The Jacksonville Jaguars won a sloppy Week 2 preseason game on the road against the Minnesota Vikings — and while the offense was largely underwhelming, the defense showed they might have actually improved from what was an elite level performance last season.
Who stood out the most on Saturday afternoon? Let’s see:
1. Blake Bortles
After a Week 1 performance against the New Orleans Saints that gave all of us encouragement for improvement this year, Blake showed the best and worst of himself — which is ironically about the average for Blake.
Yes, the box score looks good. He went 12-for-20 through two quarters of action for 159 yards and a near 8.0 yards per attempt. But the interception in the first quarter to Harrison Smith was an awful read on Blake’s part and without a turnover by the defense on the very next play would have been far more impactful on the final score.
Harrison Smith is probably the best safety in football. Vikings football courtesy of the Smith interception. pic.twitter.com/2vp8ZxWe6v— Football Dungeon (@DuaneLively) August 18, 2018
Blake has all the physical tools to be a great quarterback — as evidenced by several great throws that were dropped by Marqise Lee and Niles Paul — but his inability to read the field well is damning.
It was a sloppy game by both starting offenses, so let’s just hope this is a case of the first preseason game on the road against another elite level defense and see if Blake bounces back next week.
2. T.J. Yeldon
There is no player on this team who has more improved his stock over the offseason than Yeldon. The coaches have created the perfect niche for the Yeldon — a pass-catcher out of the backfield who, with improved speed, can be the perfect complement to bell-cow back Leonard Fournette.
Yeldon finished with 112 total yards on just 15 touches and missed just one catch of his six targets.
3. Ronnie Harrison
Harrison is an absolute stud and showed a ton of promise in his first NFL start. Five tackles in limited opportunities led the team on Saturday and a forced fumble was a definite highlight.
4. Tyler Patmon
With Jalen Ramsey’s suspension, Patmon was thrust into the starting position. He covered Stefon Diggs for much of his time on the field and broke up an early pass headed to Adam Thielen.
The top four Vikings receivers in Diggs, Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, and Kendall Wright combined for two catches and eight yards on seven targets. Patmon — and his closing speed on passes and ability to be in the right place at the right time — was a big reason why.
5. Corey Grant
Grant got just two touches against the Vikings and it can probably be chalked up to the team wanting to see fourth-string running back Brandon Wilds more, but it’s curious that this coaching staff didn’t take every opportunity to test out packages with Grant. They didn’t even let him see the field until the end of the third quarter.
6. Brandon Wilds
Wilds finished with 39 total yards and the game-winning touchdown on 10 touches. It’ll be interesting to see if the Jaguars keep a fourth running back behind Fournette, Yeldon, and Grant, but if they do it will certainly be Wilds.
7. Yannick Ngakoue
Four tackles. One sack. One forced fumble. And a post-play celebration for the ages.
I'm just a rusher— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) August 18, 2018
I'm lookin' for a quarterback
Someone who knows how to ride without even fallin' off pic.twitter.com/a7DLTQdj0y
Ngakoue might be even better than last year (which is insane, by the way) and could be headed to another Pro Bowl with All-Pro honors if he keeps up the production he’s had through two preseason games.
8. Rashad Greene
Greene’s ability to make the first guy miss in the fourth quarter punt return set up a game-winning drive starting five yards from the goal line. I think Jaydon Mickens is still the guy at the No. 6 receiver spot, but Greene will absolutely make this team consider keeping seven receivers on the 53-man roster.