"I think we were just trying to figure him out and figure out where’s his strength and how can we best utilize his skills. We did that with a lot of guys and it takes some time to do that but I think we’ve honed in on it a little bit more."
- Gus Bradley on Denard Robinson
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Denard Robinson had glowing reviews early in OTAs and training camp last season, but ultimately fizzled out as it was clear he struggled with the jump from college quarterback to NFL running back/wide receiver.
This offseason however, there seems to be nothing but praise for Robinson. He's bulked about about 15 pounds and appears to still have his same game breaking speed, but more importantly he's shown reliable hands thus far in OTA practices, not dropping a single pass.
We don't know about his fumbling issues until the pads come on, but if Robinson can improve in his ball handling as well as show the ability to catch the ball reliably out of the Jaguars backfield, it could be a big asset on offense this season.
"We haven’t talked about that but somewhere down the line he’ll get some reps with the ones."
- Gus Bradley on Blake Bortles
The Jacksonville Jaguars still stand firm that the plan is to sit Blake Bortles and let him learn and work on mechanics rather than thrusting him into the starting lineup, but by all accounts he's made steady and noticeable improvement each day in OTA practices, including a near perfect day in 11-on-11 drills.
Bortles 13-of-15 during 11-on-11 today. #Jaguars— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) June 12, 2014
Chad Henne, the current starter, has also been solid by most accounts. I may be in the minority, but I still think Bortles have a shot of being the Week 1 starter for the Jaguars, but they're not going to hand it to him. Gus Bradley and Co. believe in competition and want to see players earn the job, so Bortles is going to have to clearly outplay Henne on a consistent basis through training camp and the preseason.
"I think our defense is doing a good job. I think most of all the defensive front is giving us a good pass rush. The quarterbacks have to push the pocket and get the ball out on time."
- Chad Henne on the Jaguars pass rush
The Jaguars pass rush has been bad since... maybe when I was in high school? Which, at this point, was a long time ago. The team invested in Chris Clemons, Dekoda Watson and Ziggy Hood in free agency to improve the pass rush, but also with the addition of Red Bryant to soak up and command double teams, it should free up the other defensive lineman to have their one-on-one battles.
While there are no pads on, so it's tough to tell exactly who's good and who's not, the Jaguars pass rush in OTAs has looked much improved. Clemons looks like what you'd expect and then you have guys like Andre Branch looking good in practice. Anything the Jaguars get out of the returning defensive lineman in the pass rush department will be a big bonus, but overall it appears it's better than it was last season.
"The three technique is what you want to play. You can never be wrong in this defense and everyone is playing off you, as long as you’re attacking and getting off the ball. He has all the tools that you need to play that position. He came from a read defense. This defense will definitely benefit his play."
- Tyson Alualu on Ziggy Hood's role
One of the biggest surprise signings in free agency was the Jaguars pickup of former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood. Hood play defensive end in the Steelers 3-4 front and was viewed by most as a disappointment after being picked in the first round. In the Steelers front his job was essentially to eat space, set the edge and play contain, reading what the offense did and reacting to it.
In the Jaguars defense however, Hood will now being getting up field and attacking the backfield on nearly every play. His job will be to disrupt the interior of the offensive line and rotate with returning Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. Marks and Hood are similar in the regard that when they came to the Jaguars, their defensive role on the line changed completely.
For Marks, it resulted in a new contract extension and being one of the Jaguars better pass rushers in recent memory. He was a consistent force on the interior of the line, but it was clear he needed a spell late in the season and would get worn down playing so many snaps. Hopefully with Hood, who was a good interior pass rusher in college at Missouri, he will have a resurgence like Marks did for the Jaguars last season.