The game itself was rather boring and I'll be honest, I found it hard to keep my focus around the 12:00 mark of the third quarter. This game was mostly about finishing up the back end roster for the Jaguars moreso than anything else.
Back up quarterback Luke McCown got the start in place of David Garrard, but ended the night kind of "meh". Luke wasn't really bad, but he didn't stand out much either. McCown got the benefit of the "starting" offensive line for most of the night, so he was afforded more than adequate protection. Most of the pressure he received was simply from good coverage by the Falcons. McCown did throw his usual pretty passes down the football field, but he wasn't helped out at all. Early in the game on a 3rd down he hit Troy Williamson on the sideline for what looked like a good chunk of yardage and a first down, but Williamson failed to get two feet in bounds in what should have been a routine toe-tap. Later on, Tiquan Underwood got separation from the defender and came back to an underthrown football only to have it bounce off his midsection. The ball was behind him, but Underwood should have still made the catch for what would have been easily a 40+ yard gain. A series or two later, Underwood fell victim again to his hands made of blocks of wood on another deep pass where he just didn't come down with the football.
It seemed like none of the wide receivers wanted that final spot, as WIlliamson also dropped a touchdown pass. The leading receiver actually wound up being tight end Zach Potter with 2 catches for 33 yards. Maybe John Matthews won a position on the roster by default? The only problem is Williamson and Underwood both provide that elite deep speed the team lacks.
"I think the scope of certainly the first half and probably the game changes if we convert the first third down on that sideline to Troy. The very next series we had a third and three that we missed so, you’ve got to convert those things to get yourself going. You would like to establish a rhythm a little sooner than having to convert a long third down. You would like to move the ball a little sooner than that, but in those situations when it’s kind of a grind, it seems it’s going a little slower than you want, those are momentum changers. Those third downs are key. We’ve got to convert those and that would have changed the way we started," said McCown about the offenses slow start and lack of production.
On the offensive line, Uche Nwaneri was given a break until he went in at center for Brad Meester, but over alll the line played very well. Eugene Monroe was dominating whomever he faced and both Vince Manuwai and Justin Smiley played well. With the surprise cut/injury to back up lineman Cecil Newton, I think it's very likely the Jaguars keep both Smiley and Manuwai now. "The tackles both had missed some time and needed some work so I thought it was good work for our unit. I thought we needed," said head coach Jack Del Rio. It was good to see Eben Britton out there again after shaking off the rust last week, and he improved greatly.
Brock Bolen continued to impress and put the heat on veteran fullback Greg Jones. Bolen made plays with the ball in his hand, including a 16-yard touchdown run. He also made some plays blocking in the backfield, namely on a run up the middle by runningback Chad Kackert. Bolen hit the hole and blew up the linebacker trying to fill it, allowing Kackert an easy pass for a chunk of yardage. Bolen might have very well played his way onto the roster, but it may not be at the expense of Greg Jones after all. Jack Del Rio was asked specifically if it were possible for both men to make the roster. "I think we can," Del Rio answers. "We just have to decide what we want to do. Really the toughest decisions are the numbers you’re going to keep at various positions. We’re fortunate that we’re not coming out with a lot of injuries that you have to stash in your 53 somewhere," added Del Rio. There is a feeling though, that the coaching staff is concerned with Bolen picking up linebackers against a 3-4 set, which they have no issues with Greg Jones. It's very possible they do in fact keep both.
Defensively the Jaguars were kind of ho-hum. Reggie Nelson got the start at free safety, but Gerald Alexander played as well throughout the game. Nelson wasn't really noticeable, which is both good and bad. It's good in the sense that you're not saying "Oh no!", but it's also bad in the sense that he didn't make any plays to stand out. The former in Nelson's case though, is a huge positive. Both Alexander and Sean Considine were in on a few plays. Alexander nearly had a pick-six in the second half of the football game, doing his best Deon Grant impression by dropping an easy interception. Sean Considine made some plays in the running game and blew up a Falcons receiver in the redzone causing an incomplete. "I thought Gerald actually had an opportunity for an interception, pick‐six interception at the end and didn’t quite make," said Jack Del Rio when asked about the safety play. "Sean made a nice play in the red zone there to pat down a third down pass. So there were some plays that stood out right off the top of my head that were winning plays, the kind of plays we’re going to need from the back end," added Del Rio.
Del Rio also singled out back up safety Courtney Greene, who until tonight had had a fairly quiet pre-season. "I loved seeing Courtney Greene come up and put a good shot on the running back and make him spit up the ball. I thought that was excellent," said Del Rio. Greene sized up the runningback as he was coming through the hole and came up to put hat on ball, causing a fumble and recovering it. Del Rio was asked if he had decided who the starting free safety was going to be opposite Anthony Smith before the fourth pre-season game, to which he said "Yes." Yes however, was all he said.
You can also check out The Falcoholic's recap of the game for the Falcons perspective right here.