoped for, but he wasn't as bad at guard as everyone would lead you to believe. I'm not saying Joeckel needs to be the Jaguars starter at left guard for the next five years, but let's give it some time and see how this thing plays out.
4. Kick coverage must be better
So far this preseason the Jaguars have been atrocious in special teams coverage and some of that carried over into this one when they gave up a big punt return that could have been avoided with disciplined angles and proper tackling. Whatever is going on in those special teams sessions needs change. These guys are too young and athletic to be getting routinely beat on special teams.
5. The edge rush struggles, while the interior pass rush shines
After a great start to training camp for the Jaguars youthful pass rushers, they have slowed down in a major way. Ngakoue and Fowler have struggled to get any sort of pass rush going in the last couple weeks against some quality offensive lines. While they both have their work cut out for them heading into the regular season, their team mates on the interior of the defensive line are looking really good. Malik Jackson has been a force every since he got to Jacksonville and Sen'Derrick Marks finally looks like he has the explosion that he displayed before his injury in 2014 when he recorded 8.5 sacks.
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