The Jacksonville Jaguars outlasted the Dallas Cowboys in their preseason opener, 28-23. The Jaguars offensive starters saw 13 snaps, including a successful 2-point conversion. How far along is the offensive installation?
The first preseason game each year usually includes a pretty vanilla script. Most NFL offenses start with basic installation plans and progress quickly. That was not the case Saturday night against the Cowboys.
At least when it came to the run game. In Doug Pederson’s second season, the run game is progressing nicely. Jaguars’ starters ran five different run concepts in their 12 offensive snaps: jab duo, zone, power, counter, and toss.
The passing game was another story. Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor kept it mostly vanilla through the air. Most of the passing concepts were short 3-step drops and mirrored concepts.
Mirrored concepts have the same route combinations on both sides of the formation. Against the Cowboys, the Jaguars went a step further to simplify things. Twice they had all receivers run the same route.
On the fifth play from scrimmaged, the Jaguars ran All Hitch out of an empty formation. This resulted in Calvin Ridley’s first catch as a Jaguar. On play 11, Pederson dialed up an All Slant concept. With nobody coming open Trevor Lawrence checked it down to the running back.
How did the Jaguars starters fare?
One play Trevor Lawrence would like to have back is the Jaguars’ second play from scrimmage. After a play fake, Trevor Lawrence rolled to his left.
Instead of throwing it away and living to play another down, Lawrence lofted it up for Evan Engram. The ball was severely underthrown and picked off by Juanyeh Thomas. A good learning experience for sure but head coach Doug Pederson was not happy about it.
Lawrence and the Jaguars' offense did bounce back as they made the most of their 3rd and final drive of the game. The drive started at the Cowboys’ 42-yard line after KaVontae Turpin fumbled the punt return.
The 6-play touchdown drive saw a more diverse running game than a passing attack. Pederson dialed up power, toss, and counter for the running game; and a couple of mirrored passing plays.
The touchdown play came with the Jaguars lined up in an empty formation at the Cowboys’ nine-yard line. With trips to the left, the concept is called Hitch—Slot Fade—Sit. The right side of the formation saw Calvin Ridley running a comeback on the outside and Christian Kirk with a slant from the slot.
Initially, nobody opened up on the quick concept. Lawrence’s footwork didn’t time out with Ridley’s comeback, which was blanketed anyway. As the 3rd year quarterback drifted back to buy some time, Kirk kept running his slant while gaining depth. He slipped behind the defense as the safeties stepped up to take away the short routes.
Lawrence delivered a nice feathered pass to finish off the starter's lone touchdown drive. Certainly, a drive that the Jaguars offense can build off of.
Is Nathan Rourke pushing for the No. 2 QB?
Nathan Rourke finished the night 9-17, 152 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT through the air while adding 6 carries for 20 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The highlight of the night came late in the 4th quarter. On 3rd & 16, Rourke dropped back to pass and somehow eluded four Dallas defenders to deliver a touchdown pass on his way to the ground.
But was it enough to overcome C. J. Beathard for the backup spot?
It’s too early to tell and the competition makes it even harder to decipher, but there’s no denying the former Canadian Football League quarterback is a playmaker.
Beathard has the experience on Rouke with 12 career NFL starts. While not an overwhelming number of starts, the backup quarterback position is prized for experience and consistency.
If Rourke can continue to show more consistency as well as that playmaking ability, he does have a shot to overcome Beathard for that backup role. Making players around him better will also go a long way in the coach's eyes.
With snaps becoming more and more limited as camp goes on, can Rourke show command of the offense and keep making enough plays to grab that spot behind Trevor Lawrence?