By and large, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley followed his script from last year for Weeks 1, 2, and 3 of the preseason this year.
He's having to balance playing time for an up-and-coming rookie in Blake Bortles with incumbent starter Chad Henne, but the amount of time he's given the rest of the offense is right on. He's also played his starting defense for the same amount of time -- a full quarter against the Buccaneers, most of the first half against the Bears, and if not for a number of injuries to starters against the Lions, they would have played into the middle of the third quarter.
So, if Bradley plays Thursday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons like he did the fourth week matchup of last year's preseason against the Atlanta Falcons, what can we expect to see?
Chad Henne will throw the ball... a lot
Bradley and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch gave Henne 10 pass attempts before the first quarter ended -- leaning heavily on the pass while the starters were out there. Of the 15 plays where Henne was the quarterback, 10 were pass plays.
I'd expect the same thing for Henne on Thursday, except for that thinking to go as long as rookie Blake Bortles is under center. Once Henne and Bortles are taken out, and Ricky Stanzi or Stephen Morris are in the game, I'd expect a more balanced play-calling.
We'll see Blake Bortles before the first quarter ends
One of the reasons I believe Bradley was so pass-heavy to start out the game was to get Henne his reps quickly. He didn't want his starter in the game for more than a quarter, and I don't see Henne getting more than the three series he got last year.
Bortles will get from the end of the first quarter until halftime, and if 2013 is any indication he'll get between 20-25 snaps with half of them being passing plays.
The backup running backs will get quite a bit of work
Jordan Todman started the game against the Falcons and rotated with Denard Robinson throughout the first three quarters for a total of 21 carries and 96 yards. At the start of the fourth quarter, it was all backup running backs Jonathan Grimes and Lonnie Pryor, who combined for six rushing attempts in the final 14 minutes.
I wouldn't expect Gerhart to get any reps against the Falcons, and if he does they'll be minimal. However, Todman and Storm Johnson will probably both get between 10-12 attempts each, with Robinson getting the final 5-7 reps.
No more no-huddle
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch loves the no-huddle offense, but he didn't call a single no-huddle play in Week 4 of the preseason last year. In fact, neither did the Falcons.
The tempo was slower, there were no injuries for Jacksonville, only one for the Falcons, and I'd suspect both teams want to keep it that way going into the regular season opener.
The starting defense will leave before the second quarter
Before the first quarter even ended, Bradley was giving reps to guys like Brandon Marshall, Kyle Knox, and Pannell Egboh. I'd expect even less time for the starters, what with all the injuries they suffered last week against the Lions.