The Jaguars took the field on Monday morning, for their third day of camp and first time in any sort of pads, as they ran through drills in "shells" today.
Though the focus of most of the fan base has been, and will continue to be, on the progression of Blaine Gabbert and the new-look offense, the defense really stole the show for the duration of the practice session. The constant pressure of the line and consistent pass coverage by the secondary, made it a rough go around for all the quarterbacks on the field, from Gabbert down to Nate Enderle.
As has been the case since camp began, the team was still without RB Maurice Jones-Drew and rookie WR Justin Blackmon, who are each continuing to hold out for their own idiotic reasons. The Jaguars did regain the services of DT Terrance Knighton, TE Zach Miller, and OL Uche Nwaneri who were removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list yesterday, though all three were limited to an occasional rep in walk through situations only as per rules of the league regarding the PUP list.
What follows is a play by play, to the best I saw, of this mornings practice.
Quaterbacks worked with Coach Olson on throwing on the run, and proper roll out technique. Laurent Robinson, Lee Evans, and Marcedes Lewis stayed on the near field to help assist the QBs in the drill. Nothing really of note to report, as the drill was pretty half-speed and the receivers remained stationary for the drill.
On the middle field, special teams were working on punt/kick returns with Cecil Shorts, Aaron Ross, Mike Brown, and Mike Thomas all fielding kicks. At one point the special teams coach went into a profanity-laced tirade on Thomas for his lack of effort when fielding a kick. This was a common ocurrance, both coaches spewing profanity at the special teams players, and Thomas' lack of effort/bad play.
The team then broke into full team drills. The first team lines consisted of Monroe, Rackley, Meester, Spitz, Britton on offense, and Branch, Mosley, Smith, Mincey on defense.
11 v 11 (Pt. 1):
- Rashad Jennings up the middle for what would've been a 15-20 yd. gain.
- Jennings cuts back behind Rackley, stopped for short gain by Mosley.
- Jennings again, gains minimal yardage, met by Posluszny at the line of scrimmage.
- Montel Owens runs off-tackle behind Monroe, stopped by Allen who lays into him pads first and knocks Owens down.
- Gabbert play actions, rolls out and dumps a short pass to Owens. No WRs open downfield.
- Owens runs and is stuffed at LOS by Pendleton and Greene.
- Murphy stuffed again, this time at the LOS, by Corey Irvin.
- Henne play actions, rolls out left in pressure and throws incomplete, off the hands of Colin Cloherty. Ball is nearly intercepted.
- Harris short gain behind Monroe, stopped by Lane.
- Jennings runs off tackle behind Britton for a gain of what would've been about 10 yards.
- Second nice run by Jennings, who wiggled a bit at the line on a cut back and burst through the middle for a gain of about 10.
- Jalen Parmalee runs off tackle behind Robinson, for short gain.
- Henne again play actions, this time dumps pass off to Parmalee for about 10-15 yards before he's met by Prosinski.
The team followed up with one of several walk throughs, that came in between the actuall 11 and 7 man drills. Basically, each string on offense took their turn running a drive at half-speed from inside their 10 yard line, to the opponents red zone.
At this point, the defense broke into "sectional" drills, with defensive line, linebackers, and secondary all doing their own things.
The team then went into 1 on 1 drills with the receivers and cornerbacks. Forgive me for the lack of information here about the other positions, as my focus was on this drill since it was taking place on the near field, and frankly it's what most folks want to know about.
1 v 1 Drill:
- Blaine throws complete to Thomas, who actually does a nice job of turning around Ross on a 10 yd comeback route.
- Henne completes pass to Robinson covered by Cox on a 5 yard slant.
- Henne completes another throw on a good diving effort by Lee Evans as the ball was tailing towards the dirt on another comeback route. Mathis in coverage.
- Gabbert throws just wide and incomplete to Chastin West. T.J. Heath in good position on defense of the play.
- Henne throws deep down far sideline incomplete for Mike Brown, covered well by Ashton Youboty.
- Henne hits Taylor Price for a 5-10 yard slant.
