The first preseason game is over, and we are quickly reminded why the scores of preseason games don’t matter. The Jaguars technically lost the game 17-13 to the Jets, but the game was a total success for the Jaguars offense.
Headed into the first preseason game, the focus for the starting offense seemed to be on (1) starting fast; (2) communication; and (3) good decision making. The Jaguars nailed all 3.
STARTING FAST: CHECK.
Sure, the first drive didn’t end in a touchdown - thanks to a Julius Thomas drop in the endzone - but the Jaguars did exactly what they set out to do. They “started fast.” Following practice on Tuesday, Blake was asked whether “starting fast” meant the team had to score points on the first drive in order to be successful. Blake responded:
“It’d be nice to get in a groove and get moving. You know, it’d be nice to not have to deal with a third down on the first drive. If you could go first and second down down the field, that’d be sweet.”
The Jaguars starting offense did just that. Here is a down and distance recap of the opening drive. The Jaguars literally went “first and second down down the field.” And yes, Blake - it was sweet.
- 1st and 10 at JAX 30
- 2nd and 2 at JAX 38
- 1st and 10 at JAX 43
- 1st and 10 at NYJ 45
- 2nd and 6 at NYJ 41
- 2nd and 9 at NYJ 44 (after T.J. Yeldon ran for a first down, but the play was called back for a block in the back).
- 1st and 10 at NYJ 25
- 2nd and 4 at NYJ 19
- 1st and Goal at NYJ 9
- 2nd and Goal at NYJ 9 (Julius Thomas dropped pass in the endzone. Now, first 3rd down of the drive/game).
- 3rd and Goal at NYJ 9 (sack)
- 4th and Goal at NYJ 15 (FG)
Mission accomplished. Even though the drive ended in a field goal, the Jaguars’ offense accomplished exactly what it set out to do, which was to “start fast.”
The second drive was more of the same. Except it ended with a touchdown, and the Jaguars had ZERO third downs on that drive.
- 1st and 10 at JAX 14
- 2nd and 2 at JAX 22
- 1st and 10 at JAX 38 (45 yard pass to Allen Robinson)
- 1st and 10 at NYJ 17
- 2nd and 7 at NYJ 14
- 1st and Goal at NYJ 1
- 2nd and Goal at NYJ 1 (C. Ivory Touchdown)
Holy cow. They did it again. The Jaguars went down the field, from their own 14, without having a third down. The Jaguars starting offense left the game with a 10-0 lead on the Jets. Safe to say they accomplished their goal of “starting fast,” which was preached throughout training camp. For that, the Jaguars should be very pleased.
For the offense, the “starting fast” and “communication” objectives went hand-in-hand. Those first two drives may be some of the most efficient drives we’ve ever seen in Jacksonville. Many times, the play clock was under 5 seconds as the Jaguars were calling/changing plays at the line of scrimmage. And, by all indications, Blake and the offense were getting into the correct calls, because it worked.
It was reminiscent of watching Peyton Manning getting to the line, looking at the defense, then getting the correct play called. I am not saying Blake Bortles is Peyton Manning, but this was a noticeable difference in the Jaguars’ offense from a year ago.
Last year, Blake Bortles and Greg Olsen would sometimes joke that whenever Blake changes the play, he was changing it to a pass play, and they more wanted Blake to try to get into the correct play. Last night, it appeared Blake was doing just that. Many times, Blake was changing/calling the play at the line, snapping the ball with less than 5 seconds on the play clock, and turning around and handing it off. Did I mention it worked? The Jaguars starting offense had 1 third down all night and scored 10 points.
DECISION MAKING: CHECK
All of these goals go hand-in-hand, but it’s worth noting “good decision making” was a stated objective, and the Jaguars’ offense appeared to accomplish this as well. Again, these drives were methodical, efficient, and precise. The offense was not Blake running around creating first downs, or simply throwing jump balls to Allen Robinson in the middle of the field.
There was one somewhat jump ball thrown to Allen Robinson in the middle of the field, but it was thrown on an obvious “free-play” after the Jets jumped off-sides. So, the jump ball was actually a very good decision by Blake Bortles on that particular play.
The rest of the starting offense was nearly perfect in terms of decision making. While it’s difficult to tell whether the “correct” decision was made on a particular play without knowing the plays as they were called, there was not one play from the Jaguars starting offense where one would think, “What was he thinking?” or “He should’ve ____________.” Not to mention, it worked! So, from that standpoint, it is safe to say the Jaguars’ offense accomplished their goal of “making good decisions.”