Much of the focus of Thursday night’s preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be on the Jacksonville Jaguars issues at the quarterback position, and rightfully so, but the defense didn’t look like anything anyone expected and the Bucs marched right down the field multiple times with ease.
The Jaguars were without their top three cornerbacks in Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and Aaron Colvin, so it was expected Jameis Winston and the Bucs would probably carve them up, but the unexpected part was the defense was simply bullied by the Bucs offensive line and they were able to run the football. It was very reminiscent to the Cincinnati Bengals game last season, where the team just got pushed around on both sides of the ball.
As mentioned, Winston carved up the Jaguars defense but the unexpected part was a lot of it was in the middle of the field. Winston wasn’t flawless by any means, nearly picked a couple of times, but even with handful of really bad throws he only had eight incompletions and led multiple scoring drives.
The most shocking thing, aside from not stopping the run, was the Jaguars just couldn’t generate any kind of pass rush outside of Dante Fowler. Yep, you read that right, Fowler was one of the few bright spots on the defensive line on Thursday evening. Fowler forced a fumble when he blew past the Bucs right tackle on a play and hit Winston as he was throwing, notching a sack as well, but he had some nice disruptive plays on stunts as well.
Blake Bortles and the quarterback position are going to rightfully dominate the conversation, but the performance by the Jaguars defense was eyebrow raising, though I think Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida Times-Union made a very observant point on the defense.
14. Marrone is at a cross-roads with this team already. They looked out of gas last night. It’s time to taper back and get his veterans ready for Week 1 at Houston. Playing the first-team offense into the third quarter last night may have made sense to get a look at Henne, but they should see their playing time reduced against Carolina.
Both sides of the football looked out of gas right out of the gate. Everyone loved the idea of going full pads for a full week, but it clearly takes its toll. Not to mention in one of the practices with the Bucs the Jaguars went full pads while the Bucs just went shells.
I’m not going to say that’s what made the difference, but one team completely steamrolled the other in the trenches on Thursday night.