- Cut Palmer throws a duck intended for Kevin Elliot, and is intercepted by Mike Harris.
- Thomas drops pass in the bread basket on a short out by Enderle.
- Robiskie makes nice catch on a deep route setup by a double move with Antonio Dennard in coverage. Robiskie went up and over Dennard to make the grab, on pass by Palmer.
- Gabbert throws incomplete on a deep pass that hits off the hands of Brown, ball was well thrown.
- West and Price follow up with consecutive well ran routes to complete passes from Henne.
- Gabbert completes a pass on nicely ran out by Thomas.
- Robiskie short arms a slant in coverage from Gabbert. Coach Sullivan immediately got on him and began instruction following the half-hearted attempt by Brian.
- Mike Harris makes a fantastic break up on a Henne pass intended for Robinson. Harris got turned around a bit but came back to nearly pick off the pass.
- Kevin Elliot makes another impressive deep catch with T.J. Heath on him in coverage. Elliot tracked the Henne pass and hauled it in for about a 40-45 yard play.
- Cox breaks up a Cut Palmer water balloon, intended for Evans to finish the drill.
The team then continued on right into another set of full team drills. The starting defensive line this time was the same, except for Lane replacing Branch at end.
11 v 11 (Pt. 2):
- Jennings runs and is blasted about 3 yards behind the LOS by Mincey, who audibly talks trash towards Jennings and the rest of the offense.
- Marcedes Lewis makes a nice one handed grab on a short drag route that gains about 4 yards.
- Parmalee runs up the middle for a decent gain of about 5-6 yards.
- Robinson catches short 5 yard slant in coverage from Gabbert.
- Offisdes on defense and bad overthrow to Robinson from Gabbert on an attempted receiver screen.
- Robinson follows up with a bad drop on a slant from Gabbert that had he held on, would've gone for a long gain as no other defender was around him.
- Gabbert scrambles away on a broken play that was blown up by Posluszny, who shoots through the offensive line so quickly, he nearly picks off the snap from Gabbert's hands. (Not an exaggeration)
- Jennings runs for no gain, stuffed by "The Smiths". (Daryl and D'Anthony)
- Blaine scrambles after being "sacked" by Lane & Mincey. No one open on play.
- Henne passes short to Brown for about a 5 yard gain.
- One of several false starts, is followed by a dropped pass from Henne to Robiskie.
- Owens runs off right guard for a short gain, stopped by Pendleton.
- Henne throws ball away on a busted screen pass attempt.
- Chris Prosinski makes defensive highlight of the day, coming across the field to pick off a Henne deep throw intended for Brown. Brown had beaten what looked like Dennard for what should've been a walk in touchdown, but Henne hung the ball in the air forever and allowed Prosinski to make the play.
- Henne scrambles after "sack" by rookie Ryan Davis.
- Richard Murphy runs for short gain to end drill.
The team took a brief water break at this point, and then proceeded into yet another full team drill, which then kinda veered into 7 on 7s. Branch replaced Lane at defensive end for this team drill.
11 v 11 (Pt. 3)/7 v 7:
- Gabbert throws complete to Evans for short gain, after fumbling snap exchange.
- Gabbert follows up with a strike to Thomas in traffic over the middle for about a 15 yard gain.
- Shorts makes catch on another pass from Gabbert, after which he apparently did something to Jerry Sullivan's dislike, as the coach instructed Shorts that, "If you do that again, you can take your a-- to the other field and run laps the rest of the day.". Coach Sullivan doesnt play, y'all.
- Henne throws short to Evans on a 6-7 yard curl.
- Owens runs for a short gain, stopped by Aaron Morgan.
- Henne throws to Matt Veldman incomplete, pass sailed to the Arena parking lot.
- Gabbert completes pass to Lewis who makes another nice lunging catch on a short drag route.
- Posluszny knocks away a second Gabbert pass intended for Lewis on a curl over the middle.
- Gabbert throws deep incomplete to Robinson who had a step on Kevin Rutland in coverage. Ball fell about a yard past Robinson's hands.
