The Jaguars entered their third preseason game with plenty of questions that needed to be answered, and it seems that instead they leave with even more. Some old habits from 2009 came back. While the offense racked up plenty of yardage, the first team only managed six points vs one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Penalties galore wiped out potential first downs and put the team in bad positions. But, at the end of the day, there was more good than bad.
The biggest cause for concern was David Garrard's interception at the goal line. Garrard led the NFL in red zone turnovers a year ago, and that isn't what the team or fans wanted to see. There was plenty of blame to go around on the play, a bad play design and a missed block that let a defender go free, but at the end of the day Garrard was responsible for the throw. He locked onto Greg Jones and never took his eyes off of him.
The pick does undermine the rest of Garrard's day, as he put up otherwise good numbers. He completed passes to 8 different receivers and built on his performance from the 2nd game.
Luke McCown and John Matthews teamed up to provide the highlight of the night. McCown threw a perfect pass and Matthews made an excellent catch for the Jaguars lone touchdown. McCown had another solid outing, and did enough to keep Garrard's seat warm. Matthews on the other hand has played himself into at least a PS spot, and perhaps the 5th WR spot.
After a solid outing vs Miami, the offensive line regressed tonight. Every member of the line had at least one face palm worthy moment, whether a holding penalty that wiped out a first down, a false start on third and short, or a blown block. Consistency is the name of the game, and that hasn't been the case for the line so far. Hopefully with Eben Britton now healthy, the team can move forward.
In addition, Uche Nwaneri nixed himself out of the center competition officially tonight. He was lackluster as a blocker and the snap over David's head was the kiss of death for him.
The biggest surprise of the night was the reemergence of the Jaguars running game, despite Maurice Jones-Drew absence. Special teams ace Montell Owens looked surprisingly natural as the primary running back, rushing for 24 yards on six carries. The real star of the night from Brock Bolen. Bolen, a second year player from Louisville, was the Jags leading rusher and receiver. Bolen's emergence may be the final straw for Greg Jones. Jones' contract doesn't match his current ability, making him a liability.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jaguars finally got an extended look at the starting defensive line. The early returns? A collective, eh. While the line did manage to get some pressure, it didn't produce any sacks. Tyson Alualu didn't have too much of an impact, and took himself out of a few plays to boot. On the other hand, Aaron Kampman continues to improvement.
On the bright side, the Jaguars special teams continues to shine, and may well be the best special teams unit in the NFL.
Overall, there are plenty of questions that will now need to get answered during the regular season. The Jaguars were going against one of the worst teams in the NFL, and if they were serious about being a playoff contender, the "1s" should've had an easier time. Hopefully the team simply used up it's mulligans in this final dress rehearsal and come out vs Denver completely focused.
UPDATE #1: Jack Del Rio informed the media that TE Marcedes Lewis is fine and would've continued playing had it been a regular season game