If the 30-day holdout and complete absence of a Jaguars' franchise running back from the EverBank facility this year has taught us anything, it's that there's two sides to him. Everybody is just waiting for the Maurice Jones-Drew side to overrule the Maurice Jones-Diva side. The more visible Jones-Drew is the workhorse player who does everything it takes to win on the field. Away from the game, he's an engaging, fun-loving, community-minded guy that everyone respects for his relentless effort and production. Jones-Diva makes only cameo appearances, but that's the guy who can be a bit petulant if somebody disagrees with him. Or becomes thin-skinned over the slightest media criticism. Hey, Maurice, nothing personal. Just speaking my mind.
Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey learned Thursday night that sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. Malarkey didn’t want to play four 4-3 teams in the preseason so he requested to play a team like Baltimore that plays a 3-4 defense with odd fronts. "We wanted a team to give a little more of a different look," he said. The Jaguars weren’t ready for that different look and were routed 48-17 after their backups rallied to win the first two preseason games.
This wasn’t the night the Jaguars wanted. Not even close. Playing on the road for a second time in six days, the offense struggled, the defense struggled, too, and a whole lot that had been going right for two giddy, excited weeks went really wrong. The result on Thursday night was a 48-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, a loss that was as one-sided as the score indicated and one that showed why the Jaguars are a building, improving franchise and why the Ravens are Super Bowl contenders. The positive from Thursday?
1) The Jaguars aren’t invincible. Well, we knew that already, and that’s what you must remember about this game more than anything else. This isn’t a finished product. It’s a work in progress. When you’re a work in progress, you have hiccups. This was a big one. 2) Justin Blackmon is good. Really good. If you throw this guy the ball, he catches it. And he’s open. Really open. Consistently. If there is a positive that has come from this game it’s that Blackmon is going to be really good really quickly. In the big picture, that’s more important than the loss.
The Jaguars were missing starting cornerback Derek Cox and starting outside linebacker Daryl Smith. While we can say the defensive problems were a bad night for Jacksonville and a good night for Baltimore, I’m also left wondering if the Jaguars are in trouble depth-wise if they are down a few key guys. Offensively, they didn’t start as well as they had in the two prior preseason games. Their first four drives produced three first downs and 63 yards.