The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be continuing their preseason with a matchup on Thursday night at 8:00pm EST that will be nationally televised on ESPN.
1. How has O.J. Howard looked so far in training camp and preseason? The Jaguars are notorious for their inability to cover a tight end, and there were some rumblings about him being the pick at No. 4 overall, so I'm curious as to how good he's shown himself to be.
He's looked pretty good. It's hard for rookie tight ends to make much of an impact, at least as receivers, but Howard looks like he's well on his way to becoming a very good tight end sooner rather than later. He's lining up all over the formation, both in-line and out wide, and has been a consistent presence in the passing. It's his blocking that's been really impressive, though: most athletic tight ends cannot block, but Howard looks like he'll be dominant in that aspect of the game, giving Dirk Koetter a ton of tactical flexibility.
2. Are there any liabilities in the Buccaneers secondary that you think that Bortles and the Jaguars passing game will try and exploit?
Yes, many. Brent Grimes likely won't play, and that leaves Ryan Smith as the starter —who's still struggling to learn the game. The safeties are a bit of a confused mess, too, with Justin Evans struggling with tackling and the rest being just okay at best and lacking some range. If the Jaguars want, they can probably find completions with the deep ball with some consistency.
3. What was the ultimate problem with Roberto Aguayo? Was it a mental thing? Did he just not have the leg for it? How did his implosion happen so quickly? (And what was the rationale behind spending a second-round pick on a kicker?)
Most everyone thinks it's a mental thing, including general manager Jason Licht, who told The MMQB that the pressure of being a high draft pick was too much for Aguayo. He just was not kicking comfortably at any point as a Buc, and you could see it in his mechanics — they were very choppy.
As for the rationale, Licht was frustrated with the Bucs' previous kickers, was determined to get an outstanding kicker, and thought Roberto Aguayo was a generational talent. That was about it — a vast overestimation of how valuable even the best kickers are, if you ask me.
4. Are there any weak links on the Buccaneers offensive line that our mediocre pass rush can try and take advantage of?
Yes. Left tackle Donovan Smith is inconsistent, center Ali Marpet may not play, J.R. Sweezy is playing just his second game since 2015, and left guard Kevin Pamphile is definitely beatable. Oh and right tackle Demar Dotson has started the age-related decline every NFL player goes through. The Bucs' offensive line is generally physically talented, but often struggles with technique and execution. They were pretty good in the first game, though, so we'll see what happens later today.
5. What does a "win" mean to you on Thursday? I'm not just talking score, but what will you want to see the Buccaneers do well against the Jaguars?
It's preseason so I shouldn't care about the score, but I still do — at least a little. Mostly, though, I want to see the relevant players step up and do well. Jameis Winston had a strong debut and I'd love to see him continue that consistency, while maybe getting a little better in the red zone and finding a way to connect with DeSean Jackson. The offensive line's consistency is a major question mark, so if they can continue to play solid football that'll be a very good sign for the regular season. And if either the starting or the backup safeties can make a few impact plays, that'll be really promising for the defense. Those are the main things for me, anyway.