The clear story of the night on Friday night is Blake Bortles and his stellar performance. Just preseason? Sure, but he played vs the Lions starting defense (Minus a few key players) for a little over 2 quarters and made everything look easy.Whether it was moving the ball downfield, spreading it around to all the playmakers on the offense, or creating things with his mobility, Blake just kept making plays. Bortles' improvement so far this preseason has been noticeable, but this is the first time I have really been able to say "Ok this might be the real thing." The real deal starts in 2 weeks, but I am growing more confident by the day that Bortles is ready.
2) Injuries are piling up
A bit into the 2nd quarter vs the Lions, I was getting really nervous. It seemed like every other play, a new Jaguar was getting injured. From Branch to Linder to Robinson to Davis to Hurns, they just kept dropping like flies. While Branch's injury looks like it could potentially be a significant one, the rest of the injured Jags of the night were able to make it through the night. Still, with a team already suffering injuries to a few key players, games like these can gladly go. Forever.
3) The run game looked off, but maybe we should have expected that.
The Jaguars running game has regressed a bit each game, going from 84 yards vs Pitt to 60 vs New York to 68 last night, but 38 of those yards vs the Lions came from Bortles alone. Still, in retrospect maybe that should have been expected. TJ Yeldon hasn't seen action all preseason, so any expectations for him to come in and be a workhouse from his first snap were unfair. Yeldon didn't play very well, but for a 21-year-old back taking his first NFL snaps, we probably should have seen that coming.
4) Seeing the Jaguars offense without Julius Thomas has made me even more excited for Julius Thomas.
Blake Bortles stats throwing to Jaguars TE's yesterday: 10 targets, 8 catches, 123 yards. And this was all done without the Jaguars most talented skill player, Julius Thomas. We've known that Greg Olsen would get the TE's involved (hat tip to Cole) but I didn't expect this workload. Once Julius Thomas is the one seeing these targets instead of Clay Harbor and Nic Jacobs, this offense could reach a dynamic it hasn't seen in years.
5) Somber realization of where the Defense is at.
The Jaguars defense looked rough vs the Lions, vs both run and pass. Zach Zenner seemed to get huge chunks of yards every time he catched the ball, Matt Stafford did his best Blake Bortles impression, and players were missing tackles seemingly every other play. It has been abundantly clear that the Jaguars pass rush would be bad this season for, well awhile, but the run defense is the inconsistency among the DB's have been unexpected results. Perhaps the worst result of them all though is the Jaguars have yet to have a player step up and be a playmaker through 3 games. The Jaguars need their young players such as Telvin and Colvin and Vets like Odrick and House to find some consistency when week 1 rolls around. If they don't, we will see a lot more performances like we saw Friday.
Offensive Player of the Week: Blake Bortles
I don't think this one needs explaining, and this is very good thing.
Defensive Player of the Week: M.I.A.
Like I mentioned above, no starter on the Defense has stood out through the last 3 weeks, besides Sergio Brown to a degree. The Jags need a playmaker to present himself on this side of the ball very soon.
Best Play: Blake Bortles' first scramble.
On Bortles first scramble of the game, he picked up a 3rd down conversion but also demonstrated just why he can be such an entertaining player to watch: He dived. Headfirst. When he already had the first down. Bortles has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't care if it is preseason, he is going to try to go the extra mile, and then some.
Rookie of the Week: Rashad Greene
For the 2nd straight week, Rashad Greene made the most of his time running with the starting offense. His stat line isn't eye-popping, at 3 catches for 25 yards, but he again showed the ability to work in sync with Blake to be a reliable chain mover, converting 2 more 3rd downs to add on to his conversions last week.
Hanxed ItAward: TJ Yeldon
This isn't for Yeldon's lackluster performance, but for the comedy of errors that was his "Touchdown" play. He scored, but he got absolutely rocked on the way up due to missing an open hole and trying to jump over the goal line and then proceeded to fumble the ball on his way down. I have high hopes for Yeldon, but this play was a good way for all of the hype to come back down to earth.