Friday, August 22, 2014
Observation Deck: Jacksonville Jaguars
By Michael DiRocco
DETROIT, Mich. -- When Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles looked pretty good in the preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the caveat was: It was the Bucs' second-team defense and it was pretty vanilla.
When he did it again against the Chicago Bears' second-team defense, it was, "Let's see how he does against the starters."
Because after Friday night's performance against the Detroit Lions, in which he played with the first-team offense against the first-team defense, there's nothing left to say. Bortles completed 10 of 16 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown in the Jaguars' 13-12 loss to Detroit at Ford Field. As the third overall pick continues to play well he's got to have the Jaguars beginning to rethink their plan of having him sit out the 2014 season.
Bortles wasn't perfect against the Lions. He threw a couple bad passes and had two others that should have been intercepted (one would have been nullified by a penalty), but he led the Jaguars to nine points in four drives and just the team's second red-zone touchdown this preseason.
Here are some other thoughts on the Jaguars' third preseason game of the year:
- There's no doubt now that the Jaguars have found themselves a gem in undrafted rookie receiver Allen Hurns. He was the team's leading receiver in the preseason entering Friday night's game and caught six passes for 113 yards and a touchdown against the Lions while playing with the first-team offense. Hurns not only will get a lot of playing time this season, he has all but locked up the No. 3 receiver spot behind Cecil Shorts and Marqise Lee.
- It looks like the race to be the starting center is going to be a two-man race between Jacques McClendon and rookie sixth-round pick Luke Bowanko. McClendon started the game and Bowanko came in next. Brewster didn't play in the first half and lined up at right guard in the second half until he switched over to center when Ricky Stanzi entered the game in the fourth quarter. If Brewster really is the team's third option -- and that's the way it appears -- then he may have a hard time making the roster.
- The talk all camp has been about the Jaguars' lightning package, which puts four LEOs on the field at the same time. But the Jaguars have also worked on some other wrinkles, such as having different players dropping in coverage. Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks even did it a couple times. Andre Branch did it against the Lions and came away with an interception of a Matthew Stafford pass intended for Calvin Johnson. He didn't look bad running with the ball, either, and the 21-yard return helped set up the Jaguars' first field goal.
- Lee got into a scuffle after a play with former Jaguars corner Rashean Mathis and was penalized for using abusive language. That is one of the areas that the NFL is emphasizing this season.
It was a pretty quiet night for Shorts, who made his preseason debut. He had two passes thrown his way but didn't make a catch. He was open on a deep route, but he was looking inside and Chad Henne's pass was thrown between Shorts and the sideline. It didn't appear that Shorts even saw the ball until just before it landed.