JAGUARS VS PANTHER RECAP: 5 THINGS
1. With the QB Room as it's currently constructed the Jaguars will be picking the lesser of two evils. In the Jaguars loss to the Panthers on Thursday night both QBs did some nice things and both did some very not so nice things. Henne got the start and played the entire first half. He finished the game 8/14 and racked up only 72 yards on the night. He regularly looked uncomfortable in the pocket and, of course, had a ball batted at the line.
With Henne on the field the Jaguars were just 1 of 7 on third down. Henne wasn't all bad though. He didn't turn the ball over, which has been a point of emphasis for the Jaguars this offseason, and he did make a couple of big time throws. One ball fell through the hands of Keelan Cole on what would surely have been a TD, the other a diving grab by Allen Robinson that was put in the perfect place by Henne. Bortles completed 12/16 passes and looked okay, but, of course, he threw a an INT that was nearly a pick six. Whether or not the blame should be on Bortles or Allen Hurns for that turnover is debatable, but "unlucky" plays stick to Bortles like white on rice. So, what do the Jaguars do moving forward? Stick with the guy that won't turn the ball over, but also won't give you many big plays or roll with the guy that has big play ability and a propensity to turn the ball over at a high clip?
2. The offensive line looks just as helpless as the QBs. Now, the offensive line has had some bright spots this preseason, but over the last couple of weeks they haven't done much to inspire confidence. They gave up 3 sacks to the Panthers on the night, and regularly allowed the QBs to get pressured. In the running game they struggled to create adequate holes for Chris Ivory, Corey Grant and company. The offensive line has been so bad that Marrone played the starters all the way into the fourth quarter to get them more work - starters NEVER play in the fourth quarter of preseason games. The final stats show the Jaguars averaged over 5 yards a carry and racked up 136 yards, but if you takeaway Corey Grant's 51 yarder the Jaguars were just as pitiful running the ball as they have been in recent memory. Chris Ivory had some nice runs and scored a gritty (lol) touchdown, but he was stuffed far too often and finished with just 36 yards on 10 carries.
3. Where is the run defense? The Jaguars front seven was supposed to be a strength heading into 2017. With three big name linebackers and a mix of Pro Bowl caliber players and young talent on the defensive line big things should be expected from this group. The Jaguars allowed the Panthers to control the game with their rushing attack. In total the Panthers ran the ball 29 times, only four less times than they thew it, and racked up 120 yards. If the Jaguars hope to even be competitive in 2017 the defensive front must be much, much better against the run.
4. The receivers have got to be more reliable. For a second straight week Keelan Cole dropped a would be TD. Allen Hurns dropped a pass that should likely have been caught and it resulted in a pick six. The QBs have been bad, but the receivers aren't without blame. This team as a whole just doesn't seem to be right mentally. Will a flip switch once the regular season begins? Let's hope so.
5. Barry Church is the real deal. Finally, a bright spot! Church was a force throughout the contest on Thursday night. He finished with 9 tackles, including a brilliant tackle for loss early on in the game. He plays with the speed that Johnathan Cyprien never could, and he appears to have a much better understanding of angles. We've got to give a lot of credit to my co-host of the GenJag Podcast. Scott Klein has been bullish on Barry Church since the day the team signed him, and it appears that Scott was spot on.
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