This Thursday's game against the Ravens
should provide us with a good gauge of how much progression the offense has made thus far. The Raven defense ranked 4th in total yards last season and 3rd in scoring defense only giving up 16.6 points per game. Additionally, they ranked 3rd in sacks with 48 and 3rd in pass defense yielding just 196 yards per game and giving up a little over 53% pass completion percentage. Their rushing defense ranked 2nd last season giving up 92.6 yards per game. The Ravens have the reputation of being one of the best and toughest defenses in the league and have the numbers to back it up.
The third preseason game has traditionally been the game where we see actual game planning by the coaching staff and extended play by the starters. It will be fascinating to see how our new coaching staff prepares for an actual game vs one of the best teams in the league. Of particular interest will be the continued growth of QB Blaine Gabbert
. Blaine had a good outing against the Giants
and followed that up with an excellent showing against the Saints
completeing 13 of 16 passes with 2 touchdowns and a QB rating of 135.4. Both preseason games were against playoff teams from last year. However, these are preseason games with no game planning and very vanilla defensive schemes. Thusrday's game will be the first time this year that we face an opponent who will gameplay against us.
Here are the primary things I'll be looking for this Thursday:
1) Blaine Gabbert - will he continue to shine against one of the best defenses in the league. Baltimore ranked 3rd in the league last seasoning sacks with 48, so they can get after the QB. Will Blaine stand tall in the pocket and deliver accurate passes? Can he make accurate presnap reads and pick up blitzes and coverages? Will he check us out of bad plays and into good ones? Will he be decisive on where to go with the ball? How will he respond to negative plays?
2) Offensive Line - we are still without our full compliment of starting linemen. Last season, the Jaguar offense was plagued by a myriad of issues and pass protection was among them. Have our linemen developed and improved in this area? Again, with the Ravens renound for QB pressure, this will be a great test to see where we stand. How well will they pick up blitzes and games?
3) WR - The Jaguars
made a concerted effort to bolster the talent level at this position. Last season was a disaster for the WR corp as they either could not get opened or dropped passes routinely. Given how good the Raven defense is against the pass, coupled with sacks and interceptions,it will be critical for the WRs to recognize blitzes and to be on the same page with Blaine by adjusting to hot routes where appropriate. It will be equally important for our WRs to get separation early in routes in order to counter the defensive pressure we're likely to see.
4). Coaching - I have maintained that the biggest upgrade this organization did in the off season was to the coaching staff. Last year was a disaster coaching wise as apathy was compounded by incompetence. This year should be much improved. I'll be looking for the overall gameplan. Will we continue to show the run / pass balance we've seen thus far in preseason? What kind of adjustments will the staff make at halftime? Will we have a good mix of run / pass in not so obvious situations. Last year was run, run, pass, punt pretty much 24/7. We've seen some 1st down passing thus far and I'd like to see that continue.
What will be your primary interest of focus?
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