I was at the Bills/Jags game, since this was one of the few times that the Jaguars have played within a couple hours of Rochester. I came into the game not really caring if they won or lost, just more interested in trying to evaluate how everyone was playing. I found out that it's tough to really evaluate players if you're watching the live game, since you don't have the benefit of replay. Also, since it was at the Bills stadium, most replays only showed positive plays for the Bills, which isn't good for seeing how the Jags were actually doing. Here are my overall observations from the game:
DuJuan Harris - He can run! He can catch! He just seems to fit perfectly with the offense that we're running, which unfortunately includes a lot of runs up the middle and checkdown passes. He was really decisive in his cuts, and he had great burst through the o-line. I want to see more of what he can do, and I'm worried that if he's put on the practice squad, he'll be picked up by another team. It actually seemed like he ran the ball better than Bolen.
Matt Estrada - always seemed to be around the ball. I heard his number being called quite a bit on tackles and good coverage.
Odrick Ray - Seemed like he was getting some good pass rush, even though it was against the third string.
Albert Young - Had some good runs. Didn't really notice who it was until I kept hearing his name, but I think that just means that he was doing his job well.
Marcedes Lewis - Ok, he had a couple of bad drops. He definitely creates a mismatch against whatever defender is left to cover him, and if we had a QB who could actually throw the ball to him consistently, he'd be unstoppable.
Brad Meester - He probably had the best game out of all of the offensive linemen, but that's not really saying much. I did see him doing some good run blocking.
Linebackers in run support - Yeah, that's really what Poz was brought in for, and he seemed to have a nose for getting to the ball carrier. No great stops in the backfield, but they didn't allow too many runs longer than 3 - 4 yards.
The pass rush - Pretty much non-existent throughout the night. Matt Roth seemed like he was probably our best pass rusher on the field, and that's not a good thing. He pretty much started with the bull-rush outside of the LT, and then switched to the inside, but by that time the ball was already out. Lane didn't seem to get any pressure, and I only heard his name on running plays. Aaron Morgan kept getting washed out of the play, and he had a penalty. Pot Roast was getting some push up the middle, but I could tell that he was missing his counterpart Alualu. Fitzpatrick had more than enough time to look over all of his options and choose the best one, and that was easy to see based on the completion percentage. Pretty sad, considering the horrible state of Buffalo's offensive line, but I can give them a little bit of a pass since they were playing without Kampman and Alualu.
The secondary - Played way off of their receivers for most of the game, had some miscues, and generally didn't have a very good game. Decent tackling once the receiver caught the ball, but I think we're going to see more of what we saw last year. Soft coverage, followed by a bad play where they let the receiver get behind them for a big play. This might get a little better as the new additions get more comfortable with the defense, but I'm just not confident in this group, even with the new additions.
Linebackers in coverage - They knew this wasn't a strength of Poz when he was signed, and he continued to struggle with it. There were a couple of plays where I thought "Who is number 51? He looks like he's about a couple of steps too slow", and then I realized who it was. I'm pretty sure that he was on a WR when I was thinking that, so that's not surprising. I'm a big fan of the Pozluszny signing, but I know that coverage isn't his strength, and the QBs in our division are going to expose him if he doesn't get help. Russell Allen is...well...Russell Allen. He's a decent backup, but that's about it. I didn't really notice Daryl Smith at all, except to hear his name called on some good plays and see him getting out of the pile on some tackles, but I think that's a good thing.
Gabbert - Played like a rookie. Had a couple of really nice passes that seemed to show what his potential is, but then followed it up with some really bad ones. Didn't handle pressure well when the o-line started to collapse, and doesn't have the elusiveness of Garrard when defenders get a hand on him. The times that he ran actually seemed like they were good times to run, since the receivers were well covered, and there was a lot of open field in front of him. I'm not sure if he's ready to start in game 1, but I'd be surprised if he wasn't starting by the middle of the season (especially if Garrard continues to play like he did).
The offensive line - Wow, this was bad. Monroe looked quick enough, but he was getting pushed around after initial contact. I didn't really concentrate on the individuals on the rest of the line, but I noticed that the pocket kept getting crushed, and there was pressure from all sides.
The wide receivers - Almost no separation for the entire game. Mike Thomas seemed to give up on an out route that looked like the throw was in the right spot, but he slowed down and didn't make the effort. Does he just not care because it's the preseason? Does he want to sabotage Garrard's chances of being the starter? Is he out of shape? I don't know, but that's the second week in a row that he has seemingly given up on the same route. Thomas seems like he's more "quick" than "fast". I mean he's got a good burst, but maybe doesn't have the long speed that I was hoping for. Cecil Shorts III went pretty much unnoticed, until he dropped a pass in the end zone. Jason Hill had at least 1 drop, and his performance was only saved by a couple of questionable pass interference penalties.
Scotty McGee - Quit dancing around back there and get up the field! He's definitely not going to make the roster. Seemed like he was trying too hard, and it just didn't work out.
Garrard - The man that some of us love to hate. I'll admit that I'm not a Garrard fan, so I'm a little bit biased, but I was actually hoping that he'd come out and have a strong showing so that we could put this QB controversy to rest. It was infuriating to see Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 11/12, while Garrard only completed 11/21. I know numbers don't tell the whole story, but in this case it was pretty accurate. I found myself watching him and thinking "throw the ball, throw the ball, get out of there, get rid of it, sack!" Way too indecisive and slow getting rid of the ball. Obviously he wasn't getting much help from his receivers, or the o-line, but sometimes you need to show that you know when to throw the ball away. When he ran in for the touchdown, I thought "he's a better runner than a QB...it's like we have Tebow, just 10 years older". That's not a good thing. Ok, he's not that bad...at least Garrard can throw a spiral. He just never seems to be able to lead his receivers. They have to be pretty much stopped and waiting for him to throw the ball, and then he throws it right at their numbers.
The QB situation is not good right now, but there's hope for the future. The o-line needs to gel more and get better at pass protection. The receivers need to get separation. We have no pass rush. We have good running backs. We can play the run well. Blah blah blah, the same things we've been hearing for the past few years will continue to be the same things we talk about this year. I think that this team is on the rise, but they've got a long way to go.