If the third preseason game is truly the closest reflection of how ready a team is to start the regular season, then the Jaguars defense is ready to line up at Giants Stadium tomorrow, Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense, however, probably would like another week, following the Jaguars 17-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field.
Bortles’ night started with an interception by Falcons’ safety Keanu Neal that was able to happen thanks to a great play made by corner Robert Alford to tip the pass intended for Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. This was following an opening Falcons drive that was Matt Ryan’s best of the evening, resulting in the Falcons’ first points of the night on a field goal to go up 3-0.
Much like last week in Minnesota, the Jaguars’ defense turned around and stifled the short field of the Falcons offense to give the Jaguars the ball back. Following that drive, Bortles turned to his running back trio of Leonard Fournette, T.J. Yeldon, and Corey Grant, to provide the majority of the Jags’ offensive fire power. The running backs turned a variety of screen passes and runs into the first of the Jaguars’ scoring opportunities, as Fournette made a beautiful cutback run of 21 yards for a touchdown early in the 2nd quarter, to put the Jags up 7-3.
Bortles would lead another field goal drive before the half, again led mostly by the play of the Jacksonville rushing trio, taking the starters into halftime with a 10-6 lead. The starting offense would return for an opening drive in the second half against Atlanta’s back ups, but it ended with another, more erroneous interception from Bortles inside the Falcons’ 10 yard line. Bortles finished the night 17/23 for 204 yards and 2 interceptions for a 64.4 QBR.
Fournette led the team in rushing with 57 yards on 10 carries. Perhaps more concerning for the offense, was the loss of wide receiver Marqise Lee, who was carted off the field early in the first half with a serious knee injury. Lee’s loss would leave the Jaguars without their leading receiver from 2017 to start the season.
Defensively, the starters once again produced a dominating performance to hang their hat on as they are almost certainly done until September 9th. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was held to just 5 of 12 for 57 yards in the first half, with most of that production coming on the opening drive. Of the starters, Malik Jackson, DJ Hayden, Myles Jack were each credited with a sack on the evening.
The team will now get ready for the preseason finale in Tampa this Thursday, where the starters on both sides are likely to not play.