- Enderle's first attempt is batted away and nearly picked off by rookie Brandon Marshall.
- Cut Palmer completes two short passes to West and Cloherty, respectively.
- Gabbert slightly over throws Cloherty on out route to far sideline. Follows play with a scramble as no one came open til he past LOS.
- Another Gabbert scramble, as again no receiver is open after about 4-5 seconds of Blaine looking off options.
- Solid throw by Henne to Evans on a 10 yard out, with Mathis well in coverage.
- Henne follows with two passes completed to Brown and Robiskie, for short gains. End of drill.
Special teams then came on the field, and we got our first look at the Anger of the Jags, pun intended. I'll say this, he may not be worth a 3rd round pick, but the guy looks like a damn good punter. The team practiced about 10 punts from inside the opponent's 50, and Anger booted every one of them at or inside the 5 yard line. To be honest, it was really impressive.
The team then gather for the final team drill of practice.
11 v 11 The Finale':
- Gabbert scrambles after "sack" by Mincey. Coverage again well played by the secondary.
- Jennings with a short run up the middle, stopped by Mosley.
- Gabbert scrambles again, no receivers open. Of note, Branch dropped into coverage from the DE spot with Mincey lined up inside.
- Finally, a pass is completed, as Gabbert makes a strike to Shorts on an out for about a 15 yard gain.
- Owens met at the LOS by Pendleton and Greene for no gain.
- False start by offense goes uncalled, pass from Henne dropped by Price.
- Aaron Morgan whips by Guy Whimper with a Freeney-esque spin move, to "sack" Henne, who throws ball away.
- Henne completes a pass to Robiskie who makes a nice up and over catch while falling, with T.J. Heath in coverage.
- Gabbert scrambles after another coverage sack. This time Lane got to him first, followed by at least two other defenders as Blaine looked for an open man. None could be found.
- Harris runs untouched off Britton for a long gain of about 20 yards.
- Gabbert scrambles again, after Branch beats Monroe inside to force Blaine out of the pocket. No receivers open.
- The third teams ran two plays that was a complete crap fest.
- Richard Murphy runs for little gain, stopped by Irvin.
- Harris tries to string run outside, but is stopped by Cox before he can turn the corner, on final play of practice.
All in all, the practice was as it seems, which is to say, very sloppy on offense as a mostly direct result of how tremendous the defense is playing.
The receivers had a terrible time getting open against the secondary, particularly when the first team was on the field. That coupled with the pressure coming from the ends made for a practice that resembled a lot like the offense we saw in 2011.
Where the change is in that offense from '11, however, is that the pressure is not Gabbert getting "spooked" by non-existent rushers or forcing plays with his legs. Rather, it's more of a result from a receiving corps that is frankly missing it's best receiver, and is having a hard time finding any separation and/or consistency in catching the football once they do gain position on the defender.
Despite what many in the national media, who have NOT attended a single Jaguars practice since last summer, may say about the lack of progression in Gabbert, myself and anyone who has attended a practice can tell you there is a lot of evidence that this is an improved player from what we saw on New Year's Day.
That said, the receivers and offensive line need to pick it up in a big way, and they need to get Blackmon into camp ASAP.
On the bright side, this defense is going to be possibly even better than they were a year ago, when they ranked 6th in the league. Andre Branch flashed Brackens-like ability in his first day in pads, and Austen Lane, Jeremy Mincey, and UDFA rookie Ryan Davis, each got their hands in on the QBs for what would've been sacks in real-time.
The secondary locked down the receivers on nearly every play, and something to note on this front, Rashean Mathis was running with the second team defense for a portion of the practice, with Cox, Rutland, and Ross in nickel on the first team.
Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Paul Posluszny, who is playing like a man possessed since camp opened. He literally looks like a man among boys out there.
There are plenty of positives to find among the negativity centered on a baby-step taking offense. It's going to be a process, and without their two best offensive weapons, it'll likely continue to be magnified.
Hopefully Blackmon will come to his senses, and we can finally see a fully-tooled passing attack go to work.