I wanted to start a series of three takeaways and three questions I have from every Jacksonville Jaguars training camp practice that I go to. Day 1 was obviously crucial in setting the tone for the remainder of the season, and with that in mind here goes the first 3 & 3.
Day 1 takeaways
1. Blake Bortles' play
I thought his play for the most part was satisfactory. We can't really read much into a non-padded practice with friendly rushes, but I do have an interesting tidbit. I remember watching him throw a check down to Ivory after about five seconds of staring at Allen Hurns, who was running a streak.
You could tell he was itching to throw the deep bomb to him. Barry Church starts talking to A.J. Bouye, who was matched up on Hurns, after the play. Church was serious as he talked about how he would've had a pick if Bortles had thrown that ball, like he was baiting Bortles to throw it. Bouye laughed and high-fived him as the next play soon began.
Bortles' biggest problem is his poor decision making, exacerbated by his mechanics. This was a small incident, I'll admit, but my hope is that Bortles becomes a better risk manager and decision maker as camp progresses.
2. This is Doug Marrone's camp
Last year, #Jaguars first practice included 53 snaps of 11-on-11; today it was 81.— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) July 27, 2017
Training camp is as intense and as old-school a camp as you can get with the current CBA. Marrone could be heard yelling f-bombs and using colorful language to implore the players to learn the playbook. There was a lot more team drills, particularly 11-on-11, than done previously during a Gus Bradley training camp. Perhaps this was done to sharpen the team's chemistry and situational awareness, which lacked in previous years.
There was no music except during team drills and stretching, so a slight departure from the Bradley era. Marrone rarely cracked a smile, and today's camp felt very professional and workmanlike.
All I've got to say is Marrone's a total badass.
3. Dante Fowler getting special teams reps
This is a smart move, because Dante is one of the most athletic guys on the team. He seemed pretty competent there, but it's quite a fall from grace for the 2015 first-round pick. Playing on special teams humbles a player, and I hope it humbles Fowler. It's not just him though.
Having Marrone put an emphasis on any and every starter possibly playing special teams demonstrates the team-first attitude he felt wasn't there at the start.
Day 1 questions
1. What are they doing with Cam Robinson?
This is perhaps one of the only criticisms I have of Marrone so far. I find it hard to believe that your high second-round pick is going to spend a year as the backup left tackle, especially considering how high his ceiling is. There has to be a spot for Cam, because he just has to be one of your top-five offensive linemen. If he isn't, then you haven't really changed anything.
The team still views him as a left tackle, so it'll be interesting to see if they start to shuffle him around as camp continues.
2. Why is Fournette still second-string?
I get that Marrone is trying to send a message about how your spot is earned not given. This would've been fine in OTAs, but as we get set for training camp, Fournette should be working with the ones for the majority of his snaps. He should be catching passes from Bortles and developing chemistry behind a majority of the starting offensive line. Albert missed all of voluntary workouts, but he's gotten all the starting reps, and yet I rarely see Fournette working with the ones.
It puzzles me, and I'm interested to see how long Marrone keeps Fournette working with the backups.
3. What’s next, Keenan McCardell?
Keenan was great. He was very loud, demanding, and sharp when interacting with the receivers. I thought he was exceptional at teaching the guys how to run the drills and then comparing the drills to game situations. He was very very specific, yelling precise measurements and steps to back up his coaching.
He could be seen animating his guys and screaming, "No jogging!" or "Keep your head up! Be quick!"
McCardell is really exciting to watch when he coaches and I'm looking forward to see how he takes our wide receivers to the next level.