While the fourth preseason game may seem meaningless to many football fans, it is a fight for many of the players on the back of the roster to make a team. Nearly 2/3rd's of the players cut after this game won't play in an NFL game again, so while this game may not have a huge impact on the Jaguars season, it had a huge impact on the careers and dreams of many of the final 75 players left.
With 28 inactive players, and all the presumed starters sitting for this game, many of the Jags back ups had a chance to shine in tonight's game.
The Jags started off on a good foot with their second drive, with a couple of nifty runs by Denard Robinson, and a 20 yard completion from Brandon Allen to Shaq Evans. Brandon Allen capped off the drive with a beautiful pass on a 3rd and 14 to Shaq Evans, squeezing the ball in between the safety and corner for a right on the money pass.
The defense stepped up early as well, with two interceptions on tipped balls, one by Josh Johnson, and the other by Nick Marshall.
After a missed 57 yard field goal by Jason Myers, Atlanta was able to respond with a touchdown drive, to tie the game at 7-7.
In the five ensuing drives by the Jaguars offense, the offense struggled as they punted the ball three times, and turned it over twice, once off an interception from Brandon Allen, and the other off a a kickoff in which Josh Johnson slipped, and lost control of the football.
The Jags battled back though, with an impressive 11 play, 78 yard drive which resulted in touchdown on a nifty pick play from Brandon Allen to receiver Shane Wynn. Also topped off with a successful two point conversion pass to Neal Sterling.
The Jags had several chances to take the lead, but the offense couldn't maintain any momentum, as the Falcons held the lead, winning the game 17-15.
Obersevations from the game:
1. Myles Jack was all over the field. Myles Jack has impressed since the day he was drafted, and tonight was no different. On three of the first four plays of the game, Jack made impressive tackles from the weak-side linebacker position, and showed his strengths in the run and pass game. Jack popped off the screen the whole time he was in the game, and his athleticism stood out as it should against mostly back ups and roster cuts. it will be hard to keep Jack off the field with the way he has played, and he may already be the best coverage linebacker on the roster.
2. The running back group played well. The running back depth after TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory has been heavily debated topic on this site, especially for the people who thought Jonas Grey was the next coming of Walter Payton (Kidding, slightly). Luckily tonight, the running back group showed out well, and all made a case to make the roster. Denard Robinson made some nice cuts, and showed some nice burst. While he has his fumble problems, I think it is no question at this point he is making the roster, and is the third best running back on the roster. Joe Banyard also played well, and has made a pretty good case to make the roster, if not the practice squad, in his last few performances. Corey Grant always jumps off the screen, and his speed gives him an edge in this battle, as well his ability to return kicks. Overall, Gus Bradley and company should be happy with the options at tailback.
3. Josh Johnson may have played himself on the roster. The final cornerback spot on the roster is up for grabs, especially with the four game suspension of Aaron Colvin. Josh Johnson was an unlikely candidate to make the roster in the beginning of camp, but he may have played his way onto the 53 man roster. Johnson grabbed another interception tonight, marking his second of the preseason, and showcasing his ability to be a playmaker on defense. Johnson has had consistent play throughout camp and the preseason, and has an upside worth taking a chance on.