1. Special Teams were special
The Jaguars special teams unit was terrible this preseason, but would've known it based on their performance Sunday. Brad Nortman, the Jaguars free agent signee from Carolina, was bombing punts all day and landed two of them inside the 5 yard line with a little help from Peyton Thompson who recovered both of them before they bounced into the end zone. Jason Myers was perfect on the day. On kickoffs balls were flying off his foot on kickoffs and he was perfect on field goals (3/3 including a 50 yarder)and extra points (2/2). After a rough preseason Myers and Jaguars fan are breathing a collective sigh of relief. Rashad Greene's lone punt return went for 14 yards while Corey Grant returned 2 kickoffs for 51 yards including a 32 yarded that was close to breaking big. The bottom line is the special teams performance in this one was special and instead of being a liability it was the Jaguars strongest unit.
2. The offensive line must grow throughout the season
This was the first time the Jaguars revamped offensive line played in a real game together, and it wasn't pretty. The run game never really got going and T.J. Yeldon who was the lead back (Chris Ivory was hospitalized with an unknown illness) only averaged 1.9 yards a carry on 21 carries. While he did have a couple of nice runs, the holes just weren't there for him to find and he was hit in the backfield far too often. The pass protection was slightly better than the run blocking, but not by much. Bortles was sacked 3 times on the day, but was pressured several more times. Sure, the Packers were running some exotic blitzes and had some really unique fronts that the Jaguars have never seen before. They likely won't face another defense as unique as the Packers is, but they'll need to create more of a push in the run game and give Bortles just a bit more time in the pocket moving forward.
3. Interior pressure could be elite, edge rushers need improvement
As we expected Malik Jackson and Sen' Derrick Marks got a lot of good push on the interior part of the line and created uncomfortable pockets for Aaron Rodgers, but the lack of pressure off the edge from Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue allowed Rodgers to escape the interior pressure and find receivers time and again. There were several plays where the Jaguars were close to bringing down Rodgers, but the ended not being able to record a single sack. It was the first NFL start for both Fowler and Ngakoue and they both showed flashes, but lacked consistency and couldn't find a way to get Rodgers on the ground. Rodgers has perhaps the best instincts in the game and is one of the best athletes at the QB position in the NFL. Next week the Jaguars will face the heavy footed Philip Rivers and they'll need to be able to get him on the ground as he has traditionally torched the Jaguars defense.
4. The Jaguars passing attack could be a top 5 unit in 2016
The Jaguars passing performance against the Packers was a sight to be seen. Despite the officials not calling several obvious pass inferences/defensive holdings the Jaguars aerial attack was on their game. Following a flukey interception (Marqise Lee juggled the ball right into the hands of a defender) on the Jaguars first offensive drive Bortles and the receivers were on point. Blake Bortles showed great decision making and played a highly efficient game, throwing for 320 yards and a TD and completed 24 of 39 passes (again several of those were on pass interfaces that weren't called). He out performed the best quarterback in the game for much of the day finding Julius Thomas 5 times for 64 yards and 1 sweet TD, Allen Hurns 4 times for 75 yards, and Allen Robinson 6 times for 72 yards including a couple of clutch 4th down conversions.
5. Play calling was good on every play except one
The Jaguars play calling and scheme was extremely effective on both sides of the ball until the last play of the game. On that last offensive snap the Jaguars ran a WR screen against an all out blitz and if they would have gotten one good block on the outside it could have been a huge play, but instead on 4th and 1 Hurns was tackled for a loss, a loss that lost the game. I get the idea; if you get the block you need then the play could go for 6, but you didn't need 6 on that play, you needed 1, 1 yard that is. The Jags receivers routinely showed that they were much better than the Packers defenders trying to cover them. If it's me calling that play Allen Robinson is running a slant or curl route and bodying his man. Put the ball in the hands of your best player when the game is on the line.
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