The Jaguars, despite leading for much of the game, fell to the Saints in their first preseason contest of 2018. Wins and losses don't matter in the preseason. There's not a whole lot of game planning or scheming that goes into these matchups. What does matter, however, is how individual players look. If a guy looks good it doesn't necessarily mean he's in line to have a big season. On the reverse side of that if a player performs poorly in preseason it doesn't mean he's on track for a down year.
Having said all that let's take a look at five things you should remember from this one.
1. The first team offense was very strong.
Blake Bortles looked sharp. His lone mistake came when he tried to hit Marqise Lee in the end zone down the middle. Lee was blanketed in coverage by Patrick Robinson and the throw probably should have been intercepted. Blake will want that one back. Other than that Blake was flawless. His other two incompletions came on drops from Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief. He showed poise in the pocket and resilience. The play right after his miscue to Lee he was able to fire a laser off his back foot to Dede Westbrook for a big first down - a play that set the Jaguars up in scoring position. Bortles then capped off the drive with a nice run to the right side where he beat everyone to the corner of the end zone for a score.
The offensive line and the running game was impressive. There were clean pockets for Bortles and when it came time to pound the rock Leonard Fournette had room to work with. He finished the game with 5 rushes for 24 yards - that's 4.8 yards per carry.
The lone drive by the first team offense was an impressive one. Let's see if they can build on that against the Vikings in week two of the preseason.
2. The first team defense looked a little rusty.
The first team defense struggled to slow down the Drew Brees-less Saints on their opening drive. They tightened up as the drive went along but not before the Saints got into field goal range. The defense struggled against Alvin Kamara, surrendering 18 total yards to the 2018 offensive rookie of the year on the first drive. It was good to see the defense constrict once the Saints got into scoring range, but you'd like to see them show a little bit more in week two of the preseason.
3. The Jaguars appear to be in good hands with Cody Kessler.
Despite a certain reporter who covers the Jaguars predicting the Jaguars would look to replace Cody Kessler as the team's second string QB prior to the regular season, Kessler has been good for the Jaguars. He has yet to throw an interception during training camp and has been highly accurate. That continued into the Jaguars first preseason game. Kessler, who was forced to leave the pocket quite a bit, finished 14/17 for 139 yards and a touchdown. Much of his success came against the Saints first team defense (for some reason they stayed in the game for quite a while).
4. Strong play from the kicker and punter continued.
Josh Lambo, who has been nearly perfect in training camp, continued to display greatness. He was 2/2 on field goals, including a 49 yarder, and made both his PAT tries. The one blemish on his performance was a lack of touchbacks. The Saints had five total kick returns, several of which went for big yardage. Lambo will look to boot the ball a bit longer on kickoffs moving forward.
Logan Cooke was also impressive. He boomed two punts, both of which landed inside the 20. If he can avoid any sort of mental collapse, Cooke is on track for a solid rookie season.
5. About the final WR spot . . .
Shane Wynn lead Jaguars WRs in receiving with 3 catches for 39 yards. He didn't get the opportunity to return any punts or kicks, but he was an effective receiver, per usual. Rashad Greene caught two passes for 13 yards. He also returned a punt for one yard and two kickoffs for an average of 21 yards. He didn't exactly light the world on fire with his performance, but he was solid. Jaydon Mickens didn't catch any passes, but he did have a nice 27 yard kick return that he almost broke for more. Allen Lazard looks more like a practice squad guy at this point in the race. No one receiver has clearly separated from the rest. The race continues.
Overall there were a lot of encouraging signs from this game, but again it's just preseason.
Stay tuned for more!
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