The Jaguars played well in their third preseason game against the Bucs, and a few things stuck out that are worthy of note. Garrard played well if you forgive his endzone interception, and that's a great learning experience to have prior to the season. That pick was all on David, and making that mistake now may prevent him from repeating it when it counts. With our QB situation squarely in order after the third preseason game, let's take a moment to look at what else we learned from the game in Tampa.
The Offensive Guards looked bad.
The Jaguars have 4 players contending for two open guard positions, and only one of those players has performed like they are worthy of a starting spot, Uche Nwaneri. Justin Smiley is by far the quickest lineman we have, but I saw him whiff on a few key blocks that concerned me. Vince Manuwai did not look like a multi-million dollar guard, and we may get the close to the same production out of Kynan Forney. Brad Meester is our center for this season, but that is a position of need as drastic as the safety spot. Uche is not the answer at center, that much is clear.
The Jaguars' defensive front looked strong.
The Jaguars' front seven was without three starters at linebacker, yet still managed to stifle any running game the Bucs tried to muster, and got decent pressure on Josh Johnson. Tyson Alualu looked solid, and Terrance Knighton looked like the dominant player he is. It is slightly concerning that Derrick Harvey doesn't generate more pressure when he is paired next to Knighton, as Terrance is double-teamed on virtually every play, leaving the DE alone on the tackle often. Kampman seems to feed off the one-on-one match-ups he sees as a result of Pot Roast, and may be the best FA signing of the Gene Smith era.
Marcedes Lewis came out strong and has recently been quoted as saying that the team is designing plays to run that cater to his strengths and focus on him. Lewis certainly deserves it, as he has improved each year of his career in Jacksonville. He is a major strength in the running game, and he can block as well as he can catch, something that is becoming exceedingly rare in the NFL of today. The Jaguars still run a ball-control focused offense, and Lewis' versatility is invaluable to a team that thrives off the play-action pass.
Greg Jones is not going anywhere, period. He's the best run blocking FB in the NFL, and he's a large reason why the Jaguars still have any success running the ball up the middle. Brock Bolen looked okay in his debut with the ones, but I am not convinced he has the ability of Greg. Jones seems to be almost prescient in his blocking, somehow he always manages to see his assignment and execute it so efficiently that we often fail to notice he just took the opponents MLB out of the play entirely, providing a massive lane for Maurice to glide through. Greg Jones is safe, and he is a specialist. He blocks, and he does so extremely well.
The Special Teams units are special.
The Jaguars Special Teams units continued their dominant performances, with Podlesh, Scobee, and McGee all showing themselves worthy of having cost draft picks to acquire. While Owens and Osgood provide excellent coverage. Owens absolutely destroyed a blocker on a kickoff return where the Bucs' player fumbles, and that kind of physical play does not go unnoticed.
Ernest Wilford is the wild card.
Ernest Wilford looked good when he wasn't committing penalties against the Bucs. He's a veteran and his innumerable mistakes may have cost him a roster spot. However, should he make the roster he allows the team to play him at either TE or WR in a pinch, and that versatility may save him. Should the Jaguars suffer a rash of injuries at WR, Ernest could seamlessly integrate himself in to the WR spot, as he would already know the offense, and already have the rapport with David that takes some receivers a long time to develop. The Jaguars could comfortably keep 5 WR's if Ernest indeed makes it as a TE.